November 13, 2015

Instability and Apostasy

In an age where abandoning Christian faith and principles is a temptation to many, let us heed the biblical call to endurance, obedience and faithfulness.

Unstable Ways or Faithful Days

One of the marks of our culture is instability in people’s lives stemming from profound religious confusion. In the non-believer this existential crisis is one which should move the Christian with compassion and to action. However this modern disease is not restricted to those outside the church; it has deeply affected many professing Christians today as well. The impact of such a temper is felt in the churches because people who have compromised or capitulated in their thinking and living to the world-system (1 John 2:15-17) are what the Bible calls doubtersendure in the faith, “the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-8).

I was struck again by the force of this argument in St. James’ epistle recently, when reading an article that was essentially lionizing the ‘humility’ of yet another publicly visible, professing Christian, who has jettisoned the last vestiges of biblical faithfulness to join the populist cultural-chorus of the progressivist masses.[1] Such accounts can be read almost weekly in the Western press so that one easily loses track of which Christian leader ‘converted’ last.

But the interesting thing about this case was that the individual concerned was a middling journalist in the conservative media who, whilst professing to speak for orthodox Christianity, appeared to be the epitome of instability – constantly blown about by every wind of doctrine. Having very publicly bounced from Roman Catholicism to Evangelicalism and back again in just a few short years, whilst maintaining a belligerent and supercilious persona for his audience, he nonetheless felt compelled to write, in quick succession, a plethora of tabloid-level books on Christian faith, the threat of Islam, and even an unexceptional defense of Catholicism which, whatever their value may have been, are now obsolete because he changed his mind before the ink was dry.

When someone’s publicly-expressed convictions change as rapidly as one changes clothes, St. James’ indecisive and unstable man has hoven into full view. With such a ‘surging sea’ comes a lot of noise, self-pity and prevarication, as the doubter is tossed this way and that. Since the cultural winds have changed and are blowing decisively against biblical Christianity in the West now, this particular journalist has thrown both the Bible and the Roman majesterium he professed to support overboard to lighten his load.

Beyond the genuine sadness many Christians feel for his befuddled plight, the tragedy of this case is that he has now, equally suddenly, become an apologist for the anemic corpse of liberal ‘Christianity’ and an enthusiastic purveyor of its favorite causes; abortion, homosexual ‘marriage,’ euthanasia, assisted suicide, and philosophical as well as political multiculturalism.[2] With this comes the obligatory utopian religion of social salvation by politics, the cultural Marxism of the Frankfurt school, whether acknowledged as such or not, and the demonising of all Bible-believing Christians as bigoted haters of all that is ‘good.’

The disastrous reality is that outright apostasy soon marks the unstable man who refuses to ask for God’s wisdom but seeks instead his own way and a new word. When God’s inscripturated word is jettisoned in favor of man’s subjective feelings and ever-changing ideas, the professing believers doubt, and instability can soon morph into an all-out assault on the truth, where the former professor turns persecutor, seeking the censure of faithful Christians in the public space for their intolerant hatred of humanity.

It is noteworthy that Christians in the early centuries of the churches life were called ‘haters of humanity’ in their opposition to abortion (which included rescuing abandoned infants left to die), sexual immorality and refusal to worship the state as god in the person of the emperor. Viciously turning on the church has been a common theme in the history of apostates, both great and small, down the centuries. In some cases the ramifications for believers have been far-reaching.

Just half a century after the reforms of Constantine liberated the church from state persecution, the notorious emperor Julian the Apostate set out on a doomed quest to discredit the Christianity he was weaned on. He had been raised nominally Christian but around the age of twenty rejected the Christian faith and turned to Neo-Platonism. His attack on the faith was both political and philosophic. In the social sphere he used various legal tactics to try and disenfranchise Christians from participation in Roman civic life and he pursued prosecutions against them for actively advocating their beliefs. In the realm of ideas he attacked the biblical doctrine of man – that he is a created being and not an aspect of divinity itself. For Julian, humanity participated in divinity and so man’s word was the divine word – no rival word could be tolerated in the social order.[3]

Julian the apostate and his spiritual relatives down the centuries abandoned a gospel they once professed. This should in no way disturb or trouble the faith of the Christian; on the contrary, it confirms it. As the apostle John makes clear in the New Testament, “they went out from us but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us” (1 John 2:19). Jesus also made plain in the most unambiguous terms, “not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven…; depart from me you lawbreakers.” (Matt 7:21, 23). Clearly people may well profess to uphold certain Christian propositions, but where there is no desire to do the will of God or obey his law, the profession is a false one. For again Jesus said, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

True Christianity is therefore marked by endurance, obedience and faithfulness, not instability and restless doubt. Thus every believer must be on their guard against the storms that would seek to blow them off course and hinder their progress in the gospel. In Colossians 2:8, the apostle Paul warns the church, “be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world and not based on Christ.” The faithful church today finds herself in a culture dominated by the empty and deceitful philosophies of men that rest on human speculations and humanistic principles.

These false faiths that will often masquerade as the real thing are taking many captive at a time when hostility to the gospel is growing, and so abandoning biblical truth seems the comfortable and sensible route. But the Christian calling is to endure through such trials, irrespective of the cost. We are to press on in our walk with Christ and persevere by our witness in word and deed. The great English preacher of nineteenth-century London, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, wrote:

If we have received Christ Himself in our inmost hearts, our new life will display its intimate acquaintance with him by a walk of faith in Him. Waking implies action. Our Christian faith is not to be confined to our closet; our belief must be revealed in our practices … walking signifies progress … walking implies continuance. There must be a continual abiding in Christ … persevere in the same way in which you began, and, just as at the beginning Christ Jesus was the trust of your faith, the source of your life, the principle of your action, and the joy of your spirit, so let him be the same until life’s end.[4]

That is the Christian course. There is no other safe path through the storms of life and vicissitudes of time. All else besides is sheer instability and a restless sea. The cultural voices of this age are many, all calling for our allegiance, beckoning us away from faithfulness to God’s law and gospel, but Jesus declared, “many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt. 24:11-13).

Brothers and sisters, don’t let your love grow cold in a lawless time when betrayal of the truth would be so easy – persevere for the prize.

[1] See Jeff Mahoney, “The Conversion of Michael Coren,” United Church Observer, last modified November 11 2015,

[2] See Michael Coren, “The Alternative to Assisted Dying is not Living,” Inside Halton, last modified November 1 2015,

[3] See John Barber, The Road From Eden: Studies in Christianity and Culture (Florida: Whitfield Publishing Media, 2008), 39.

[4] Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Morning and Evening,, e-book. 

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