Sunday, February 20, 2011

Are you a Christian or a Christ follower?

There's a young man at work who likes to talk to me about the Christian life. He isn't a Christian, although I think he grew up going to church. He now rejects the notion that Jesus is the Son of God and our Savior and Lord. He laughs at creation and says science is more reliable than the Bible. He believes in God, the grand architect of the universe, but he pooh-poohs the concept of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus. He believes everyone who is good will go to heaven. Of course, he believes he is a good person who will go to heaven.

And he is a decent young fellow in many ways. He cares about some people, and will go out of his way to help them. Others he doesn't care so much about.

He likes to bait me. I told him that I would never try to get him to change his mind about Jesus. He said, "You'd like for me to believe in him, though, wouldn't you." I said, "Well, of course, but you are an adult, intelligent and a free moral agent. The choice is yours, not mine. You've heard the gospel many times. You know the gospel better than a lot of Christians. It's up to you, not me, to accept it, and I'm not going to try to force or coerce or badger you into believing it."

He shut up for awhile, and then started baiting me again. I told him, "Friend, I have become a true Calvinist. I believe in election and predestination. Some are elected to damnation, some are elected to salvation. I've obviously been elected to salvation, because I believe in the Jesus way so thoroughly. You have been elected to damnation. You don't believe because you can't believe. You're going to hell and there's nothing you can do about it. So go ahead and enjoy what time you've got here."

He said, "I can't believe you just said that." We didn't talk about Jesus for a long time.

I like him and enjoy talking to him about things he sees on the History Channel. He likes to talk about ancient astronauts and alien visitations to Earth. These concepts have apparently been accepted as facts by the History Channel, for there are so many shows about them.

The other day he started in about Jesus. I told him that he sounded like a post-modern, post-evangelical, emergent/emerging church member. He asked what that was. I told him that I had been reading on the internet about the changes in the evangelical churches and had discovered the new church movement is something more to his liking.

"You could very easily fit into a new post-modern church. The emerging church members don't call themselves Christians. They call themselves Christ followers. They see Jesus as a great teacher and role model. They call him savior and lord but they have redefined those terms to mean that he saves our lives and transforms us because he is our model for life, like the Buddha."

I explained that the Christ followers don't see each of us as sinners who need salvation. That's a false teaching of fundamentalists like me, according to the post-modernists. Instead, they see us all as good people who need to see ourselves through Christ's loving eyes as good people worth dying for.

Christ followers should teach others about their value by being missional, i.e. doing good works to help others live better here on earth. Post-modern missionaries don't talk to people about sin and salvation through the blood of Jesus. In fact, the blood of Jesus is, to the emerging church member, a macabre, ghoulish topic of conversation.

Moreover, I told him, the emerging post-modernists believe all religions are equal. To say that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no one can approach God except through him is an exclusivist error, according to them; you can approach God through Islam, Buddhism and other religions. Christianity, which was earlier called The Way, is just one way. Any way is the right way; it's just a different way. There are many roads leading up the mountain. Faith is universal.

"Go Google 'emerging church,' " I told my friend. "One good source is Jesus Creed. You can learn to be a Christ follower."

A day or two later, he came back and told me that he had indeed Googled 'emerging church' and had done quite a bit of reading. He said that he had found a lot of agreement. He said that he doubted he'd try to find an emerging congregation to join up with, though. "What would be the point?" he said.

Well, lots of young people enjoy the get-togethers at modern churches, as this report indicates: Non-denomination religion gaining ground among youth. If you read the article, you'll notice there's no messiness about sin, salvation, blood of Christ or trusting and obeying for there's no other way. It's all fun.

Young people will choose fun over faith every time.

No comments: