Francis Schaeffer, in his last book, The Great Evangelical Disaster, warned,
It makes little difference in the end if Scripture is compromised by theological infiltration or by infiltration from the surrounding culture…. God’s Word has many times been allowed to be bent, to conform to the surrounding, passing, changing culture of that moment rather than to stand as the inerrant Word of God judging the form of the world spirit and the surrounding culture of that moment. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, may our children and grandchildren not say that such can be said about us.[i]
My preceding three weekly posts and this one also make the case that our children and grandchildren may say that our generation of evangelicals bent Scripture by avoiding sections that do not fit its politically correct template, which emphasizes grace and love to the exclusion of holiness, righteousness, and judgment. This practice has engendered a warped form of Christianity that fits comfortably with the culture but not the Bible.
I have noted, though, that evangelicals view the writings of John and Paul, with their emphasis on love and grace, as home territory. However, today we discover that even these writers include numerous passages around which evangelicals wrap yellow caution tape.
In John 8:44 Jesus tells His Jewish audience, described earlier as those who had “believed in Him,” (John 8:30)
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (ESV)
This passage might lend itself to a sermon entitled, “Is your faith genuine or are you of your father the devil?” Though wisdom would advise a more winsome sermon title, God’s people need to hear such warnings, and today they seldom do.
This verse from John’s Gospel also conflicts with the contemporary evangelical template:
“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. (John 15:6 NASB)
The Epistles of John also include inconvenient passages. Here is a prime example:
No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil…. (1 John 3:6-8a ESV)
John’s writing in the Book of Revelation with its graphic portrayals of God’s judgment on human beings also incites evangelical discomfort.
Paul’s epistles also contain numerous passages uncongenial to evangelical culture such as his warning to the Corinthians related to God’s judgment of the children of Israel in the wilderness for their sinful behavior:
Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. (1 Corinthians 10:6-11 ESV)
Even Galatians, where Paul accentuates that we are not under law but under grace, gives the following instructions:
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 ESV)
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Galatians 6:7-8 NKJV)
Such passages are incongruent with the contemporary evangelical assertion that our performance does not matter.
Many other passages authored by John and Paul, home territory for evangelicals, seldom make their way to pulpits or evangelical wall decor.
Reflecting on this and the previous three posts it becomes evident that evangelicals selectively abandon the majority of Scripture, especially sections related to holiness, righteousness, and judgment and the corresponding need for discipline and endurance. These omissions have rendered evangelicals too sick and weak to engage effectively in the culture war. I further address these issues in my book, Counterattack: Why Evangelicals are Losing the Culture War and How they Can Win.
Only as evangelicals embrace all Scripture, even politically incorrect sections incompatible with contemporary culture, can the evangelical church avoid the disaster predicted by Francis Schaeffer and be restored to the health and vitality necessary to overcome the Left and reinstate Christian culture in America.
[i] Schaeffer, Francis A. The Great Evangelical Disaster. Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1984, pp. 63-65.