22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, 23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For, “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass.The grass withers, And the flower falls off, 25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word which was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:22-25 (NASB)
The Puritans had a term they used in their theological writings and discussions describing professing believers who fell away or were in some way not consistent in their walk. They called them “temporary believers.”
This may be a little offensive to many these days, but there are untold numbers of Pastors, Deacons, Elders, Evangelists, or whatever in our churches in our time who would not even qualify for membership in a 17th Century Puritan Church. As I have stated many times, I grew up in Oklahoma as a Southern Baptist. I have seen literally hundreds (if not more) of “invitations.” In a large percentage of these invitations, people walked an aisle, prayed a sinner’s prayer, was baptized, and made a full member of the church. All of this taking place in a just a period of days. I have also observed a staggeringly high percentage of those professing believers last only a short period of time before disappearing from church never to be seen again.
Is this problem a problem with the nature of Christianity? I contend that there is nothing wrong with Christianity. There is a huge problem with the way it is practiced in the USA in the 21st Century by large numbers of churches. The scenario that I described in the first paragraph is very common in our churches and has been for as long as I can remember. If we look at the writings and listen to the sermons of Christian theologians throughout the 20th Century we learn that those we know who were not contaminated with Christian Liberalism were constantly crying out against its invasion into our churches and denominations. The “Main Stream” denominations grew more and more liberal. This trend is culminating in our time with some of these denominations being more pagan than Christian. This liberalization of church doctrines that began in the 19th Century in this country created a new form of Christianity called Evangelical. These churches strived to fend off the creeping pollution of liberalism, but ended up morphing into a what we see today with man-focused worship, light-preaching, and pragmatism. These churches decry doctrine in favor of being culturally relevant. They say they are missional. They preach a gospel that makes it as easy as possible for people to be saved. They have removed the barriers of guilt, repentance, God’s wrath against sin, and the coming judgment against all sin. Instead they preach a gospel that eases people into “decisions” to make their life better with Jesus. We have vast numbers of Christians who have never heard the words “regeneration,” “repentance,” “wrath,” “judgment,” or possibly even “sin.” What does the Bible say about our faith? Are we to simply make “decisions” and that makes us Christians? Is there more to it than that?