April 10th, 2009
Dr. Phil Fernandes
Pastor of Trinity Bible Fellowship
President of the Institute of Biblical Defense
An elderly man lost his wife of forty years to cancer. He is heart-broken. He is looking for answers, but his quest appears futile. Sleepless nights have caused him to spend the early hours of each morning channel-surfing on his television set. He passes through the maze of shows until he stumbles upon a “Christian” television program. Hoping to find answers to his deepest questions, he sets the remote control aside, placing it on a chair—a chair his deceased wife once occupied. Unfortunately, the man finds no answers on this program. Instead, he is shocked by what he sees: the televangelist blows on his congregation as parishioners fall to the ground, many of them engaging in “holy laughter” and uncontrollable barking.
The widower mentioned above is a fictional character. But, there are real people just like him—people looking for answers to life’s deepest mysteries. As an evangelical minister, I believe the Bible has these answers. However, the American Church no longer seems interested in the diligent study of Scripture necessary to answer these questions.
Today, in many evangelical churches, love for theology (the study of God) has been replaced with a love for psychology (the study of the soul or the self). Doctrinal truths are now considered unimportant; experience and feelings are all that matter. Expository preaching of the Bible is now shunned.
A recent poll conducted by the Barna Research Group revealed some startling facts about the state of the evangelical church in America. Large percentages of professing believers denied several vital Christian doctrines. A few examples will suffice. 52 percent of “born-again” Christians denied the existence of Satan, while 55 percent rejected the existence of the Holy Spirit. 33 percent denied the biblical doctrine of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone by agreeing that a person could earn his or her own salvation through good works. 35 percent denied the physical resurrection of Christ.
In short, a large percentage of professing Christians in the American Church are not Christians at all. The essential doctrines that identify one as a true Christian are often rejected by those who profess faith in Christ. A totally experience based Christianity has replaced the traditional biblically based Christianity, making American Christianity look more like traditional Hinduism than traditional Christianity.
The primary emphasis of the church should be leading the lost to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. It would be nice if the evangelical church in America could turn the world upside down. But first, we must lead our own congregations to Christ. The days of preaching “feel-good” messages and seeking religious experiences void of theological content must cease. Instead, evangelical pastors must teach their people the essential doctrines of the Christian Faith, for Jesus said, “and you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32). The American Church cannot help quench the spiritual thirst of an elderly, channel-surfing widower, if she has yet to drink of the Living Water herself.