January 30, 2014

Looking for the Next Spiritual High

One of the biggest problems with the man-centered, revivalistic theology so common in contemporary Evangelical circles is an unbiblical view of sanctification that leads its adherents to become junkies looking for their next spiritual fix. It takes many forms (from Cursillo retreats to emotional appeals to "come down to the altar"), and it seems to be common among non-charismatics as well as charismatics. These practices might look very different on the outside, but, at heart, they are symptoms of the same problem. The common denominator is this: those who hold to this kind of theology are always looking for a magic bullet—the key to "victorious" or "Spirit-filled" Christian living. This magic bullet is never something as simple as prayer, corporate worship, or Bible reading (you know, the regular means of grace that God actually requires of his people in Scripture). No, it's always something extra, something more—something not required by Scripture. Scripture, for these believers, is not seen as sufficient for their sanctification. It may be enough for "carnal" Christians or for those who aren't "Spirit-filled," but the real key to pleasing God and growing in Christlikeness is always found in the next book, fast, retreat, revival meeting, worship style, or emotional experience.

Jared Wilson says this:
The real devil in the details of the prosperity-type teaching permeating so much of evangelicalism is not really that it skips over the stuff about sin. Sure, it does that too, but the pernicious paradox of this stuff is that it champions “victorious Christian living” yet does not equip believers for sustainable discipleship. It emphasizes feelings and “outlook,” not the power of the Spirit, which is hard for some folks to notice since the latter is often conflated with the former (so that being optimistic or a go-getter is ipso facto being Spirit-empowered). The problem over time is that, going from victory to victory, expecting victory after victory, cultivates a contagious form of spiritual greed. (Is it any wonder that this sort of teaching often goes hand and hand with talk of financial riches and prosperity?) The real stuff of discipleship — what Eugene Peterson calls “a long obedience in the same direction” — involves hard stuff like discipline and the fruit of the Spirit. In pop discipleship discipline is replaced by steps, tips, and amazingsupercolossal breakthroughs.
Read the rest here: Contentment, The Stealth Prosperity Gospel, and Spiritual Greed | The Gospel-Driven Church 

HT: Tim Challies

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