God is quickly turning the church world over to a reprobate mind.
Their minds no longer grasp the spiritual because God has removed that ability. Reprobate minds do not and cannot see the revealed mind of truth or God in the Bible. It is all a blur. “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Romans 1:28).
Signs of a New Church World
- Preaching is academic teaching.
- The atmosphere is entertaining.
- There are no standards on moral issues.
- Everything is relative.
- Transgender is okay.
- Sodomy is no longer sin but choice.
- The Bible calls it apostasy.
- The devil loves it.
- Worldly people love it.
- It cannot go in the Rapture.
- It will be heartbreaking on the day after the Rapture.
There is a strange and mystical spirit which governs the whole life of the new church world, especially the mega churches. It is impossible to read the Bible and not see the total disconnection between Bible Christianity and the new church syndrome. “Take up your cross and follow me,” as Jesus said, just does not fit the Sunday morning (the newest thing now is Saturday night) meetings of these mass churches. Please do not confuse this article with the possibility that a good church should not grow big. There is a difference today in the mega church development and in the fact that there have been and still are good churches that have become very large and effective for the gospel, especially in other countries.
The New Church Paradigm Is The Difference
As I view it, two basic philosophies are the controlling ideas within the new church world. These ideas are totally different from the Biblical basis of the Kingdom of God. I remember the last few years of my experiences in the Church of God (Cleveland, TN). Everywhere you went, the men who were speakers and the ideas they taught were from these two new thought patterns. It was all new to me, and I remember asking questions and raising concerns, to the dismay of my peers and leaders. On one occasion I called the Dean of the Greek language and the most respected teacher in our Theological School in Cleveland, TN, to make inquiry of my concerns. He established my worst fears and agreed with me regarding the danger of what was happening.
Let me try to begin my suggestions with an added invitation to my friends across our reading audience. Please respond and either add or disagree with this discussion. Maybe I’m all wrong, and if I am, I will do my best to retrace my steps. Honestly, I do not think I am wrong. If you agree or disagree, please let me hear from you. I have waited several years since my departure from the above-named denomination to even try and speak to this issue. Somehow, I believe it is time to address these concerns.
The new paradigm of the church, and especially the mega churches, stretches across the spectrum of doctrines. One of the strongest possible signs that something is wrong in this new church world is the fact that doctrine and the level of the gospel message have nothing to do with these churches. From Willow Creek, where the cross is totally removed, to the Harvest Church in Atlanta, where Earl Paulk is a moral basket case [he has since died], they grow and grow. When the two philosophical factors that we will discuss are rightly united with a personality persona of the proper order, its success from the beginning.
The First Philosophy Is Sociology or Sociological Factors
I actually remember one of the Assistant General Overseers of our church teaching a seminar to District Pastors based on this method of thinking. It was the great teacher at the School of Theology that told me the book to read and the identity of this thinking. During the course of the presentation, not one Bible basis was ever suggested. We were simply told what the wave of human interest wanted and the results we would get if we followed his suggestions. As the dear Doctor of Theology had told me, it was the new sociological approach to church growth.
What is Sociology? It is the humanistic study of human nature. As the idea develops, all of us have certain buttons that affect our responses. If the minister will learn to only affect the positive button or emotion within the human mind, he will get mainly positive results from those he encounters. The thoughts of this sociological world are many times more complex than my simple illustration, but it serves to establish what I’m suggesting. Sociology is dealing with people based on secular humanism and its methods of understanding and affecting our world.
You will probably recall hearing terms like “user-friendly churches,” “positive evangelism,” “relevant church life,” “soft evangelism,” “dressing down,” etc. All of these terms were apparently developed to make the sociological idea acceptable. No one has done the job of building “secular humanist” churches better than Willow Creek. They are identified as being one of the strongest advocates of the “genderless Bible” that the NIV has developed. That’s the natural outgrowth of a humanistic philosophy. Every church that continues to develop by their paradigm will become just as liberal and will continue to spiral downward from truth to error.
You must understand that sociology at best is nothing but dressed-up humanism, and at worst, nothing but the ideas of the fallen nature. Its ultimate end is the work of the flesh. The possibility of sociology being a true paradigm for church life does not exist. It is building your life on the sinking sand of human inadequacies. These churches will ultimately fail and take a host of souls to hell in the process. The Holy Ghost of God does not anoint one idea or program that is not totally and utterly Biblical truth. We are saved by the naked truth of God’s Word anointed by the authority of God’s Spirit. If this generation is too wimpy to accept truth on the Biblical level, then the only answer is God’s judgment.
These mega sociological churches are giving the people an experience in soulical entertainment that actually feels like church. We are religious creatures that have a built-in need for an “out of the natural” relationship with God/god. The dead mainline churches are losing members by the thousands to the new church world, especially the mega churches that are built on sociology. The lifestyle within these two church factors is discernibly no different, except for this sense of a religious experience. The latest report on divorce just discovered that for the first time ever the divorce rate in the church is now 2% higher than the pagan world. This report almost certainly reveals the very lifestyle within these new paradigm churches. They represent the overriding percentage of developing church life. The inferior picture of the absence of holiness could not be more glaring. It feels like church, but it does not produce righteousness because it is nothing but humanism.
