The oft-repeated mantra used by unthinking Christians is that the church has to be contemporary, and must go with the times - an admission that the Gospel is no longer relevant to the contemporary world. These unthinking Christians are to be found in virtually every church, but saddest of all, they are to be found in abundance in the REFORMED CHURCHES.
Let me explain what this modernising trend has done. Take the modernisers within the political world, for example. New Labour had its modernisers, and, my, what electoral success it enjoyed - for a relatively short time. That time is running out, and an enormous mess has been left in its wake. The Conservative Party, which historically stood for traditional values, has also embarked on the modernising road. It, too, will be successful for a while, but its fortunes will also decay. The DUP in Northern Ireland has succumbed to the modernising lobby, has enjoyed a term of success, but its fortunes are now also on the wane. The UP is trying the same ploy, and will follow the inevitable pattern.
The police service in Northern Ireland has undergone a modernisation job, and we are now left without anyone who can provide the policing and security and protection that a country under very high terrorist threat from the republican IRA, requires. What we have instead are officers who have no experience of policing in a terrorist context, have no awareness of the cost in human lives that was paid by RUC officers and their wives and families; officers, too many of whom have a soft spot for republicanism and its attendant terrorism.
The Orange Order in Ireland has gone down a similar road, with its resultant dilution of what the Order stood for originally, namely, the propagation and defense of true biblical reformed Protestantism. This, crucial aspect of Orangism has been diluted to make way for an increase of Orangefest events, and the attendance of Santa at the demonstration in Ballymena 2009. Gimmicks have pushed out the centrality of the truth, and few there are who really care!
Ecclesiastically, the churches have also been bitten by this worldly bug, and those that have surrendered to the modernisers are enjoying a time of great success. They are attracting people of all ages inside their doors, mainly the young people - and often to the exclusion of the older members. They have become clap-happy junkies, unthinking automatons who just enjoy playing the childish game, "Follow the leader," and do whatever the leader does. The spectacle of mature Christians engaging in such infantile behaviour that is supposed to pass for 'worship,' is grossly disappointing. But the modernisers are now in the ascendancy in almost all churches.
If what is happening in the political world after the modernisers have had their day, is anything to go by, then we can predict very accurately what will happen within those churches that have moved away from their theological and historical moorings. These churches will flourish for a time, and win the applause of the world within the church, the establishment, but when the religious dust has settled down, what will be left? A cohort of very disillusioned Christians who have been 'sold a pup' by their spiritual leaders, been treated to the theological equivalent of crisps and candy floss, have had their theological umbilical cord unceremoniously cut by the modernisers, and left at the mercy of whatever new trends will follow in their wake. A generation of infantile church members will have been created - by evangelicals - from whom it will be impossible to find anyone qualified to lead the church in a Godward direction in the years to come. They will have no historical or theological perspective against which to assess new fads, which seem to have a fatal attraction to every moderniser in all the churches.
In the past, when the modernists ruled, the church suffered an enormous blow; similarly, now that a new wave of modernisers are controlling the life of the church, a similar fate awaits it and them.
Who would want to be in their shoes when the stour hits the fan! How will they answer to the Almighty Judge for their stewardship? They will be left without excuse and defense (Rom.1).
It is time that Christians awoke to what is happening under their noses. The church is not about short-timism; it is about having a clear eschatological perspective, and living to the glory of God; and this can only be done when we offer back to Him what He was asked and demanded. Those who offer 'strange fire' to the God who saved them, will be in for a real shock on that day.