Thursday, August 25, 2022

Far from Home

How does an activist pastor get away with preaching a Jesus who is so un-Christlike? 

There are two primary ways. 

First, we have to recognize that pastors have a measure of authority. And when someone has authority, we assume that someone has learning. And when we assume that someone has learning, we assume that person knows more than us, so we trust that person to teach us. This is, truly, what ends up getting most of these activist pastors in trouble eventually - they rest so heavily on the authority that they have by virtue of their position that it comes their downfall. 

But in the meantime, they enjoy that measure of authority that lets them essentially preach whatever they want to, appeal to their own authority, and convince the masses that they must be right. They must know what they're talking about. After all, they're the pastor. 

So what happens then is that we have entire groups of persons who buy into what their pastor is saying and buy into it so wholeheartedly that they start repeating it, then the voices claiming that Jesus really is just like this grow. And a whole army of militant Christians who have adopted their activist pastor's pet project is unleashed upon the world. 

All you have to do is look at the comment section of any of the radical, non-Jesus-like claims these radical pastors are making, and you can see how it happens. They are filled with "amen" and "you preach it, brother" and "when will the world understand?" (That last one is really scary because it means that person has so thoroughly adopted the pastor's activism that the whole world is backward and wrong and lost and damned.) (Not, of course, that our world is not lost and getting some things wrong - that, of course, is the heart of the Gospel, but this is different.) 

The second way that pastors are able to continue to preach this kind of non-Christlike activism is even more pernicious: they get away with it because it sounds so much like the message of the world. 

These pastors adopt positions that are very worldly positions. They are hot-button issues, things the whole world is talking about. Things the world is even condemning Christianity for (which is why so many activist pastors build a platform on condemning the church). And we know that the more you hear a message, the more likely you are to believe that that message is the truth. So if you're hearing a message from the world, and your pastor then preaches it from the pulpit, then by gosh, it must be true. 

So these pastors are using your predisposition to believe the things you hear over and over again to make sure you're hearing their platform over and over again, and what better way to do that than to adopt a platform that you're already hearing?

This is how we end up with such a worldly Jesus being preached in our churches. This is how we end up with congregations that are very world-affirming, whose starting point seems to be that the world is getting it right and the church is getting it wrong. We see this all the time, don't we? And then we start to slowly question the church instead of the questioning the world, and from there, it's not hard to climb fully on board with this kind of platform. The world is saying it. The pastor is saying. Not long after, the church starts to say it. And all of a sudden, we have a Jesus who is no longer building His church, but condemning it. And that's the Jesus these activist pastors end up preaching. 

How far from the Gospel we have fallen! And it happens just like that. 

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