Most evangelicals in the United States vigorously oppose the agenda of progressive liberalism. Surprisingly, however, the teaching of the traditional church parallels that of liberalism.
This teaching is based on what we have called “the theology of weakness” quite prevalent in the Church today. This theology results from a misunderstanding of Paul’s teaching in 2 Corinthians 12:9.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Based on this passage, Christians are taught that it is good to be weak, because when we are weak we will need to depend more on Christ’s power which will be made perfect through our personal weaknesses, shortcomings, lack of faith and failures. But verse 10 tells us what kind of weakness the apostle is referring to.
10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul is not at all referring to personal weaknesses and shortcomings resulting in personal failure. Rather he is referring to hardships he must endure for the sake of the gospel. In the preceding chapter of the very same epistle from verse 23 through 28, Paul boasts about his vivid sufferings for the sake of the gospel. Paul suffered because he was so committed and fruitful for the gospel. He was anything but weak in faith or in works; he was not weak in terms of his personal life and accomplishments.
But today we are taught that believers can do very little. We are weak and will remain weak forever on earth until we are perfected in God’s presence. This weakness is good for us since it forces us to be “humble” and to “trust” God.
And where is God? He is especially in church on Sunday mornings when we gather to worship Him with our lips and our offerings. He speaks to us through our pastors and leaders. Most of us are expected to be forever dependent on them for guidance, direction, and teaching from God’s word. In order to gain maximum benefit, we are encouraged to “join” the church as members ’til death do us part and to support the church faithfully with our tithes and offerings…all for the glory of God, of course.
Pastors and leaders are given authority over us to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles. In that way the laypeople are essentially released from personal responsibility for their own welfare, having entrusted it to their “anointed” pastor and leaders. But this is eerily similar to what happened in the time of the prophet Samuel when, against God’s perfect will, the Israelites insisted that God give them a king—thereby rejecting God Himself.
1 Samuel 8:7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. …19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”
Today, similarly, we depend on and have entrusted ourselves to our “anointed” pastors and leaders. And this is what progressive liberals want for America today. We are to forgo personal responsibility for ourselves and entrust our future to a big government which knows better than we do what is best for us. Like sheep we continue to believe the empty promises of liberal politicians and so continue to give them our vote on Election Day. They stay in power and enjoy its trappings as they rule over us. But our lot in life does not change, but actually worsens as we grow increasingly helpless by welcoming and depending more and more on government handouts. Conservative talk show host Sean Hannity almost prophetically referred to the progressive liberal who presided over the United States during the years 2008-2016 as “the anointed one.”
This is patterned after “the theology of weakness” as taught in the Church today. Since we are hopelessly weak, we must forever depend on our “anointed” pastors to lead us and fight our battles for us—as we of course continue to support the church with our “votes”—our tithes and offerings. Few of us followers actually mature to be like Jesus Christ and to do the works that He did—exactly as is expected by the Traditional Church which for its own survival as an institution must keep us dependent like children. But Scripture teaches otherwise.
Ephesians 4:11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we ALL reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
In 1 Samuel 8, God indeed ended up giving in to the demand of the Israelites and anointed Saul to be their king even though it was not His will. But as we all know, this “experiment” with the anointed king ended in disaster, both for Saul and for the Israelites. In the same way, the current “theology of weakness” taught in the Church in America today is not ending well. The Church in America, paralyzed by that unscriptural theology making us ineffective for the gospel and the Great Commission, is losing ground to her enemies.
Should not each of us believers instead desire and seek to be strong in faith and good works, bearing much good fruit for the kingdom of God during our time on earth? Should we not by doing so prepare ourselves to rule with Christ in His kingdom after He returns?
Luke 19:15 “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it. 16 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’ 17 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’