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    RELIGIOUS RELATIVISM By Paul Proctor May 23, 2004 NewsWithViews.com How many of you have heard that a church is built on relationships? According to a
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      By Paul Proctor

      May 23, 2004


      How many of you have heard that a church is built on

      According to a Pastors.com article by Rick Warren; after
      polling a group of church members, a friend of his told him he
      discovered that 93% of the people joined because of the pastor
      but that 93% would stay, even if that pastor left because “I
      have friends here.”

      So, instead of pointing out that following a pastor or friend,
      rather than Christ, is unbiblical, Warren chooses to exploit
      the error by declaring, “Relationships are the glue that holds
      a church together;” that we should therefore, “think
      relationally;” (not scripturally) adding that this “shift in
      allegiance” is “normal and healthy;” never once mentioning the
      Word of God, the Holy Spirit or any allegiance to Christ. It
      is because, in the church growth movement, an overriding
      emphasis is always placed on human relationships and how to
      manipulate them.

      Using this pragmatic and unscriptural approach, Warren turns
      the sinful nature of men into a tool for church growth rather
      than bringing human nature under subjection to God’s Word by
      preaching repentance and faith and directing our allegiance
      toward Christ only. The true church, you see, is not built on
      relationships but on the Living Word of God.

      “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which
      is Jesus Christ.” – 1st Corinthians 3:11

      In spite of Warren’s erroneous advice, you should know that a
      church built on relationships is a church ruled by
      relationships and is no godlier than any other social club or
      organization; because a church ruled by RELATI-onships is a
      church ruled by RELATI-vism and will readily sacrifice
      anything that jeopardizes those relationships, including the
      often-divisive Word of God.

      In addition, when relationships are given priority over
      absolute truth, the church’s door is, in effect, left wide
      open for any charismatic charlatan that might come along with
      sweet lies and crocodile tears, to charm and deceive those who
      rely on the clever devices of men rather than the power of God
      – something we see quite a lot of these days.

      When put to the test, these “relators” as I like to call them,
      will always forfeit scriptural commands (remain silent) to
      stay in the good graces of a favored friend, family member,
      group or organization. Believers, on the other hand, will obey
      whatever God commands, regardless of what people think, say or
      do, because their allegiance is to Him first.

      The church today not only accepts such idolatry, but sells it
      from the pulpit as “God’s love” through words like
      “tolerance”, “diversity”, “unity”, “community”, “leadership”,
      “teamwork”, “consensus”, “contagious”, “purpose-driven”,
      “passion”, “seeker sensitive” and, of course, “relationship.”

      In contrast, churches that are built upon God’s Word, never
      move, never change, never compromise or surrender absolute
      truth to accommodate the feelings, fashions, emotions,
      appetites or agendas of any person or group – no matter how
      good and “loving” their intentions may be.

      In a recent Diaprax conference I attended, Dean Gotcher said
      that the true meaning of “sacred” is whatever we will not
      compromise or question. To some of us, that means God’s Word;
      to others, it means a relationship. And, we can become as
      addicted to those relationships as a drunk is to alcohol,
      following them like a slave to the grave, if that’s where they
      lead us.

      The church is in the current state it is in because many
      Christians today are demonstrating a sacred allegiance to
      spouses, children, friends, employers, employees, politicians,
      parties, ministries, denominations, pastors, evangelists,
      music ministers, teachers, entire classes and whole
      congregations, instead of God's Word, repeatedly compromising,
      if not dismissing altogether, explicit commands that demand
      obedience. Why? They do it to preserve a relationship or the
      precious unity of a treasured group or organization and all of
      the good feelings that come with it.

      The simple definition of “humanism,” according to The World
      English Dictionary is: “a concern with the needs, well-being,
      and interests of people.” Sounds very compassionate, doesn’t
      it? In fact, it sounds a lot like today’s Christianity.
      Nevertheless, true faith in Christ concerns itself with the
      interests of Jesus Christ and His Word FIRST – people, second.
      This is the lordship of Christ.

      Christians who defer God’s interests for the interests of
      people undermine the very Gospel they claim and unwittingly
      embrace, what amounts to, Christian flavored humanism and a
      carnal philosophy that teaches, “The end justifies the means;”
      which is why so many churches have become religious recreation
      centers for the scripturally challenged.

      But, listen to what Jesus asked Simon Peter regarding
      relationships that were near and dear to him:

      “So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon,
      son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” – John 21:15a

      What person or group of persons do you love more than Jesus?
      If the Lord called on you to give them up, would you obey?
      Abraham was tested over this very issue when asked by the Lord
      to sacrifice his own son, Isaac. Abraham loved God more than
      his only son and was willing to give him up to prove it. Are
      we willing to trust and obey God even if it costs us a
      relationship? Do we have a stand-alone faith that believes the
      Word of God even at the expense of a loved one or friend?

      Jesus put it in very blunt terms earlier in His ministry when
      preaching on discipleship?

      “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother,
      and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and
      his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:26

      I dare say most Christians today wouldn’t even bother to give
      up a corrupt church, company or club they belong to, much less
      a rebellious friend or family member that was leading them
      astray. But, that’s just what we’re called to do when they
      come between God and us.

      Many church growth leaders will try and convince you that you
      can’t love God without first loving others; and that you can’t
      love others until you first love yourself. That makes loving
      self job one, doesn’t it? What more, God moves to third place.
      More idolatry…

      But, like most things in the church growth movement, they have
      it all backwards and sideways. The truth is; you can’t really
      love others as Jesus loves them, without first loving God and
      denying yourself. And, loving God means absolute obedience to
      His Word; the very thing that may alienate you from friends
      and family. But, that’s just the cost of discipleship and the
      true measure of our love for God.

      You see, Agape love is found in the absolute truth of God's
      Word. Phileo love requires only a relationship.

      Which one is sacred to you?

      “And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters
      or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will
      receive a hundred times as much in return and will have
      eternal life.” – Matthew 19:29

      Related articles:

      The Loneliness of the Christian.

      Rick Warren: Relationships hold your church

      © 2004 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved


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      Paul Proctor, a rural resident of the Volunteer state and
      seasoned veteran of the country music industry, retired from
      showbiz in the late 1990's to dedicate himself to addressing
      important social issues from a distinctly biblical
      perspective. As a freelance writer and regular columnist for
      NewsWithViews.com, he extols the wisdom and truths of
      scripture through commentary and insight on cultural trends
      and current events. His articles appear regularly on a variety
      of news and opinion sites across the internet and in print.
      Paul may be reached at watchman@...

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