A Gospel of Controversy
Because of secularism (the view that public activities and decisions should not be influence by religious beliefs and practices) the modern church, who is not biblically driven, seeks to connect with an anti – God culture. In an attempt to reach the disinterested irreligious mind, many modern evangelical ministers and believers in their pursuit of being all things to all men, have won none.
The pragmatic agenda of the modern “Christian” community is to “build bridges”. But in the process of bridging the gap they are being more influenced by, than influencing, a secularized culture. R. C. Sproul cautions about “the myth of influence”,
“The mythical element is the naive assumption that one can build bridges that move in one direction only. Bridges are usually build to allow traffic to move in two directions. What often happens when we relate to others is that we become the influencees rather than the influencers. In an effort to win people to Christ and be “winsome,” we may easily slip into the trap of emptying the gospel of its content, accommodating our hearers, and removing the offense inherent in the gospel. To be sure, our own insensitive behavior can add an offense to the gospel that is not properly part of it. We should labor hard to avoid such behavior. But to strip the gospel of those elements that unbelievers find repugnant is not an option.”
Martin Luther said, “Wherever the gospel is preached in its purity, it engenders conflict and controversy.”
An example of this is in the venue of apologetics. As much as many find apologetics edifying and entertaining, those who enjoy it should first safeguard their minds from the false ideologies that are introduced and expounded by anti-God proponents in the place of debate. The efforts of those who “defend the faith” in an open forum may be applauded, but often gospel truth is neglected or overlooked in order to win the argument. Furthermore, if believers wrangle with ungodly men on an intellectual level, can Christian apologists honestly say that they have pulled down philosophical strongholds with scandalous gospel weaponry? Ian Murray says,
“In confronting the consequences of this rejection of biblical authority, which occurred on both sides of the Atlantic, there have been those who have labored to defend Christianity with apologetics and other forms of scholarship. … But while accepting a measure of value in such endeavors, it has been said that neither in the eighteenth century nor in the twentieth could the tide be turned by these means. Unbelief is primarily a moral rather than an intellectual problem, and apostasy comes from a sinful bias against God, not merely from mistaken thinking. Accordingly the only effective means for the restoration of reverence has to be the action of God in changing man’s moral nature. … God Himself must authenticate the truth to make it real to us.”
In presenting the biblical gospel perhaps we should remember that this message of controversy is best preached to the natural mind when it is shared in its simplicity, void of enticing words of man’s wisdom. Moreover, we should avoid any argumentative tone according to II Timothy 2:24-26? For when this gospel is presented in simplicity, free from intellectualism and contention, it possesses the greatest potential of being the power of God to salvation?
A Pauline approach would be to lovingly engage the culture by proclaiming the clear, cutting edge content of a sin annihilating gospel. For then will this gospel which engenders controversy in the natural mind, yield lasting peace to all that believe.
Don is serving as the HeartCry Coordinator for Eastern Europe. As an itinerant evangelist, his pulpit ministry is directed toward preaching on the inner life of the believer and the spiritual need of the lost. With HeartCry, his ministry includes organizing Bible conferences and corresponding with the HeartCry missionaries in Europe. He and his lovely wife Cindy live in Tuscumbia, AL.More By Don Currin