Things Are True
by Dan Coburn
Pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church
Anglican bishop, J.C. Ryle (May 10, 1816 June 10, 1900), on the inclination of the church to compromise in his day. He may have a thing or two to say to the church today as well.
"The consequences of this wide-spread dislike to dogma are very serious in the present day. Whether we like to allow it or not, it is an epidemic which is just now doing great harm, and specially among young people. It produces what I must venture to call, if I may coin the phrase, a jelly-fish Christianity in the land: that is, a Christianity without bone, or muscle, or power. A jelly-fish is a pretty and graceful object when it floats in the sea, contracting and expanding like a little, delicate, transparent umbrella. Yet the same jelly-fish, when cast on the shore, is a mere helpless lump, without capacity for movement, self-defense, or self-preservation. Alas! It is a vivid type of much of the religion of this day, of which the leading principle is, No dogma, no distinct tenets, no positive doctrine.
This just about sums it up. Note the dates; there is nothing new under the sun. In my humble opinion, most if not all of societies' ills can be traced back to this ever deteriorating condition. All the things my generation likes to complain about while the next dreads are a result of jelly-fish preachers sacrificing the convicting message of Christ at the altar of "perceived needs". It is, after all, popular right now. Go into any Barns and Noble and you will find the single largest section of books is the "Self Help" section. Where is God in that? The only thing today's preachers are sure of is that it is vastly unpopular to be sure of anything. After all, numbers are more important than truth- (Wide is the gate). We complain about preachers with "extreme views" but have SHUNNED so far in the other direction, we have no views at all. This manifests itself in "feel good" sermons which neither challenge the Christian, nor convict the sinner. (note; we are all sinners, some saved by Grace while others are dying in rebellion to the only prescribed cure which is the shed blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ).
And why do we pussy-foot around it? It is the only question worthy of asking? "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord we persuade men". from our seminaries, we are pumping out great numbers of men who are trained to address felt needs, and build budgets and baptisms by not offending anyone. They had classes like "Being Relevant"? Is the implication that the Word of God is not? Application: I know many of you hear anger in my tone, and it is not. The Bible (in Jude) tells me to: "earnestly contend for the faith". This means to fight for it. In Galatians 1, Paul says: "If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed." -vs 9
When you deal with the lady who has received the worst diagnosis you can imagine, when a marriage is coming apart at the seams, when a mother's heart is breaking because her precious child is making terrible harmful decisions, or worse when parents loose a child in a senseless tragedy, they don't need philosophy! They don't need relevant anecdotes. They don't need cutsie stories! They need to know the God of the universe; The "lifter of my head". The "Blessed Hope". The redeemer. And for you preacher - If we neglect so great a salvation, what hope remains for us? We are doubly accountable. If we don't, we pump out a sea of Jelly-fish Christians. Respectable by every worldly standard, with no palpable stand on anything.
Lacking the ability to discern the most basic of dogma, believing in part or parcel that everybody is at least partially right. Sound familiar? "What about me preacher?" I weep as I beg you, to find a Church that 1) preaches Jesus, and 2) challenges you. Otherwise, you look great in the water. God bless.