This is the atheist's dream: Christianity rendered obsolete through its own ambivalence about Biblical truth.
In the evangelical community, there is a tendency to expend great (and nearly exclusive) effort at bringing in greater numbers of people. While this goal is not intrinsically wrong, “mere outreach” carries with it a danger that is both silent and potent. When the "numbers game" wins out over Biblical cultivation of spiritual maturity within the community of believers, a tendency to lower the proverbial bar “emerges” (pun intended). The most imminent form of this danger lies within a movement called the emerging/Emergent church (“Emergent” is the title of an actual entity within the emerging movement).
The emerging (also sometimes known as “missional”) movement (a blanket term including many related theological variations) is largely well-intentioned in that those of this persuasion strive to recover an element of effective outreach lost to some in the evangelical community. The trend under the emerging umbrella is, however, is that of making concessions to postmodernism (in varying degrees) in the name of appearing attractive to non-believers. By "concede to postmodernism", I mean Christians who "soften" God's truth for the sake of building better relationships, hence attempting to make the Gospel "culturally relevant" to the non-Christian. This produces a "come as you are, stay as you are" mentality. This emerging mentality incubates an illness which is highly contagious, even infiltrating churches who believe that they are keeping their boundaries well defined. The threatening illness of which I speak is called relativism.
Consciously in its logical extreme, or subconsciously in its infancy, truth is considered to be unknowable, subjective, and sometimes irrelevant to the emerging adherent. Relationships then become so important that the desire to love the person chokes out the mandate to speak truth, if truth can even be deciphered. What happens when one intends to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) but has also foolishly eliminated Biblical absolute truth from the equation? Practically, one can deduce that there is nothing to speak, and thus, no standard is ever vocalized and defined. The equation becomes: speak [nothing and/or relativism] in love. When we strive to have the non-believer respond favorably to the church at the expense of truth itself, it would be beneficial to consider the words Jesus spoke in Luke 6:26, “Woe to you when all people speak well of you, for their ancestors did the same things to the false prophets.
Paul was not sympathetic to bending truth in order to increase favor among non-believers.
2 Cor 4:2 But we have rejected shameful hidden deeds, not behaving with deceptiveness or distorting the word of God, but by open proclamation of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience before God.
But we did not surrender to them even for a moment, in order that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.
While Paul was familiar with the cultures of those he engaged, he never bended or softened his message and continually spoke the truth in love.
The church must recognize this emerging emergency, take a stand or be assimilated.
All verses are from the NET Bible.
I give credit to my friend Jeff Miller for the catchy "Emerging Emergency" title. One example of the many benefits of a trip to Dallas!