The Other Philosophy Is Called Psychology
There is great similarity between sociology and psychology. The first deals mainly with the physical side of man, while the second deals with his inner person. The first is about how man feels and acts, while the latter is about how he relates to his deeper self and his relationship with others. Psychology is an even more pure form of secular humanism than sociology. At least sociology is easier disguised than psychology. They make an incredible pair of ideas for the subtle works of destroying the vitality and Holy Ghost life of the church.
Psychology does not need the life-transforming work of the Holy Ghost. Even if and when it is stated that the church is still dependent on the Spirit, it is only a beautiful cover up. Every program of these churches, from the Counseling Department and the Ten-Step Programs, right down to the style of preaching in the pulpit, is a constant reliance on psychological ideas and principles. Sermons on relationships deal with the exact same psychological paradigms, as you would find in a psychoanalysis class setting. It is a constant “how you can help yourself” approach to the Christian life rather than the pure Gospel, which is about the transforming redeeming work of Jesus Christ. It is a totally different world than the true church of Jesus Christ.
Redemption by the blood is preached mainly as a cold, calculated idea that men blindly accept. Once the person has redeemed himself/herself by making this so-called decision, he/she is then responsible to use all of these sociological and psychological tools to start the process of changing himself/herself. Of course, they will need the church’s Counseling Department to help with major problems (at a fee) and the small groups (Sunday school, etc.) for the weekly discussions and psychoanalysis setting. The study of the Bible makes a wonderful sounding session to allow for the therapeutic relief of pent-up emotions. If these young humanistic converts will avail themselves of all the sociological and psychological help, they should be better and more dependent on the whole process week after week.
Just a little investigation will quickly reveal that the back doors of these new and often mega centers are just a bit smaller than the front doors. Crowds are flooding through the doors and from the center to center, and often to nowhere. It is not even kin to the great revivals where men and women were gloriously transformed to the kingdom of God. Psychology is the most deceiving of all ideas to be integrated into church life. Man has a natural fallen tendency to want to attend to his spiritual needs by his own worth and wisdom. It has been a fallacy plaguing the true church at every turn of history. Bringing this idea into the heart of a religious movement as represented in the mega church paradigm was bound to be temporarily successful by large numbers. It cannot and will not stand the test of time.
Adding the Personality of the Guru
These new paradigm centers must have their individual gurus. No idea has controlling power until it is given some flesh and bone. These new religious programs are always dependent on a good charlatan that has credibility. It may seem unfair to call these “senior pastors” charlatans, but it is unfair to “godly pastors” to call these men anything else. They are charlatans with the great magical ability to take the sociological and psychological ideas and to build the crowd’s confidence into something so utterly false. They rob one great church after the other in the process of their success.
A pastor that attended a training center for this kind of religious idea told me the one transcending thing that they were instructed to do. They were told that they must first create a “mystique about themselves.” What a revealing idea! Anyone that has pastored in a city where these churches exist will quickly affirm the fact of this information. These men are mystical-type leaders that quickly carry themselves off into a strange world. It is not all their fault. In fact, I am not sure how such an idea developed.
Jim Bakker Was a Striking Example
This dear man certainly did not design the plan that enveloped and destroyed him. He was indeed one of the first gurus of this magnitude. He was elevated, exalted, and finally worshipped until he was totally unable to protect his own mind from believing the crazy world into which he had fallen. His programs (whoever designed them) gave the people (sociologically) what the flesh (in a basically good sense) wanted. Mix these satisfying plans with enough religious emotions, and you had success on a grand scale. Paul and Jan Crouch represent [both have since died] this same world. It is sociology (feel-good flesh) and psychology (human religion) mixed together with a churchy feeling of strong emotions. Our flesh-loving world goes crazy over this mixture. [Joel Osteen is an example today.]
The men and women who lead these religious centers are not bad people. They are certainly misguided and, in most cases, will end up on the ash heap of destroyed lives. The list of such failures grows with each day. Humans were not designed by our Creator to lead such man-centered programs. The only way to make the new paradigm centers successful is to exalt the guru to the place of human insanity. No person will survive this position of human worship, but for a limited time. They will either give it up themselves, or pride and sin will do it for them.
The only possible conclusion is that the new paradigm and mega church idea is totally unbiblical. The idea we heard in our denomination was words sometimes similar to this statement: “We have the same message, but we are using different methods.” It is easy to see how that idea has hooked so many good people. There is some truth in the thought as long as the methods never depart from Biblical principles.
Sociology and psychology are humanistic ideas that have no place of importance in God’s church. Our understanding of man and his needs must be based totally on Christ-centered principles. Our influence over men must not be human manipulation, but Divine inspiration.
“And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one” (1 John 5:8).
Whatever His church needs is found completed in His Holy Spirit, His infallible Word, and in the shed blood of His Son. To move one inch from this Biblical center is to invite failure and ultimate judgment.