Our beliefs shape our character and inform our actions. If we believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is our Saviour, that God will judge us and that the Holy Spirit empowers and guides us, then we will be able to walk in faith and boldness in the world and preach the gospel to all who need to hear it. This gospel is a powerful thing, it is the only thing by which we can be saved. Paul tells us in Romans that we are saved by faith and faith comes from hearing and hearing from the word. If the word is not preached with earnest and unwavering faith, then those who hear will simply mock us for being mealy-mouthed and foolish. We will be bound by fear and doubt and the enemy will be able to snatch away those who need to be saved.
It is my belief that the Seeker-Sensitive movement has caused Christians to waiver in their convictions out of fear that they may offend the unsaved. This is a wicked message straight from Hell designed to cause double-mindedness to creep into the body of Christ. Those who follow this theology tend to look not to the Word, the Holy Spirit or the Father, but to those around them to decide whether what they believe is acceptable or offensive. What happens is that a fear of God is replaced with a fear of man, and instead of living from the inside out, with our heart and spirit dictating our actions, we begin to live from the outside in, with our outward actions and words dictating our faith.
This is a short excerpt of a longer article on the theology of the Seeker-Sensitive teaching by Don Koenig http://www.thepropheticyears.com/comments/Seeker%20friendly.htm
“Most of those attracted by these authors and the seeker friendly purpose driven churches share a worldview where evil on earth is conquered through the good will of men. In the view of the dominionist leaders pushing the agenda the Church will bring in a paradise on earth before the return of Christ. Those in leadership who buy into this purpose driven seeker friendly church growth movement believe Christians need to make their churches so appealing that the whole world will want to be part of it. After all, Christianity promises a purpose driven life for everyone. Most of the leaders of this movement generally have or their methodology suggests a preterist or postmillennial theology. They teach or imply that the Church will make the world a paradise and only after that happens will Jesus come. Many leaders in this movement teach that all the negative prophetic judgment passages in Bible were fulfilled around 70 AD.”
“This seeker friendly purpose driven Church growth movement is founded on world corporation marketing strategies and pop psychology concepts that are known to be successful to reach large numbers of people. Most of the theology of Christianity that is less appealing to the world is shrouded so it will not be an offense to anyone. The theology of personal fulfilment that the movement presents on the surface appeals to broad groups of people. It attracts many in Pentecostalism that believe kingdom-now/dominion/reconstruction theology. The movement appeals to liberal Christians who believe that humanistic efforts will bring a paradise on earth. It appeals to Catholics because they have been taught a similar worldview by their church. It appeals to the holiness movements because the end conclusion of these movements is that the body of flesh can be brought into total submission before death. It even appeals to Messianic Jewish groups who wish to believe there is no future time of trouble coming to natural Israel. In addition, the movement appeals to secular humanists who believe we are all God’s children and there are no evil people but only misguided ones and it also appeals to those who have bought into the major pop psychology self-improvement concepts of our day. Therefore, it should be obvious why this movement attracts so many people.
The movement in reality has become a clearinghouse for all who believe in the basic goodness of man, for those who think all paths lead to God, for those who hold a theology that does not take the prophetic scriptures in any real literal sense, for those who do not know the scriptures, for those who pick and choose words of scripture out of context to make them say what they want them to say, (thus, the popularity of paraphrased versions of the Bible) and for those who think sins of the flesh are really just sickness and addictions.”
The word of God is sharper than a two edged sword dividing between the soul and the spirit. It comes to bring life, but in the process must cause death to the flesh which is to be crucified with Christ. If we ourselves are not thus crucified in our own fear of men then we will not preach this same gospel to the lost. If we are preaching a message which is indeed not a message because it caters to the feelings of the lost and not the demands of a just and holy God then we would be better not to preach at all.
We attended a local Baptist church for a few weeks last year. We were interested to hear that they were going to preach a sermon about the new movie ‘Noah’ recently released last year by Paramount. We were a little concerned because the sermons were apparently over two Sunday nights and we were told that they would be looking at this movie and how it could be used to reach the lost. When we turned up, we discovered that this was not in fact what was being preached at all. We got a message which was all about not offending the lost with John 3:16 which we were told no Australian in this day and age would be prepared to hear. Instead we were told to save this message for some later point, but instead to introduce the lost to careful and thoughtful discussions about the themes of evil, the environment, and God’s way of doing things which was love and care and concern. Now on the face of it, this all seemed very nice and gentle and kind. Compare this however with Paul’s approach, and I would like to point out that Paul lived in an era when men’s wickedness was just as thoroughly vile as it was today but without the civilising influence of democratic governments, healthcare systems, the rule of law and law enforcement and generalised education. In short, people were ignorant, crude, impulsive, violent and bloodthirsty (remember the colosseum?). This was Paul’s approach:
‘We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness’ (1 Corinthians 1:23).
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! 10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
(Galatians 1:8 NKJV)
Paul, regardless of whether the Jews or the Greeks (or any other gentile culture) were offended, preached Christ crucified. The gospel is offensive to the world and will always be until their eyes are opened by God himself. The miracle is that any of us are saved despite the in-built hindrances of our flesh and the wicked hatred of our souls by Satan himself. Yet, we were chosen from before the foundation of the world, the same time at which the lamb of God was slain. All of this has been pre-ordained by God, yet we have the right to choose Him. He knows his own, knows who will chose him and who won’t. I suppose those who preach the seeker-sensitive gospel will say that those who are going to be saved will be saved anyway and it won’t matter how. To those people I say, in that case what is wrong with preaching the gospel as we are charged to do by God since any other gospel is a false gospel and the preacher of which is accursed. I would rather preach the gospel and risk the ire of the unsaved and possibly die for it, than risk my own soul preaching a false gospel. Wouldn’t you?
