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The hard lines of Christianity – Washington Times

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OPINION:
On Oct. 1, Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church in Atlanta, preached the following message: “[Some are] accusing me of departing from … biblical Christianity. So I want to go on record and say I never subscribed to [their] version of biblical Christianity to begin with. … Bottom line, [their] version of Christianity draws lines; we draw circles.”
In these few short words, Pastor Stanley summarizes everything wrong with American “big box” evangelicalism.
Why?
What Mr. Stanley is clearly doing is defining his own version of Christianity. He’s changing the rules, erasing the lines, and making up his own religion by drawing endless spiraling circles that exclude nothing and include everything.
Rather than accepting two thousand years of Christian history and teaching, Mr. Stanley has created a God that looks much more like the one he sees in the mirror than the one we see in the Bible. His is a cafeteria Christianity where followers are encouraged to pick and choose the beliefs and practices they like and leave the rest.
Instead of accepting what’s been handed down through tradition, reason, experience and Scripture, adherents of this new faith customize their dogma, even if it results in something wholly unrecognizable from what we have always understood orthodox Christianity to mean.
Mr. Stanley‘s political correctness is one that, by definition, seeks to change definitions, i.e., “erase lines.”
Illegal immigrants are called undocumented aliens. Gender-dysphoric men are called women. Love is called sex. Sex is called love. Disagreement is called hate. Immorality is called marriage. Whining is called expressing “woke” views. And neo-Gnosticism is now called Christianity.
But changing definitions doesn’t change the truth. You can call an illegal immigrant “undocumented” until the cows come home, but that doesn’t make him legal.
You can call Caitlyn Jenner a woman, but Caitlyn Jenner still has Y chromosomes.
Pretending that intolerance is tolerant or your licentiousness is love doesn’t make it so.
Claiming that a tiger has no stripes doesn’t change the fact that it’s a big cat that can kill you.
Again, we don’t get to make up our own Christianity. It’s not our job to rewrite the definition of the faith. Christianity has a 2,000-year-old definition. Pastors in large churches in Atlanta don’t get to redefine it simply because it places some confines on their congregants’ sex lives.
St. Augustine, who left behind his earthly desires, told us that if you believe what you like in the Gospels and reject what you don’t like, it is not the Gospel you believe in, but yourself. The Bible defines Christianity — not Andy Stanley, or you, or me. None of us has the prerogative to take the stripes off the tiger.
Doctrinal positions aren’t meant to be musical chairs. The level of commitment to those doctrines isn’t up for grabs. Christianity is not a faith of half measures; it is an all-in proposition.
“Enter through the narrow gate. Wide is the gate, and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” This is Jesus talking. Not you, not me, not Andy Stanley.
And lest we miss the point, Christ goes on to say, “Outside are the dogs, those who practice sexual immorality and deception.”
C.S. Lewis told us that “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
He also wrote that Christ tells us: “Give me all of you! I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work. I want all of You! All of You!! I have not come to torment or to frustrate the natural man or woman but to kill it! No half-measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather, I want the whole tree out! Hand it over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them ALL over to me. Give yourself to me, and I will make of you a new self — in my image. Give me yourself, and in exchange, I will give you Myself. My will shall become your will. My heart shall become your heart.”
There is no wading in the water. Followers of Jesus are called to dive in and die. And when they surface, they are literally born again, new creations in Christ.
These are the “hard lines” of the faith that point to eternal life in Christ rather than the spiraling circles of confusion of Andy Stanley and big-box evangelicalism.
• Everett Piper (dreverettpiper.com, @dreverettpiper), a columnist for The Washington Times, is a former university president and radio host.
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