Helpful Tidbits for Organic Church Life                                     November 17, 2008
Deadly Detours?
My Reflections
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I remember going to hear Bob Briner speak just after he released his provocative book, Deadly Detours: Seven Noble Causes that Keep Christians from Changing the World. I remember reading his list and thinking to myself, Christians must fight for what is right. If we don't, Kingdom values will go by the wayside and, eventually, America will become a completely post-Christian nation.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION/TOPIC: The importance of proclaiming Christ and him crucified
Deadly Detours? 
Excerpt from a blog post by Hank Lamb 
One Thing LogoIn 1993 Dr. Os Guinness, of the Trinity Forum Christian think tank in Washington, ...said that the Church needs to get back to "the first things of the Gospel."
Before I mention what these "first things" are, let me share what they are not. Bob Briner catalogued them quite succinctly in his compelling book, Deadly Detours: Seven Noble Causes that Keep Christians from Changing the World. He proclaimed seven deadly detours the church had taken during the 1980s and early 1990s. Here they are:
  1. Squabbling over prayer in public school
  2. Making Jesus a right-winger
  3. Thwarting the homosexual agenda
  4. Fighting other Christians over doctrinal purity
  5. Shutting down the abortion clinic
  6. Cleaning up Christian television
  7. Fighting for family values
The first things of the Gospel are (1) that Jesus came and (2) that his kingdom is not of this world. Bob Briner says, "When we forget either of these, when we fail to build our lives and our ministries around them, we cease to be truly evangelical, and we inevitably take deadly detours and miss heavenly highways."
My Reflections
It's been twelve years since Briner's book was published and lots has changed in America. And here's what I know: the reality of a post-Christian nation is here despite efforts to the contrary.
Of course, being the missiologist-type, I've had to ask myself, Why is this? My best answer...professing Christians have gotten off message. Scarier still, I have reason to believe that many professing Christians aren't authentically off message at all. Why? Because Jesus Christ and him crucified is no longer their most central agenda.
While researching various churches I've uncovered this rather interesting factoid: parishioners of churches are far more likely to think in terms of inviting people to "church" than they are of introducing an individual or group to Jesus, King of kings. That, of course, is a problem.
Although I believe the killing of the world's unborn is nothing short of holocaust and rampant homosexuality the result of "exchang[ing] the truth of God for a lie" (Rms 1:26-32), I also believe the Evil One has subversively used these things to derail the one message that truly saves while creating lasting and significant change: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (Jn 3:16).
My recommendation? Focus on preaching Jesus (in all preaching's forms)! Truly, the rest will take care of itself because when the Spirit does its work, "shameful lusts" subside and "depraved minds" think rightly (not always instantaneously, of course) (Rms 1:26, 28; Col 3:9, 10).
Consider Paul's example. "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Cor 2:2). Would Paul have been vocal, then, about the seven things listed above? I think so. At the same time, however, I think Paul kept the main thing the main thing: philosophically and in practice.
So, although Briner's presentation of the seven deadly detours might make me feel like I shouldn't stand (appropriately) against such things, I do get his point. And it's a point, I think, worth considering.
Hope this was of some benefit to you.

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table