God in the Hands of Complacent Sinners


by Pastor SJ Camp
Dealing constantly with young, reformed emerging people and their allied bloggers is exhausting. I feel some days like Simon Cowell (of American Idol fame) trying to be honest with them about what they are saying and how their e-views are not that biblical, profitable, or true. When they get angry and “keep on singing” (though the audition is clearly over) they become more and more incensed that I didn’t affirm them, what they stand for, what they are trying to sell, or one of their leaders.

This happens week in and week out; and like I said, it is exhausting.

No matter how many books I read, podcasts or vodcasts I listen to, emails I exchange, or blog interaction I try to have (I don’t delete dissenting opinion on this blog – I actually allow people to passionately disagree with me without fear of being shut down) they still just keep on emotionally ranting about their postmodern world of pseudo-reformed, emerging faith.

One of the things that is most interesting is that very few, if any, will ever discuss these things biblically. They usually just appeal to a few evangelical leaders who embrace their movement. They know that I have not fabricated my concerns out of thin air – because I take the time to do my homework and usually they haven’t. It’s like trying to talk to a Romanist who has never read Tridentine doctrine, but yet wants to defend “the orthodoxy” of the Pope and Romanist theology. An effort in futility. I find this with bloggers too. Young, theologically immature, biblically untested, and undiscerning who are “sympathetic to the emerging cult of personality” types, get defensive at a moments notice.

This brings me to this article today:recovering a reverence for God by having a right view of God. This is hard for any emerging or emergent church leader to humbly submit too. Why? Because it means resigning their cultural hermeneutic to a biblical one and that is painful for them to do. They would rather speak to you about “contextualizing the truth” for they honestly believe that their little methods, techniques, gimmicks, tricks, cultural analysis, market surveys, and postmodern pathology actually adds to the effectiveness and impact of the gospel. They really don’t believe in sola Scriptura; they really don’t believe that “the gospel IS the power of God unto salvation” and requires no additional assistance from them. They don’t understand Acts 17 or 1 Cor. 9:18ff in context and actual think the Apostle Paul was emerging too.  Their blogs are not ministry, but hobby, business and trade.  And if you speak of biblical evangelism – you are out of date. Missional is the new term now.  No one quite knows what it means, but that’s the beauty of this movement. They like the ambiguity and still call it the reformed faith.

The nexus of the issue is disturbing: they believe the gospel needs their help. So they swear a bit when they preach; tell some dirty stories; speak in graphic sexual terms about women; even twist Scripture to try and be funny about masturbatory acts, and at some point will treat the Lord and His holy name as only a punchline for their jokes. They think that Chris Rock is a better pastoral role model than Christopher Love. And if you dare confront them or challenge them, they will cry foul (no pun intended) and try and make you the villain.

You see in their world, truth is not the primary consideration: experience, contextualization, conversation, audience expansion, carefully aligned political relationships, being soft and soft spoken IS. They call that humility and grace. Humility to them is never saying anything negative about another; and grace is simply recognizing we all are a little rough around the edges; and besides the other fruit coming from ones emerging church trumps all other considerations. What is that fruit? Numbers–they love numbers. They will tell you about their numbers almost every sermon. Once solid Christian publishers and even some Southern Baptist leaders have been seduced by their charms. It’s frankly embarrassing and more than a little disappointing. They are so eager to grow their cause that they will sell out pragmatically and methodologically just to get a seat at the table and feel important as part of the latest boys club. Their motto reads as following: “God is Most Glorified in Us, When We Are Most Satisfied in the Culture.” It’s their mantra; their four spiritual laws; their purpose driven banner; their seeker friendly badge. It’s their password, the secret code to get into the tree-house. It’s their version of ministry.

Here is the reality: they really don’t want to have to face or deal with the tough issues; it is easier to delete someone then to have to look circumspectly at the clay feet of their own man-made “heroes.” They are constantly conflicted; saying just enough to try and come off as being challenging and balanced; but not saying enough to jeopardize their standing within the club. I am aware that I can be a strong, intimidating opponent for someone to have to take on, on most issues. But removing me out of the equation for a minute, these inexperienced “young lions” aren’t even men enough to dialogue with biblically solid, kind, gentle, godly women either. They will delete them just as quickly; shut down their threads; take their ball and bat and run home.

So if you have drank the Kool-Aid of the emerging movement, may I challenge you to buck up today, play the man, and read the following article. If you get offended, it is intentional. I hope you even get angry; angry enough to honestly look at your pomo-world of imagined faith; and maybe come to grips with the fact that the “Vintage Jesus” you have been sold is a bill of goods by those who claim to be cutting edge in ministry. And when you get over them (and you will), then come back to the Word of God and to proven, faithful pastoral leadership from the halls of redemptive history and finally learn about the Lord Jesus Christ in all His transcendent glory, His gospel of grace, and how to do biblical ministry within the local church.

