At the end of 2010 I ask the question “where on earth is the church or is it just in heaven?”  Why ask such a ridiculous question when we all know that the church of the living God is alive and well?  The question comes to mind when I am provoked by an ever increasing number of churches who have abandoned the true gospel for another gospel.  I recall a conversation with a seminary student about how difficult it is to find a biblical church.  During the conversation he told me about a church he had attended the previous weekend.  He explained how the preaching focused on moralism and political activism.
    Moralism refers to those who preach and teach that our Christian lives, the success or failure of it, depends on how well we obey the commandments of God.  Our goal in sanctification is to obey the law of God, but too often the law of God is interpreted to mean you shouldn't smoke, drink, dance, chew tobacco, or date girls that do or some other silly rule established by society.  Twentieth century moralism is the modern version of the first century religious views of the Pharisees.  It is the subjective law of man rather that objective law of God.
Political activism refers to the application of force in the political arena to get what one wants.  It is the right wing Christian conservative lobbyist strategy.  Political activism, apart from individual Christians voting and exercising their constitutional rights, is just as wrong for the Christian church as it is for any organized lobby group.  The purpose, mission, and ministry of the church do not call for political activism.
    Christianity in the United States is not under attack from the left as much as it is under attack from those within our own ranks.  The church does not need to fight over the cultural wars such as abortion, civil rights, or prayer in public schools.  The church does not need to fret over law, education, or politics.  Oh yes, all Christians must engage in the culture where God has placed them, but they must only use God's plan to "subdue the earth."  His plan is found in the Bible under one of two headings, either the law or the gospel.  If Christians want to have an impact in Washington, then humbly submit to the law of God and present the gospel in its fullness by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Several theologians have critiqued the radical shift in evangelical Christianity, especially since the culture wars have taken a prominent place in our society.  After considerable inquiry, I am suggesting that the church is struggling with an identity crisis.  The church consists of professing believers and their children who are struggling with an identity crisis.
The trauma that accompanies a high-speed, high-tech, and high-performance society will affect how Christians relate to each other.  The relationships break down when person A fails to communicate to person B's world of ideas and ideals.  The identity crisis comes when one feels that no one understands his or her world.  When individual Christians come to a crisis, the whole church will feel and express concern. "Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?"
    The remedy for this complex dilemma rests in the fundamentals of the Christian faith, from which evangelicals have departed in recent church history.  These fundamentals are essential for good healthy churches.  Let me be quick to clarify this point.  "Good healthy churches" is a phrase that means different things to different people.  A good healthy refers a church that defends the gospel against heresy and boldly preaches and teaches the law and the gospel.
The first of these fundamental beliefs is a source of authority.  Something or someone must have the final word on any conflict, dispute, or controversy.  For the Christian, the Bible is that final source of authority.  The truth contained therein is not subject to contradiction.  It is not relative truth.  It does not mean one thing to one person and something else to another person.  The Bible presents only absolute truth.  To reject that absolute truth is to reject the authority of God over your life and eternal destiny.
    The second of these fundamental beliefs takes us directly to the identity crisis.  It has to do with our source of salvation.  There are so many indicators that point to a misunderstanding of the source of salvation that I am forced to make mention of it.  I fear that so many otherwise godly Christians may get caught in the trap and forget the source of their salvation.  If a person is not secure in the hands of God it will cause doubt and doubt leads to trauma.  We not only face personal therapeutic trauma, we face what I call ecclesiastical trauma.  The battlefields are raging in many of the mainline and evangelical denominations.
    It appears that the battles within these denominations have distracted the brethren from the spiritual battles to which they are called to fight.  The Lord our God has called us to engage in spiritual warfare for the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of a denomination.  A word to the wise:  your salvation didn't come from an ecclesiastical body.  Salvation comes from the Lord God Almighty and it is Him we must serve.  When Calvin was expelled from Geneva he said, "Had I been the servant of man, I should have received but poor wages.  But happy for me it is that I am the servant of Him who never fails to give His servants that which He has promised them."
    I am suggesting that an identity crisis prevails in the church.  I am suggesting that too often we sit on the fence and wait to see which way the wind will blow.  I am suggesting that the abuse of the concept of biblical authority has contributed to this identity crisis.  I am suggesting that we get so enthralled with our private agenda that we overlook the source of our salvation.  I am suggesting that we pray for God to enable us to believe, understand, and demonstrate that our identity is in Jesus Christ.
    The New Year begins with hope and confidence for everyone adopted into the family of God, because of the Lord Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Every New Year’s Day for several years Mary and I have asked the Lord to “teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  May God’s generous providence be yours and your heart be full of wisdom by the grace of God.