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Opinions Sat, 24 Sep 2005

Modernized Christianity - Scriptural or Unscriptural?

(A GNA Feature by Rex Annan)
Accra, Sept. 24, GNA -- We live in a world driven by acute individualism, leisure and love for easy life. This trend has over time metamorphosed into a global enterprise that thrives on banal commercialism and consumerist culture.
It is a new order in which nothing is sacrosanct any more. Nowhere is this more obvious than on the questions concerning Christianity. The faith is traditionally conservative. But now, there is a clash of cultures between modernism and Christianity, where individual comfort is squeezing out even a muted search for spiritual meaning in life. The result is that church halls across the developed world in particular, have continued to be emptying out, as many people in those societies no longer see the need to go to church. Many more do not see the need to go out and mix with other people at all whether in the church or theatre.
And in this part of the world, many who thronged to the church do so for what they can get out of the church, and once their objective is achieved, they beat a hasty retreat.
Alarmingly boastful voices, even among the Christian community, are openly proclaiming that Christianity faces a mortal danger. It must either adapt or die. It must be modernised to make it more acceptable in this age.
Interestingly this development has been accurately captured by the scriptures as part of the events that will characterise the end of the age - I Timothy 4:1-2: 93Now the Spirit speaks expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines; speaking lies and hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron.=94 And II Timothy 3: 12: 93This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous boasters, proud blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful and unholy.=94 We are living in an age dominated and driven by liberal democracy. This trend has inexplicably swept through the Christian Church, which in its modernised form has become acutely egalitarian. Debate, disputation and dissension have all found safe bed within Christianity.
Everything is open to question and intense inquiry. There is no sacred ground anymore. This has had very noticeable impacts. Modernised Christianity has no place for prescribed codes of behaviour, commandments or plain dos and don'ts. It discounts sin and sacrifice as old fashion interpretation of the scriptures.
It dismisses the thought of pain and suffering with the argument that God is not so vindictive, so bereft of love that He would allow or make those who revel in sinful conduct, to experience pain and the pang of the consequences of their actions both here on earth and in the hereafter. Modern Christianity has been developed into an alternative centre of socialisation in the hope that this will attract the many in the population who remain outside the fold of the Church.
It insists that God is not really concerned with how you turn out or what you do, but rather looks only at your heart. The ladies, for instance are free to go to worship in scanty and skimpy dresses or tights that reveal all the curves of their objects of body, constituting themselves into objects of temptation to men, or wear good old trousers that show that they can be masculine too.
The modernised Church worship has become sensual, satisfying the flesh; shallow, bereft of spirituality.
In short, what is referred to as soft-core spirituality or self-worship thrives in the modernised Church.
By permitting divorce and re-marriage for whatever reason, modernised Christianity promotes polygamy and even polyandry by the back door. The same rationale for adopting a liberal attitude towards the institution of marriage is what has given rise to the spread of same sex unions or marriages even by clergymen in developed countries. Same sex civil unions previously unknown in our society is catching up with us at an alarming rate, particularly among some groups of Christians, who are eager to adapt to changing trends in society. The standard of God for the Christian life is one of modernization and decency, solemnity and sobriety.
Modernised Christianity does not consider very apt the Spartan, disciplined and exemplary lifestyle of Jesus Christ. Modernised Christians are often indistinguishable from the larger society in terms of their taste for the things of life.
They thrive in flamboyance and fleshly lifestyle, whether in dressing, social interaction or even in the simple matter of their speech, which more often than not, is couched in boastfulness. From the foregoing, is modernised Christianity scriptural or not? The answer is emphatically that it is unscriptural. For one, Christianity is based on total depravity of man and the redemptive work accomplished for mankind by Jesus Christ. But modernised Christianity does not see sin as an evil conduct, abhorrent, abominable and degrading. Instead, it sees sin as a mere weakness.
It does not seek to have sins washed away, pardoned and forgiven, but that the consequences of such sins are healed or mollified. The redefinition of individual freedom, liberty and permissiveness has blurred the boundary between vice and virtue.
A moral framework within which to locate an individual is effectively broken down; so that a fellow may steal huge sums of money from his employers and openly donate same to his church without any question being asked. The scriptures put it more succinctly: 93They profess to know God but in works they deny Him, being abominable and disobedient and unto every good work reprobate=94 (Titus 1:16) What we call modernised Christianity is in fact, a misnomer. Christianity is not a variable that shifts at your own whims and caprices, or that can be modernised in tune with changing times and trends. It is beyond man to make such a purely rational decision on what intrinsically belongs to the higher realm.
Therefore, an opposite summary of recommendations for the beleaguered Church or Christian in this age of enlightenment, is to earnestly contend for the faith, which was once delivered unto the saints (Jude 3); to fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life (1 Timothy 6:12); to lay hands suddenly on no man (1 Timothy 5:22); but rather, to walk in wisdom (Colossians 4:5); meddle not with them that are given to change (Proverbs 24:21); but rather, to come out from among them and be ye separate (II Corinthians 6:17).
The banning of wearing of mini-skirt to church by the Methodist Church of Ghana should not be viewed as a matter affecting women's rights.
Those organisations that have been taking money from lesbian and gay societies in the industrialised world to undermine African values under the guise of fighting for the rights of women and children should stay clear. The move by the Methodist Church should rather be seen as an attempt to address a serious problem which should not be left to fester. 24 Sept. 06

Columnist: GNA