Michael Bresciani
The way that seems right: the social church in America
By Michael Bresciani
November 19, 2009

Sound theology is being supplanted daily by the church's drive toward a more social gospel. Fighting poverty, aids, hunger and homelessness are now considered more important than getting people saved. Are we on the right track?

All you have to do today to get a crowd in church is announce a study on The Purpose Driven Life. Even Catholics have taken to Warren-izing their congregations. If you want a little more credence then invite U2's Bono to your conference or Joel Osteen to your news panel. It all sounds good, but is it?

Telling people everything is fine and only good things are going to happen is not a new thing. In fact the scriptures warn that during the approach to the last days that such messages will be the hallmark of the false prophets. (Luke 6:26)

One mega-church pastor recently polled his congregation only to be shocked by the result. He proclaimed that his church was full of child molesters, homosexuals, thieves, adulterers and every kind of unrepentant sinner. He concluded that the message he was presenting probably needed to change. What was that message he had used up to that time; you guessed it, the social gospel.

To be thought of as effective the church must now leave off the worn out issues like abortion, homosexuality, and sin in general and move on to the more socially conscious issues like poverty and aids. No one in their right mind would say that fighting poverty or aids isn't worthy but is it the primary function of the church or the gospel; not on your life.

When the ancient King Solomon prayed for wisdom instead of the death of his enemies the Lord was so pleased with him that he promised he would make him the wisest man to ever live. These words came from the wisest of the wise, "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Pr. 16:25) This may suggest that even the best intentions can be wrong but let's not leave it there. Answering just why some good intentions are wrong is what is needed.

Not even the prophesied apostasy of the church in the last days can fully explain its sudden paradigm shift away from its commissioned service which has always been to present a saving gospel to a lost and dying world. It is easier to understand the wholesale shift away from her original purpose when considering that it only took about 100 years for the first churches to leave their first love. (Rev 2:4) Now some 2000 years later, how far have we drifted from the original commission given to us by Christ which was to present the gospel to every living person toward their own salvation? (Mt 28:19-20)

The starting point of the shift begins when churches begin to look at outward actions to replace sound biblically based theology. But this could take us to a thousand points all over the Bible so we will have to hone in on only a few.

The 28th chapter of Deuteronomy starts with a list of great blessings that will ensue if Israel obeys God's commandments, which are all for their own good anyway. Only about one quarter of the way through the chapter a list of curses begins. The curses are what will happen if they ignore God's statutes and commandments. It is a thing of horror. Yet it reads not at all unlike the front page of any daily newspaper.

What we have is unanswered prayers, blight on the crops, disease, warfare, mental problems, drought, and much more. From Genesis to Revelation this theme is carried through with amazing singularity. It says one thing and only one thing; sin is what causes our calamities. In the modern social gospel we have come to believe that the calamity is the sin.

The Bible says we have disease, war, pestilence et al because we choose to go on sinning. Modernity's perverse take on things is that we must fight the effect, the outcome or the promised result of our sin all the while we label the old church as ineffective and stodgy and sail ahead with a more socially acceptable agenda. Sin is not the problem but only the effect of sin in the social gospel. We have become a nation of people who are satisfied to fight symptoms but not interested in a cure for the disease, in reality we won't even admit we have a disease.

Here is the case of constantly sweeping out the spider webs but never doing anything about the spider. Not many dare risk the ridicule that would follow the proclamation that you have disease because you sin; you have poverty because we all sin. You have judgments, chastisement, and interventional awakenings all the way up to the second coming of Jesus Christ because sin literally takes over near the end of days.

Feeding the hungry, treating the sick or trying to relieve poverty is nothing to scoff at but it is not the full story and it will never be the true gospel or the primary mission of the true church.

In a world that has lost its way it is still hard to believe that only this week one church leader called for church bells to ring across Europe to mark the summit in Copenhagen on global warming. Fighting aids is one thing but jumping on the global warming wagon when some of the best minds in the world are decrying it as the biggest hoax of the century hardly seems a worthy cause for a pack of cub scouts much less the noble ecclesia or body of called out ones commonly called the church.

Christ said a man could enter heaven even if on earth he was lame or blind, poor or uneducated (Mt 9:45) but no one is allowed in who has not repented and been born again. (Jn 3:3)

Perhaps in our search for a more purpose driven life we have ignored the overriding and far more important purpose of God. That purpose is to bring each man to salvation through the sacrifice of his Son on the cross. When did our purposes become greater than His?

© Michael Bresciani


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