Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Self-Centered Christians

Modern evangelism often promotes the idea of coming to Jesus to get healed, or to become more prosperous, or to find happiness, or to fix your marriage or any other problems in your life. Yet, the ones who followed Jesus when He was on this earth for similar reasons (i.e., healing or free food), left Him when His message became more serious.

Today's Western Christian is generally very selfish and self-centered. It's all about "me." Many Christians today are focused on how God can build up their finances, or how God can heal any physical ailments they may be experiencing, or how God can otherwise improve their life here on earth. They're generally not interested in studying and learning deeper doctrine; they only want to hear feel-good, positive-thinking messages that give them warm and fuzzy feelings. They're more interested in learning about healing or about some new way to manipulate God into blessing them, rather than about the deep doctrinal truths taught in such books as Romans. The god they have created for themselves is like a giant teddy bear in the sky, who only wants to love everyone, and holds out his arms desperately to people, looking for people to love him back. Or like a giant slot machine in the sky which, if you just know the right formula, will bless your life with abundant riches. Or like a magic genie in the sky who will grant your every wish.

In Evangelism, things like God's wrath and the wicked sinfulness of man, let alone something like the doctrine of Election, are not only generally ignored, but are often even considered taboo or repulsive.

Among evangelical Christians, dying to self seems to be a lost art. Instead of focusing on glorifying the Name of God, televangelists glorify their own fame, and Christians in general are so focused on their own happiness, comfort, feelings and entertainment that they seem to forget that it's not about them; it's about God, and enlarging His kingdom, and bringing glory to Him.

20 comments:

thekingpin68 said...

Thanks very much my friend!

thekingpin68 said...

;Among evangelical Christians, dying to self seems to be a lost art. Instead of focusing on glorifying the Name of God, televangelists glorify their own fame, and Christians in general are so focused on their own happiness, comfort, feelings and entertainment that they seem to forget that it's not about them; it's about God, and enlarging His kingdom, and bringing glory to Him.;

Well stated.

thekingpin68 said...

'Today's Western Christian is generally very selfish and self-centered. It's all about "me."'

Very apparent when looking for a woman to date. Men are similar I imagine.

satire and theology said...

'They're more interested in learning about healing or about some new way to manipulate God into blessing them, rather than about the deep doctrinal truths taught in such books as Romans.'

That is a nugget of wisdom.

thekingpin68 said...

'In Evangelism, things like God's wrath and the wicked sinfulness of man, let alone something like the doctrine of Election, are not only generally ignored, but are often even considered taboo or repulsive.'

You are on fire.;)

Jeff said...

Very apparent when looking for a woman to date.

Yes, which makes it tough. Good point.

You are on fire.;)

LOL! Thanks, Russ, and much obliged for all the comments!

Greg said...

Preach it, Brother Jeff! To borrow from JFK, ask not what your God can do for you, but what you can do for your God.

Jeff said...

Greg,

LOL, thanks!

And I like your spin on the quote from JFK!

BTW, JFK was my favorite President in my lifetime (even though I was only 4 when he was killed, but I still remember that day, since it affected me so dramatically).

satire and theology said...

I have funny ads on my site now.;)

odd facts said...

I agree with you. I think one issue I've seen contributing to this is the over-emphasis of a "personal relationship with Jesus" to the exclusion of the idea as them one member of the church- the bride of Christ.

Also, when the idea of God's covenant is not viewed as with His people, but with individuals, an individual can get pretty self-inflated.

Jeff said...

odd facts,

I think one issue I've seen contributing to this is the over-emphasis of a "personal relationship with Jesus" to the exclusion of the idea as them one member of the church- the bride of Christ.

Also, when the idea of God's covenant is not viewed as with His people, but with individuals, an individual can get pretty self-inflated.


Yes, I think American Christians have become very self-centered, and their theology has been reflecting this, more and more. I think our prosperity is part of the reason for this, but I also think that aspects from New Age thinking and other worldly sources, including to some extent even Eastern religious thinking aspects, have all influenced and crept into many modern Evangelical teachings. Christians have lifted themselves up (i.e., "Even if I was the only human being, Jesus would have died for me, because He loves me so much, and He can't get along without me!" or, "The Bible says that I will do even greater things than Jesus did!" or, "I must be pretty special, because God only makes things that are beautiful and special, and God doesn't make junk!") At the same time, they have denigrated Jesus/God (i.e., "Jesus is my buddy! When I get to Heaven, first, when I see Him, I'm giving him a big slap on the back, and He will give me a big "thumbs up," and then He and I are going fishing!") I think I've even heard some televangelists (probably Benny Hinn, but I would have to double-check that) talk about how we are "little gods."

