Pro 16:25 "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."
This is the third post in this series. The other two can be found here and here. It would be best to read the other two first, but I will briefly recap where the other two have been, and provide a road map where this is going. It is my contention that the way which seems right... which is the way of death... is current evangelical doctrine. That is what this paradigm shift is all about. In order for the church to embrace real life, that is the life that Christ promised, it needs to reject the way that seems right in favor of the way that is right. The way that is right is the pristine gospel... that is, the gospel as it was understood by the first century church; the gospel that Paul et. al. taught.
It amazes me as I read the pages of the New Testament, how much evangelical Christianity and evangelical Christian doctrine resembles much of what the first century Christians wrote against. To begin with, the way that seems right, involves religious performance and moral excellence. There is no problem with moral excellence, except when it is demanded for, and used to judge worthiness in the sight of God. The problem is not moral excellence but religious performance. I am especially cognizant of the warnings in Matthew chapter 23. Jesus addresses the futility and hypocrisy religious performance. The reason is that religious performance inevitably produces pride and self-righteousness.
(Mat 23:15) " Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves."
Pastors, teachers, and preachers know better than to be self righteous but because they are unwilling to show any signs of weakness and humanity in the eyes of their followers they end up fulfilling this passage all over again. Jesus was speaking to the scribes and Pharisees of his day in Judaism, but this is in reality a direct result of and problem caused by emphasis on religious performance and moral excellence. Ultimately, the focus of most church leadership is religious performance and moral excellence. That seems so right doesn't it? Ah, but remember, there is a way which seems right.... uhuh.
On the other hand, the pristine gospel, focusing only on the gospel, grace, and redemption promotes within a person, a peace, and rest with God, that translates to joy, and ultimately love for God which in turn begins to bring about moral excellence and genuine love for others. This is the mechanism of the gospel. Unfortunately, there are not many groups that have embraced the truth. Therefore, there is no real transformation because for the gospel to really change lives it has to be corporate, but it WILL NOT work under the current evangelical doctrine. The ultimate demand for religious performance and moral excellence will kill the spiritual transformation and force the individual to try to reform themselves. This is precisely what is wrong with Christianity, and why I am writing this series.
Pastors, teachers, and preachers are afraid to set their people free, and watch the gospel really work. They instead hold on to the doctrine for dear life, and by that kill the spiritual life of their congregation. They insist on keeping a legal constitutional view of scripture and that is a shame.