On season 20 of Survivor – Heroes vs. Villains – Russell Hantz came in 3rd place. He will go down as one of the most colorful players in Survivor history for his physical and mental gamesmanship. But his social game was severely lacking as he failed to get the votes necessary from his fellow contestants in the final “tribal council”. In response to this loss, Russell claimed that there was a “flaw in the game” and that the those outside the game (viewers) should get a say in the final vote which he believed would have garnered him the win. In response Jeff Probst, the host of the show, replied “that would be a different game” (not the game of Survivor).
This same attitude of there being a “flaw” in the “game” is quickly gaining popularity in modern or progressive Christianity. Although I hate to reduce God’s word to some list of do’s and don’ts, as it is far more than that, the Bible IS our “rules book” which clearly and definitively spells out the requirements to be found in Christ (being a Christian). Those “rules” include ALL of the following minimum requirements – repentance for (turning away from) sin, commitment to obeying God’s laws and embracing the atoning work of Christ. I fully admit that this is a significant over simplification while still headlining the core essence of what it means to be a Christian.
There are countless individuals and denominations today who claim the name of Christ and yet are editing the rules of Christianity in a progressive effort to point out there is a “flaw in the game”. It matters not how compassionate, popular or progressive these edits are, the simple fact is that to change the “rules” means they are engaging in a different “game” (religion) and therefore CANNOT be called Christians. Whereas this may sound harsh, the simple fact remains that if you are trying to introduce chess pieces into the game of Scrabble you are no longer playing either chess or Scrabble – it becomes a different game. In the same way, if you embrace the killing of babies in the womb, homosexuality, ignoring the poor in favor of your own financial security or “wink” at gossip, greed or gluttony; well then that would be a different religion and you should feel free to practice it. Just don’t call it Christianity.
Being a Christian is no game! Neither is it some club whose members periodically vote on new rules or eliminate old ones. It is a commitment, to the best of our ability with the help of the Holy Spirit, to honor the Creator and his plan of salvation for those few (see Matthew 7:14) who find that narrow pathway that leads to eternal life. If that sounds too harsh and exclusive for you, there are plenty of “other games” out there that might interest you. But don’t, in some show of arrogance, come into the doors of the Church and try and change God. God NEVER changes with the shifting shadows of time or popular sentiment (see James 1:17). Why would you do that? Why not just go somewhere else and call it something else. No one is forcing you to follow Christ or embrace God’s laws. Find another club or group, make your own rules and call it whatever you want. But don’t attempt (because that’s all it could be – an attempt) to change the Character and Nature of our Holy Creator – because that would be a different religion.