Thursday, September 29, 2016

No foundation but Jesus

In early September, Wade Burleson's blog post "MOPS and Its Move Away from Biblical Christianity" came across my Facebook feed.  

Sarah Wilkins, who wrote an Open Letter of Concern to MOPS with the theme materials for the 2016-2017 MOPS year, says (emphasis mine):  
...  I realized my core issue with the MOPS curriculum this fall is how sin, truth and Biblical sufficiency are addressed in the materials.  I also have realized that MOPS International seems to have become a major player in a loose trend within traditional Christian churches, a trend in which Truth is represented as something that changes and can't be known. It is a trend where sin is not addressed because personal salvation is deeply rooted in self transcendence. It is a trend in where anyone who takes the Bible as sufficient for one's faith and life is scoffed at as a closed minded and archaic person.
The blog encourages the reader to not take Wade's or Sarah's word for it but go to the source materials.

I took this advice to heart and began an investigation into not only MOPS' materials but also evidence of the "loose trend within traditional Christian churches" toward relativism, mysticism, and theological liberalism that Sarah notes above.

Indeed, in my research, I was alarmed to find how widespread and popular such ideas seem to be, and convicted to examine my own beliefs and practices, in keeping with Paul's exhortation in Colossians 2:8 (New Living Translation):
Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.
 Trevin Wax's 2011 book Counterfeit Gospel includes a table that summarizes some of the most influential types of "empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense" that are at large in the church today.  He uses a three-fold model of story, message and community to show a full comparison of the true gospel to these counterfeits.

  • True Gospel Story: God's good creation was marred by the fall into sin, and our only hope is a Savior. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23
  • True Gospel Announcement: The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the solution to this problem.  "God showed his love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
  • True Gospel Community: Our ongoing response to God of repentance and faith creates and requires the creation of the Church which lives out the Gospel.  "Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." Hebrews 10:24-25

I confess I have allowed subtle variations of these counterfeit gospels into my faith life and I repent of that.  I've been convicted that when I read others' interpretations of God's Word more than I study it for myself is when I put myself in danger of such deception.

I plead with you to do research of your own, and to follow the examples of the Bereans who examined the scriptures to test even what the Apostles were saying.

Or to put it a better way, back to Colossians 2, the two verses previous to Paul's warning against being captured by human philosphy says:

6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

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