Refuting the Identity Crisis of Christianity
By Skyler Gleue
Business leaders and global innovators often know what you want even before you do. After seeing an advertisement for a product we never knew existed, suddenly we cannot live without it. Along with compulsion, it has been said that “emotions drive 80% of the choices Americans make, while practicality and objectivity only represent about 20% of decision-making.” Philosopher Blaise Pascal once stated, “People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.” Pascal’s comment suggests that we are more inclined to ‘reason’ based on emotions rather than logic, or at the most, let our deductions be clouded with our emotions.
There is tremendous truth behind this observation. However, whatever is most attractive is not always advantageous. Big businesses may benefit and capitalize on compulsive and emotion-based decision making, but when this mindset enters the church or a religious atmosphere it often conflicts with objective truth. Because of this mindset of arriving at beliefs based on what is attractive rather than absolute, many churches have been become lukewarm in their teachings on difficult truths and adopted a secularized mindset.
In the name of political correctness and cultural conformity, many churches now teach Christ as a “good teacher,” merely a good person who set the example of morality. Contemporary thought for many holds that Christianity is but one way into Heaven, and that other religions equally coexist beside Christianity.
Alongside this, many self-professing followers of Christ also tend to hold secular positions on important social issues of our day, such as abortion, separation of Church and State, and tolerance toward contradictory political views. Many Christians openly support these views on the basis of love, acceptance, and conformity. This causes an identity crisis for what Christianity absolutely stands for and against.
Christ often presented hard, even difficult, teachings. Selective morality is not merely a contemporary conflict new to Christians, and due to that, Christ and His apostles frequently scolded secularized Christianity.
If we can be open-minded about what Scripture says rather than rejecting what we find hard to approve, then we must take Christ at His word when He rebuked, and ultimately refused to accept the Christian church in Laodicea as described in Revelation 3. The words Christ uses to describe His militant disapproval follow in verse 16 where He starkly says, “So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” The reason for such rejection was for many of the same reasons contemporary church has gone astray, such as idolatry, greed, tolerance, hypocrisy, and apathy towards social issues.
The New Testament opens to a different Jewish culture compared to the closing of the Old Testament. We see there are new traditions, beliefs, sects, and leaders not previously found in the Old Testament predominantly due to the Hellenization of the culture during the intertestamental period. Contemporary religious leaders of their time emphasized new Jewish traditions as being equal or at times greater than God’s given revelations. Rather than turning a blind eye to the obvious religious blur, Jesus confronted the religious and social issues head-on in the face of opposition and rebellion. Many of Christ’s rebukes of the leaders came in light of this doctrinal shift and opposition to differing views.
Jesus did not have an identity crisis, and He does not expect us to have one either. To stress the importance of His message, Christ offers a caution. Immediately preceding the warning by Jesus where He said “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few,” He issue a secondary warning: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Jesus instructs us to recognize false teachers, those who are part of the Church and tolerant toward anti-Biblical social issues, by their character (Matthew 7). We are further instructed to “test all things” and “hold on to what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
C.S. Lewis once said that “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” When we treat the Scriptures as a buffet and selectively choose what we accept and deny, we inadvertently reject Christianity as a whole. God calls such people “lukewarm” and “false prophets,” and this taints the mission of the Church, to be the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). God rejects secularized Christianity, and so should we.