Willow Creek Gets Doctrine?
In 1987 when I was a student in China, a few friends and I took a train to do some traveling around the northeast of China. One of our destinations was a little town called Shanhaiguan which is situated on the east coast. The main attraction of the town was that this was the place where ancient ruins of the Great Wall comes down off the mountains and ends in the ocean. Much of the remains of this 2000 year old wall were still intact but they were largely piles of gray rubble. it was beautiful though and incredible to stand upon a piece of history.
A few years later I had the opportunity to go their again, this time as a stop over on a business trip. I was anticipating the opportunity to see the ruins of the wall again and I was telling the people I was with what a wonderful spot this was. We approached the ocean to see the wall but when we arrived there had been drastic changes. The ruins had completely disappeared and were replaced by a brand new flawless wall ... just rebuilt. How greatly disappointed I was that such a decision had been put in the hands of someone who had no sense of history and had instead decided to commercialize the place and in doing so utterly ruined everything that was good about it. Thinking a new wall might enhance the tourist trade someone laid waste to the beautiful historic ruins. How utterly senseless, I thought to myself. This would be like going to Athens Greece if someone decided to bulldoze the Parthenon and replace it with a brand new replica of the original. AAArrgh
To hit even closer to home, I propose to you that this is essentially the same thing that has happened to a sizable portion of modern evangelicalism - a faith which has largely dislocated from the historic Christian faith. The seeker model has often wiped out any reference to the importance of history and apostolic doctrine by exchanging it for a rootless American religion which has very little to do with all that went before it. These are serious charges so lets get specific. Last week I posted a piece on this blog which explained that Willow Creek took a survey drawing from 200 churches and 57,000 people; The result revealed that many "mature" believers were leaving the churches in droves because theyâ€™re not being challenged enough. So based on this research, Willow (and other churches based on their model), have decided to bring back more doctrinal teaching for discipleship and growth. Our first response to this might be "great!" but upon closer inspection it is evident that no real changes have been made whatsoever - which shows they have learned nothing. Why? Because this decision was derived from a poll and not the word of God. It is obvious that the consumer is still sovereign in Willow churches. And as long as they are sovereign whatever new doctrinal teaching that they plan to implement is already deeply flawed at the outset. Until the Word of God drives the content of church, including the reason and pattern of doing church, then you have dethroned God and set man in his place. This philosophy of worship assumes the Pelagian view of man that believes Christianity is just a product like any other product and that sold in the markets. Biblical preaching, in this model, is not what God uses to raise up the dead, but rather, Christianity is decided by a democratic vote. This is disastrous to the faith and, if evangelicalism has any hope of surviving, must be confronted lovingly but firmly so that we recapture the truth of the gospel.