So this is the week that I nearly turned in my official Evangelical badge. (No they don’t actually exist, but I would have considered it if they did.) For some time I have been concerned that we have been so distracted by secondary issues that we have failed to see the reality of the encroaching darkness all around us. If we aren’t arguing over whether we are a complementarian or an egalitarian in our marriages or about our views on eschatology or ecclesiology we are looking for the next trendy topic to bring attention to our blog or tribe. Nothing creates blog traffic like a good fight.
This week, the fight was about being a Cessationist vs. being a Continuationist. If you are like me, I had to look up a few of these words to really understand the argument. John MacArthur and his tribe hosted the Strange Fire conference this past week and the evangelical internet nearly blew up. Apparently, he has decided to revisit to issue of whether or not the gifts of the spirit are for today. In doing so, he even accused the modern charismatic movement of attributing the work of the devil to the Holy Spirit. Nothing like accusing fellow Christian brothers and sisters of a little devil worship to stir things up. Not surprisingly, this event caused quite a backlash and lots of responses from evangelicals of all stripes.
While I certainly do not question the sincerity of John’s cessationist views, I am deeply frustrated by the means he has chosen to advance his cause. Do we really need another mega-conference and sensationalist book to have a robust discussion and sincere disagreement in the body of Christ? Christians have disagreed on this issue for a long time and will probably do so until Jesus returns to settle it once and for all. Even if the book was necessary to clarify or identify his views on the subject, did he need to use such polemical language?
While all of this is going on, the secular world is all up in arms about who is going to play the lead male role in the movie based on the best-selling 50 Shades of Grey books. For a while now, these books that would have been censored in an earlier generation, have been at the top of the New York Times Best Seller lists. Some have dubbed them “mommy porn” and others have pointed out that erotica is now being sold in Wal-Mart and at the grocery store. While there is nothing really new about smutty novels with more and more outrageous covers being sold, their wide spread acceptance in the culture is new. Women (and men) no longer need to worry about people knowing what they are reading from the sensational nature of the book’s cover as they privately turn the pages on their Kindle.
Today, the prevalence of pornography has become the number one issue for campus ministers dealing with young men at colleges and universities. It is no longer just a minor problem or a small issue; it has become a problem of epidemic proportions. Good data suggests that virtually no man under the age of thirty has not been exposed to this evil plague. The proportion of men that are involved in ministry as pastors and church staff struggling with this temptation is at an all-time high. It is so bad, that people I love and trust in key positions of leadership have referred to this problem as their number one concern for the church in the years to come.
So here we are fighting battles that prove to a watching world that we really are as “petty” as they thought while Satan advances his cause one step further. Romans 12:2 speaks very clearly about the being transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we may discern what is the will of God. It is time to plant a stake in the ground and say ENOUGH to Satan and his minions. We have ceded too much mindshare and it is time for something to change. Those of us in the business of Christian content creation, production and distribution need to get on our knees and beg God for mercy and for an opportunity to play a part in helping to change the tide of encroaching filth. We do not have a moment to waste. Let’s start fighting the real battle against the real enemy and stop shooting our own soldiers. Our time is now, the need is urgent – the world is watching!