What Motivates the Church to Portray God as a Permissive Parent?

The Implication of a Pattern of Behavior

Businessmen as human beings tend to make mistakes. To err is human. The owner of a small store who works the cash register himself may accidentally give the wrong change. However, if over a period of time it is observed that every mistake is in his favor, this pattern indicates that these discrepancies are prompted by a purpose, in this case, the desire of the store owner to enrich himself.

The point is that a pattern of errors suggests that some motive is driving those errors.

Errors That Are Not Mistakes

Many of my posts address errors of contemporary evangelicals in their analysis of Scripture. For example, yesterday we considered the error of negating the fear of the Lord either by just pronouncing that this is something we should not do or by changing the meaning of fear.

In that case and with many other errors we have examined the scriptural evidence exposing the error is so compelling that it is difficult to understand how a mistake could be made. For example, we considered the assertion that when God looks on believers He does not see them but the righteousness of Christ. There are probably hundreds of passages in the New Testament that expose this perspective as being erroneous.

These obvious errors indicate that some motive is driving these mistakes.

Pattern of Permissiveness

That motive becomes apparent when we examine the nature of these errors. In doing so we discover that all of them come down on the side of permissiveness. Let’s consider some of them.

  • Salvation does not require repentance: Imagine a parent taking a child  who had behaved badly back into his good graces without the child acknowledging wrongdoing and commiting to doing better.
  • When God looks on the believer, He does not see his sin but the righteousness of Christ: Imagine a child who didn’t think his parent saw his misdeeds.
  • God accepts the believer unconditionally: Imagine if a child believed he did not have to “perform” but that regardless of how he behaved he would be viewed with favor by his parents.
  • We should not fear God: Imagine how a child would behave if he had no fear of discipline by his parents.
  • It’s okay to be angry with God: Imagine a parent who had no problem with their child not only having a temper tantrum, but even with one directed at the parent.

The Motive behind the Pattern

This pattern of errors, especially in light of their lack of biblical support, suggests that some force other than the study of Scripture is producing them.

It is not difficult to identify this external force that is shaping the contemporary evangelical worldview. We have noted in several posts that the cornerstone of contemporary American secular culture is unconditional acceptance. In American society to accept is virtually always right and failure to accept is virtually always wrong.

Contemporary evangelicals have adopted the same foundational concept of unconditional acceptance, which has resulted in the pastern of a permissive beliefs cataloged above.

In my list of errors I included what it would look like if we applied the same concept to the relationship of a parent to a child. It is especially telling that many of those applications in fact do reflect our society’s approach to parenting. Our society believes that a child should see his parent as always loving and never judgmental. He should have no fear of his parent. He should see his parent as accepting him unconditionally, regardless of his behavior. In fact, a typical parental perspective today is that when his child gets in trouble in school for misbehavior, the appropriate role of the parent is to defend the child.

Consequently, we see that contemporary evangelicals have to a large extent cast God into the role of contemporary American permissive parents.

Motive Molded by Culture

In saying that contemporary evangelicals are making a pattern of errors that reveals some nefarious motivation, I am not suggesting that they are intentionally doing so. Often we are not cognizant of our own motivations. This is especially the case when culture places its imprint on our thinking. In a previous post we observed that for most people culture determines truth. They absorb cultural concepts into their psyche without rationally processing them.

I believe this is the case with contemporary evangelicals. They are not seeking to adopt unbiblical concepts. However, culture has so shaped their thinking that they do so unwittingly.

Nevertheless, this does not exonerate them. As evangelicals we are responsible to formulate our views based on a careful analysis of Scripture. The errors cited above reveal that contemporary evangelicals no longer take Scripture seriously, since no serious search of Scripture would ever engender a permissive view of God.

A Personal Note

Who is the genuinely loving parent? Observation at a given moment can make the permissive parent appear to be loving while the one exercising biblical discipline might seem unloving. However, we know that in the long run the parents that applies biblical discipline is genuinely loving. I recall as a parent how difficult it was to apply discipline and how unloving I felt in the process, even though I knew that Scripture taught that the parent who genuinely loved his child disciplined him.

Often in writing this blog I struggle with being critical of the contemporary evangelical church, wishing instead that my message might be more positive and uplifting. This post reminds me that calling today’s permissive church to godly disciplines may be the most loving thing I can do.

This is my last post until Monday. I trust that all of you enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that you take time with your family to review with gratitude all of God’s goodness across the past year.

One comment on “What Motivates the Church to Portray God as a Permissive Parent?
  1. Jim Colon says:

    The watchman on the wall was not called to say other than the truth when the enemy approached. To do otherwise would have been treason. As leaders in the Church we are called to speak the truth in love but the truth nevertheless.

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