Anonymous said...

Please take these comments in the spirit in which they are meant.
My wife was healed from sarcoma 12 years ago. two children that the doctors wanted to abort are graduating early or are national merit scholars.
Jesus did his miracles to prove the validity of His message.
when I read the shallow amensess of some of these self serving comments I am saddened. Yes we need to develope a stronger more than what can God do for me witness. but people listen to your experience, they are not won over through argument. when i tell others what the Lord has done for my family they listen with great interest. When the spirit that gave us the faith to be healed moves us to a deeper relationship we listen, we learn and grow. we have a confidence that we can do all things...but also apart from Him we can do no good thing.
There were those that he fed that fled, true, but others wanted and received more. they already have a judge, and it is not us. we are to be a light, as He lights us up with Himself. No man knows another mans heart..only God. Rather than the decry the state of a fallen world...duh or the difficulty that others have in finding the truth, we need to come along side of them, not to say what they are doing is wrong, but to show them what is right. By the way..living what is right is a lot harder than pointing out what is wrong.

Thanks for listening.

Jeff said...

Anonymous,

Praise God that your wife was healed! And yes, I agree that Jesus performed miracles to validate Who He was/is. But when healing and prosperity are put to the forefront, and are the focus, that is not the true gospel. When people come to Christ because they like the healing or because they want more money, they will likely fall away when times get tough. I have personally witnessed this happen. The draw to the gospel should be salvation---including awareness that they are a wicked sinner fully deserving Hell, sincere repentance from those sins, and commitment to follow Christ no matter what. When the draw to the gospel is to see some spectacular miracle happen, or to get some emotional high, then this is the wrong focus. And the problem is that this is widespread. If true physical persecution ever comes to the United States, I suspect that many who claim to be Christians now will fall away.

Jeff said...

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1)

Many Christians today accept new teachings without testing them against Scripture. They have little or no spiritual discernment.

"The Southwest Believers' Convention drew a crowd of more than 9,000 to hear an "all-star lineup" of preachers deliver the message of the prosperity gospel. One by one, the preachers and the speakers enticed the gathered thousands by offering them the assurance that God wants them rich -- even fabulously rich.

As Goodstein reports, the preachers were not shy about drawing attention to the luxurious lives they lead. "Private airplanes and boats. A motorcycle sent by an anonymous supporter. Vacations in Hawaii and cruises in Alaska. Designer handbags. A ring of emeralds and diamonds." According to the preachers of the prosperity gospel, these are merely examples of the riches and rewards that come to those who have sufficient faith -- and invest sufficient funds in the ministries of the prosperity preachers."

"Prosperity theology is not new, and it comes to the attention of the secular media again and again. In 2006 TIME magazine published a major cover story on prosperity theology, documenting its development and tracing its influence. As David Van Biema and Jeff Chu explained, prosperity theology "is a peculiarly American theology but turbocharged." This "turbocharged" theology offers a false hope, presents a failed message, and is a False Gospel.

The prosperity gospel usually comes packaged in terms of the word-faith or faith-promise theology developed early in the 20th century by preachers such as E. W. Kenyon. Kenyon drew from the tradition of New Thought associated with movements such as Christian Science. In one sense, he attempted to bring elements drawn from positive thinking movements into his message, mixing New Thought with Christianity."
from The Christian Post

Jeff said...

I am only one of many who are pointing out the materialistic, selfish focus in much of evangelical teaching today. And the things I have said are very kind in comparison to what some famous theologians, apologetics experts, preachers, etc. have said. John Piper, possibly one of the most godly and rock-solid preachers alive today, has stated that "the prosperity gospel will not make anybody praise Jesus; it will make people praise prosperity."

