These are sober days for Western Christianity. I say that not because the world is suddenly more evil than before, as many in the church believe and certainly not because we face greater dangers of physical persecution and death. Rather, it is a time in which Christians, who for the most part remain oblivious to it, are facing a sustained, unrelenting, concerted and vicious assault on their minds. As a result many are lost in a fog of uncertainty of belief, barely cloaked in the decomposing threads of previously cherished truth, indecisive on the nature of God and morality, confused and intimidated by the ravings of those who style themselves as the enemies of God to widespread applause from a wilful self indulgent generation.
What has ensued has been, for many believers, an almost imperceptible shift from the biblical revelation of God to embracing a new definition of the divine being. An attractive, socially acceptable, shiny ‘golden calf’ has become their object of worship in our postmodern age; a god strangely akin to the ‘gods’ of the world they ostensibly forsook when they at one time expressed faith in the living God, a mute god who cannot speak, a passive god who has no likes or dislikes, no rules of conduct, no moral absolutes, a god merely grateful to be acknowledged, created by and in the image of its worshippers, unstable in his views, licentious, amoral, ‘affirming’; a thoroughly palatable and non offensive deity even to the most worship averse.
When Moses tarried on the mountain, the people lost hope in the Almighty, invisible God, they lost their connection to Him, they lost their faith in His presence and provision and desire to follow His laws; God’s ways did not suit them. They had dwelt long in Egypt, they were familiar with its gods, some had even worshipped them as the book of Joshua shows; gods you could see, you could make, who never appeared absent, gods who laid down no standards, were content with libations, dances and sacrifices and did not compel you to change your ways to adapt to theirs. So they made themselves one such, a golden calf and they called it their God. They thus satisfied the desire for worship and they did it their own way and in a way acceptable to the land they left behind to which they hoped to return.
There is a pattern here that it behooves us to pay careful attention to. Similarly, in our post-modern generation, many ‘Christians’ have issue with God’s ways, they have issue with God’s word, they have issue with the concepts of sin and hell. They have issue with holiness, they have issue with submission to God’s will, they have issue with the Bible. They do want a God but they want Him to agree with them, condone their ways and wink at their wiles; worse still, they want Him to agree with the world they ostensibly left behind so they will take no flak.
Such stubborn refusal to refashion our world view and vision of divinity in line with biblical revelation, such moral ambivalence and spiritual ignorance are a dangerous cocktail that renders the believer vulnerable to the mental assault from the culture and to the pernicious influence of the twisted ‘gospel’ of diversity and tolerance.
Intimidation from the anti-theist world is easily felt, compelling gradual, almost imperceptible realignment of belief with what is acceptable to a generation that has clearly eschewed those very principles which should undergird the believer’s worldview.
In a desperate bid to square the circle, to enjoy the approval of the world, to appear culturally sophisticated, and escape the petty disdain in which many non theists hold Christians, while still clinging to a divine being, they have made themselves a golden calf. One interesting fact about the idolatry of God’s people in the book of Exodus was that they did not call their creation a golden calf, nor did they call it by the name of one of the gods of Egypt, it would seem that they identified it with Yahweh, the God who brought them out of Egypt. And they declared the next day a feast to the Lord while offering sacrifices to the calf. Similarly, prevaricating Christians do not openly turn away from God and courageously declare themselves pagans and call their god a calf, rather, they have chosen to call their calf by the name of God.
Now we have this wonderful, inclusive being who loves everyone, accepts everyone, and requires nothing but a mere cursory acceptance of His existence, a few libations in the form of casual attendance at a ‘progressive’ church, but no more; and they have called this being the God of the Bible. It is now common to hear phrases like ‘my faith has changed’, ‘I now see a big God, redeeming all and judging none’ ‘I now see that His grace takes us as we are, not forcing us to change, we are simultaneously sinners and saints’, ‘It’s all about love’. It sounds tolerant, culturally relevant, but is no more than a paint job over a confused soul.
The absoluteness of Jesus is offensive to the culture we are desperate to please so we will quietly drop it; hell is offensive, we will raise questions or suspend consideration of the matter; the Bible is excoriated, we will concur that it is mostly figurative and legendary; moral absolutes are offensive, we will preach our ‘golden calf’ of love for whom any mention of sin is judgemental; the supernatural is mocked, we will deny belief in it at the expense of making Jesus appear either moronic or deluded or both.
In the face of all evidence to the contrary, many have chosen to disbelieve every inconvenient truth of Scripture and trumpet this new amazing ‘liberating’ gospel abroad – online, in ‘progressive’ churches and anywhere they get a hearing; they are of course, the darlings of the anti theists. Such people may derive strength from perceived numbers but we need to understand that our very capitulation is a massive indictment of who we are as people and a clear indication of a lack of historical perspective, long term vision and divine revelation. In seeking to appear clever, they merely show the weakness of their position and the feebleness of their character and convictions.
Where however, Israel repented when Moses showed up and grieved over their wrong doing, something thoroughly astounding is taking place in our generation. Our modern prophets of the golden calf have been insidiously turning the tables on the Moses camp. They now, not only blatantly tout their peculiar spiritual wares but confidently call on those who hold on to biblical truth to ‘repent’. Their is no more pernicious lie than the lie believed by the liar. Something terrible happens to the psyche of a person who will not only stray from his God, not only fashion himself a god in his own tainted image, but will be so deluded as to consider this absolute truth to be pounded into the recalcitrant.
More than ever, Christians need to make a decision to know their God, not through the eyes of those who do not know Him, but in the pages of Scripture and on their knees. This is not the time to play church. We cannot underestimate the force of godless ideas. Physical persecution is terrible but mental assault is worse. A prayerless church that takes its cues about God and morality from the anti-theist world has signed its own spiritual death warrant. God is knowable and truth is knowable. The persistent, dogged, patient waiting on God daily establishes assurance and firmness of faith. Obedience, submission to God’s will is a bulwark against pernicious mental acculturation.
No wonder the Bible enjoins us to renew our minds. It is only in so doing that we will see through the scare, intimidation tactics of unbelieving people, that we will stand against insidious emotional and mental manipulation to call evil good and good evil. And it is a desperate need in the church today.