There is an Athenian love of novelty abroad, and a morbid distaste for anything old and regular and in the beaten path of our forefathers. Thousands will crowd to hear a new voice and a new doctrine without considering for a moment whether what they hear is true. There is an incessant craving after any teaching which is sensational and exciting and rousing to the feelings. There is an unhealthy appetite for a sort of spasmodic and hysterical Christianity. The religious life of many is little better than spiritual dram–drinking, and the “meek and quiet spirit” which St. Peter commends is clean forgotten (1 Pet. 3:4). Crowds and crying and hot rooms and high–flown singing and an incessant rousing of the emotions are the only things which many care for. Inability to distinguish differences in doctrine is spreading far and wide, and so long as the preacher is “clever” and “earnest,” hundreds seem to think it must be all right, and call you dreadfully “narrow and uncharitable” if you hint that he is unsound!*
This is a good word for this day, when people are amused and aroused by circus performers, standup comics, and musical shows masquerading as church.
It’s a good word where numbers and passion are the indicators of leaders that we should honor and esteem.
It’s a good word where creativity is a key part of church philosophy of ministry, where arts and media teams seem among the most important feature of preparation for the weekend services of a church.
It’s a good reminder that manufactured success is not lasting success.
It’s as good a word today as it was more than a century ago when J. C. Ryle wrote it in Holiness.
So, to channel the words of Paul, be careful how you build the church. It doesn’t belong to you. (1 Corinthians 3:10-17)