The word Christian has never meant the same thing to everyone. In the beginning, the church was called People of the Way. After Jesus returned to the Father, the disciples clung to each other and new converts joined them. But it didn’t take a minute for disagreements to threaten the unity of this new church. And ever since, the ‘church, the body of Christ’ has been struggling to be a family. The church is not immune to the effects of disruptive social and economic changes. People of all faiths are affected by recessions, scientific advances, and war, just like everyone else. If they do not find the security and reassurance they need in their own church, they will go looking for it.
In today’s culture, we are seeing a repeat of a cycle that has occurred many times since Jesus chose his disciples. This is a cycle of church growth, corruption, decline, revival, the birth of new versions of Christianity, then repeat. With each new revival comes new charismatic leaders who collect enthusiastic followers and they often start their own special flavor of the Christian doctrines or even a whole new denomination, for better or for worse.
The deconstruction of the last few years that was spurred by the corruption of the church by the church growth movement, revelations of unpunished sexual abuse in the Catholic church and the infiltration of Progressive Christianity into mainstream churches has led to the revival that is going on now.
But only time will tell what the results of this revival will be. No doubt that some Christians will emerge with a stronger, more mature faith. But we should also expect to see the creation of new unbiblical sects. This has happened time and time again. Not everyone is a ‘Christian’ who goes by that name.
One of the tenets of evangelical end times theology is that before Jesus comes back we will see widespread apostasy and the formation of a one world religion. The problem with calling it that is it does not explain that this one world religion will be made up of many different beliefs, but it will exclude Christianity. I think it will also exclude devout Muslims and Jews as well, anyone who believes in a religion that claims to be the only way to God.
This one world religion will actually morph into the worship of the beast when he is revealed, but before that we will see churches losing their focus on God, redefining God, and creating new gods, and returning to old pagan religions. This is happening now all over the world.
While I am happy to see this current movement of the Spirit, I also recognize it for what it is , only one part of this spiritual upheaval that is sweeping the world. Christians should not get too excited and think we have won the spiritual war. If anything, we are losing badly. But it’s always a good thing when even one person repents of their sins and is saved from judgment and the world system.
So let us stay awake, continue sharing the true gospel, and be careful to stick to the truth and not be swept up into new versions of Christianity that eliminate sin, judgment, grace, and the future Kingdom. Maranatha!
Very interesting read. Your sentence “Not everyone is a ‘Christian’ who goes by that name” made me reflect on a recent tour I took of the Dream Center of Phoenix. It’s a Christian-based recovery center for victims of human trafficking. They have a chapel and offer church to anyone who wants to attend but don’t force it. They said one of their residents had been trafficked by her father who traveled from congregation to congregation. She feels threatened by going to church. Can you imagine?