By Edward Thal /
Like a tsunami scouring an unspoiled beach, the secular tide debilitating Western civilization for the past several hundred years has removed the fear of God from the hearts of men. Its most damaging effect has been on those who count themselves as Christians.
The effect is seen clearly within the so-called mega church movement and seeker-friendly Christianity where God has been dethroned to the point that the glorious Being whose awe-inducing majesty is described by Isaiah (6:1-5) has become everyman’s pal. Almost 100 years ago Karl Barth recoiled in horror at such a trend, writing in his commentary on Romans that we dare to present ourselves as God’s “companions, patrons, advisers and commissioners […] This is the ungodliness of our relation to God. Secretly we are the masters in this relationship. We are not concerned with God, but with our own requirements, to which God must adjust Himself […] Our lack of humility, our lack of recollection, our lack of fear in the presence of God, are not in our present condition inevitable, however natural they may seem to us[…]the insecurity of our whole existence, the vanity and utter questionableness of all that is and of what we are, lie as in a textbook open before us.” (Karl Barth: Epistle to the Romans pp 44,48)
This dumbing-down of God breeds unfounded self-confidence bordering on arrogance. When God is your pal it encourages an estimation of personal wisdom and competence that reflects a vanity of mind and blindness of heart. Barth calls it a fundamentally wrong attitude to life. He adds: “The more unbroken man marches along his road secure in himself, the more surely does he make a fool of himself.”
Fools will not stand in the day of testing that seems to be coming upon the whole world. This is a time for sober self-assessment and a strengthening of our relationship with a Holy, Omnipotent God, not for indulging in cartoon Christianity.