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Do we have itching ears?

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“Things once unthinkable are now unquestionable,” writes John Stonestreet, president of the Colson Center, in his foreword for Faithfully Different by Natasha Crain. This quote succinctly and sadly states where we find ourselves as we begin 2023.

Things we wouldn’t have imagined would be accepted or championed are now the norm, and even questioning them is off-limits. Holding a biblical worldview is rare, even among Christians. Arizona Christian University’s annual American Worldview Inventory reveals that in 2021 only 21 percent of those attending evangelical Protestant churches held a biblical worldview. This is shocking to me.

We live in an age where God’s truth and his divine revelation—through his Word—are maligned by those who don’t believe and sometimes modified and marginalized by many who claim to follow him.

As Paul writes in 2 Timothy 4:3, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” We have a lot of itching ears even among us Mennonite Brethren.

We’re being inundated with massive doses of powerful daily influence as to what to believe and think. In short, we’re immersed in secularism. Secularism basically says that social justice trumps God’s Word, if you even believe God’s Word exists. It says that right and wrong is determined by popular consensus not through the revealed Word of God.

We can’t escape secularism’s influence. Not only are the majority totally bereft of influence by God’s moral law, the church is being eroded as well. We see movements in the church that are the result of mixing secular ideas with biblical views. As Natasha Crain writes, “The resulting worldview is often more secular than biblical—a hybrid that’s no longer faithful to the Bible.”

For instance, there is significant influence in American churches for inclusion and acceptance of all manner of sin. Social justice is what matters. Let me be clear: I’m all for loving people who are living in bondage, whether that be financial, marital, sexual, addiction or unbelief. Jesus came to earth for the broken (Luke 19:10). The church must be about reaching the lost, loving and helping those who are apart from God.

But I’m not for accepting these things without acknowledging the necessity of becoming new creations in Christ. I find many instances in the Gospels where Jesus confronts the sin in people’s lives as he engages them. He mixes immense love with an immense expectation of repentance and transformation. In too many churches, we stop with love and acceptance and do not engage people with the powerful truth of the gospel and the absolute need for God’s radical renewal. The authority of “self” has become what dictates—rather than the authority of God Almighty.

What does this mean for Mennonite Brethren? Where are we headed? What are we compromising? I’ll write more in the future, but I plead to all Jesus-followers. Let’s follow all of God’s truth not just what we find appealing or comfortable.

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