Perhaps the GOP should change its positions to accommodate culture, but should Christ’s Church?

14 Nov

There are those who suggest that, if the GOP is to stave off complete disaster, it must dramatically alter it’s political agenda (platform).  That might make sense for a political party, and Christians might even make the same suggestion to them, since in the common and secular realm, prudence and compromise are necessary, even inevitable (people there are working with different light, general rather than general + special revelation).  But in the church, it is not prudence that must win the day, it is faithfulness.  We are not trying to please or persuade unregenerate men to move our direction, we are trying to please God and His standards.  We may contextualize (Paul said we should) but we must not compromise on doctrinal conviction.  Of course, faithfulness has not exactly been the most important  concern of Christian churches in the past century.  In the name of reaching more folks and being likable to the culture, mainline denominations have abandoned scriptural authority and teaching and many evangelical churches have de-emphasized it or replaced it with church growth and marketing strategies.

J.C. Ryle has some timely things I think to say about this, as did Christ Himself (Matt. 11:16-19.

“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces, who call to their companions and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you didn’t dance. We mourned for you, and you didn’t lament.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.”

Ryle writes:

These sayings of the Lord Jesus were called forth by the state of the Jewish nation, when He was upon earth. But they speak loudly to us also, as well as to the Jews. They throw great light on some parts of the natural man’s character. They teach us the perilous state of many immortal souls in the present day.

The first part of these verses shows us the unreasonableness of many unconverted men in the things of religion. The Jews, in our Lord’s time, found fault with every teacher whom God sent among them. First came John the Baptist preaching repentance–an austere man, a man who withdrew himself from society, and lived an ascetic life. Did this satisfy the Jews? No! They found fault and said, “He has a devil.” Then came Jesus the Son of God, preaching the Gospel, living as other men lived, and practicing none of John the Baptist’s peculiar austerities. And did this satisfy the Jews? No! They found fault again, and said, “Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” In short, they were as perverse and hard to please as ‘contrary children’.

It is a mournful fact, that there are always thousands of professing Christians just as unreasonable as these Jews. They are equally perverse, and equally hard to please. Whatever we teach and preach, they find fault. Whatever be our manner of life, they are dissatisfied. Do we tell them of salvation by grace, and justification by faith? At once they cry out against our doctrine as licentious and antinomian. Do we tell them of the holiness which the Gospel requires? At once they exclaim, that we are too strict, and precise, and righteous overmuch. Are we cheerful? They accuse us of levity. Are we grave? They call us gloomy and sour. Do we keep aloof from balls, and races, and plays? They denounce us as puritanical, exclusive and narrow-minded. Do we eat, and drink, and dress like other people, and attend to our worldly callings and go into society? They sneeringly insinuate that they see no difference between us and those who make no religious profession at all, and that we are not better than other men. What is all this but the conduct of the Jews over again? “We played the flute for you, and you didn’t dance. We mourned for you, and you didn’t lament.” He who spoke these words knew the hearts of men.

The plain truth is, that true believers must not expect unconverted men to be satisfied, either with their faith or their practice. If they do, they expect what they will not find. They must make up their minds to hear objections, cavils, and excuses, however holy their own lives may be. Well says Quesnel, “Whatever measures good men take, they will never escape the censures of the world. The best way is not to be concerned at them.” After all, what says the Scripture? “The mind of the flesh is hostile towards God.” “The natural man doesn’t receive the things of God’s Spirit.” (Rom. 8:7. 1 Cor. 2:14.) This is the explanation of the whole matter.

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