Masquerading Christianity

Published 10:07 pm Friday, May 2, 2014

By Chris Surber

Unwilling to ditch the nostalgia of religion, there are a lot of socially minded groups today masquerading as Christian movements. There is no shortage of kind-hearted snakes hissing sweet-sounding lies from pulpits where truth and principle once reigned.

We are watching the ship of once great Christian movements sink into a sea of lies. Keeping up with society has replaced renewing minds. Fitting in has replaced a willingness to be persecuted for Jesus’ sake.

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I get it. It’s hard to follow Jesus in modern times. But Jesus said it would be hard. It’s a challenge to live the way of grace when tempted by the far easier path of “being relevant.”

This matter really comes down to this: Will a Christian take a plain reading of Scripture as his guide, or will he try to force the Bible to say what he wants it say?

There are basically two ways to read the Bible — exegesis or eisegesis. Exegetical interpretation means reading the inherent meaning of the text directly out of the text. I would then apply the meaning of the text to the circumstances of the world and my life in the world.

Among many professing Christians, that method has been ditched in favor of eisegesis, that is, reading a predetermined meaning into the text. Under eisegesis, I would read the preferences of my life and my view of the world into the text. I would maneuver and manufacture a means of making the Bible say what I want it to say.

Here is an example: Bible passages mentioning homosexual conduct always condemn it. There is no intellectually honest way to get around it. Look at 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (ESV)

A plain and simple reading of the Bible shows that it speaks against homosexuality. I don’t hate or condemn homosexuals. They are in the same boat we are all in. It’s a leaky, sinful, sinking boat in need of rescue. But it doesn’t do anyone any good to pretend the boat isn’t sinking.

When we play make-believe with what the Bible plainly says, we destroy the integrity of the Bible and the church.

Say you don’t believe the Bible. Say you hate the Bible. Great. At least then you’d be authentic. But please, oh please, stop masquerading Christianity as something it is not.

If you’d rather force the Bible to say what you want it to say, just ditch it altogether. Take the cross off of your steeple, and become the United Group of Kind-Hearted people.

That would be commendable. It would at least be honest. Passing yourself off as something you are not is called fraud, and fraud is never a virtue.

Chris Surber is pastor of Cypress Chapel Christian Church in Suffolk. Visit his website at www.chrissurber.com.