The following is excerpted from the new book The Two Jacks: Hyles and Schaap, which is available as a free eBook from the Way of Life web site -- www.wayoflife.org.
Multitudes of former members of Hyles-type churches, having witnessed so much error and hypocrisy, have abandoned church altogether. Or they have explored the contemporary emerging philosophy, having allegedly found more spiritual reality in those circles than they witnessed in “fundamentalism.”
Being the products of shallow evangelism, many of these have never been biblically converted. They have prayed a sinner’s prayer but haven’t been converted. Having never had a real and dynamic relationship with Christ, they are man-followers, and when the man fails, they are offended and quit, sometimes blaming Christ and the church for something that is man’s fault alone.
Even if they were truly saved, they were not properly discipled and grounded in the Scriptures and in solid truth. All too typically they have been used or neglected and sometimes abused, but not shepherded.
The solution to this problem is not to abandon church or to capitulate to a contemporary style of Christianity that is conformed to the world. The “newest” part of the true Christian faith is 2,000 years old; it isn’t going to be contemporary cool!
When I was saved in 1973 out of a “hippie” background, I was perfectly cool by the world’s standards. I was a real “dude.” I had my long hair; had my self-centered attitude and my New Age philosophy; had my sensual party music; had my drug-using, hitchhiking background. But after my conversion I didn’t search for a cool type of Christianity. I had truly repented of my foolish ways and my rebellion against God. I had drunk deeply of “this world” and I was fed up with it. I wanted something different: something eternal rather than temporal, solid rather than shallow, unbending rather than plastic.
When I was first confronted with cool Christianity in the form of the Jesus Movement in the 1970s, I was confused by it at first, then I was offended by it. That is what God saved me OUT OF! Why should God’s people want to conform themselves to the plastic pop culture? Why should they want to conform to the world’s music and appearance and drink deeply of its entertainment? The Bible is very plain that you cannot have the world and Christ, too. This world is at enmity with the holy God and His Christ, and the friend of this world is the enemy of God. And the Western pop culture is the most powerful and effective form of the “world” that has ever come down the pike. See the warnings of Romans 12:2; Ephesians 5:11; James 1:27; 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17.
Many who reject “fundamentalist” type churches as being too strict and hypocritical end up straining at gnats and swallowing camels (Mat. 23:24). I mean that while they claim to see all of the real and perceived errors of “fundamentalists,” they overlook even worse errors in the contemporary crowd.
The church is God’s plan. Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Mat. 16:18). He said to the first disciples that He would be with His people to the end of the age as we seek to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).
We should reject unscriptural churches, but we must not reject the church as God’s holy institution.
Further, the solution is not to abandon “fundamentalism,” which I am referring to merely in the sense of practicing separatism and being strict in one’s approach to doctrine and practice. Fundamentalism in this sense is not the problem.
(I reject “fundamentalism” as a movement as being contrary to Scripture due particularly to its trans-denominational character, its “in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty” heresy, and its “universal church” mentality. When I speak of holding to “fundamentalism” I am using the term as a synonym for biblical separatism. See the report “The Insufficiency and Error of Fundamentalism” and the free eBook New Evangelicalism: Its History, Characteristics and Fruit at the Way of Life web site -- www.wayoflife.org.)
God’s Word demands separation from error and worldliness (e.g., Rom. 12:2; 16:17; 2 Cor. 6:17; Eph. 5:11; Phil. 3:17-18; Col. 2:8; 1 Tim. 6:3-5; 2 Tim. 2:16-18; 3:5; James 1:27; 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17).
Separatism is not an optional part of Christianity. It is biblical and it is right and it is pleasing to God.
God’s Word demands strictness in the matter of doctrinal purity (e.g. Acts 20:27-28; Eph. 4:14; 1 Tim. 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:2; Titus 1:9) and holy living (e.g. 2 Cor. 7:1; Titus 2:11-14; 1 Peter 2:11).
Just because some have practiced “fundamentalism” hypocritically and shallowly does not mean that it is wrong at its essence.
We must exercise great patience and mercy because every church has failings. Yea, we all have failings, so it would be hypocritical to demand perfection of others. We must find the wise, spiritually-mature balance of being patient with those sins, compromises, and errors of a sort that will always be a factor in a Bible-believing church, while not ignoring those sorts of sins, compromises, and errors that render the church incapable of fulfilling its God-given task. We must learn when to stay and when to leave, when to submit and when to separate, and only the Spirit of God can grant such wisdom.
The solution to the problem we discuss in this report [The Two Jacks] is to move beyond criticizing error and to strive to do something right, as we have discussed in the chapter “Not Enough to Criticize.”
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