by Matt Slick
There's a famine in the land and God's people are starving--they just don't know it yet. When I turn on Christian T.V. I'm often served a seven step (or should I say course) message about my right to prosperity, how I am supposed to have my best life now, or I'm told that Christ's atonement bought me health and wealth. Via my mega deluxe 5.1 surround sound system I can hear the slightest ripping sounds as scriptures are wrenched from their context by smiling and well-manicured preachers, whose careful verse selection can make God's word say anything. But wait, there's more! Let's not forget the well placed emotional story meant to touch our emotions and move us to believe. After gagging on the mamby-pamby, me-centered, emotional theology, I am then usually treated to a syrup "the-love-of-Jesus-is-all-we-need" message. It makes me sick. Excuse me while I go purge.
Okay, I'm back. Now, where was I? Oh yeah, theological starvation. Is it me, or are these T.V. preachers whacked? Can any of them exegete his (or, unfortunately, her) way out of a wet-paper heresy? What gives? Where's the beef? Where's the meat? And now that I'm asking, what is wrong with God's sheep that motivates them to write checks to the well-spoken yet theologically shallow preachers? Is it just because they are told what they want to hear? Is it really that simple?
Maybe I'm just a whiner. Maybe I'm too nit-picky when it comes to details. Maybe I shouldn't argue about the finer points of doctrine as long as people are being helped. Yeah . . . maybe I should listen to those preachers more carefully and really consider how much God has done for me on the cross. After all, doctrine is so divisive and we need unity. We need love. We need to all get along and smile and speak gently to one another. Can't we all just get along?
Uh oh . . . Excuse me while I go purge again.
That one was rough.
Now, for real, I think I've got STS--Spiritual Tourets Syndrome. Seriously, I can't help myself. When I listen to the feel-good-prosper-me preachers, after a while I start twitching, grunting, and involuntarily blurting out things like "Crap!" and "Barf!" and "Moron!" My wife sticks her head in the room and asks if I'm okay. I stare at her like I'm sitting on a sharp rock and then I grunt out a heavily emphasized, unintelligible series of syllables as I point to the T.V. She says, "Yes dear," and then goes back to whatever she was doing. I guess she's grown accustomed to hearing my touretish outbursts.
Dang, purging time again.
Now I feel better. But wait, I'm craving some meat. I absolutely must have some context-driven analysis of God's holy word that both rips me up and comforts me. As a card-carrying sinner, I admit that I want my ears tickled, but I also want my rear handed to me after God has taken me to the woodshed and delivered some well-placed conviction swats. I want all of God's word. I want the easy and the hard. I want the deep stuff of truth, not the shallow theological prancing in the kiddie's wading pool of lukewarm preaching. Come on, dang it! Give me truth or give me . . . . truth!!!!
Where is the fear of God? Where is the reverent bowing before the Holy Lord? Where is the awesome trepidation at considering the incredible work of redemption purchased with so great a price as God's own blood? Where are the messages that make me fall down in abject conviction and adoration? Where are the sermons that cause me to confess my sins and beg God to accept my meager and worshipful thanks for saving such a wretch as me? I long for God himself to be revealed in his Word, not the mamby-pamby, how-to-prosper and feel-good-about-yourself drivel so often propagated on T.V. and radio. How would the comfort-me, burp-me message have sounded to Joseph in prison, David with the Philistines, Paul while he was being stoned, or Jesus on the cross? Their real life examples were filled with struggle, sacrifice, and the praise of God through thick and thin. Unfortunately, today's preachers seem more concerned with the approval and support of people than the fear of God. I want nothing to do with them. I would rather sit at the feet of my Master and be corrected and taught, than comforted by the vicars of victory and the parsons of prosperity. I fear for them on the Day of Judgment.