The thing about this seeker-sensitive message is that it is a very logical one. It makes perfect sense to our human minds. It appeals to a large number of people, hence the rise of mega-churches based on this philosophy, and apparently appeals to a great number of Christians who don’t want to listen to scripture-based messages and would rather be entertained and amused and thus remain in their immaturity.
Of course we don’t want to offend anyone. Of course we don’t want to make people uncomfortable or enjoy watching them squirm under a message of fire and brimstone. But this is in fact a straw-man argument. We don’t have a choice here. The message of the gospel IS a message of judgement of the lost and salvation for the faithful. There is no other way around it. If you don’t preach the cross, Christ and him crucified then you are not preaching the gospel which will see men saved. It is THIS gospel which has the power to rescue the lost. NO OTHER.
Perhaps the real question here is not how the lost feel while they are in the process of being convicted of their sin (and how uncomfortable is that while it is happening?), but how we feel preaching the message.
I think it is far more important that we look at our own hearts and see if in reality it isn’t our own comfort levels which are being challenged.
I might add here that this particular church is a member of the Seeker Sensitive movement of the Willow Creek Association. When I enquired at the Willow Creek’s Queensland office, they happily provided me with a number of churches in my area which were members of the Association. All of them were Baptist.
I would like to finish with an excerpt of an excellent and prophetic message by David Wilkerson which was preached in March 1998 at an Assemblies of God Headquarters chapel service. The message was entitled “The Dangers of the Gospel of Accommodation”. I might remind everyone that David Wilkerson during his lifetime had one of the biggest chuches in New York, one of the biggest cities in the world. If a man who preaches the gospel and teaches his family and staff to do the same has a church grow this large, then the church growth gurus need to look closely at what is happening here. Unfortunately they won’t, because not only is their message ‘working’ (ie giving them larger churches), but they are enjoying reaping the benefits of not having to do the work involved in the prayer, fasting and weeping for the lost that David Wilkerson’s people have done. Unfortunately, God gives people what they want sometimes, in order to show the faithful that he is not in it.
This is the tail end of his message.
“The Scriptures state, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stumblingstone and rock of offense.’ Paul spoke of the offense of the Cross. This is the heart of God’s anger. We’re not called to the Cross but to go through the Cross to experience the same thing Jesus did, not only coming to the Cross but dying and going into the grave with Jesus Christ and then being raised from the dead to a newness of life. It’s cruel, pastor, to lead sinners to the Cross, tell them they are forgiven by faith, and then allow them to go back to their habits and lusts of the flesh, unchanged and still in the devil’s shackles. If the preaching of grace doesn’t have as its goal the producing of a walk of righteousness, then it’s another gospel, another Jesus. I listened in horror to a man, who attended one of the largest seeker-friendly churches, being interviewed by CBS. He said, ‘I come to this church because I’m comfortable. I’m never made to feel uneasy. I bring my Jewish friends and my business friends, and I know nothing will ever be said that will offend them. The best part of it is, the whole thing only lasts an hour.’ Take it from me: You can get your big church and be one of the big boys, but it’s going to cost you your soul if you preach with a focus only on earthly things, rather than on the things of God. I’ve lived in New York City 35 years. We have 103 nationalities from all walks of life – from the poorest to the richest. Probably 300 or more from the United Nations live there. But I look over a congregation (so does my dear friend, Jim Cymbala, in Brooklyn) and see men who have just walked in from the porno shops and are wild animals. I see a businessman friend who was CEO of a multimillion-dollar company, but he started snorting coke, lost everything, and is now a bum on the street. He sits in the congregation. A little 14-year-old girl with AIDS is up on 8th Avenue performing lewd acts before dirty old men. She comes to church and keeps saying, ‘Pastor Dave, I’ve got to get out. I’ve got to get help.’ I’m not about to put up a silly skit and preach a 15-minute message on how to cope to a multitude of people who are dying and going to hell. I tremble at the thought. People don’t like to hear this, but we’re headed for perilous times – just a few years away from a collapse like the world has never known. (Preached 3 years before 9/11 – a prophetic word if I ever heard one – Anita) When that happens, all who preached prosperity are going to disappear because the people will say, ‘Your gospel has failed me.’ When that time comes, I want to grasp onto Jesus, and I want everyone I’ve preached to to have faith in the keeping power of Jesus Christ. I want them to know Him in His fullness. I want to know that I’ve done it in love, in grace, that they would know the difference between the holy and the profane. May God, in Jesus’ name, spare the Assemblies of God forever. If I have ever given a prophetic message in my lifetime that God intended for a purpose, it is now. Many are being deceived. If they are not awakened, what I warn you about will happen. I pray that God will keep the Assemblies of God in its original purposes. In New York City, He has proved that the people come to hear a straight gospel, and thousands will come where the Word of God is being preached without compromise and yet with grace. May the young men who are discouraged in the Movement not try for a shortcut but be broken and on their faces before the Lord.
May we get our eyes off growth and onto a new revelation of who Jesus is.”
Message taken from transcript at Sermonindex.com