The Danger of Compromise: Secularism

A Deadly Danger

One of the greatest temptations facing the church as she battles with the world is the desire to compromise. This danger is subtle and deadly, destroying the very foundation of what the church is meant to be on earth.

In this article we will examine the compromise of secularism. This term describes the involvement of secular or cultural ideas in the shaping of Christian doctrine, especially in the realms of worship and conversion.

The reality of culture is faced by Christians each and every day, as we are people who live in the world, but are not “of the world” (John 15:19). Christians are meant to live differently than the world, but to still live as citizens among others in the world. The danger of compromise appears when Christians allow the concerns of the culture of the day or popular secular thought to influence the Word of God.

“All things, to all men…”

The call for meeting the world in its own terms is not necessarily improper. Jesus Himself used many figures and ideas which were common to the culture of His day in His parables. For one to communicate effectively one must employ the common language of the day, as well as the use of common idioms and expressions. However, this use of cultural terms, ideas, and expressions has a greater purpose – the teaching of God’s Truth. When Christians get into trouble is when they forget that culture may be used as a tool, but culture never transcends the commands of God. When this is forgotten it can lead to disastrous results.

Social Gospel

This attitude can lead to “social gospel”, whereby the ultimate goal of Christian teaching is to meet immediate “social” needs. These needs can include physical hardships (feeding and clothing the needy, housing the homeless, etc.) or emotional difficulties (marriage counseling, parenting counseling, addiction rehabilitation, etc.). While these actions are laudable and “good works”, without a spiritual focus they lack any real direction or lasting purpose. A “social gospel” waters down eternal truth for the purpose of reaching immediate cultural needs.

Watered-down Gospel

This attitude can also lead to a “watered-down gospel”, whereby the ultimate goal of Christian teaching is to be inclusive of cultural wants or desires. With this attitude, the importance of eternal truth (requirements of salvation, the Christian walk, Christian worship, etc.) take second place to ensuring the personal needs of congregants are met. Such a focus is more concerned with “effective”, “entertaining”, or “purpose driven” religious activity more than whether such things will be viewed acceptable by God. It is important to note that most who embrace this attitude do not begin with placing God’s command second to the world’s desire; this is merely the end result of such a practice.


In any case, the world is not looking for a lightened form of its own corrupt culture in the body of Christ. The world is looking for an escape from culture, and while we may use certain aspects of culture as tools for our outreach, the secular world is a poor example of how to please God. Those who are seeking after truth understand this. What will we offer to them?

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