The Christian Post has yet again demonstrated why I term it the Christian Compost. They published an article about a meeting of a group of Christian pastors and influencers in which they argue that the church needs to “speak pagan” to reach the culture. There is a legion of problems with this approach, none of which the Christian Post bothers to mention. So we’re going to help them understand why this approach is both ridiculous and unBiblical.
Before going any further, we need to recognize that, in principle, there is nothing wrong with carefully explaining terms. That is one of the examples given in the article for “speaking pagan”. Carefully defining a term is a good thing. However, if a pastor defines every term when he is preaching, he will never get through to his point. Some terms have to be assumed to be understood in order to preach a sermon.
Further, “speaking pagan” implies more than just defining terms. It means borrowing our theology from the culture. One of the Christian leaders in the article suggests using examples from secular movies and television shows to make points. Here is where I part company with these individuals. Why on earth would we use secular programming to try to make a point about the Holy Scriptures? Why would we even want to watch that filth? Most modern television is loaded with pornography, blasphemy, graphic violence, and profanity. The Bible says “Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16). Somehow I can’t reconcile the vulgarity of modern television with being holy. Nor can I justify using the anti-God products of secular mass media to preach the Gospel. Neither Christ, nor the Apostles did anything like this.
I can already hear the chorus of “But Paul quoted Greek poets!” Correct, he did. However, if you view the context in which he quoted them, he was not using them as an example to prove the Scripture. Instead, he quoted what they said because it aligned with Scripture. This is not what we see in the Godless, atheistic/pantheistic productions of Hollywood. Further, given how old the quotes were by the time Paul used them, in at least two cases the quotes may have been part of the common vernacular, rather than actual quotes.
Worse, speaking pagan can mean more than just quoting pagan ideas. I’ve seen and heard “pastors” launch into profane tirades in churches in an attempt to be more culturally relevant. Or, perhaps worse, play mainstream secular music as part of their service, again in an attempt to be relevant. That is what I see happening here: these leaders are trying to make the church and, by extension the Bible, more relevant to the culture. We never see this in the Scripture, Old or New Testament.
In the Old Testament, we see constant reminders to the Israelites to be separate from the nations around them, not to intermarry with them, not to follow their false gods, or adopt their practices. In the New Testament we see the same warnings. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” (2 Cor 6:17). Further, as Christians, we are commanded to saturate our minds with good things. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Phil 4:8) I submit that churches ought to be focused on these things, not indulging in “speaking pagan”.
Again, I want to point out that I am not opposed to defining terms. What I am opposed to is bringing the wickedness of the world into the church and using it to try to propagate the Gospel. It is time for churches to recognize we cannot redeem the wickedness of the culture and attempt to make it sacred. This is not to say we should be completely separate from the culture as monks. Rather, we are to be in the world, but not of the world. Borrowing the wickedness of the world and trying to use it to proclaim the Gospel is like trying to put out a kitchen fire with hydrochloric acid. You might put out the fire, but you’ll corrode your appliances (and potentially yourself) as well as potentially causing a worse fire.
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Very possible to read the Bible like a text book after being raised in liberal religion without being born of the Spirit.