Shane Rosenthal had a great article in the September-October 2013 issue of Modern Reformation entitled “Losing our Kids to Secularism.” In it, he noted a disturbing reality – that in spite of heated rhetoric and disagreement on numerous issues, conservatives and liberals often stand together when it comes to what we are to emphasize in our churches:
Unfortunately, what [Harry] Blamires foresaw over a half-century ago has actually come to pass, and it’s not merely happening in college classrooms led by naturalistic professors. It’s happening in both conservative and liberal churches alike. The emphasis in conservative circles is on God’s supportive role in the life of the believer, how he can fix marriages, improve child rearing, inspire better financial planning, and so forth. On the other hand, liberal churches tend to emphasize what God (however we define what that means) is doing among us collectively and socially. Left-leaning adherents are often called to join with God in his redemptive plan for the world by pursuing things such as social justice and environmental responsibility. At the end of the day, conservatives and liberals alike are together obsessed with temporal rather than eternal things. The primary focus is on the body, not the soul, and on the practical benefits of Christianity, not the heart of Christianity itself, which is centered on Christ and his finished work.
What gets so many conservative Christians most excited is not the drama of redemption that unfolds from Genesis to Revelation, but the so-called “practical application” of Christianity. Granted the Bible does apply to our lives at a number of different levels – ethical instruction included – but our propensity for law makes us quick to move on from focus on the gospel and put our time and effort into getting ourselves and everyone else to just act more Christian-like.
Let’s protest this unlikely alliance with liberalism by reminding ourselves that God’s word is not all about us! The message of scripture is ultimately about God, bringing glory to himself through his redemptive work and electing love. Yes we are a part of that, but only as supporting characters. After all, in Revelation 7, it is not God who surrounds all of us seated on thrones, honoring and serving us, but it is all of us who surround him, crying out in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Rev. R. Andrew Compton
Christ Reformed Church (URCNA)