One of the chief take-a-ways from your reading of the Old Testament “church” narrative is that what begins with idolatry ends with gross immorality.
Recently, within a culture of so-called “progress” has come gross digression towards spiritual ruination. True religion is not rotting because of the cultural decline in America; rather, the culture is declining because of that which many call “true worship” in 2014 America. Within this ever-widening societal decline has been a deliberate attempt at re-inventing church. “Traditional” has become the new 4-letter word of religious terms.
In many circles today the music of the church is set to the beat and groove of the world. With that comes a lack of gender identification and modesty in dress. This is the “come as you are, especially if you are immodest” generation. We are now encouraged to approach God by casual means, instead of intentional holiness.
One observation concerning the new music and Contemporary theology is the blurring of the lines between the sexual and the sacred. Yes, within the walls of what should be the world’s safest place (the local, New Testament church) is a blurred concept of love to God.
There are three Greek words used to describe “love” in our language.
The first is eros. Eros is sensual love and of human origin. Used as a noun, eros is the name of the primordial Greek God, Eros, the god of love. The second word is phileo; it is tender affection, often seen as philadelphos, or brotherly love (Romans 12:10). The third is agape. This is God’s love. It is sacrificial love “Calvary love.”
In contrasting the terms eros and agape we see that they are different in origin, aim and outcome. Eros is sensual love, having an earthly origin. Eros is a flesh love, righteously satisfied only within God’s holy parameter, the institution of marriage and unrighteously practiced in many unbiblical and licentious ways. Although this word is not found in the Bible, the idea is borne throughout the Scriptures. When the Apostle Paul admonishes husbands in the book of Ephesians, He does not say, “Husbands, eros your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it” (5:25). Paul uses the word agape.
Agape is the love of God. It is a love that proceeds from the heart of God (Romans 5:5). It is not earthly; it is heavenly. Agape is the love God has for the world (John 3:16). Out of that love, Christ descended from Heaven and came to the cross. Husbands, then, are to have a Calvary love for their wives!
How, then, do we love God? We love Him with agape love.
Did you know that the same philosophies used by the rock ‘n roll crowd to “set the mood” for a concert full of swooning fans are the same techniques and same foundational principles being practiced in many churches today? Accordingly, Jesus is no longer seen so much as a Saviour but a lover.
Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) groups often sing songs which have a secular origin and an erotic flare. Often, personal or impersonal pronouns can be interchanged, so that the song can be sung to a lover on Saturday night and the Saviour on Sunday morning. When sung on Sunday, the “seeker” is filled with great emotion and fully believes that he has worshipped God. How could something that feels so right be so wrong?
Within the last couple of years, a number of CCM artists have also come out in support of same-sex marriage. Acts like Amy Grant, Jars of Clay, Vicky Beeching, Anthony Williams, Jennifer Knapp and Ray Boltz have joined a growing chorus of artists calling for inclusion, acceptance, and, yes, love to all. Beeching wrote, “What Jesus taught was a radical message of welcome and inclusion and love. I feel certain God loves me just the way I am, and I have a huge sense of calling to communicate that to young people.”
We live in a world of sexual deviance. The filter of our culture is sexual. Truly, it’s sex o’clock in America! Could it be that an entire industry is coming out in support of same-sex marriage because they got the basic premise of love wrong in the first place! When Christ is worshipped in eros and not agape we careen over moral cliff and desecrate the thrice Holy King of Heaven. Paul said first in Romans chapter one, “They changed the glory of the uncorruptible God,” (Romans 1:23) and second, “They changed the truth of God into a lie” (Romans 1:25). When they changed how they viewed God, they changed what they believed about God, which led to a change in how they worshipped God, which led to the worship of an entirely different god- themselves!
Over fifty years ago A.W. Tozer nailed the issue. He said,
“The period in which we now live may well go down in history as the Erotic Age. Sex love has been elevated into a cult. Eros has more worshipers among civilized men today than any other god. For millions the erotic has completely displaced the spiritual.
“How the world got into this state is not difficult to trace. Contributing factors are the phonograph and radio, which can spread a love song from coast to coast within a matter of days; the motion picture and television, which enable a whole population to feast their eyes on sensuous women and amorous young men locked in passionate embrace (and this in the living rooms of “Christian” homes and before the eyes of innocent children!); shorter working hours and a multiplicity of mechanical gadgets with the resultant increased leisure for everyone. Add to these the scores of shrewdly contrived advertising campaigns which make sex the not too slyly concealed bait to attract buyers for almost every imaginable product. These tell us something about how Eros has achieved his triumph over the civilized world.
“The cult of Eros is seriously affecting the Church. The pure religion of Christ that flows like a crystal river from the heart of God is being polluted by the unclean waters that trickle from behind the altars of abomination that appear on every high hill and under every green tree from New York to Los Angeles.
“The influence of the erotic spirit is felt almost everywhere in evangelical circles. Much of the singing in certain types of meetings has in it more of romance than it has of the Holy Ghost. Both words and music are designed to rouse the libidinous. Christ is courted with a familiarity that reveals a total ignorance of who He is. It is not the reverent intimacy of the adoring saint but the impudent familiarity of the carnal lover. The libidinous impulses and the sweet, deep movings of the Holy Spirit are diametrically opposed to each other.”
If Tozer saw the iniquity of such diabolic perversion in 1959 imagine with the advent of CCM and other emergent church movement philosophies the acceleration of his perceptions to 2014!
Awaken, brethren! Let us not be deceived by the newest trends of worship that arouse the flesh to worship, for the scripture still says, “They that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). We do not need the world’s wares to worship Christ. Christ stands at the door of the church and knocks, “Lovest thou me?”
We are not merely mired in the past. Our hymnody is not holding us hostage. Our goal is not to be merely old-fashioned. Our aim is to love God the way He is to be loved. Our goal is to reverence Him in keeping with His thrice-holy nature. Our purpose is to take to the world a sanctified Saviour, not to bring the world in to a Christianized version of itself. Havner said it best when he said, “We’ve spent too much time in the novelty shop; we need to get back to the antique shop!”