14 July 2011

The Gooey Mess that is American "Christianity"

Warning: I am about to embark on a lame sermon illustration. Since I'm not a pastor, I am less skilled at this than our favorite stage-walking, seeker-sensitive brothers, so bear with me.

I have decided that "Christianity" in America somewhat resembles a s'more. You heard me. A s'more is nothing but a sticky, gooey mess. It gets all over your fingers and your face and, after you're done, all you want to do is wash your hands. The components of a s'more are all distinguishable, even at its gooiest, yet we just mush it all together. I know, this illustration is starting to break down, especially when we start to consider how wonderful and delicious s'mores are, while "Christianity" in America is by and large distasteful. In the end, however, it's easiest to just wash your hands and be done with the whole thing. Okay, thus ends my lame sermon illustration. You'll be happy to know that, due to Biblical mandates (1 Tim. 2:12-14), not to mention lack of ability, I have no intention of ever pursuing the pastorate.

Last weekend was LifeFest in Oshkosh, WI, a "Christian rock festival" that is held annually. I admit, I've never attended LifeFest, nor do I have any interest in attending. Unless there is an organ and a choir singing theologically and doctrinally sound hymns, I have no desire to be there. But LifeFest is far more than a "Christian" concert. It's an ecumenical event. Joining together Protestants and Catholics, as American "Christianity" is so adept at doing.

The Green Bay Press Gazette reports:
OSHKOSH — Bishop David Ricken always wanted to go to Lifest. But since taking over as of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay in 2008, something else always came up.“So last year I put it on the schedule to be here today,” Ricken said Sunday. “I’ve heard just wonderful things about it, so I’ve got a lot to learn. I just need to be around as many young people as I can. They’re not only the future but the present, so we’ve got to reach out to them and thank them for what they’re doing.” 
Ricken led 9 a.m. Mass from the Thrivent CafĂ© Stage on the final day of the 13th annual Lifest celebration at Sunnyview Expo Center. Hundreds worshipped as intermittent showers trickled down on the large tent.
It gets better:
Protestant devotions, a children’s service and the Catholic Mass each were held separately before joint worship at 11 a.m. on the grandstand featuring Lenz; Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., and head of the international Harvest Crusades; and acclaimed worship leader Lincoln Brewster.
During the five-day event, the diocese held special activities for festival-goers such as handing out free Holy Hotdogs, Blessed Brats and Sacred S’mores, said the Rev. Daniel Schuster, diocese vocation director and a Lifest speaker.“It was very successful and created a bridge between the different (faith) communities that are here,” he said. That’s the goal of Lifest, Lenz said.
I don't know which is worse, the "holy hotdogs" or the fact that well-loved Christian pastor Greg Laurie was headlining. If I had to make a choice, I'd opt for the latter. If the "goal of LifeFest" is to "bridge the different faith communities," well, then I think whatever Christian presence is there ought to be shouting the Gospel and denouncing any false gospels that are being concurrently promoted. Personally, I have never been a fan of Laurie and his crusades, especially since he has previously attributed Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life as a movement of God, and has also given endorsement to Bill Hybels and Willow Creek. Laurie seems like a pleasant enough fellow, but many of his actions seem to indicate zero discernment, and I think his participation in the ecumenical LifeFest is further evidence of this.

If prominent leaders like Greg Laurie continue to give credibility to events such as these, and ultimately to the idea that Protestants and Catholics are really all the same, but just meet in a different building, then the rapid downgrade of American Christianity will only continue to snowball. We simply cannot endorse the Catholic Church as being Christian, because it is not. The Catholic Church teaches a different gospel. Theirs is one of "do your best and Jesus will do the rest," while the Biblical Gospel is, "You can't do it, but Jesus has done it all." But when we compromise that Gospel, and join hands with those who preach otherwise, we have to wonder, where will it end? Will LifeFest 2012 find a rabbi and an imam on stage holding hands with the "Christian" and the Catholic? Why not invite a yogi to lead attendees in meditation and hindu worship? Like anything, when we open the door to one compromise, we open windows to countless others.

No, I am not shocked by any of this. Compromise and apostasy has been foretold in Scripture; it is a sign of the times. The most optimistic response to this should be that we continue to anxiously wait for Christ's return, because surely it is near! And what should our response be to that reality? Preach the Gospel.

Green Bay Catholic Priest David Ricken leads Mass at Lifefest Before Joint Worship with Greg Laurie


  1. I'd say the saddest part is the participation of Greg Laurie. I used to listen to him all the time on Moody radio in the Chicago area. He was a very good teacher until he started running around with Warren and his ilk.

  2. Oh, yes, I agree completely! I had always heard good things about Laurie, but I've seen some unpleasant fruit! When James MacDonald spent several months in California with Laurie and at his church, MacDonald returned a different pastor. His sermons became far more "James-centered" and poorly exegeted, and suddenly his attire of choice was jeans and cowboy boots--not exactly the reverence, or lack thereof, that I like to see from a pastor! When his motorcycle came inside the church, that did it for me! I'm not saying Laurie was wholly responsible, but the change was markedly obvious after a return of months in Laurie's presence. MacDonald also admitted that it was Laurie who convinced him that jeans were okay for a pastor to wear. Since then, MacDonald has gone on to laud and promote men like Steven Furtick and Perry Noble. It is indeed a slippery slope!


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