“They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” Jeremiah 6:14
We are all familiar with the contemporary church. I know there are those who think that we, old-fashioned Fundamentalists who preach against it, are merely jealous of its success. They think we are high-bound traditionalists who are unwilling to change and unable to keep up with the times.
I rode an airplane years ago with a man who was involved in helping those who wished to establish a contemporary church. He said, “We’re working with those who know that the next year is 1993, not 1963.” Now as it happened, I knew that. I’m not real smart, but I knew that in 1992 the next year would be 1993! What he meant to say is that if you’re doing it the old way, you are living in the past.
The contemporary church is based on a philosophy that we start with what man wants and give it to him. They say man doesn’t like old-fashioned, spiritual music, so we’ll give him contemporary rock and roll music. One of the fastest growing contemporary churches in America is located in Anderson, South Carolina. I preached at an independent, fundamental Baptist church in that town and the pastor told me that this church had been in existence just seven years and was running 10,000 people each Sunday. Each week, the people are given a card as they leave the service. On the card is a list of several rock and roll songs from which they can choose. The one which receives the most votes will be played by the band the next week. Recently, the selection was “Highway to Hell.” I fear there is significant meaning in this choice.
Man doesn’t like to be confronted with sin, so we don’t do that. Man doesn’t like public invitations, so we don’t give them. Man doesn’t like hard preaching, so we’ll soften our tone and be conversational. Man doesn’t like long preaching, so we will have seven or eight minute sermonettes preceded by a 20 or 30 minute drama. Preaching is then pre-empted by programming; confrontation of sin replaced by compromise; disguised by acceptance, and “thus saith the Lord” has been eliminated for “the survey says.”
In many cases, contemporary churches give a message that is ultimately so diluted as to make people believe they are well off spiritually when in fact they have never trusted Christ and are on their way to Hell.
Suppose that medicine took a similar approach. Let us imagine a new type of physician who practices “contemporary medicine.” A survey has been taken of the patients, and it shows there are some things they don’t like:
- They don’t like to be weighed.
- They don’t like to take their clothes off.
- They don’t like to hear bad news about themselves.
- They don’t like to be told to change their lifestyle.
So the new contemporary medicine doesn’t weigh people, allows them to leave their clothes on, and listens to their heartbeat through a sports coat and several layers of clothing, and revises the norm for blood pressure, cholesterol, weight and other vital indicators so that everybody can be normal. No bad news will ever be delivered. No one will be told that they are in danger of a heart attack, cancer, a stroke, or any other diseases. We will accept people just as they are and ask that they do nothing in order to get a good report from our medical facility.
While I suppose such an approach would be popular with some people, it would produce sick patients. So, too, the contemporary church will produce people who are spiritually anemic and attracted by sin and growing farther from true godliness every day.
“By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.” Proverbs 16:6
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Proverbs 27:6
“Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” Galatians 4:16
Love tells the truth. While we must tell the truth in love, we are not loving if we don’t tell it.