Thursday, March 19, 2009

Book Announcement

By S. Michael Durham

The following is the preface for a book I am writing about the essence and nature of the gospel message. I have yet to select a title; that will come near the end of the process. The rough draft is nearly completed and tedious rewrites will begin. It is my hope that by the end of summer, the book will be ready for print. No promises! But to let you know this is in the works and solicit your prayers for this effort, I thought I would throw this preface out as a teaser.

In this postmodern culture of American society, we must admit the fact that America is a post-Christian nation. Americans in recent generations have no knowledge of the holy and an advanced knowledge of the profane. They have no understanding of the God of the Bible. The unbeliever is completely ignorant of what many Christians take for granted as basic truths of Scripture. If we are to reach this generation, we must assume they know absolutely nothing of the claims of the Bible or of the God it reveals. How has this nation digressed into blatant paganism when there is a church on every street corner? How can the amoral doctrines of tolerance, pluralism and moral relativism be the tenets of America’s convictions when Christian television stations and networks spring up like weeds in my garden?

This country has more access to Christian information than any people, anywhere, anytime. Yet it is rapidly becoming an anti-Christian culture that has no tolerance for truth in any facet of the marketplace. Why? Because most American churches have become irrelevant. Their message and methodology cannot answer the deepest questions of America’s soul. We have abandoned the gospel and its purity for an impersonation of a slick Madison Avenue ad agency. We have nothing different to offer this generation. They have heard our polluted gospel of health, wealth and beauty, and have felt ripped off when those promises proved empty. They have fallen for the sting operation of American Christianity that has left this nation embittered against the church. It would be much better if they hated us because of our adherence to a narrow gospel than to despise us for a stand-for-nothing mentality.

Let me make this very clear. I refuse to soften the harshness of my warning with skillful rhetoric or dainty tones. Far too long have smooth-haired prophets and soft pastors recognized a problem, but have stated the situation with admonitions that lacked urgency. No heart will be aroused and no mind will be alerted with a soft approach. Refined and respectable reproofs have not worked. The American evangelical scene continues to race to self-destruction and God’s judgment. The terrible calamity demands the voices of militant spirits willing to be considered the enemy of the church if need be in order to save some. It must be stated in soul rending thunder. The trumpet must be blared to awaken the conscience. Listen, church of America: YOU ARE WRONG! You have been wrong-headed and weak-hearted for quite some time. You are mistaken either purposely or in ignorance (let God be the judge) in doctrine, spirit and in practice especially when it comes to the proclamation of the gospel of Christ.

This is why I say we must start afresh. We must start with exactly what early Christianity started with. We must lay before the church a new paradigm that isn’t really new––the Bible and church history demonstrate time and time again the need for drifting generations to be awakened and alerted. Jeremiah called his sleeping generation to return to the old paths: “Thus says the LORD: ‘Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls’” (Jeremiah 6:16). Before Jeremiah there was Isaiah, who warned a posh people inundated with modern methods of worship: “this is a rebellious people, Lying children, Children who will not hear the law of the LORD; Who say to the seers, ‘Do not see,’ And to the prophets, ‘Do not prophesy to us right things; Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits. Get out of the way, Turn aside from the path, Cause the Holy One of Israel To cease from before us’” (Isaiah 30:9-11).

And before Isaiah there was Joshua calling: “Choose you this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15). He called the people to remember and choose whom they would serve for he could see the drifting already so soon after possessing the land of promise. Drifting, degeneration, defection and death are always the ways of men. No matter how mighty and miraculous a movement of God begins, it will eventually drift into deterioration. By the end of the first century of Christianity the drifting had begun so that most of the latter epistles were nothing but warnings and reproofs against the deterioration caused by false teachers and leaders. After a period of darkness during the middle centuries where religious tyranny reigned and greatly persecuted the truth, a remnant of God allowed the cry to sound and be heeded. An Augustinian German monk named Martin Luther penned 95 reasons why he could no longer abide with the church paradigm of his day. With the driving of the nail into the Wittenberg church door, Luther drove the first blow to shatter the religious defection from truth and, at the same time, began construction upon the true foundation of Christ. Unfortunately, Luther could not remove all the debris of the Romanists, and after his death his structure was soon dilapidated.

In America’s religious history not all is rosy. Prior to the Second Great Awakening, it was said that the Chief Justice of the United States, John Marshall, wrote to the Bishop of Virginia, James Madison, that the Church “was too far gone ever to be redeemed.” A poll taken at Harvard discovered not one believer in the whole student body. Yet again, men of God sounded the clarion call of the one true gospel of Jesus Christ.

It is imperative that we go to the Bible and properly study its teaching on this most important of subjects––the salvation of men by a gracious God. We must establish the truth of the gospel, how it is that we come to know the tender mercies of God, how we are saved, and the biblical evidence of true conversion. Men more able than I have sounded this call, but the churches, amid the deafening noise of ministerial success and mega-church growth, have not heard. Why should you read this and heed this call? Only that the Lord would be pleased to use you and me, the weak and the foolish, to convince all who have thought themselves wise to depart from the unchanging Word of God.


  1. Looking forward to the book. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

  2. As you go forward, may the keys feel the touch of The Almighty more than the touch of your fingers.