In June of this year, I wrote an article, Cheap grace, Nazi Germany, and the future of America, where I noted the parallels one could draw from the decline of Nazi Germany and the current condition of America. I based this observation from the forward provided by Timothy J. Keller (best-selling author of The Reason For God) in Eric Metaxas’ New York Times best-selling book, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy:
It’s impossible to understand . . . without becoming acquainted with the shocking capitulation of the German church to Hitler in the 1930s. How could the “church of Luther” . . . ever come to such a place? The answer is that the true gospel, summed up by Bonhoeffer as “costly grace,” had been lost. On the one hand, the church had become marked by formalism. That meant going to church and hearing that God just loves and forgives everyone, so it doesn’t really matter much how you live. Bonhoeffer called this “cheap grace.” On the other hand, there was legalism, or salvation by law and good works. Legalism meant that God loves you because you have pulled yourself together and are trying to live a good, disciplined life.
Both of these impulses made it possible for Hitler to come to power. (emphasis mine)
As we consider Bonhoeffer’s definition, we can see how the church in America continues traveling down the road of “cheap grace,” and we continue to see the decline of America as a result. This past week has provided us with yet another example of how the church continues to preach the “feel good” gospel spoken of by A. W. Tozer:
“Religion today is not transforming people; rather it is being transformed by the people. It is not raising the moral level of society; it is descending to society’s own level, and congratulating itself that it has scored a victory because society is smilingly accepting its surrender.”
Sadly, the source of this latest example comes from the same ministry we mentioned in the Cheap Grace article mentioned above.
As reported by World Net Daily, Victoria Osteen, wife of mega-church minister Joel Osteen and co-pastor of the Houston, Texas, Lakewood Church, made comments that are being called blasphemous during a recent Sunday morning service.
“I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God– I mean, that’s one way to look at it – we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. So I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?”
Yes, folks. In the world of Joel and Victoria Osteen, when you worship God, you really worship yourself. Of course, much of what passes as the gospel in today’s churches pretty much comes down to that anymore.
Confirming the message of cheap grace, scholar, professor and radio host Michael Brown, whose new book, “Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message”, provides evidence that the conditions that existed in Bonhoeffer’s day exist in today’s American churches. As he spells out in his book, the hyper-grace approach to ministry typically emphasizes the love and forgiveness of God at the expense of His holiness and justice.
Today’s hyper-grace sure sounds a lot like yesterday’s cheap grace, don’t you think? In the words of Yogi Berra, it looks like deja vu all over again.
The Strident Conservative has become known for our Gutless On Principles (GOP) Hall of Shame, where we unabashedly call out Republicans who compromise their conservative principles in the name of political expediency. In that spirit, we are creating a similar “honor” for the teachers and preachers of today’s cheap grace message. Today, we are forming:
The church’s mission statement, along with a brief Statement of Faith can be found on the church’s membership page. However, in the spirit of the vacillating nature of the cheap grace movement, they are subject to change at any time without notice in order to line up with the changing nature of cheap grace theology. Membership in CGNC is just beginning, but our numbers will most certainly, and sadly, grow.
America is in decline, and while it would be easy to point a finger at our politicians, the bottom line is that America is a direct reflection of the condition of the church. When the Gospel of Jesus Christ is replaced with the Gospel of Me, no other conclusion is possible.