25 January 2013

"Peanut-butter Passion"

Every Friday, to commemorate the stellar contributions to internet apologetics and punditry made by our founder and benefactor, Phil Johnson, the unpaid and overworked staff at TeamPyro presents a "best of Phil" post to give your weekend that necessary kick.

This excerpt is from the blog back in January 2010.  Phil shows how unBiblical passion sabotages the Gospel message.

As usual, the comments are closed.

I'm a passionate person. People who know me will affirm that. I think Christians ought to be passionate about truth, passionate in our love for God and for one another, and (above all) passionate about the glory of God.

But raw passion is not the point. Passion is valid and edifies only when it's the right kind of passion, based on legitimate affections for the right things. I'm concerned about the unbridled passions frequently turned loose by people whose only religious affections were cultivated in evangelical youth groups. (And if I can speak freely: that includes a lot of of our so-called young, restless, and Reformed frends.) Everything seems to unleash stadium-style passions. I've even seen people scream, whistle, stomp, and cheer at baptisms, as if they were celebrating a touchdown. Many Christians glorify passion for passion's sake—as if raw passion per se were something praiseworthy and deeply spiritual. It's not. And this has become a serious problem in today's post-pentecostal, post-evangelical, anything-goes era.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that so many Christians imitate all the world's passions. Christian leaders invent gimmicks to try to win worldly people by appealing to their worldly passions. All of us devote energy and emotion to things that are not even worthy of our attention. And then we bring our addiction to raw passion into our corporate gatherings. We do things to stir artificial passions—which is a form of false worship, no better than idolatry, really.

Our passions should not need to be artificially stirred up by spiritual cheerleaders and team chants. We shouldn't have to be worked into an emotional state by melodrama and musical manipulation. If we can get pumped to a fever pitch by some preacher's antics rather than by the truth of the biblical message, then whatever we are feeling isn't even a legitimate passion in the first place.


[A]rtificial enthusiasm actually hinders (and in some cases totally nullifies) the message we're supposed to be proclaiming. With so many churches merely trying to entertain people, or lull them into a state of self-satisfaction, or simply gross them out, it's no wonder the world is not being won to Christ but actually becoming steadily more hostile to Christianity.