Will the Real Church Please Stand Up?
By Alexander Samuels
This is one of those times in history when the church feels most keenly the pressures of the surrounding culture. In his book Prophetic Untimeliness: A Challenge to the Idol of Relevance (Baker Books), Os Guinness writes, "Whereas our grandfathers and grandmothers lived as if they had swallowed gyroscopes, we think and act as if we have swallowed Gallup polls."
The result of these cultural pressures has . . . diminished thinking in the secular world to "political correctness." The church, in turn, has developed its own "theological correctness," which is far from correct in the sense of Biblical theology. Just as one of the driving forces in the secular world is the need for approval, the people of the church now long for the approval of "the many" as opposed to the approval of "the One."
In our hurry to gain the approval of "the many," the modern church has discarded its past. As Guinness points out:
Everything Christian from worship to evangelism must be fresh, new, up-to-date, attuned, appealing, seeker-sensitive, audience-friendly, and relentlessly relevant. . . .
Evangelicals were once known as "the serious people." It is sad to note that today many evangelicals are the most superficial of religious believers—lightweight in thinking, gossamer-thin in theology, and avid proponents of spirituality-lite in terms of preaching and responses to life.
Dean Inge once remarked, "He who marries the spirit of the age soon becomes a widower." The church was called to be the "bride of Christ" and to answer to a higher, eternal calling. Only failure awaits compromise with the temporary trends of today. The desire to be hailed as "progressive" has slowly eroded the church's moral authority. As Charles Peguy once wrote, "It will never be known what acts of cowardice have been motivated by the fear of not looking sufficiently progressive."
If you like short Christian books (only 119 pages) that require you to think about serious issues, you will enjoy Os Guinness' Prophetic Untimeliness.
(Note: Prophetic Untimeliness will be available as a trade paperback in mid-August.)