President's ColumnDr. Luder Whitlock

Are Evangelicals Pleasing God or People?

by Dr. Luder Whitlock

All eyes are firmly fixed on 2000 AD. The closer it gets, the more we think about it. But as we eye the 21st Century, we should not forget the development and dramatic growth of the evangelical movement that has occurred during the 20th Century. We have come so far! Obviously there is much to be done, but evangelicals can celebrate the Lord's abundant blessings during this century. Certainly entrepreneurial drive and spiritual vitality have figured significantly, but the commitment to reach the world with the Gospel may have been a greater factor.

Tremendous resources and energy have been expended for the purpose of world evangelization. Yet that burning desire to reach people with the Gospel has perhaps made evangelicals too concerned about numbers and size as a measure of success. Too often ministries are evaluated primarily in terms of numerical growth. If you ask someone, "How is your church doing?" they will probably respond, "We have a thousand people attending" rather than, "We are experiencing great spiritual growth, discovering so much in our study of the Bible, and finding the greatest possible satisfaction through spiritual service and concentrated intense worship."

An earlier evangelicalism was marked by a compulsion to be faithful, to hold on to the truth, regardless. Pleasing the Lord was more important than pleasing people. Contemporary evangelicalism seems to have become more concerned with what works, what attracts people, and what succeeds. To the extent that pleasing others, or not offending them, takes priority over pleasing God, evangelicals will eventually lose strength.

To the extent that pleasing others, or not offending them, takes priority over pleasing God, evangelicals will eventually lose strength. As a major numerical force with competent, articulate leaders facing an increasingly secular world, maintaining our emphasis on pleasing God will be a challenge.

Marked by our rich heritage and great strengths, how will we respond to the opportunities and challenges of the transition to a new Century? If evangelicals return to their roots, not compromising doctrinal truths, demonstrating godly, compassionate behavior and walking wisely and patiently in every circumstance, then perhaps the best is yet to come. Evangelicals undoubtedly offer the last, best hope for genuine spiritual renewal in this country and worldwide.

Firmly planted on the Word of God, resolved to be faithful to the Lord of history, RTS is determined to contribute to that spiritual renewal and reformation that is so desperately needed at the end of the 20th Century. Will you join us in praying and trusting God to do more than we can now imagine?

- Luder G. Whitlock

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Last updated 09-22-98.