Section One The Problems Defined

Section One
The Problems Defined

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man… Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts…. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done…” – Paul (Romans 2:21-28), 57 AD

Problem #1 - The Modern Church in the West

No one who boarded the Titanic on its first voyage could have suspected it was doomed.

Common knowledge was that the ship was “nearly unsinkable”. Not only was it guaranteed to make it safely across the ocean, it was incredibly luxurious as well. Everything on board was designed for the comfort, delight, and entertainment of the passengers. In fact, everyone on the ship - including the crew - felt so secure that little of the usual care was taken.

And so, you had a ship that could supposedly not be defeated, a crew that was negligent in their overconfidence, technicians who were far more focused on pleasing their demanding “customers” than safety, and more than 1300 passengers who were either so well pampered or kept so deep in the bowels of the ship that even if they had been warned of the disaster approaching they may not have believed it - let alone known what to do to save themselves and their loved ones.

In many ways the Church in the West today is in a very similar situation.

It appears that a perfect storm of social chaos and spiritual conflict is moving through the United States. And it is likely the Church senses a change in the cultural atmosphere around it. But it is even more likely that the Church in its arrogance interprets this change as “progress”, or even dismisses it as something it will deal with only if/as the need arises.

The ignorance and self-delusion of the Church prevents it from effectively evaluating these social “weather patterns” and keeps it from recognizing that the rising storm will claim its soul and force individual believers to make a choice: either abandon the faith completely, or seek the true transformation of their soul.

Sadly, the Western Church is not prepared for the storm or the aftermath that will certainly ensue.

Perceiving itself to be the unsinkable “light of the world”, the compromised church set sail through the abyss of failing social standards and began a social mission to bring light and truth to the community. However, having left behind the traditional navigation instrument of conformity to Scripture, the Church began to depend on its own self-directed compass based on emotion and the intuitive inner-voice of mysticism to guide it deeper into the darkness of culture.

Unknowingly (or at least without admitting it), the Church began to search for direction and meaning in the vast emptiness in which it found itself. Having abandoned the traditional message, the Church had no voice, no promise of hope, and no answers for those who had followed it into the blackness of the night; that is, until the Church discovered the “Northern Light” of Western Culture: Materialism.

The esteem of possessions, the security of wealth, the hope of the good life, the infallible medicines, and the inventions of science helped the Western Church regain its bearings. Armed with modern materialistic ideas, the Church soon found “the way”, and once again began to cry out - but this time with a different message of hope and a non-biblical promise of deliverance from despair. The Church had found a God of love (but nothing more). And, this God of love had given the Church a message of love. And, in this culture of materialism, love was security, love was wealth, love was possessions and the good life. If Jesus was the rock then the Church would preach a message of “security” and freedom from want.

The Western Church now finds itself comfortable in a successful, materialistic culture while seekers coming out of this pagan culture find themselves quite comfortable in these “Titanic” churches. Pagan “Christ-seekers” find no difficulty committing to a local church that is more than pleased to encourage them to stay put and continue their culturally-relevant, Titanic journey through the Church’s unchallenging spiritual atmosphere.

The resulting mutual admiration between pagan seekers and the Titanic church has developed naturally into gatherings of people who meet weekly for emotional, self-help seminars. Yet, the very same culture that sends these seekers to board the Titanic church is the same one that aggressively confronts traditional Christian values. And in the face of this confrontation, even the Titanic churches themselves are willing to abandon the validity of biblical teaching for the sake of preserving unity with pagan culture. In order to finish their building programs and christen their newly-constructed community centers, the Titanic church strains itself to remain culturally relevant, even going so far as to add the buzz word “tolerance” to the growing list of sanctified synonyms for the “love” of God.

Problem #2 - The Rise of a Powerful Rival

While Christianity and biblical revelation are challenged, marginalized and legally discriminated against in Western democratic culture, the religion of Islam becomes more and more accepted (Just hold onto this thought for now; it will be discussed in more detail later on.). Islam increasingly waggles its way inward toward the center of the public arena and the court of law in the Western world, whose mantra of “Tolerance, tolerance!” grows louder and louder. Yet - and at the same time - Christianity is ridiculed as offensive, which places even more peer pressure on the adolescent Titanic church to separate itself from Truth and embrace the cool, contemporary, relevant cultural clique.

Please understand the repercussions of this facet of the Titanic church’s voyage! If the Western church continues to focus on becoming more accommodating to the pagan culture in order to attract and keep pagan seekers, while this culture’s center becomes more and more influenced by Islam, then the Church is eventually going to have to make a choice to avoid hitting disaster head-on: sail around this “iceberg” to the right side or to the left.

On one side lies accommodation. If it goes this direction, the Titanic church will need to accommodate new cultural views to remain relevant. The Titanic church will need to embrace Islam as an equal and viable religious option. (Ironically, while the misinformed, historically irrelevant Titanic church may pursue this route, the Islamic religion is most likely not going to bring the same enlightened insight to the negotiation table; Islam will not offer to recognize the Church as “an equal and viable religious option.” To do so would undermine 1,300 years of Islamic practice and theology. But, if it makes you sleep better at night you can pretend the last 1,300 years doesn’t have anything to do with your current, relevant, brave new world. Just pretend you never read this.)

If it chooses the other route, the Titanic church will need to make a stand. It is never necessary for the Church to take a stand against Islam, but to be a truly faithful biblical church, it will need to take a stand for Jesus Christ. This means the Titanic church will somehow have to commit to the biblical revelation of Jesus Christ and communicate this insight firmly to their tolerance-frenzied Western Culture: Jesus, the man, is the Christ, the Son of God, the Creator of the Universe, the Second member of the Trinity, the crucified and resurrected Savior of the World and the King of the Kingdom of God.

In this scenario, the Titanic church will have to be very clear in its assertion that Muhammad did not agree with any of the facts above. In fact, if a person were to take such a stand for Jesus Christ that person would be classified as an infidel by Muhammad. (Research Islam’s treatment and conversion of infidels for further insight.)

So, the culturally-relevant Titanic church is destined for temporal disaster either way. The fate of the Titanic church is set. If it swerves to the left in peace it will be overthrown by assimilation. And if it swerves to the right in conviction it will be overthrown by force. Either way, the Titanic church will lose. The only question is will they lose their soul to destruction, or their worldly standing to spiritual transformation. Jesus discussed both scenarios during his ministry. First, to the one who chose compromise Jesus said:

Whoever wants to save his life will lose it… What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul. – Jesus (Matthew 16:25-26), 30 AD

And to the one who would take a stand Jesus said:

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. . .Whoever loses his life for me will find it. – Jesus (Matthew 16:24-25), 30 AD

I predict the Titanic church will be pragmatic enough to anticipate its fate, whichever side of the Islamic iceberg it chooses. I also suspect that, following its well-ingrained and practiced response developed through years of rehearsal, the Titanic church will hold its straight and steady course, guided still by the North Star of cultural relevance and materialism. And as a result, the Titanic church will be absorbed - its Community Centers will become Islamic Centers, its pulpits will be filled with Islamic activists, and through the continuation of emotionalism and the practice of mysticism, the Titanic worshippers will adapt easily to prayer rugs.

Thus the voyage of the Titanic church will be complete. Its captains will be commended for their skill and wisdom in averting a Titanic-like sinking disaster. Its leadership teams will be praised for having demonstrated the courage to act on their insight, and safely leading their communities into a new age of religious unity, peace and love.