I was floored to come across a blog post with a video clip of a pastor who stood before his congregation assuring them that there is no original sin. All men are born good and desire to do good things he told his congregation. While he spoke, his congregation could be heard murmuring emphatic “yeses” and shouting hearty “amens”. This pastor leads a mainstream megachurch in California. He is not part of some fringe group or weird cult.
Here are two of his exact quotes–
“You’re not born evil. It’s amazing how many teachings and theologies start with that thought. Anytime you start with that you will create a controlling, manipulative environment.”
“Every system fundamentally and theologically must start with the concept and the idea that people are fundamentally good and they mean to do good. Even if they are not saved. We have to start from that premise.”
This pastor says: We have to start from that premise.
(See Psalm 51:5; Genesis 8:21; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 5:12; Romans 6:23)
Says who?? Him? Why does he have the right to decide the premise of Christianity? And what is the source of his information?
I am always so amazed at how many Christians listen and follow men who claim to be God’s representatives and then proceed to speak against Him and His Word on issues that are absolutely clear in scripture. The mainstream evangelical church has fallen prey to many lies and false doctrines in the area of not only original sin, but also in the areas of homosexuality, separation from the world, the role of women, the false prosperity gospel, and the doctrine of hell.
So why in the world isn’t the church standing up and kicking these pastors out of their pulpits?
I think there are two important reasons why the church has allowed this: A) we are a biblically illiterate people and B) we are a self-centered people.
Many modern pastors have conditioned their people to simply sit back and be entertained. They use only a verse here and there, often pulled out of context, to make their points. And so when a pastor gets up and says something we would really like to be true–like there is no hell–we want to believe him. And we don’t really know better because we haven’t done our own digging in God’s Word to know if it is or isn’t true.
And, if we are honest, life is much less demanding when we don’t study the Bible seriously. Hebrews 4:12 says For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
When we read and study God’s Word, we will be–and should be–convicted. It is there to teach us about God and to show us the best way to live. It is there to convict and to discern and to change us. It does not promise to make us more happy, but it does make us more holy.
Most of us do not want that. Not really. Not if it means sacrificing the sin we hold dear. And so it is just more pleasant to live our lives without the bothersome conviction that results from Bible study. It is just more pleasant to go to church and only listen to the positive–like God loves us and has a wonderful purpose for our lives and wants us to be happy and, eventually, we all end up in heaven together forever.
Of course, this is what we want to believe. But if it isn’t true, I guess it doesn’t really matter what we believe. Preachers that focus on man and his happiness as the center of Christianity are false teachers. (And, let’s not forget that, while a life lived for self may be more pleasant for awhile, in the long run, selfishness only leads to heartache and trouble.)
Is it possible for the American church to be cleansed and brought back to God’s Word as its source for Truth? All things are possible with God. Will it happen? I doubt it. I very much expect that the true church will be forced underground in the coming years. You can see it coming and we’d better be ready.
In the meantime, we have a responsibility to hold our pastors to the high standard of expounding God’s Word. If they say something that is clearly unbiblical we need to first realize it (because we know God’s Word) and then we need to do something about it. The souls of those sitting beside you in church may be forever changed because of your action.