According to Wikipedia:
"Oral Roberts University professor Charles Farah expressed his disillusionment with the teachings of the Word of Faith Movement, which he argued were more about presumption than faith. Pentecostal scholar Gordon Fee wrote a series of articles denouncing the health and wealth gospel. Daniel Ray McConnell submitted a thesis to the faculty at Oral Roberts University arguing that E.W. Kenyon was the father of the Word of Faith teaching, that Kenneth Hagin had plagiarized his doctrines from Kenyon, and that the unique doctrines of the Word of Faith were heretical. Dale H. Simmons published his own research in earning a doctorate at Drew University and argued that Kenyon was influenced by both the metaphysical cults and the Faith Cure movement of the nineteenth century. 1990 saw the publication of "The Agony of Deceit" as a conglomeration of critiques of Word of Faith doctrines. One of the authors, Christian Research Institute founder Walter Martin, issued his personal judgment that Kenneth Copeland was a false prophet and that the movement as a whole was heretical. In 1993, Hank Hanegraaff's "Christianity in Crisis" charged the Faith movement with heresy, and accused many of its churches of being "cults." He accused the Faith teachers of "demoting" God and Jesus, and "deifying" man and Satan. Other critics, such as Norman Geisler, Dave Hunt and Roger Oakland, have denounced Word-Faith theology as aberrant and contrary to the teachings of the Bible. The "Health and Wealth" teachings had been heavily criticized with opponents arguing that Faith teachers tend not to stress some scriptures warning against emphasis on material prosperity and telling of the importance of helping the poor."

Jeff said...

From Wikipedia:
"Many Word Of Faith teachers have sought to emphasize the full significance of the believer's status as sons of God (through Christ) by using phrases such as "little gods" to describe them, a practice that has garnered some criticism from some other segments of the Christian world. Kenneth Hagin wrote that God "made us in the same class of being that he is himself," and that the believer is "called Christ" because "that's who we are, we're Christ!" According to Hagin, by being "born again", the believer becomes "as much an incarnation as Jesus of Nazareth". Kenneth Copeland says Adam was "not a little like God ... not almost like God ...", and has told believers that "You don't HAVE a God in you; you ARE one!" A common theme in Word-Faith preaching is that God created man as "an exact duplication of God's kind."

Creflo Dollar, in one of his messages, said: "So if the Godhead says 'Let us make man in our image', and everything produces after its own kind, then they produce what?" To which the congregation replied: "Gods!"
Creflo Dollar then said: "Gods. Little "g" gods. You're not human. Only human part of you is this flesh you're wearing." Even Mormon cultists see the flaw in this!! Mormon scholar Stephen E. Robinson, whose religion teaches that man can become gods after eons of exaltation, has declared the "little gods" teaching heretical as well in his book "Are Mormons Christians?"

Many Evangelical critics have asserted that this "little gods" teaching is in fact, cultic; Hank Hanegraaff, for example, contends the 'little gods' doctrine is on a par with the teaching of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Jim Jones.

The Word of Faith movement also teaches that in order to atone for sins, Jesus had to die both physically and spiritually. As a consequence of his ‘dying spiritually’, the Faith movement argues that Jesus thus needed to be born again just as any other sinner.

Jeff said...

"The entire movement presents the Gospel as a message that is primarily about earthly rewards -- a theology that turns God into a heavenly banker who is obligated to invest His people with material riches if they possess adequate faith and claim these blessings for their own."

"Prosperity theology is a False Gospel. Its message is unbiblical and its promises fail. God never assures his people of material abundance or physical health. Instead, Christians are promised the riches of Christ, the gift of eternal life, and the assurance of glory in the eternal presence of the living God.

In the end, the biggest problem with prosperity theology is not that it promises too much, but that it promises far too little. The Gospel of Jesus Christ offers salvation from sin, not a platform for earthly prosperity. While we should seek to understand what drives so many into this movement, we must never for a moment fail to see its message for what it is -- a false and failed gospel."

from The Christian Post

Jeff said...

YouTube video: A Biblical Critique of the Word of Faith (Health & Wealth) Movement

You can also go here, SermonAudio.com: Justin Peters: A Call for Discernment - A Biblical Critique of the Word of Faith (or the Health, Wealth & Prosperity) Movement

McFadden said...

I'm afraid this particular issue is generally an American one, not a western one.

Jeff said...

I'm afraid this particular issue is generally an American one, not a western one.

That might be the case generally, but it is spreading, unfortunately.