What Is the Biggest Obstacle to Christianity?
Says Southern Evangelical Seminary President Dr. Richard Land: Believers Must Look Inward for the Answer, Especially Now
April 13, 2020
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—In this time of national and global uncertainty, many are relying on their faith to provide clarity and hope.
Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES, www.ses.edu) President and Evangelical leader Dr. Richard Land said more people are praying, delving into Scripture—evidenced by the increase in Bible sales—and more are engaging with the local church—even if it is, or, perhaps, because it is in a virtual format.
But once this pandemic has passed, will this newfound interest in God and the Bible fade as well—especially among more casual Christians?
Land explored this topic in a recent installment of his daily radio feature, “Bringing Every Thought Captive,” as well as in his regular column for The Christian Post, where he serves as executive editor. These concepts will also make their way into online classroom discussions next month, as Land prepares for his one-week livestreaming Ethics class at Southern Evangelical Seminary, where he will explore with students how God gets people’s attention, how ethics are biblically based and much more.
“Indications from Pew Research and other studies show that cultural Christianity is in decline in the United States, which will inevitably bring about negative cultural and social consequences,” Land said. “But one good result may be in the growth and flourishing of even more traditional Christianity. As merely cultural Christianity wanes, the more faithful, traditional Christianity practiced by true believers who are living out their faith will stand in even more vivid contrast with the mere civic or country club Christianity in America. One of the causes of the decline in cultural Christianity in America has been the hypocrisy of Christians who claim to be Christian and talk the talk but do not walk the walk.”
The shameful gap between the orthodoxy (sound doctrine) and orthopraxy (sound practice) of too many Christians has been and is a disgrace to the Gospel, Land added.
“Far too many professing Christians claim Jesus as Lord but, in reality, live as if He were their relationship adviser, financial consultant or merely a lucky charm,” he said. “The often-staggering hypocrisy of too much of the American church often suffocates the witness and stifles evangelism and discipleship. We claim Jesus is Lord of all, and yet too often we have the same divorce statistics as the general society, and there is very little difference between our lifestyle and the general public.”
Land pointed to an old African proverb that says, “Tell me and I will listen; show me and I will believe.”
“American Christianity needs far lower doses of telling and far larger doses of doing,” he concluded. “Faithful witness, costly discipleship and convictional Christianity will quickly separate the doers from the talkers and lead to an ever-clearer distinction between the real thing—orthodox, traditional Christianity—in contrast to its merely civil residue.”
In his Christian Post column on Good Friday, titled “Why are we so shocked by the coronavirus pandemic?,” Land also touched on how the coronavirus pandemic has perhaps awakened Christians from complacency and prepared them for a time of spiritual renewal, revival and awakening.
“The coronavirus is a new, dangerous and mysterious stranger in our midst, and we have very few ways to protect ourselves from this highly contagious, lethal interloper into our lives and the lives of our fellow Americans,” Land wrote. “I also think this sudden peril has reminded us most vividly of our own mortality. Those of us privileged enough to live in early 21st century America can, and too often have been, lulled into a false sense of security, failing to understand that this thin veneer of modern civilization is fragile and has given us a false sense of security. How quickly we can lose our illusion of safety, our ‘American way of life,’ and our lives.”
Land added that far too many Americans, Christian and non-Christian, have been complacently “at ease in Zion” (Amos 6:1). The fiery Old Testament prophet Amos denounced his fellow Israelites for trusting their riches and their defensive fortifications, rather than letting “judgment run down as waters and righteousness as a mighty stream” (Amos 5:24) against the sin in their lives and the injustices in their society.
“Having hopefully been shaken from our besetting complacency, we, as professing Christians, need to embrace this pandemic as an opportunity for spiritual renewal, revival and awakening for ourselves as well as for our fellow citizens,” Land said. “We must always remember that the Apostle Paul has promised us that God is ‘working all things together for good for those who love Him’ (Romans 8:28). In other words, what has been devised as evil can be converted to blessings bestowed on God’s people by God’s providential power.
“I pray that all faithful Christ-followers will heed the call to be His salt and His light in this propitious moment. May God use each one of us as sparks to ignite the great spiritual revival and commence the great spiritual awakening that our country so desperately needs.”
SES has announced its 2020 National Conference on Christian Apologetics (NCCA), set for Oct. 16-17 in Charlotte. The seminary will focus on the theme of “Hold Fast” for the 27th annual conference by welcoming some of the nation’s top apologetics speakers. The early bird deadline for tickets is Aug. 1, and SES is offering a free apologetics Bible to early ticketholders.
To interview Dr. Richard Land of Southern Evangelical Seminary, contact Hamilton Strategies, Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Jeff Tolson, 610.584.1096, ext. 108, or ext. 102.