Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Seeker Churches and The Inability of Humanity

On a follow-up post, I want to deal briefly with the seeker church movement and their faulty understanding of the total inability of humanity.  Seeker churches are the open air evangelists nightmare.  The majority of “Christians” that I have encountered on the streets while evangelizing who oppose me come from seeker churches.  I have been told on more than one occasion that I am “doing it wrong” or “not showing the love of God” when I am out witnessing or simply passing out gospel tracts.  Some of the hardest sinners I have met come from seeker churches who are convinced that as long as they believe in Jesus, they can live any way they want to live and Jesus will forgive them when they enter into eternity.  The faulty gospel message that seeker churches preach has done great harm to the cause of God and truth.

Seeker churches begin with a faulty understanding of humanity.  In fact, I would argue that God is not the primary focus on seeker churches or their “evangelism.”  People are.  Human beings consume the thoughts, plans, preaching, and programs of seeker churches.  Even their evangelism begins with a focus on the felt needs of the people rather than the glory of the King.  Seeker churches begin with an assumption that people are actually seekers.  People want to know about God but the church often stands in the way of seekers finding truth about Christ.  The traditional church, rather than helping seekers know about Christ by catering to their seekers needs, hinders the seeker from being able to be in a Christian community in which they can safely search for the truth.

Romans 1 is clear that people are not seekers.  In fact, Paul the Apostle shows us that mankind is actually in rebellion against God.  Romans 1:18 teaches us that humanity suppress the truth in unrighteousness.  People are seekers of one thing: sin.  They love their sins.  They are in fact slave to their sins (John 8:34).  People do not love God nor do they want to know about Him and the “church” is keeping people from knowing the truth.  People hate God and reject Him.  Romans 1:18-32 is clear that God has given humanity over to their sinfulness.

Romans 3:10 teaches us that there are no seekers after God.  People again are not seeking God.  They hate Him.  They reject Him.  They despise Him.

But seeker churches continue to teach that people by nature are seekers of God.  People, we are told, are spiritual beings who want to know God.  So seeker churches do everything to help seekers know more about God.  Yes they love much out such as His wrath against sin (Romans 1:18) or His hatred for those living in sin (Psalm 7:11 NKJV).  They fail to teach people what true repentance is (Matthew 3:8; 2 Corinthians 7:10).  They fail to teach the truth of holding firmly to Christ and sound doctrine (John 8:31-32; 1 Timothy 4:16; Titus 2:1).

Instead, seeker churches teach that God loves people period.  They teach that God is loving, good, merciful, and kind.  They teach that He is not like the traditional churches have taught but He longs for humans to know Him and He is pleading for the lost to come to belief in Christ.  Seekers are encouraged to study the Bible and to study Christianity by attending seeker churches and services.  They hope that seekers see the goodness of God in their ministries and that this causes them to come to belief in Jesus.

But this is too good of a view of mankind.  The view of Arminius would not match up with the seeker churches:

To the darkness of the mind succeeds the perverseness of the affections and of the heart, according to which it hates and has an aversion to that which is truly good and pleasing to God; but it loves and pursues what is evil. The Apostle was unable to afford a more luminous description of this perverseness, than he has given in the following words: “The carnal mind is enmity against God. For it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom. viii, 7.) For this reason, the human heart itself is very often called deceitful and perverse, uncircumcised, hard and stony.” (Jer. xiii, 10; xvii, 9; Ezek. xxxvi, 26.) Its imagination is said to be “only evil from his very youth;” (Gen. vi, 5; viii, 21;) and “out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries,” &c. (Matt. xv, 19.)

John Wesley wrote this about the state of humanity:

And this is certain, the Scripture gives us no reason to think any otherwise of them. On the contrary, all the above cited passages of Scripture refer to those who lived after the flood. It was above a thousand years after, that God declared by David concerning the children of men, “They are all gone out of the way, of truth and holiness; “there is none righteous, no, not one.” And to this bear all the Prophets witness, in their several generations. So Isaiah, concerning God’s peculiar people, (and certainly the Heathens were in no better condition,) “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores.” The same account is given by all the Apostles, yea, by the whole tenor of the oracles of God. From all these we learn, concerning man in his natural state, unassisted by the grace of God, that “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart is” still “evil, only evil,” and that “continually.”

And this account of the present state of man is confirmed by daily experience. It is true, the natural man discerns it not: And this is not to be wondered at. So long as a man born blind continues so, he is scarce sensible of his want: Much less, could we suppose a place where all were born without sight, would they be sensible of the want of it. In like manner, so long as men remain in their natural blindness of understanding, they are not sensible of their spiritual wants, and of this in particular. But as soon as God opens the eyes of their understanding, they see the state they were in before; they are then deeply convinced, that “every man living,” themselves especially, are, by nature, “altogether vanity;” that is, folly and ignorance, sin and wickedness.

When we preach the gospel to sinners, we are showing them the kindness of God that leads them to repentance (Romans 2:4).  Wesley preached:

Behold then both the justice and mercy of God! — his justice in punishing sin, the sin of him in whose loins we were then all contained, on Adam and his whole posterity; — and his mercy in providing a universal remedy for a universal evil; in appointing the Second Adam to die for all who had died in the first; that, “as in Adam all died, so in Christ all” might “be made alive;” that, “as by one man’s offence, judgment came upon all men to condemnation, so by the righteousness of one, the free gift” might “come upon all unto justification of life,” — “justification of _life_,” as being connected with the new birth, the beginning of spiritual life, which leads us, through the life of holiness, to life eternal, to glory.

How then should we preach to sinners?  By making it comfortable for them to be seekers (when in fact they are not truly seekers)?  I believe the Bible is clear that the preaching of the gospel requires that we call people to repent (Acts 2:38; 17:30-31).  We call people to become disciples of Christ (Luke 9:23-25).  We can people but the Spirit of God works to bring them to salvation (John 6:44).  Because of the nature of sin, people need the aid of the Spirit to be saved.  John Wesley wrote on John 6:44 the following:

No man can believe in Christ, unless God give him power: he draws us first, by good desires. Not by compulsion, not by laying the will under any necessity; but by the strong and sweet, yet still resistible, motions of his heavenly grace.

Through grace God draws the lost to Himself but make no doubt about it, grace is what draws the lost.  It is not the works of men that bring them to salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Salvation is the work of God and His grace (John 1:12-13) that He brought forth through His Son.  May we preach and exalt Christ (2 Corinthians 4:5) and not flesh.  If we exalt Christ, sinners will be saved (John 12:32) but we are doing a dishonor both to the Lord God and to people when we make flesh our focus.

Advertisements

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Reblogged this on the Grace Apparatus and commented:
    Here is a good post on Arminian Today about the doctrine of man’s inability to come to God. What we think about this will affect the way we operate our churches, how we do evangelism (if we do it at all), and how we relate to non-Christians, whether they come to church or not. By the way, did you know that Arminius believed in depravity? Read on.
    And no, not all of those folks at church who say they are Christians really are. We need to realize that and stop acting so naïve. Many in the church have bought into this idea of being seeker sensitive to the detriment of people’s souls–we pat lost attendees on the back and tell them to keep coming back like an AA meeting, thinking one day it will all just “click” for them. Personally I think this is one result of the mishandling of Scripture.

    Gene Brode, Jr.

    06/20/2014 at 4:48 AM


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: