Monday, January 13, 2014

Let's Get Serious

I’m hearing the phrase “pray that God shows up” from ministers lately. Reformed ministers even. I find the phrase more than just too casual. I find it abhorrently irreverent, boarding blasphemous. To speak of God’s sovereign actions in such a flippant way is to treat The Almighty as if he were our spiritual genie or some kind of celestial bellhop.  This sort of trendy jargon is just another example of Christians thinking they must meet the culture on the culture’s terms; whereas Scripture informs that Scripture is to confront the culture head-on so that the culture might conform to Scripture. I am sure the apostle had something other in mind when he said he wanted to be all things to all people so that he might save some. 

The first time I learned of the "show up" phrase it was couched in an ardent prayer request that came over email. It read more like a Frank Peretti novel than an earnest plea for prayer that God might sovereignly intervene in a difficult situation. (I checked back on the result of the meeting a couple days after but got no response, though I did pray.) I finally decided to blog the words “God show up” and found that the top hits were non-theological websites run by women.  The top hit was Joyce Meyer’s webpage.  A few down from Ms. Meyer’s site was a book entitled “God Just Showed Up: Stories of Hope in Everyday Experience,” by Linda Watkins-Richardson. (Amazon has several copies available for $.01 if anyone’s interested.) That I can understand on some level but ministers of the gospel speaking this way? Reformed ministers? I'm at a loss. What is going on in the church? Seriously, why the shift?  

Now that God showing up has settled into the vernacular of the church we can now move on to even more audacious cutting-edge quips like "this is the place to have it out with God." Have it out with God? Yup, heard that one too more recently. It's amazing in one sense but in another sense it makes perfect sense given the influence of evangelicalism on the church. Again, what's going on?

This sort of naive silliness in the church, even if it is born out of a sincere (yet ill informed) desire to “save some," is irreverent and resulting in a hindrance to the glory of the gospel. Less importantly, yet noteworthy, is the unchurched along with babes on milk are uninpressed with such a casual approach to spiritual matters. It comes across as duplicitous.  Not good.

I said above that "This sort of trendy jargon is just another example of Christians thinking they must meet the culture on the culture’s terms." [emphasis new] That's the most charitable spin I can put on it - that they think they must do this, i.e. by divine precept. Truth be told, I'm not the least bit confident that they think they must do this. I'm not even sure they think it's a good idea to speak this way. It's very possibe that they just like the way they sound when talking this way. No biblical motive. No pragmatic motive. Just a desire to sound "cool" could be the impetus for this novel, hopefully fleeting, approach. What's the alternative, that it's an exegetically based application of Scripture? How could that be? Which is worse, that these slogans are (i) supposed to be biblically based, (ii) bound in conventional wisdom (or natural law given the latest rage) or (iii) simply self-gratifying when said? The happiest alternative might just be the latter one, that they're a result of no serious reflection whatsoever. That sort of thing might be more easily remedied.

But let's say I'm wrong. Let's say that this new manner of communication is not irreverent and I'm just behind the times. Well then, why not try to be all things to all people by using language that will give no offense to those of us less in tune with pop culture?  Let’s accommodate the weaker brother, or would that offend the lost or be a hindrance to the young?

Brothers and Sisters, let's not grow numb to this sort of thing. The church is getting a bit too chummy and presumptuous where God is concerned.


Cheryl said...

Ron, Another cliche I often hear Christians say when they have experienced a significant or "coincidental" event is, "It was a 'God moment.'" What moments are NOT 'God moments'? None, according to Scripture. Among many in the church, the understanding of God's presence and sovereignty in the minutia of life has been lost.
Thankful for His Patience,

Reformed Apologist said...

Hey Chery!

Hah, I almost threw that cliche in with the others. Great minds and all that! :)

Got Sonos?! :)

Reformed Apologist said...


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