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EDITOR OF REDSTATE

Useful Idiots for Baal

cranach lucas baal painting

I stumbled upon a Christian author I was not familiar with the other day and saw that he had written from a host of secular publications about faith. From CNN to National Journal to the Huffington Post to USA Today to the Atlantic to others — these are publications that tend to be hostile to people of traditional, orthodox Christian faith. When a Christian author is routinely published in those publications and cited as a reasonable evangelical voice by those publications, I have to think he or she is really useful idiots of Baal.

From Rob Bell to Rachel Held Evans to Donald Miller to Jim Wallis to Joel Osteen and more, these people seem to think that, if they even share the gospel (as opposed to the prosperity gospel), the gospel can be shared without every offending anyone. If only Christians would not offend people they could woo people to Christ. Truth be told, some evangelicals can be far more confrontational than need be. But, likewise, the gospel is not inoffensive. These people who think the gospel can be sold to everyone without ever offending anyone are committed more to their own house brand than to Jesus and, in so doing, prop up Baal, the god of worldly conformity, more than Christ.

The gospel offends many people. Many people will die this very day somewhere in the world because of the gospel. Frankly, I think some of these people are themselves offended by the gospel. They look at the Bible as a self-help book and redact all the stuff they themselves do not agree with. They focus on social justice Jesus and not the Jesus who said

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

They have convinced themselves Jesus really would have an opinion on a government healthcare program, but never really get into Jesus’s views on damnation, sin, and salvation.

This goes also to my concern about a lot of mega churches. I have friends who are pastors of mega churches. I have friends who attend mega churches. But I think some of the church industrial complex starts building a brand and the brand is more “Six Flags Over Jesus”, as I tend to call a lot of mega churches, and less Jesus. They focus on franchises and revenue stream and weekly attendance. To do that, Jesus can rarely be offensive. More so, the spirit in the attendees can often not be matured.

By that I mean a lot of these churches are so focused on upping the baptism count that they focus solely on “come to Jesus” and never really describe what coming to Jesus entails or how a Christian, once a Christian, grows in faith. So the people in the church run the risk of being spiritually immature or not convicted of their salvation. Here’s hint: often embracing the gospel turns people’s lives upside down and, from a worldly perspective, things end badly for them.

Christ said we should enter through the narrow gate. A lot of the media’s favorite voices on Christendom preach that the gate is as deep and wide as possible for all comers. That’s simply not true. There is only one way. There is only one path. There is only one savior. All truly are welcome. But that one path offends so many not all want to be welcomed.

John 3:10-12 lays out pretty well the three reasons people will not embrace Christ: (v.10) they do not understand the gospel; (v.11) they refuse to receive the gospel; or (v.12) they do not believe the gospel. Many of these useful idiots for Baal sell a gospel stripped of its full meaning and commitment. They should be commended for wanting all comers to come, but need to be cautioned that not all comers will come. They go all Jesus all the time and quickly strip him of masculinity, godliness, justice, righteousness, power, and the ability to save. They try to sand it down so no one can reject it, but often what winds up getting accepted isn’t the real gospel, but a wordily version of an emo, weepy Jesus who can’t throw a punch that people created and not the real Jesus who will one day return on a white horse, with a sword, to judge the quick and the dead.

Too many of these people, often hipster prophets, make people comfortable in their sin while trying to sell Jesus. One comfortable in his sin rarely sees the need to embrace one who will extricate him from his sin. These peddlers of pop Christianity are useful idiots for Baal because they claim their faith in Christ without ever making anyone uncomfortable in their here and now. Christ made people uncomfortable.

As a friend noted this passage from Bonhoeffer last night in email:

“The messengers of Jesus will be hated to the end of time. They will be blamed for all the division which rend cities and homes. Jesus and his disciples will be condemned on all sides for undermining family life, and for leading the nation astray; they will be called crazy fanatics and disturbers of the peace.”

— Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “The Cost of Discipleship,” 1937.

The useful idiots of Baal are not willing to go along for that ride. They’d rather their Jesus bake cakes for gay weddings.

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