Published July 2, 2013
"Doctrinal Confusion - Your Responses"
Last week's column about doctrinal confusion in the church obviously hit home with a lot of readers who are clearly concerned, seeing the same thing in the church at large or even in their own local home church.
Today I'd like to share excerpts from some of those responses I received. (Because of the sensitivity of the issues, I will use only the writers' initials.) And, yes, I did receive several responses from pastors and church leaders. For example..."I am a pastor that 100 percent agrees with this article. I try by the help of the Holy Spirit to preach the full truth of the Gospel. We have been preaching on a series of critical issues' facing our society today which includes all of the church. I had to face some hard issues such as abortion, homosexuality, alcohol use and abuse, pornography, creation vs. evolution, is hell real, suicide, next one is gambling. These were not easy to preach on but God certainly did help us and our people respond in a positive way appreciating the straight truth from God's Word..." - J. K.
"I am an elder in our church and agree that these are sad and dangerous times for the church. Pluralism, inclusiveism and universalism are everywhere. The intrusion of evolutionary ideas and the changing attitudes of some rather prominent Christian leaders is appalling..." R. R.
"I agree there are many churches that are preaching a watered-down gospel. Which, in my opinion, is not the gospel message at all. It is a testimony that in the last days people will only want to hear how good they are. As an evangelist, I probably see it more than most. That a great number of church-goers only want touchy-feely pastors. They want to leave church on Sunday with no guilt or a need to be at an altar or confess sin. As a preacher I am to preach the whole counsel of God. It may not be popular, but it will be right. The Christian can lead a much fuller life when they have a sound foundation based on the Bible and not someone's idea of what is right...." N. O.
"Paul, I totally agree with you. There are too many well-educated preachers that don't really believe what the Bible says... I am a part-time local pastor in the United Methodist Church and at times there tends to be more emphasis on learning about John Wesley than learning about Jesus. I have said for years now that the liberal teachings at some divinity schools just prepare people to teach false doctrine..." M. S.
I also, of course, heard from several church-goers who have found themselves not being fed spiritually in their home church and struggling with whether or not they should find a new church where the Word is, indeed, being preached. Here are some examples:"Recently our pastor seems to be leading in a direction that, to us, is contrary to God's teachings. The more troubling thing is that the majority of the church seems to have no problem with what he is doing. Your article just seemed to confront everything that we have been feeling. We definitely do not want to change churches but we don't want to attend where the true word of God is not proclaimed. Please pray that we will make the right decision." J. H.
"You can see why Islam is making such inroads in America, why abortion and homosexuality run rampant and why we (the public even professing Bible-believing Christians) just keep on electing the caliber of elected officials we have. Our preachers have to share the blame. They are trying to be seminary teachers on one hand, or preach easy believism (salvation without repentance or changed life) on the other hand. Evangelism has been replaced by embracing a doctrinal position, and Galatians 5:17-24 has been replaced by social opinion." R. B.
"Sadly, my wife and I just went through this over the past two years. The pastor at the church we were attending started to drift away from Scripture, started to incorporate more worldly ways and started to just paraphrase Scripture instead of reading the Scriptures and preaching God's Word. He was just putting in his message what I call filler material. I noticed the immaturity of this congregation was becoming lower and lower...with little to no spiritual understanding... The Lord was good to my wife and me. He lead us to a church around the corner from our home. It is a small congregation, but with a pastor who preaches God's Word and doesn't stray from the Scriptures. This congregation is very mature in the Word. In the six months that we have been here, we have learned so much and have enjoyed serving the Lord with excitement. We have learned a new love of the Scriptures and how to apply them in our lives for Him..." B. M.
"About four months ago a young couple started coming to our church. They had moved here from California... They claim they are Christians and had attended a large Christian church in California. They have many struggles with the usual things [such as] smoking, alcohol, cursing and poor church attendance. My jaw probably dropped when they were telling us they didn't understand why it is so important to ask God to forgive us and to fill us with His Spirit to help us turn away from sinful living and maintain a health daily Christ-centered life..." K. M.
"I have been praying a lot about this recently. Your message was such a blessing and confirmation. Charles Stanley's teaching on Premier Radio [in England] last night was also saying the same thing! It is wonderful how God can speak to us from several sources and from people who know nothing about our situation. I believe I now know the church I should be at." E. H.
And there were many similar responses, but those above are representative. Just a few days ago I came across an article by author, speaker and broadcaster Dr. Michael Youssef who also pointed to the poor spiritual state of many churches: "Pastors have exchanged their highest calling for the lowest of worldly popularity and thus sold their birthright. And, as has been said, As goes the pulpit, so goes the pew, and as goes the pew, so goes the nation." That goes a long way to explain the moral decline we're seeing exemplified every week at the highest levels (this past week providing more glaring examples).
Clearly, Bible-believing Christians are very concerned with the spiritual health of today's church and rightly so. They see the effects of a spiritual "junk food" diet in many churches as opposed to the solid meat (Hebrews 5:14) of the Gospel. "Church growth" should be a spiritual objective, not an attendance scheme.
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