So today’s religionists cry out; "Give me some of that feel-good religion!" Why? Because no discipline is involved, no hurt in the growing process, no pain for true gain! One Christian author has rightly stated: "Christian psychology is an attempted balancing act, with one foot upon the solid Rock, Christ Jesus, and the other on the sinking sand of humanism."
What about discipline? When we find that we have areas in our lives that need to change what do we do? Many today are going to seminars and learning the skill of pretending that they are partially some kind of god or goddess. They are taught that they are in control, not God. In otherwards, those who have gone to these philosophical cults come back saying: "If you force yourself to feel confident, get the attitude that you can do anything, nobody can stop you! Then you will succeed."
2 Timothy 4:3-4 (KJV)
3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
An offspring of the Postmodern age, this too is a contemporary phenomenon. (Its original name, Erlebnis- und Spassreligion, stems from a German religious writer, Dr Stephan Holthaus.) I believe that the name precisely expresses the essence of this brand-new religious attitude.
To aid in understanding what this movement is all about, I quote a substantial passage from the book on this topic by Bruno Schwengeler:
“Dr. Stephen Holthaus gave a noteworthy lecture on today’s enjoyment-orientated Christianity, and the effect of postmodern ‘feel-good’ society on Christian churches. In the first part he described today’s Western societies as ones centered not so much around such traditional values as work, saving, duty, suffering, but rather as ones going for enjoyment, amusement, personal happiness, ‘the main thing is that I feel good’, hobbies, turning inside. In an opinion poll young people were asked what they liked best. 99% of them answered: “amusement”. 43% of them were not interested in politics at all. As Holthaus put it, one is neither for the right nor for the left, but for his own well-being. This aspect is more and more gaining ground with Christians ...
Christian churches are being invaded by cabaret-artists, jugglers, clowns, pantomime actors, dancers, puppeteers and musicians to make church meetings more colourful. Such attractions are thought to be useful to pull in those who live far from Christ and the Gospel...
As has been pointed out by Dr. Holthaus, already the central elements of Christian faith, such as Biblical exegesis, preaching, the worship and the image of God, have become influenced by the power of ‘feel-good’ societies.
Under the ever-increasing influence of ‘Erlebnis-‘ [experiential-] religion, exegesis is often restricted only to the personal: What does this passage say t o m e ? May the Holy Spirit tell m e something concerning this or that problem. How often do we nowadays hear, in Bible-study groups, that which previously one could hear only from Liberals: This Bible verse means this or that t o m e . Why ‘to me’? The meaning of the Bible is not to be contextualised according to the individual.
The services have changed, too. The introductory part has become longer, the preaching shorter. Since modern man needs something attractive, a great emphasis is put on ‘diversions’. At times, the distinction between a church service and a variety-show is practically eliminated ... The image of God has changed, unnoticed: He is no longer the holy and righteous God, but a kind and gentle father. God has been redefined: He is now a friend who never contradicts but always justifies.”6
The characteristics of this theology reflect the very spirit of our age. The title of a book by Christopher Lasch, an American sociologist, comes to mind at this point. The book itself is not of interest to us here, but its title is spot-on: The culture of narcissism (the Hungarian title is, in translation, “The self-adoring society”) . The Postmodern mentality of the Western world could not be better described.
Matthew 22:39 (KJV)
39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Jesus restated this command in John 13:34, 15:12 & 17.
John 13:34 (KJV)
34A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
John 15:12 (KJV)
12This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
John 15:17 (KJV)
17These things I command you, that ye love one another.
The "love" which Jesus commanded has, unfortunately, been sadly lacking in some Congregations. However, this new group is taking Jesus' Commandment to extremes. They overlook the fact that this is the 2nd greatest Commandment. Jesus flatly states,
- - "Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment."
By overlooking the "great commandment", those focusing solely on Jesus' command to love have given rise to the feel good church, which is a permissive & compromising sham of Christianity.
The feel good church, a place where there is no condemnation, a place of acceptance no matter what; a place where the operating catch phrase is, It's a matter of Conscience and the motto is, Do what you want, it's between you and God. You might ask, "What's the matter with that?". An awful lot, according to God's word, as we will see as we progress.
The members of the feel good church like to pick and choose which Scriptures are valid and which do not apply today. They will expound on Jesus' command in Matthew 22:39; yet will not accept 2 Timothy 3:16,
- - "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness";
. They claim the love of Jesus; yet, overlook that with it comes responsibilities.
Claiming Jesus' love requires that we must return that love, to the extent which is humanly possible. How does He say we should express our love?
- - "If you love Me, keep My commandments."
What commandments? Certainly Love the Lord God & Love your neighbor. This is where the 'feel-gooders' attempt to cloud the issue. They proclaim that these are the only Commandments they are responsible for keeping. They claim that the Ten Commandments where replaced by these two commands. They overlook that Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 22:44,
- - "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
In other words, they are a summation and by following them you will follow the Ten Commandments of God.
This group claims that, "you must accept me as I am.". No reproof, comment, or condemnation is allowed in the 'feel-good' church. Although Scripture plainly states:
1 Timothy 5:20 (KJV)
20Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
1 Corinthians 5:11 (KJV)
11But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
Galatians 6:1 (KJV)
1Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
The Christian concept of "Love the sinner; hate the sin" has been used to subvert the duty of Christians to lovingly, and with humility, rebuke those leading sinful lifestyles, especially those claiming membership in the Body of Christ. By not doing so the 'feel-gooders' are giving tacit approval to on-going sin.