I heard a very funny story recently about John Macarthur that has a real Hollywood buzz about it. Macarthur was recently interviewed on Larry King and upon arriving at his office the next day he was interrupted by a phone call. The caller said "my name is Guy Ritchie and I need to speak to you". Macarthur being so culturally savvy responded "Guy who?".
Guy Ritchie: Guy Ritchie, I'm Madonna's husband!
John Macarthur: Madonna who?
Guy Ritchie: I need to speak with you. Can you come out to my place?
John Macarthur: Sure thing.
So John Macarthur (the evangelical pope) jumps in his car and heads on out to Beverly Hills to visit the Madonna household. Guy Ritchie greeted him at the door sat him down and spoke face to face.
Guy Ritchie: Do you realise what you did last night on television?
John Macarthur: What did I do?
Guy Ritchie: Don't you realise what you did when you told Larry King that Jesus Christ is the only way for salvation?
John Macarthur: Please tell me?
Guy Ritchie: You threw the whole universe out of equilibrium!
John Macarthur: Tell me more about this power?
Ritchie then went on to explain about Kabbalah yada yada yada. Macarthur patiently listened and when Ritchie was finished Macarthur asked if he could explain what Christianity is all about. For the next 90 minutes John Macarthur preached the Gospel to Mr Madonna.
The reason I am recounting this story is that we live in an age of super hip mega church pastors dressing down, telling jokes, and having morobikes ride across the platform in an effort to contextualize and connect with their audience. And here was John Macarthur nearly 70 years old in a three piece suit proclaiming an undiluted Gospel message to Madonna's husband.
What was it that opened the door to this conversation? It was a provocative and "intolerant" claim about the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. Did Macarthur build a relationship with Mr Madonna (well maybe if you count 15 minutes as building a relationship)? Did he dress like the culture? Did he speak hip language and make culture savvy references? John Macarthur did what he's been doing for the last 40 years - staying faithful to the text and ignoring all the trends!
I am not denying that we are to be salt and light but I think it is important to remember that as Christians, what really makes us relevant is that we carry a message that is very different - a stumblingblock to the religious and offensive to the pagans. It is the reasoning of sin and righteousness and judgment that provokes the unregenerate conscience. A conscience that suppresses the truth in unrighteousness.
One of the alarming trends in modern evangelicalism is the increasing use of profanity, rude jokes, and coarse subject matter from the pulpit of many modern churches in the name of identifying with the culture. Laboring in this form of relevance severely blunts the edge of our prophetic voice in a wicked and perverse generation. Phil Johnson just preached a sermon about this alarming trend and it has really caused a stir among the theologically conservative "contextualizers". Story has it that one of the pastors at this conference took so much offense at Johnson's message that he drew an ugly caricature of him in a toilet cubicle on the conference site. I think that incident sums up what we are at war with here!