For it is by grace you have been saved...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Bumper Sticker Doctrine

Several years ago the O. C. Supertones had two great songs that bemoaned the shallow state of contemporary theology, which they called "bumper sticker doctrine.  (Silly statement in part since all of the Supertones songs are great songs, but...)

One song was called Escape from Reason: "Tell me who will listen to uneducated congregants And why should they when all we have to say is Bumper sticker doctrine and cute catch phrases Does this amaze us that no one will take us seriously."

The other was Return of the Revolution:  "Our hearts have grown so cold and we’ve such numb souls But shirts and bumper stickers man we got ’em by the truckload Is true religion what you have around your wrist What does the scripture say of this They honor me with words but their hearts are far away I call ’em like I see ’em and that’s what I see today."

Sadly, things have only gotten worse since then.  The internet is full of all these cute little sayings and pictures that are supposed to be inspiring; at lease I think they are.  Some of it just plain insane and I don't think anyone takes them serisouly.  Timothy Dalrymple recently posted what he called "Twelve Terrible Facebook Jesus Memes."  Among them were these.

If you really want to torture yourself with the rest, go to the post and look for yourself.  Warning, though, these can be pretty profane.  And because of that, I don't think anyone was meant to take them seriously.  But they are in one sense a response to some of the ridiculous things people post, and do mean.  How about this one.

I mean, come on.  The prayer is nice and all.  But praying to God while looking at the Pope and Ma Theresa.  Post this prayer on facebook and all will be well.  Is that really where we've come in modern Christianity?

And then, there are the bumperstickers themselves.  I pulled into the bank last night and the car in front of me had this sticker on it.  I'm not kidding.  It said:  "Give Jesus a chance, He died for the opportunity."  Oh my dear goodness, are you kidding me?  Poor little Jesus, dying just hoping to have the opportunity for you to give Him a chance.  How pathetic!

And yet, all of this does indeed describe what passes for theology in many, many churches.  We've become so shallow, become so self-centered. It really does make you wonder how anyone can ever take us seriously, and makes you realize why so much of the world doesn't. It's as if the church today is allergic to genuine truth and sound doctrine. 

Of course, it's nothing new.  Charles Spurgeon often addressed the issue in his own day.  In one article he says, "IT is astonishing how far mere polish will go with certain hearers. Let a man affect fine language and pompous manners, and there are professed Christians who will delight in him... Manly Christians look more to the meat than the garnishing, but the present feeble generation runs mad after flowers and finery... Somewhere or other we came across the story of an old lady who persisted in wearing a pair of spectacles which were of no earthly use to her, for she always looked over them, and not through them. She preferred them far beyond another most serviceable pair, and why? Because they had gold rims. There are old women of both sexes who attach themselves to a weak-minded man of veneer, and cannot appreciate a solid gospel preacher of vigorous intellect and extended usefulness... Reader, be not thou enchanted with childish things, but feed on sound doctrine, which is both milk for babes and meat for men."

Indeed, we are facinated by the "gold rims" of cute catch phrases and this bumper sticker doctrine, enchanted with childish things and not feeding on sound doctrine.  Our cry needs to be the same as that of Spurgeon when he confronted the same lack:  a cry for genuine revival.  He said in another place: 

"If you read the standard divinity of this age, and the standard divinity of Whitefield’s day, you will find that the two cannot by any possibility be made to agree together. We have, nowadays, what is called a “new theology.” New theology? Why, it is anything but a Theology; it is an ology which has cast out God and enthroned man; it is the doctrine of man, and not the doctrine of the everlasting God. Therefore, we need a revival of sound doctrine once more in the midst of the land."

God save us from bumper sticker doctrine.  Save us from trite and cute "theology" that we can fit on a t-shirt.  Give us a love for sound doctrine, for bold preaching, and a passion for the true conversion of souls, not just people who will "like" us on facebook.  (Don't forget to share this if you agree!)


Gregg Metcalf said...

Great post. Loved it! Now we are living with what I call sound-bye Christianity.

Eddie Eddings said...

I agree with Gregg...great post! Methinks he may have left the "t" our of sound-byte - but either way, what we see today leaves the cross ("t") out of their presentation.
It's ridiculous what is going on in the name of Christianity.
Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Mike said...

Eddie, great comment, brother!

I agree! I loathe receiving those emails from those who I know are well-meaning believers. Makes me wonder if they really do get it or not.