Thursday, December 20, 2007

Integrity Crisis

I recently read an old book; The Integrity Crisis that’s been on my shelf, boxed up and moved through 4 zip codes, and reshelved in the last 3 years without ever being read. It was written in 1988 right after the Jim and Tammy Faye Baker PTL scandal and the Christian/financial controversy that ensued. I found it odd that 20 years later the author’s words speak to a new generation of Christians making the same mistakes. Take a look:

“I certainly have no case against learning from the other fellow. After all, why reinvent the wheel? But I do have a case against any philosophy that turns ministry into mechanics and hands me a book of formulas that are guaranteed to succeed. I also have a problem with publishers that sign up “famous men” to write these books but don’t first find out whether or not these surefire methods are based on good theology. If the medical profession followed this approach, we’d all be dead!” pg. 46

If only Christian publishers operated with the integrity the author speaks of, books like The Purpose Driven Church wouldn’t be on shelves today. Theology has become second to statistics and methods in many churches, and by spilling into the publishing industry has contaminated even more churches.

“God has every right to pronounce judgment on those who preach a false gospel, because the message of the gospel cost Him His Son! Jesus shed His blood to satisfy the holy law of God so that lost sinners might be forgiven and reconciled to God. Jesus didn’t die to make us healthy, wealthy, and happy; He died to make us holy. To turn Calvary into a sanctified credit card that gives us the privilege of a hedonistic shopping spree is to cheapen the most costly thing God ever did.” Pg. 53

Exactly. The Word of God is too precious to mess with, or impose our worldviews on, like the postmodern, egalitarian, liberal worldview many emergents like Brian McLaren view scripture through, or the carnel, materialistic, worldly success driven worldviews of Robert Schuller and Joel Osteen. ANY Gospel that takes the emphasis off of God’s Holiness and His work to make sinners holy more than misses the mark.

Later in the book the author compared the walls of Jerusalem (that the prophet Nehemiah set out to rebuild before anything else) to the church’s nonconformity to the world as its “walls” of defense; he had this to say:

“When the church, trying to reach the world, became like the world; she lost her impact on the world. How tragic that we cooperated with the enemy in breaking down our own walls! We lost our own distinctiveness and destroyed our own defenses.” Pg. 81

What strikes me the most is that this book was written practically 20 years ago!

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