Until then, you will have to be satisfied with ministry that is foreign to the Bible, but oh how satisfying to your depravity.

Still Pounding on Wittenberg’s Door,
2 Cor. 4:1-7

The Example of Israel: who sinned grievously against the Lord.
She was guilty of lying, stealing, adultery, slander, deceit against their own families; they hated discipline and profaned the Word of the Lord. If God’s anger burned against the wicked for doing such things, how much more does it burn against those who were pretenders about heavenly things?Here is the astonishing conclusion: because the Lord kept silent, showed them mercy and did not bring swift and severe judgment upon them for their iniquities, He said, “You thought I was just like you…”Israel had done the unthinkable… they had “created” God in their own image to justify their transgressions.What a stinging indictment. Those words penetrate our hearts as well don’t they? We tolerate sin in our lives; we even justify it; we develop a seared conscience toward it; and even attribute God’s supposed delayed chastening in our lives as if He condones our waywardness? Such is the stupor that sin renders to all of us. It reduces us to live as “brute beasts” – slaves to our instincts, when we should be living according to His Word as His redeemed children whom He has shown mercy upon mercy time after time.

When we were without hope, without the Lord and God’s wrath burned against us, we were as Jonathan Edwards once preached, “sinners in the hands of an angry God.” Do we now as His children, try to pacify the Lord with such casual feigned worship, tolerating our sin while we raise our unholy hand in prayer to Him? Do we approach Him with such arrogance and self-assurance dulled by the sinfulness of sin, that we, left to our intoxicated deceived state, treat Him as if He has lowered His sovereign, holy character and ceased in His perfect omniscience, by turning a “deaf ear and a blind eye” to our lasciviousness becoming “God in the hands of complacent sinners?” Never!

This fiftieth Psalm has brought me low in conviction of my own sin, so that I may look up in repentance to forgiveness and behold the never-ending mercy of the One to whom I will give an account. “Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity” (Psalm 32:1-2a). May we all find comfort in those great unshakable words of hope… amen?

In conclusion, listen to Spurgeon’s thoughts about these verses which unmask us, then offer a great hope in Psalm 50:21-23.

Verse 21. These things hast thou done, and I kept silence. No swift judgment overthrew the sinner—longsuffering reigned; no thunder was heard in threatening, and no bolt of fire was hurled in execution. Thou though that I was altogether such an one as thyself. The inference drawn from the Lord’s patience was infamous; the respited culprit thought his judge to be one of the same order as himself. He offered sacrifice, and deemed it accepted; he continued in sin, and remained unpunished, and therefore he rudely said, “Why need believe these crazy prophets? God cares not how we live so long as we pay our tithes. Little does he consider how we get the plunder, so long as we bring a bullock to his altar.” What will not men imagine of the Lord? At one time they liken the glory of Israel to a calf, and anon unto their brutish selves. But I will reprove thee. At last I will break silence and let them know my mind. And set them in order before thine eyes. I will marshal thy sins in battle array. I will make thee see them, I will put them down item by item, classified and arranged. Thou shalt know that if silent awhile, I was never blind or deaf. I will make thee perceive what thou hast tried to deny. I will leave the seat of mercy for the throne of judgment, and there I will let thee see how great the difference between thee and me.

Verse 22. Now or oh! it is a word of entreaty, for the Lord is loath even to let the most ungodly run on to destruction. Consider this; take these truths to heart, ye who trust in ceremonies and ye who live in vice, for both of you sin in that ye forget God. Bethink you how unaccepted you are, and turn unto the Lord. See how you have mocked the eternal, and repent of your iniquities. Lest I tear you in pieces, as the lion rends his prey, and there be none to deliver, no Savior, no refuge, no hope. Ye reject the Mediator: beware, for ye will sorely need one in the day of wrath, and none will be near to plead for you. How terrible, how complete, how painful, how humiliating, will be the destruction of the wicked! God uses no soft words, or velvet metaphors, nor may his servants do so when they speak of the wrath to come. O reader, consider this.

Verse 23. Whoso offered praise glorified me. Praise is the best sacrifice; true, hearty, gracious thanksgiving from a renewed mind. Not the lowing of bullocks bound to the altar, but the songs of redeemed men are the music which the ear of Jehovah delights in. Sacrifice your loving gratitude, and God is honored thereby. And to him that ordered his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God. Holy living is a choice evidence of salvation. He who submits his whole way to divine guidance, and is careful to honour God in his life, brings an offering which the Lord accepts through his dear Son; and such a one shall be more and more instructed, and made experimentally to know the Lord’s salvation. He needs salvation, for the best ordering of the life cannot save us, but that salvation he shall have. Not to ceremonies, not to unpurified lips, is the blessing promised, but to grateful hearts and holy lives. O Lord, give us to stand in the judgment with those who have worshipped thee aright and have seen thy salvation.