“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”
Christianity has for many decades been led astray by the call of church liberals to ‘modernise or die’ – a catch-call based on the fallacious argument that if the Presbyterian Church does not mould itself to be socially acceptable and meet the standards of this fallen world, it will perish and fall asunder, being unable to draw a honest congregation from amongst the lost sheep of our day. Presbyterianism however, will not survive without firm, bible-based preaching that is not afraid to learn through the lens of tradition and sincerity.
Chapter six of the book of John is an enormously relevant story to our situation today. Christ had with Him at this point an enormous following, consisting of those who had witnessed the miracles of Christ and were enamoured by His glory. Christ however, undaunted by the fear of losing popularity professed the word of life; “As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” – this doctrine was hard teaching, and wasn’t popular with the people of the day for obvious reasons.
John 6 verses 61 and 66 read: “When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?” and “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” – this principle of unrepentant honesty and truth was not only set forth by Christ; but so too was it seen in the lives of the prophets of Israel and Judea. Christ and the prophets of our Lord have always dispensed the law and doctrine with courage and uncompromising zealotry: Placing truth before popularity every time.
The Presbyterian Church of Australia’s foremost doctrinal standard is the Westminster Confession of Faith; it reads in chapter xix of the law of God: “Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified, or condemned; yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others; in that, as a rule of life informing them of the will of God, and their duty.” St Paul said in Romans that ‘the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. ‘ Christians today must remember this; that God ordained laws and ordinances for us to glorify him, and to lead righteous lives.
Liberalised churches that seek to throw away the contents and real value of the Old testament and New testament laws will only distance themselves from the generation of youth raised in a lawless and wicked world. According to the British ‘Daily Mail’ Generation ‘Z’ is the most conservative generation since the second world war: William Strauss an American historian and author of the book ‘The Fourth Turning’ predicted accurately that a generation such as ours that has grown up in times of crises, faithlessness and moral depravity will ruthlessly seek strict and uncompromising religiosity in their teenage and young adult lives. Traditional Presbyterianism now has a golden opportunity to be the church and gathering place of this generation thirsting for the solution to the Western World’s state of moral degeneration.
Church liberalism has led to broken homes, alcohol and drug abuse, scepticism of God and worst of all: abandonment of natural, healthy gender roles and duties. Presbyterianism therefore, must take up the mantle of Christ and the prophets; We must be uncompromising on our beliefs, as we know both in theory and in practice that compromise on our world-view only leads to disunity, corruption and eventually weakness. The evangelical liberals of the church seek to draw in ‘wider sections of the community’ by compromising on the law of God; even though it has been proven time and time again throughout history that only honest and hard preaching based in gospel truth will bring God’s blessing, and a congregation that will stand the test of time.
Presbyterians today find themselves in a situation not too dissimilar from the Scottish Covenanters of the 17th century. Richard Cameron, the famous Covenanter preacher was martyred in his struggle against the indulgence of the Presbyterian church; submission to the institutions of the British crown. Today the Presbyterian Church of Australia in many cases has submitted to the institutions of modernity: Treating Feminism, Sodomy, Fornication and all the other stripes of immorality with unobjectionable, soft preaching.
To compromise on God’s perfect and good law not only alienates genuine members of the church, but also demonstrates weakness, and scepticism towards God. The ‘wider sections of the community’ which we would like to evangelise will not easily devote their entire lives to God if we are seen compromising on God’s law and ordinances. The theme for the P.C.A this year is “Taking God Seriously” – We ought to be doing so with courage and conviction.
Evangelising the ‘broader community’ will be most effectively performed if we demonstrate zealous love for our God. Today’s modern world of complacency and faithlessness bears children who would be enamoured and drawn in by our faithful zeal. An uncompromising Presbyterian Church would be like “the light of the world; A city set upon a hill that cannot be hidden.” to paraphrase Christ in Matthew 5:14
Young people with a thirst for religiosity are disenfranchised when they seek God and are met with confused church eldership who franticly invite them to “contemporary” music performances and light-handed bible studies. We must remember that those who can only be attracted by weak and heretical teaching are the sort of people who would not join the Presbyterian Church of Australia in the first place. Those hardened souls who can only be bought with chocolate cake, guitars and religious highs will join the ranks of evangelical “Hillsong” church or go to their local “C3”
Young Men, particularly those of the Presbyterian tradition: need religiosity not based in “feelings, emotion and spirituality” for these are often very feminine forms of religiosity. Young men need religiosity based in doctrine, law and duty. There is room for everything in the Lord’s church – but the feminisation of many Presbyterian churches in Australia has resulted in the wholesale alienation male Presbyterians. Lindsay Harold wrote in her article ‘For Women Whose Husbands Are Withdrawing From Church’: “Most men instinctively withdraw from Christianity that is focused on feelings. They don’t want Jesus to be their boyfriend. They don’t want to sing mushy love songs to Jesus or talk about their feelings about God. So a worship service that seems like just feeling happy thoughts about Jesus is going to grate and, over time, push them away.
The answer to getting men involved and passionate about church is apologetics. Apologetics is the study of the reasons and evidence for the Christian faith. It’s based on facts, not feelings. And men will engage with a Christianity focused on believing something they have evidence for and then going on a mission to change the world (or at least their corner of it).”
Conclusively it must be known that many younger Christians, or people inquiring into Christianity are discouraged by indifference on moral and political issues which are a direct abomination to God’s natural order. Presbyterian churches should seek to draw in the younger, conservative generation by zealous, uncompromising faithfulness to our gracious and loving God. We should return to history, tradition and gospel truth to proclaim a message of confidence and legitimacy: The solution to the depravity of our age.