Falling Away

That we can become too wise for our own good is not a new revelation. People like biblical scholar Bart Ehrman or Charles Templeton (Billy Graham’s evangelist partner in the 40’s), who both managed to think themselves out of the Christian faith all together are such examples. Ehrman could not reconcile the problem of suffering and Templeton had multiple concerns from the story of Creation to evil in the world. Both graduated from renowned theological schools and certainly at one point had a driving conviction of the message of the Gospel.

While obviously not every scholar turns away from Christianity, the point being made is we can think ourselves into a corner. Christianity should never be thought of with a continual “kick-the-tires’ mentality trying to find holes in one doctrine or another, but rather as having a faith that seeks understanding. As Anselm of Canterbury once stated, “For I do not seek to understand so that I may believe; but I believe so that I may understand”. He was not looking for reasons to believe; rather faith became the point of origin upon which reason rests.

So where does this origin of faith reside? I can think of no better Scriptural support than John 3:16, although there are a multitude of other supporting verses, including the “Heroes of Faith” 11th Chapter of Hebrews.

There is also not a lack of Scriptural references for supporting the folly of human wisdom over God’s Word (1 Samuel 2:3; Proverbs 8:13; 16:18; 21:24; 26:12; 29:1; Romans 12:3, 16; James 4:6 to name a few). This becomes even more troublesome when the prideful man is put in a position to teach others. Such arrogance then becomes a force of evil. How easy can our own pride be used to promote the path of destruction to our students by teaching false doctrine or the commandments of man over the commandments of God (Matthew 15:14).

Instead of faith seeking understanding, we become the opposite where we require concrete proof before faith can be obtained. In today’s world, espousing relativism is proof of someone who is more enlightened than the simple Christian and has become a badge of honor in society. Truth, many contend, is no longer found in the Bible. Thus you can see the absurdity or relativism—God’s unchanging Word has represented Truth for centuries, yet all of the sudden, according to the wise relativists, it has lost its meaning.

Perhaps this is also the cause of those who once attended church regularly but can now only be seen a couple of times a year. While it is wonderful to see such large congregations on Easter Sunday, it is sad as well knowing that we will likely not see many of them again until late December and made even worse by seeing many of these people with children who rely on their parents for knowing God. Has the truth found in the world has become more appealing? Or perhaps they simply believe they have accepted Christ and can now rest in His grace. Somewhere along the way they have missed the part of the need for discipleship and to grow spiritually (1 Peter 2:2-3; Hebrews 5:12-13).

As our local church prepares for a revival this upcoming week, I am reminded of the words of Charles Spurgeon:

“Of all the griefs the Church ever feels, the keenest is when those who once stood in her midst dishonour the name of Christ by unholy living. Are there not many such? They did run well, but what has hindered them that they do not still obey the truth? Once they were regularly at the prayer-meetings; once, they were among the most earnest Sunday-school teachers and Christian workers; but where are they now? Eaten up with worldliness, honeycombed with the desire after amusements that are at least questionable, their spiritual life is reduced to the lowest ebb, and even their morals begin to be very doubtful. 

God save you, beloved friends, from such a catastrophe as that! We cannot live too near to Christ; the very marrow of religion lies in that which some men think to be the too great precision of it. I am certain that the full enjoyment of true religion does not belong to the great mass of Christian professors; they do not get near enough to the centre and heart of it all to realize what its sweetness is. They do not sufficiently consecrate themselves to their Lord and Master, or live in such complete fellowship with him, as really to get at the marrow and fatness which are stored up in the central regions of true godliness. The Lord help us to get there, and when we do get there, may he keep us in that blissful spot!”