Ben J. DITZEL
Apostasy: The Snares of Inclusivism, Piety, & Bitterness
Updated: Aug 21, 2022
As we progress further into the 2020s, we are seeing, with greater numbers, another particular trend of apostasy in both famous and everyday Christian faith followers. The seed that falls on rocky ground is, of late, manifesting itself as a Presbyterian Bible teacher, a non-denominational worship leader, a Reformed theologian, a Baptist writer, a conservative Christian social media influencer, or any combination of these (or other) attributes. This person, who could be defined simply as a faith follower, is often a music artist, an author, a teacher, or another influencer who springs up for a short while, perhaps gaining attention, but slowly (faster, when famous) becomes caught up in political and social issues. Having no depth of root, those immersed in the Word begin to notice that this follower's passion for the things of the faith is slowly wriggling out from under the authority of Scripture, particularly when justifying their newly embraced ecumenical worldview. This can look like anything from acceptance of base humor, irreverence, and sarcasm to multi-page self-justifying or church slandering exposés on current social wars filled with out of context Scripture quotations.
Apostasy by Way of Inclusivism
Next, in the progression, the follower begins to fellowship with those steeped in false worship, sharing their social media posts, endorsing their ministries, campaigns, and music. For music artists, the ecumenism may look like a Biblically sound hymnwriter going on an inclusive tour with Bethel Music, Kari Jobe, or Matt Maher. For authors, this may look like a preface to their new book being penned by Beth Moore, Mark Driscoll, Jackie Hill Perry, Steven Furtick, or a leading Anglican bishop or Episcopal priest. For the regular churchgoer or follower, this may simply show itself as a new-found embrace of High-Church liturgy or double-minded passions (for instance, sharing expletive-laced rap & faith-based chorale music on social media) which are often representative of a losing battle between the flesh and the spirit. (Romans 6:19, Galatians 5:17, James 4:1, 1 Peter 2:11) It may even manifest itself in an elevation over Christ with a political party or other movement.
Often, we find that the chain of events takes an interesting turn. While, at this point, the follower's faith can simply wither and die, while the cares of the world choke it out, it seems that we are now seeing other stages playing a key role in the descent of many.
Apostasy by Way of Piety
While it isn't every apostate's story, this stage is seen much more in circles where the follower began the descent by the embrace of a certain tenet of woke theology, progressive Christianity, or other such compromising facet of a Biblically deficient worldview. Very often, this segues quickly (and with a rather mystifying predictability) into the follower converting to an outwardly reverent or pious, but inwardly Biblically bankrupt, theology. Some denominational examples of this would most certainly be Catholic, Lutheran, or Episcopalian groups but Anglican and some Presbyterian congregations could fit this bill as well.
For some, this is a conscious act of rebellion towards those they would, almost always falsely, term as Puritanical, chauvinist, racist, or other such label that 'refuse to see the light like they have'.
For others, the conversion is simply another step in a subconscious drift towards beliefs that tempt them with (false) freedom to believe & live out an appealing progressive worldview while still believing themselves to be firmly rooted in the 'safety' of an historically Christian umbrella.
And most commonly, it seems, there are those that see the pious legalism of such denominations as a means to satisfy their faith habits, thus feeling at home. All this occurs while the follower is still able to be fully immersed in their Biblically antithetical urges such as idolatry, irreverent humor, holy sounding yet hollow music, ecumenism, teaching roles (for women), and so on. This middle ground is an attractive draw for the apostasy headed follower.
Apostasy by Way of Bitterness
Another stage, which isn't universal in the apostate's journey, but has shown a dramatic increase lately, is when the follower claims abuse in the church or is offended by a teaching or practice found there. This, with the aid of social media and the current cultural climate, can quickly blossom into an unhealthy obsession with church abuse investigations, claims, reports, takedowns, & legal action. This is not to say that it is wrong for false teachers to be exposed and brothers & sisters in Christ to be called out by the church, always in line with Scripture, when in error. However, this is an unhealthy obsession which, for many, stems from a deep-seeded bitterness towards the church and a desire to destroy those (in the very general sense) who caused them pain while elevating self to a position of moral superiority. To be clear, false teachers must be exposed. Impropriety must be dealt with in the church. But this behavior is in grave error when the motivation is sinful such as the bitterness, arrogance, or hatred described here. And these sinful motivations are often one of the final stages in the Christian apostasy of many today.
It All Ends the Same Way
Whether or not the segue into piety or bitterness occurs, the conclusion is invariably the same. Finally, sometimes after many years; sometimes only a few months, the follower comes to an advanced level of understanding, bitterness, or arrogance (call the conscious denial of Christ & His Word what you will) and the once passionate faith follower publicly denies the faith entirely.
The apostasy is now complete.