“By means of specious and plausible words, they cunningly allure the simple-minded to inquire into their system; but they nevertheless clumsily destroy them, while they initiate them into their blasphemous and impious opinions . . . and these simple ones are unable, even in such a matter, to distinguish falsehood from truth.”
IRENAEUS OF LYONS
Milk Toast… or more correctly “milquetoast” is a modern day slang that originated from the soaking of bread in milk in the late 19th and early 20th century in America. In recent years the word “milquetoast” has taken on another meaning. The Webster dictionary defines the word as follows:
of a person : timid, meek, or unassertive
: lacking in character or vigor : wishy washy
The title of my post here today is “Milk Toast Christianity”, and to be clear… I am not saying that I am better than others in terms of walking out my faith. What I am saying is overall, despite having more Bibles per capita than at any other time in history… North American Christianity has become little more than bread soaked in milk. As a result of this lack of conviction, and the constant cultural pressure through media, many Christian leaders have folded like wet bread. Some of those who were standing firm found themselves standing on unstable moral foundations that destroyed their testimony… so with so few reliable role models, the Christian who desires to sincerely follow Christ must search out truth as it is not easily found in the noise of “mainstream” Christian sources.
North American Christian Leaders have increasingly found themselves aligned more closely with Culture than with Christ in their efforts to make Christianity more palatable. In essence, what modern Western teachers are doing is deconstructing faith to more closely align with culture rather than deconstructing culture to align with the truth.
How many messages and articles in recent years have focused almost exclusively on Jesus love, turning the other cheek and then tying that to current cultural trends while largely ignoring or even dismissing justice, morality or even the notion of objective truth?
The Jesus of the North American Progressive Church is hardly recognizable in comparison to the one shown in the gospels. Bible interpretation has become more like Bible deconstruction. Passages like Matthew 5 and others where Jesus laid out clear lines of justice and morality are almost stricken from the conversation and Churches that speak of these are considered toxic.
John Cooper, lead singer of the band Skillet and more recently a growing apologist says this of the North American Church in his book “Wimpy, Weak, & Woke: How truth can save America from utopian destruction”:
“The Church is called to be a prophetic voice to the culture, to expose lies, to preach the truth, and to call the world to repentance. But instead, much of the church has embraced the lies, attacked those who preach the truth, and deemed “repentance” a negative and psychologically harmful term. We have become (1) weak: theologically and philosophically. We ought to recognize that these utopias are false and antithetical to the gospel. We have become (2) wimpy, by constantly apologizing for God’s character and His Word and by trying to make peace with the world’s philosophies. And we have become (3) woke, by replacing biblical justice with critical social justice that demands absolute justice in the present, meted by imperfect people with limited knowledge in a world that the Bible tells us will remain imperfect until Christ returns.”
Recently I’ve been studying the topic of Theistic evolution, perhaps when I’ve had the chance to read more from both sides of that subject I’ll post more on it. On the surface though here are just a few of my concerns with this philosophically:
Most of the explanations I’ve seen on the subject are incredibly complicated… in that to understand them one has to read scores of books to “interpret” the Bibles account of Genesis 1-3.
The “re-interpretation” of the Bible does not stop with Genesis 1-3. The wash out from labeling Genesis 1-3 as “poetry” opens the door for denial of the flood story and calls into question numerous passages of scripture that reference the creation story.
Much of the reasoning for pursuing a theistic evolution theory for the Church stems out of sincere attempts to make Christianity easier to believe. Approaching theology and personal conviction based on worldly acceptance has heavily contributed to the lack of conviction within the North American Church.
In 2017, A joint Summit Ministries and Barna Group poll discovered that churchgoing Christians under age forty-five were nearly four times as likely as those over forty-five to strongly believe that “if your beliefs offend someone or hurt their feelings, then that belief is wrong. (Read Jeff Myers book entitled “Unquestioned Answers”).
This poll result is not all that surprising, most of us lack personal conviction that can stand under pressure… and unfortunately some who do have conviction use it poorly. I have been on both sides of this equation myself.
When the culture thinks of Christians they think of prosperity teachers like Kenneth Copeland who live in insane wealth or they think of Westboro Baptist type Christian’s waving banners and posters. Both of these extremes have conviction - but it is conviction built on greed or willful ignorance.
This is not the kind of strength and resolve I am speaking of. What I am speaking of is ground shaking, steadfast, truth seeking faith that stands firmly in truth even when the opposition seems overwhelming. Ordinary Christians living in such a way that the world sees their lives and sits in wonder at their faith. Jesus talked about this in Matthew 5:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
… this city on a hill
… this light in the darkness
When it is mature… will be hated and loved simultaneously. It will not shake and flutter under pressure to conform to the worlds constantly changing value systems but rather as Paul says in Ephesians 4, will be inspired to “speak the truth in Love” and as 1 Corinthians 13 says “Rejoice with the truth”.
Yes Church history has not been neat and tidy… but it is also filled with sold out followers of Christ deeply impacting their culture through ordinary faith.
“Is there room at “the table” for us to ask God questions? Is God gracious and patient with us? Yes, and yes! But wimpy Christianity believes that truth is subservient to feelings. This is devastatingly false. Yes, God lovingly listens to us, but there is only one viewpoint that we must bow down to in the end: the Truth of the Lord Jesus.” - John Cooper
Let’s cap this off with this passage from 1 Peter:
“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”