Dr. Erwin Lutzer is the pastor emeritus of The Moody Church in Chicago where he served over 35 years. He's a renowned theologian, an award-winning author, and the featured speaker on three radio programs that are heard on multiple hundreds of stations including VCY America. This Crosstalk discussed his latest book, 'The Church in Babylon: Heeding the Call to be a Light in the Darkness'.
Dr. Lutzer doesn't believe that the disintegration of the U.S. is entirely the fault of the church. Instead, he believes there are many 'streams' that have contributed to the climate of anti-Christian bigotry and the conscious rejection of our Judeo-Christian heritage. The 'streams' he referred to involve politics, technology, and education.
Overall, Dr. Lutzer's book asks the question: What does faithfulness look like in a nation that has lost its way, where it is dark, and getting darker? He noted how Jeremiah was not called to success and neither are we. We are called to faithfulness. God told Jeremiah as well as Isaiah to go preach, in spite of the fact that the people wouldn't listen to them.
There's a lot of pressure on pastors to be successful. Using another Bible example, Dr. Lutzer described how the church at Laodicea would have thought of itself as successful. They said they had need of nothing, they have everything they need, they're wealthy and rich, they wear beautiful clothes, and they're the place that everyone wants to go to. Jesus, however, said that they didn't even know they are wretched, blind, and naked. So what Dr. Lutzer wants to do through his book is get readers to see that success, as generally defined, should not be our goal. Faithfulness to Jesus is our goal. Sometimes that results in a large ministry, while other times it may mean faithfulness in a small one. There are no big places and little places, only faithful people and unfaithful ones.
So what's the 'Babylon' he refers to in his book? When the Jews were in Babylon, they were the minority in the midst of a majority pagan culture. More specifically, he cited Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They became adivsors to King Nebuchadnezzar, a very evil king. They were supposed to help him be a good king. They'd been indoctrinated and their names were even changed, but as Dr. Lutzer put it, 'They drew a line in the sand.' They were willing to serve the king only so far, but they would not bow before the image the king had put up.
In the chapter that discusses conflicts of conscience, Dr. Lutzer talks about the need for people to draw a 'line in the sand'. He gave the example of a man who teaches in the Chicago school system who was told it wasn't enough to simply tolerate same-sex marriage. If he wasn't going to celebrate it, he was told he might lose his job. So once again, the lesson Dr. Lutzer wanted listeners to ponder is what faithfulness should look like in such situations.
Dr. Lutzer summarized things this way. He said, 'I looked around and said, what are those issues that the church faces today, and how can we face those issues successfully?' In order to do that, his book looks at transgenderism, technology, immigration, along with the five false gospels within the evangelical church.
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