As you probably are aware of by now, I’m struggling with this whole idea of evangelism in the mainline churches. One statement (not originally made by me) that is symbolic of my struggle is, “Why should a person evangelize if he doesn’t even believe that Jesus is the one and only way to God?”
So my thoughts have moved around to the point of asking just who these “liberals” are, anyway?
We all know who the ringleaders are. They’re the ones who are in control of the seminaries, the bishops’ councils, the governing boards and agencies, and much of the clergy of several of the mainline denominations. They deny the deity of Jesus, His virgin birth, His miracles, His blood atonement for sin, etc., etc., etc. I don’t have to go through the list again; I’ve talked about them many times before.
But what about the people in the pews? It’s a proven fact that in several mainline denominations the laity are, in general, considerably more conservative than the clergy — but not all! There are fine, intelligent, caring people in these denominations who have been carefully taught by the liberal clergy; who have not, for the most part, been exposed to the historic orthodox Christian faith, except to be told that those people who believe in that Bible stuff are unsophisticated throwbacks to either an earlier generation, or are hicks from the backwoods who think the only real Bible is the King James.
These liberals, and they are very willing to wear that label by the way, have learned their lessons very well. Just like the woman in my Sunday School class yesterday who said Paul was a “chauvinist” (“He really hated women.”) they spout what they have learned without thinking very deeply about it.
What they do think about it is that it all feels right. We need to care for people. Don’t tell somebody he has to accept your Jesus, maybe his religion is truth to him! If people are really born homosexual, then it’s not their fault that they’re that way — it’s a gift from God! We should celebrate that! We shouldn’t discriminate against them in any way! If we do then we must be homophobic! Welcome them into our churches! Make them pastors and teachers and leaders!
(Pardon me a moment; I think I’m going to be sick.)
As I was saying, these people in the pews learn their lessons, and then they often cling to them tenaciously. They are liberals! And they’re proud of it!
Now, what should be my response to the liberals in the pews in my church? Should I shun them? Should I condemn them? Should I tell them they’re going to hell if they don’t change? (Most of ’em don’t believe in hell anyway.)
The proposal I’m hearing within me is not to do that, but to engage them, to befriend them, all the while holding firmly to my testimony and being a faithful witness for my Lord Jesus. These people won’t change overnight. They might not change in a year, or two years, or ten years. But if the Holy Spirit has a witness, He may make the seeds grow, and He may work His transforming powers in those people. Because as long as they’re still breathing, they are still part of that “whosoever” that Jesus talks about in John 3:16.
I believe in God’s sovereignty. I believe that He chose His elect before time began, and that everybody He chose will be saved, and that not one person He didn’t choose will turn to Jesus in faith and be saved.
But He didn’t tell us who are in those groups! We have no idea, and He basically says that’s none of our business!
So I remain in what is basically a liberal mainline church, rubbing shoulders with people who believe they’re “liberal Christians”! And I remain, holding out the Gospel of Christ to them in the hope that someday they will turn in faith to Christ.
People change their minds. I was once one of them.