** The following article was first published February 2016, and republished October 2016. As a writer in 2016, I was still using “training wheels,” and there are no doubt grammatical errors I might avoid today. Yet, I believe this article states the cancer that is consuming our fundamental churches, colleges, and universities. The following is that six year old post.
* On Wednesday, October 26, 2016, Hillsdale Baptist Church closed one of our greatest missions conferences. With a dozen or more of our teens responding at the invitation to surrender to go and serve the LORD where He calls them and, with their parents and grandparents standing beside them, I am left this Thursday morning wrestling with the burden…Where do I send our youth to be trained for full-time Christian service that will be a complement to our heart and passion for serving the LORD and preaching the whole counsel of God? Where are the Bible colleges that have dedicated themselves to “keeping the chapel platform hot” with the unapologetic preaching of God’s Word?
With those questions weighing on my heart, I republish an article I first published February 17, 2016.
A sense of desperation has taken hold in my spirit as I witness the failings of our nation, the erosion of morality and civility, and the spiritual void in our society that threatens the future of our nation, homes, churches and Christian institutions. My heart trembles and my soul is dismayed by the silence of Christian leaders who are custodians of church pulpits and academic platforms that were once dedicated to the bold, unapologetic declaration of God’s Word! I am afraid our biblically fundamental churches and schools bear the prophetic likeness of the church of the Laodiceans, “neither cold nor hot…rich, and increased with good…and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:14-17).
A pattern of spiritual lethargy has become the state of our fundamental churches and institutions [incidentally, my use of the word fundamental is not meant to convey an attitude, but a practical-doctrinal theology committed to the literal exposition of the fundamental doctrines and precepts of God’s Word]. I believe a generation of well-meaning pastors and administrators is faltering in their spiritual leadership, influenced and persuaded by men who lack deep-rooted precepts and core convictions that once served as guiding principles for fundamental ministries. I am of the opinion preachers and teachers have endeavored to appease youth and, either by design or neglect, soft-pedaled core spiritual virtues and personal disciplines that were at the heart of institutional distinctives.
Our churches and schools are evidencing the consequences of a philosophy of education that has, in its purported zeal for the Gospel and discipleship, invaded our institutions and eradicated fundamental precepts that are essential to personal holiness and sanctification. In an attempt to appease, rather than admonish and exhort a carnal generation (2 Timothy 4:2), spiritual leaders have weakened institutional disciplines, disparaged spiritual standards, and eroded the distinctives of Christian education.
There was a time we could look to our Christian colleges and universities to inspire our youth and integrate into their education the leadership disciplines of West Point; the refined sophistication of a finishing school; the academic excellence of an Ivy League university; and the spiritual fervor and zeal of a “hellfire and brimstone” evangelist. Although there are exceptions, I am afraid that is no longer the case.
Too many college professors and pastors have, in a misguided effort to be “relevant”, departed from the very disciplines that made Christian education superior and unique. Instead of the discipline of West Point, many Christian college students evidence a bearing that is casual at best. Rather than a “finishing school” product, Christian students lack both the polish and demeanor of their forebears. Instead of the disciplines required for academic excellence, a laissez-faire attitude has taken hold in our schools and universities. Finally, the emphasis to “keep the platform hot” and “preach the whole counsel of God” has been displaced by an inordinate emphasis on “the Gospel” to the exclusion of truths that are fundamental to preparing students to be soldiers of Christ in the world (Ephesians 6:10-18). [I realize that observation will invite personal attacks and criticisms; however, I believe I am in good company since Charles Spurgeon is credited with quoting and affirming: “there are times when the exclusive advocacy of certain important truths has the effect of error…So at the present time some of the most precious gospel truths are preached in the interest of some of the most pernicious errors. In other words, the unseasonable or disproportionate presentation of certain truths makes for error.”]
Having expressed my alarm concerning the direction of the spiritual leadership in our fundamental churches, schools and universities, I close with two questions and an observation.
Where are the preachers, teachers, and administrators in our churches and institutions who will step forward and assert the spiritual values, principles and distinctive biblical philosophy that once characterized historic, biblically fundamental Christianity?
What Christian colleges and universities will dare rise above cultural irrelevance and challenge our youth to portray in word and deed the distinctive saltiness and illumination of a separatist, Christ-centered philosophy of life and ministry (Matthew 5:13-16)?
The apostle Paul warned the day would come when there would be an intolerance of “sound doctrine” and men would turn to teachers who would tickle their ears and pander to their desires (1 Timothy 4:3-4). I am afraid that hour has finally come to biblically fundamental churches, schools and colleges. In the very hour a certain, unequivocal, unapologetic declaration of the Word of God is needed; many have dipped the banner of the cross and shied from Paul’s challenge to Timothy:
2 Timothy 4:1-5
1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith