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Saturday, October 6, 2007

How far is too far?

I just finished reading another book by Ted Dekker called Showdown and I must find somewhere to vent about this. I have read House and thought the same thing about that book. I also read Blessed Child and its sequel. I thoroughly enjoyed Blessed Child and the sequel, I was not, however, impressed with House or Showdown. I was left wondering, 'How far is too far'? I felt like I was reading secular fiction again and found myself unable to sleep. I finished the book because I needed to find some closure to the characters in the book.

The books have been well written and the characters intriguing. I also think that the story lines are interesting. What I am having a problem with is that I can't tell the difference between this 'Christian' writer and some of the other things I have read in the past that didn't claim Christianity. Does it really make it a 'Christian' book if they mention God and some of the characters believe in Him? Does it make it a 'Christian' book if there is a struggle between clearly defined good and evil? How about having one character who is 'pure of heart', does that make it 'Christian'?

How far is too far? Is it too far to describe in detail violent acts that a character is thinking of but never actually does? How about leading a reader down a thought path that leads a certain way if you have 'been in the world' at all, but doesn't actually say it. Is it too far to get them to think those things, to dwell on them? Is it too far to invite fear to creep in through 'Christian' writing that has its toes dangling over the edge of an abyss?

I am really asking because I can be pretty black and white about a lot of things and I think that this is one of them. I think that these writers are going too far. It is not a 'Christian' book to have one character come to the realization that there is a God. Satan believes that. Talking about God in a positive manner and touting His good qualities does not make it a 'Christian' book, either. How do these books edify the body? How do they bring glory to God? How do they show that we are set apart? Do they draw people to the Christian life? I have to wonder.

I think that this subject is a lot like the movement that is sweeping the Church-the 'Seeker-Friendly' movement. To say these words in my house means you better be ready for a good argument! I think that this movement is dangerous. I think that there are some good points to it; but on the whole, I think that it is causing the Body to change who God has called us to be so that the world is no longer offended by us and is more comfortable in church. Isn't that what these books are doing? They are taking what the world likes and just throwing God in the mix and calling it 'Christian'. Now I want to say that there are a great many churches out there that are doing it right and still have their focus on Jesus Christ. I just have to wonder if we are missing the mark that is right in front of us.

Who's job is it to win souls? Who's job is it to get people to come to church? God's. Jesus saves, we can't. The Holy Spirit pursues and convicts, we can't. It is not our job to look pretty and shiny so that no one will be offended by us, our job is to have changed lives that make people want to know why. How can we be set apart if we look the same, sound the same, and act the same? Aren't we supposed to be different?

"We have to use the technology that is out there today to get the kids to want to come to our church. If we don't do that then they won't come." What is church about? Is it catering to a dying world or teaching them about the Living Water that satisfies every longing and desire? How can we satisfy their deepest need if we cover it up with the 'tools' of the world? Have we forsaken the simple message of 'Jesus saves' with the glitz and glamour of the jumbo-tron and theatre seating? Shouldn't you feel like you have 'been to church' if you have been to church? It shouldn't feel like going to a concert, should it? Shouldn't it feel like you have been at the foot of the Cross and faced with your own reflection in the mirror, you found yourself dirty and wretched and knowing you need someone to save you from yourself? Shouldn't we be telling people every week how to yield to salvation, how to yield to Jesus' Lordship, how to die to self?

Are we? Or are we saying that if you have any questions, go see so and so somewhere else? Are we afraid that the Gospel message is offensive? It is. It is supposed to be. How else would a stiff-necked people ever believe that they need a change? It is offensive to me when I get a speeding ticket. But, obviously I needed someone to tell me that I was doing something that was wrong and dangerous. Do we care enough about the lost people of the world to tell them that they are doing things that are wrong and dangerous? Do we care enough about each other as brothers and sisters in Christ to tell each other the same thing?

What if in our quest to 'win more souls' we have taken on a responsibility that we cannot handle? When we try to make church more appealing to the lost world, what are we really saying? What it looks like to me is this: It really isn't that great to be a Christian. No big deal. It really looks a lot like what you see everyday, just prettier. You can come and feel good about going to church and don't worry about conviction, we don't really talk about that much-that is for your small group. We want everyone to feel comfortable here so we just take a middle of the road approach-no hard lines here. In fact, you don't have to change much at all, you will fit right in, because we look just like you.

It scares me that our churches could be mistaken for anything other than what they were intended for-to tell people about Jesus and to bring Glory and Honor to the Maker of Heaven and Earth. If we would do that with our lives we would be different and people would be running to our churches to find out what we knew. God is the one responsible for bringing people to Himself. I am just a clay pot. I can't be of much use if I try to be a golden goblet.

Now, back to the books!! LOL If a non-Christian picked up this book, what would make them want to become a Christ follower? I don't know. Can God use one of these books for His glory? You bet! "Our God is in Heaven, He does what pleases Him." But, I wonder if these books please Him if they cause people to have lusty thoughts, or fearful thoughts, or violent thoughts, or any other thought that could cause them to stumble. When I finished the last word in the book, I was not worshipping the One True God, I was not brought before His Throne, I was asking Him to help me forget the things I had just read and praying for old thoughts not to come back again.

It will be a LOOONG time before I read another Ted Dekker book, if ever. I don't think my husband appreciates the debates as much as I do! LOL So for now, I am reading an apologetic book and a fiction book called Summer of Light by W. Dale Cramer. I will let you know how it goes!!


Cynthia said...

I haven't read any of his books so I don't feel qualified to make a comment. I do have the two "blessed" books on reserve at the library and I don't know if I"ll read the other 2 or not.

Kristine said...

Good post, Renita. I agree, far too many churches will NOT lay it out there, just pushing the good and avoiding the truth . . .

Mike Hearne said...

Wow, I would want all Christians who want to understand what it is to 'do Church' to read this. It was convicting for me. I appreciate it and would like permission to use parts of it in my blog. If you would allow me.
I want to assimilate it and come back with a comment later.
Also, you write very well.
In Christ and for His glory.

momma24 said...

Oh, Mike! :} You humble me. Of course you may use it! Feel free to correct any grammar mistakes you find. LOL Blessings, Brother.