Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Apostasy Among Young Christian Leaders

Skillet's John Cooper talks about the apostasy of other young Christian leaders, especially musicians. I have held off on this, because it touches on some of the issues in the Church Music post from years ago that I recently put up again.  Leaving the faith is more common from an emotion-based worship, as emotions are not long sustainable. One version of "Ezekiel Saw The Wheel" has the verse Some folks come for to sing and shout (Way in the middle of the air) Before six months they's all sung out. (Way in the middle of the air) but I can't find it.  There are a fortunate few who fall in love - eros - and remain that way all their lives, but more usually, it fades before the fourth year and other loves - friendship, affection, and charity - must take over to sustain a relationship.* It is the same with God-love.

C S Lewis noticed that his faith was never weaker than when he had just successfully defended the faith, and suspected that this was because for a moment, the truth or falsehood of the Gospel had seemed to hinge on his poor intellectual strength.  For a Christian musician, on tour or putting together recordings and videos, going day after day with poor sleep and having many days of weakness, to see what you know to be mostly faking it that night have such a powerful effect on listeners must sap your own faith.  "If that's all it takes..." I knew some of that from leading worship, then comparing the result to people with better musicians, better equipment, and styles of music that lent themselves to excitement.

It's not just the music, of course.  Those worship services often have more cliches, more exciting preaching, more pizzazz. I try not to look down on it, because I also envy it, and have had many moments in my life when I have depended on it myself.  There are weeks when we bring nothing and are grateful that others can carry us for a time. Sometimes people have months and years of needing to be carried in worship, if they have depression, medical concerns, or hard patches of life. It may be  more of a spiritual problem if we never need to be carried by others. Liturgical and sacramental churches have some advantage to the suffering here - though not for everyone. There is a wonderful scene in one of the "Don Camillo" books when around 1955, the Italian priest brings his portable wartime altar and sacraments to a contentious political meeting late at night and making no announcement, says Mass and administers the Eucharist - a reminder that he had evaded enemy patrols with that same altar during the war to administer the sacrament to them in hiding. He leaves without a word.

We put athletes and celebrities forward to give testimonies, especially to the young, and I doubt that is fair to them or to the church.  They are usually nice, earnest people who want to do some good, but they are not prepared.  It is perhaps surprising we don't lose more of them.

*It has been a long time since I read Lewis's The Four Loves.  It's about time.


james said...

Sampson describes an uneducated faith. He claimed that “no one talks about” the seeming contradictions in the Bible, the fact that Christian leaders fall, or how a loving God can condemn “four billion people to a place, all ‘coz they don’t believe.” This of course is just not true. Every apologetics book ever written tackles these questions, and the issues he raised here aren’t even the difficult ones.

Still, while Sampson is mistaken that “nobody” is talking about these issues, he’s not completely wrong in his critique. In fact, far too many churches avoid tough questions. Far too many fail to equip Christians on the current cultural controversies. In fact, too much of Christianity – especially evangelical Christianity – neglects intellectual discipleship altogether. Not even basic theology is articulated from some pulpits. I don’t know how else to say it: They fail God’s people.

Unknown said...

I believe the real issue is what we do with transcendent moral truth (Paul's argument in 2 Thessalonians 2) When we choose to let the corrupt world still the voice of truth, we eat the heart out of our faith. Those without roots fall away

Texan99 said...

There's a good Sacred Harp song, Columbus 67, about a preacher who used to have a gift and now feels empty and mute. In a turn that would be uncharacteristic for a modern song like this, the narrator concludes that he'll just have to stick to his duty and trust God to bring him through. The song is pretty dreary in the Sacred Harp tradition but terrific in the bluegrass style. This YouTube isn't bad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NFlm21m6sc. This link traces the lyrics to Job 23:1-10: http://www.stephengriffith.com/folksongindex/columbus-67-once-i-had-a-glorious-view/ It also recommend the version on "Help Me to Sing," which is a wonderful 2-CD set definitely worth buying, though unfortunately it's not available for easy download on iTunes.

Anyway, as usual, there's solid advice about enduring in Job.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Thank you! And that one had the lyric I was looking for. That is a great site, and I am going to spend some time there.

I am reminded of Mother Theresa, who had a glorious vision and clear voice of God giving her direction at age 19, which she obeyed, but according to one account, never heard a whisper from him again, simply persevering on hope, on faith, on duty, on through dark nights.

Texan99 said...

The version by the Jordanaires, available on iTunes, has that lyric. Here it is on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhpDO0pVjho