In fact, any one who simply loved the USA should have felt right at home since all the hymns were patriotic songs, the choir and special singers sang songs like “God Bless the USA,” and the pastor preached, rather innocuously from Amos 4. This sermon, about the religious state of the nation, may have been the only offensive thing to the natural man; or at least it would have been offensive had the preacher actually preached the text, rather than simply share platitudes. At the most it was probably just a little puzzling to an unregenerate person.
The preacher did not exposit the text, he barely gave any background to demonstrate how the text relates to us, and he only mentioned Jesus Christ once, and then in passing, simply mentioning that some behavior ought to be possible by one “who has been saved by the blood of Christ.” No explanation of what that means, no explanation of what that has to do with Amos 4, the USA, or anyone present. But he gave an altar call and an invitation, even more odd since he didn’t present the gospel.
This is indicative of the state of evangelical Christianity today. Mentions of Christ are substituted for preaching Christ, singing songs that mention God stand in for songs praising God, and slick performances compete with both bells and whistles make us think we worship in the power of God.
All this is the result of our theology. Once God is no longer the center of our theology, we tend to make ourselves the center. When that happens, all that matters is what pleases us and what makes us feel good in our worship. The regulative principle, historically embraced by Baptist churches, goes out the window in favor of worship practices that will produce visible results.
The true result, however, is a shallow Christianity that calls believers merely to give assent to the principles of Christianity rather than to repent and believe, a church membership that is nominally Christian but unregenerate, a church life that is centered on the church itself rather than God, and worship that is more about feeling and entertainment than praising God by lifting up Jesus Christ.
May God raise up preachers to his church that seek to lead people in worship that is truly meaningful because it lifts up Christ and keeps God at the center by reminding God’s people of the covenant and the mercies of God that are ors only through Jesus Christ.