Volume 18 Issue 6
One man said to another, I think I am going crazy. His friend replied, a crazy person doesn’t know he’s going crazy.
Such is the case with apostasy. When people are falling into a state of apostasy, when they are backsliding, growing cold, or drifting from past convictions, they are unlikely to know it. Rationalization, denial, or some such mechanism renders them dull of hearing, incapable of seeing, and generally unaware. People can forget what a certain sound sounds like (Ezekiel 23:35).
Apostasy, according to Oxfords dictionary, is defined as the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief. Abandonment of faith is a serious matter, and the fact that it may happen in a vacuum of denial or self-deception makes it downright frightening. As I write these words, I fear some will think of them as judgmental or negative. However, Scriptures come to mind that save me from the temptation to hit the delete button:But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ (II Corinthians 11:3).
For I fear, lest when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed (II Corinthians 12:20-21).
A careful reader can sense Pauls’ deep concern. He was not being negative. He feared the worst. He feared that some could sin and not bother to repent. He feared that they would forsake their first love and create strife and debates. He feared the arrogant apostasy that fueled whispering and backbiting and ultimately ignited the great Apostles own wailing broken heart. The apostasy came not by faithfulness but unfaithfulness. It persisted not due to the resistance of deeper revelation, but by careless sinning. It destroyed not because of a battle between bold revivalists and timid isolationists, but from an unrepentant stance concerning fornication.
To go forward into any desired reformation, revival, or renewal requires forsaking the elements of destruction. If sin exists, then repent. If false doctrine and false prophets have gotten a foothold, then clear up the matter and discharge the perpetrators of deceit. olumnist George Will (May, 2008) recently quoted General Douglas Macarthur as saying that military defeat can be explained by two words: too late. Too late in anticipating danger, too late in preparing for it, and too late in taking action.
Christianity, I fear, may be approaching the too late point. I was invited into the office of a well-known and world-traveled preacher and leader (not of our organization) while he was in prayer. I was embarrassed that I had been allowed into such a private setting. He quickly put me at ease, but his tears were falling on his Bible and on a certain book he was reading. Without hesitation, he said, We waited too late, too late.
How is that? I inquired. We just didn’t deal with things, did not move against false teaching; we kept thinking it would not go so far. It always goes too far. This is what Paul feared; knowing that in time the sin would bring debate and strife. It is the iniquities that separate men from God (Isaiah 59:2).Among the current and popular Christian-bashing books (although less bashing than most) is Christine Wickers The Fall of the Evangelical Nation… She writes, Evangelical faith has survived many downturns in the past. Great Awakenings have swept the country, and the numbers of believers has rebounded. That could happen again, but it would take a miracle from God such an enormous and unlikely miracle that even many evangelicals don’t think it’s going to happen.
Wicker is right about one thing, many don’t think it’s going to happen. I believe there is one factor in this faithless assessment of our times: apostasy.
I recently sat in on a conference of emerging church pastors, mostly former mainline evangelicals. I attended 34 of 37 one-hour lectures in three days. Yet I never heard one word about reaching the world through repentance or obedience to Christ. What is the reason? Well, my opinion is that no one at the conference believed that Jesus was God, or that men need to repent. Nor was it clear whether they believed the Bible to be valid. There were nice scripture references, on occasion, but discussion of the Revealed Word of God? No. Higher textual criticism and pious self-righteous intellectualism has ripped faith in the gospel of Christ from their minds.
They were about forming fellowships and agreements with all types of spiritual expressions, from Hinduism to Native Americanism, gleaning the best and leaving the rest (II Corinthians 6:16-18). They were about choosing what pleased them, what made them feel good about who they were, without giving thought to who God wanted them to be. With no foundation of doctrine, with no Bible, with no convictions, with no absolutes, with no certainty, with no benchmarks, with no clear examples, with no cross, with no knowledge of the Mighty God in Christ, it is easy to see why many do not think it’s going to happen. They have no foundation upon which to establish a New Awakening. Therefore they have no passion to preach The Name to a spiritually starving nation. A name? What name? What truth? What spirit? What Christ? And so it goes: apostasy.