How could this happen in a God-fearing Bible-believing Movement? It happened because of a philosophy, a wrong one. It is this: "A step towards Jesus is the right step." In a world of whole truths, half-truths, quips and slips, it is worth our time to examine this offhand Weltanschauung (hereafter referred to as the Chico Rubric).
Some big problems with the Chico Church philosophy (the Chico Rubric) are these:
A step towards Jesus is the right direction, but it does not automatically take you to the right destination. It is your next steps which determine the outcome, and if those steps are not guided by the GPS of repentance, truth and freedom, they are meaningless. We cannot lay hold of the renewed life without renouncing the old one. And that brings us to the next objection.
Repentance. Just taking one step towards Jesus doesn't make a journey, and it doesn't mean anything without the heart change of repentance. I believe in repentance because the Bible teaches it. I believe in pivot-points because they can move us from light to darkness, and from death to life. "This my son was dead, and is alive again" (Luke 15:24). When our filthy lives are confronted with His Ultimate Purity we see ourselves as He sees us for the first time. Our broken nature breathes out one last request, fueled by need, mercy and truth. "Lord, what can I do...?" is the only legitimate response of a renewed grateful heart. The Bible is loaded with these kind of responses to the saving mercy of Christ. What can I do? One, you can tell others what a friend you have found in Jesus Christ, and two, you can forsake the things you were doing that are condemned in His Word (Ezekiel 20:8; Proverbs 28:13; 1 Peter 4: 1-4).
The ‘Chico Rubric’—perhaps without meaning to—devalues “endurance.” Jesus said "He that endures until the end will be saved" (Matthew 24:13). If we tell people that they can remain in moral bondage, and still be saved just because they have been baptized, we are a "Once-you're-baptized-you're-saved version of the "Once-saved-always-saved" crowd. We reduce salvation down to one work (legalism anyone?) and atrophy the spiritual muscles of endurance (James 1:12). To borrow a baseball colloquialism, it is assuming that the score in the first inning will be the score in the ninth. Bad assumption.
The Chico Rubric changes the order of salvation from "Repent and be baptized" to "Just be baptized." It's all good, bro." Chico Rubric says (they actually said this) "We did not want to one day have to stand before God/Jesus and admit that they/he had been responsible for blocking one person's "step towards Jesus." In other words, when overt sin (homosexuality) knocks on the church's door and says "LET ME IN" Chico Rubric says "No problem." Now, I sympathize with every soul who wishes to know the one true and living God. I believe the only way that can happen is through Jesus Christ, and His gospel is about repenting of sin, not celebrating it. A church that buys into the Chico Rubric is a church that's obligated to baptize unrepentant homosexuals--or anyone else--because it's moved away from the clear authority of Scripture.
The Chico Rubric is the mindset by which deception is being brought into our church. All kinds of behaviors will be permitted so long as it is blessed by the phrase "It's a step towards Jesus." One step, One Project, one-ism. Pastor won't baptize you? No problem, active LGBT's can be baptized by an illegally-ordained woman minister. Throw in a little progressive spiritual formation and you have a perfect recipe for Laodicea, a church that is signally warned to "repent" or be vomited out of salvation (Revelation 3:17-19).
The Chico Rubric--I guess it goes without saying--places no priority on overcoming. Not important. Just bring your carnal nature to Christ and hang on to it. Sure, the Seven Churches are repeatedly told that heaven awaits those who overcome through the power of the Holy Spirit, but we are more enlightened now. Our postmodern cultural God accepts everything, including your old nature. Hey, you might not like the color white, and your rags are more comfortable for you. Modern God won't ask you that embarrassing question at the wedding feast (Matthew 22:11). He doesn't want you to feel uncomfortable.
As a friend told me today "We have a serious situation here. An entire church is taking the Lord's name in vain. When you baptize someone in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and you give that person the name "Christian" i.e. a follower of Christ, yet if there is no repentance from sin, you are putting the name of God on a sinful act. This is breaking the 3rd commandment." And I thought we are to "Abstain from every appearance of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
That sums up my concerns with the Chico Rubric. You may have some concerns of your own. Or you may be concerned that this country-bumpkin Bible-thumper is challenging your new theology. If so, I counsel you to go buy a Bible Rubric. We can do it together.