I can name more than six false idols in modern Christianity, but which six stand out to you? Which ones would you include?
I actually heard one pastor say that “we can’t be preaching the Bible to people in the world because it’s not relevant to them.” What!? I have to admit, I was angered by that. Isn’t the gospel the power of salvation (Rom. 1:16)? Does this pastor think he has more power than the word of God to save? Has he invented a better way than the Spirit of God mixed with the Word of God making the children of God? I think he’s the one who’s irrelevant. The Word of God never needs changing; it abides forever (1 Pet. 1:25). These churches that don’t want to offend people are more interested in filling the pews than filling people with the Word of God. Sorry, milk-toast pastor, but the Word is supposed to cut in order to heal because soft words make hard hearts, but hard words make soft hearts, and the Word of God is supposed to comfort the afflicted, but afflict the comfortable. Pragmatism is deadly as a doctrine. Feelings over faith is toxic.
This comes close to being found in every prosperity gospel I have ever heard. They want you to come to their church so that your life will be better and you’ll be happier, but I have news for them. My life got harder after I became a Christian. Many of my former friends spurned me. Much of my family thought I was brainwashed. Some sermon topics are “How to Live a Happier Life” or “How You Can Find More Fulfillment.” Excuse me, but isn’t worship all about God and His glory? What about preaching about repentance, sin, the cross, the blood of the Lamb, holiness, sanctification, and actual biblical topics? Instead of love for God being taught, it’s all about love for self. It’s not theology but “me-ology” they are preaching. Christ is not the focus; we are!
We’re All God’s Children
Pluralism has extended its deadly tentacles into the modern churches. No, not all of them, but the idea that we should embrace other religions is a false notion and one from many modern churches. The bumper sticker that reads “coexist” sounds nice, but try telling that to the extremists of Islam, who continuously murder Christians around the world. We are not all God’s children. Some are clearly children of the Devil, which is what Jesus told the religious authorities in His day (John 8:44), and John wrote that “we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are” (1 John 3:10). Once, when Paul and Barnabas were opposed by Elymas the sorcerer, who tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith (Acts 13:8), Paul told him, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery” (Acts 13:10).
Pastors & Preachers
Once a pastor gets to full of himself and starts believing his own stuff, God may be finished with him, at least for a while, until he repents, but it’s so easy to get caught up in a person who pastors a large church or preaches great sermons and is on TV and radio. Far too often the pastor of a great megachurch becomes bigger than Jesus Christ. They start making it about them and motivating people with persuasively powerful speeches and drumming up human emotion to make people to commit to Christ, but it rarely sticks. Then, they come dangerously close to putting him on a pedestal and almost worshiping him rather than God. When the pastor becomes too big in his own eyes and in the eyes of people, you’ve got a modern day idol and one of the top ones in Christianity.
Enlarge my Border
There are so many stories of shattered lives where people have sent in their “seeds of faith” only to end up broke, and brokenhearted, as well as having their faith shipwrecked. One of the idols of Christianity is the “speak it” into being faith that some have carried too far. If you have enough faith, there’s a miracle in your mouth. Just agree with God about something, and it is done, but rarely is God’s will mentioned, and that’s what Jesus said we should pray for above all. It’s fine to ask God to bless you, but if it’s always focused on enlarging your own borders, many of whom quote an Old Testament verse (out of context, of course), then we’re not praying for the right thing. The one verse they take out of context as a proof text for asking God to enlarge their borders, is actually a warning to Israel after they’ve already enlarged their borders and they’ll go into captivity for disobedience (Ex 34:24).
Funny how we can make the Bible an idol, but it happens. Some claim to be “King James Only Christians,” while other are “Red Letter Christians” which means red letter Bibles where Jesus’ words are in read and that’s all they will read. Then there’s the multitude of other Bible translations and people slamming others for reading the NIV, the NLT, and even the King James Version, but whatever translation someone likes, it can become an idol when we look down at others who have translations that we don’t like. I use the ESV but love the NASB, but I don’t get into arguments over which is best.
Can you leave a comment about other false idols that are infiltrating many churches today? I can cover only six here, and I know that the focus is shifting toward the self, toward being pragmatic or favoring what people want to hear and a tickling of ears. In Paul’s last letter before his execution, he warned Timothy that “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Tim 4:3-4). I fear that time has come.