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By Dr. Ted Baehr, Publisher
Recently at an academic conference I keynoted, I noted that the Catholic and mainline professors were deeply engaged in understanding the breadth and depth of the theology of the topic being considered. Some of the evangelicals, though, were struggling with guilt and shame about their evangelical faith and institutions. Two were from a formerly Southern Baptist university and were apologetic about the Southern Baptist denomination, excusing its biblical commitment on issues and noting that they were no longer sure they were Southern Baptists.
This is a serious problem, because it is sapping the strength of the church and providing fodder to its critics. For instance, I recently visited an Entertainment Industry movie studio executive to invite him to the Annual Faith & Values Awards Gala & Report to the Entertainment Industry. He started his conversation by noting
the book he was reading by a prominent evangelical author was showing how flawed the church is.
Every institution has serious flaws, but 50 years of criticizing Christians has produced an inordinate self-consciousness and provided fodder to enemies of the faith. Part of the problem is that many evangelicals who grew up in the church see the Gospel as being restrictive and “repressive.” Those of us, however, who came to Jesus Christ later in life and did not grow up in the church but were self-indulgent in every imaginable area of life, see the Gospel as a Good News freeing us from our bondage to the vagaries of self-indulgence. We know from Scripture and from empirical research that man is depraved. Our propensity for self-destructive sex, violence, drugs, selfishness, greed, envy, and malice is horrifying when it goes unchecked. The Gospel sets us free from these evil propensities. It helps us break away from them progressively. Giving up alcohol abuse, drugs, sexual immorality, violence, and selfishness is liberating, not restrictive or repressive.
If the evangelical church can no longer see the Gospel as good news, we are in serious trouble, and the church will continue to shrivel and die. Furthermore, as Jesus said, if we’re ashamed of the Gospel, He will be ashamed of us.
We need to start looking for the Good News of the Gospel and not focus on our self-consciousness fear that the grass is greener. It is not.
Moreover, according to the New Testament, the church and each assembly of believers is the bride of Jesus Christ. Does anyone maliciously want to criticize his bride? Does any bride want to be criticized?
There are bad fathers, but fatherhood is good. There are bad mothers, but motherhood is good. There are fallen, reprobate people in the church, but the real, spiritual church is not only good, it is also dedicated to Jesus Christ.
So, rejoice that we in His church are free indeed and that Jesus has chosen His church for His Kingdom forever.