29 August 2010

Nothing new under the sun- Part 4

Part 4


Apostate Christianity is the great enemy, the great curse upon the Church today. We are surrounded by multitudes of 'churches,' and yet one is hard pressed to find one that teaches the Bible. You'll find many who pay lip-service to it, but within minutes of conversation it is usually quite clear the leaders have little idea of what they're doing. Even in many theologically conservative and Bible-affirming churches, rather than Scripture, the leadership seems most versed and interested in the latest innovations pertaining to church growth, so-called ministry, and the latest fads and techniques in worship.

Pardon me if my tone seems contemptuous, but if you understand my argument, you'll see I'm not overly concerned with Al-Qaeda, Pelosi, Obama, Ahmadinejad, illegal aliens, Ground Zero mosques, or gay marriage. I'm concerned with apostate Christianity. And I grow very concerned when apostate Christianity is wedded to political power as with George Bush and Ronald Reagan, or even historically with someone like Abraham Lincoln, or the British Empire.

Here's the problem. If I say, homosexual marriage is not that important to me, because knowing history I can say with confidence, we've seen these things before. Then immediately I must be a pro-abortion, pro-gay, anti-gun, socialist, earth-goddess worshipper. There's no room for discussion.

The people who think and argue this way, live and operate in very small little boxes…one's given to them by their ideological superiors. And frankly, there's very little you can say to them. Blinded by their Sacral commitments they are unable to step back and engage in honest conversation, and usually they're not interested in trying to have a conversation at all. In the last piece I mentioned that with the removal of Divine Restraint, there also seems to be a removal of discernment regarding the Church. The words strong delusion come to mind.



They cannot grasp an anti-Sacral way of thinking. I used to share this mindset and breaking it was an awesome task. I've written something of this in my Why and How posts. Ultimately, it was trying to come to the Bible with a clean slate and then saturated with Scripture, revisiting the history I knew, and reading it for the first time as a Christian rather than an American. It was an eye-opener, and it drove me to keep going. I didn't set out to abandon my Sacralism, but that's what happened. It was a long and somewhat painful process.

Returning to the tattooed and pierced people…Sacralists tend to scowl at such, viewing them as visible reminders of the degradation of their culture, harbingers of the downfall. It's hard to witness and show Christ when that's your attitude. Some do it anyway and with a genuine loving heart, but for many they have to overcome massive prejudice and contempt to reach this point. Sacralism can also lead to racism. If the holy culture is defined ethnically, then it's bound to happen. For American's this is probably easy to see in period before the Civil War, but how many of us can understand segregation in the same light? We should be upset with the people who have hijacked Christianity, but so often all of our anger is directed toward the openly lost people who are rebelling against our culture.

This should not be. Our anger if we have any, should be directed at those who would teach a false gospel of Humanism, or those who would teach a version of the gospel that is basically summed up by ethics, manmade ethics at that. To be a Christian is to dress right, don't drink, don't smoke, and vote Republican, or vote Democrat. All of these things are in the end...distractions. And with these groups even when they pick up on something from the Scriptures, due to their equation of the Kingdom with a social or political agenda, they end up getting it wrong. Even good things can be abused and made ugly.

I know many who think we should try and support these 'bad' churches and help them. Because it's better to have them, than none at all. I've met many a conservative Reformed pastor who argues this way, not to mention their happy support for conservative 'Bible-believing' nationalistic/militaristic Evangelical churches. I suppose some could argue they still preach something of the cross of Christ. I'm not sure what good that is when it is crushed or obscured by layer upon layer of false gospel and a false vision of the Kingdom.

But even with the Bible-denying/indifferent mainline Churches like PCUSA, they say it would be better for a small town to have one, than not.

I've heard many conservative and Reformed ministers say if there's nothing else in your area then go to a theologically liberal church. It's better than nothing and you have to go somewhere. At the very least you might sing some old hymns and if they use a prayer book, most likely it was written in a more theologically sound time.

Once again this outlook is rooted in social argument. If the churches are teaching a false gospel, they're not churches at all, and no one is being helped, only harmed by attending them. Is society being helped by a moral-religious club?... For that's what they are in the end. Perhaps, perhaps not. But our concern isn't primarily society, and I can say with complete confidence their continued presence harms the overall identity and mission of the Church.

We've tried these mainline 'churches' from time to time in the past. It's all the more interesting when you live in a rural area and you know many of the people attending. You quickly realize what a joke it all is and is in fact a mockery of the Biblical concept of Church. In some cases, it became very clear that no one there, minister included, was Christian. I'm not talking about looking into their hearts to tell if they were regenerate. I've written extensively against that. I'm talking about a viable profession, some basic understanding of the facts of the gospel, some kind of concept of sin and atonement. These people in many cases don't have it.

So rather than hold contempt for the lost youth of today, I do reserve (perhaps sinfully) I certain amount of contempt for the false churches which surround us. And being a non-Sacralist I can have considerable compassion for the lost. Sadly, once these people are converted, I don't know where to tell them to go. Our options and present situation are not one's I would wish on anyone. I've focused in this piece mostly on culture-dominated Mainline theologically liberal 'churches', but the same is true with culture-dominated conservative ones. At least in those bodies, it's possible for someone to be saved, the cross of Christ being preached though heavily obscured. Should we attend these flag-waving Baptist or non-denominational churches? They are in great need of sound doctrine, but what they don't need is hordes of people like me entering their congregations and trying to change them. In the end, they run you out and despise you. Very rarely will you find church leaders who are willing to re-look at the Bible. Instead, they have their own traditions, their own goals, visions, and means of attaining them. If we're in reality completely opposed to what they're all about, should we attend for their sake, for the sake of Truth? Rather, the believers in those groups need to leave.

Many theological conservatives try and find comfort in creedal subscription and believe that by drawing lines on these certain doctrinal points they can stem the tide and keep the Church pure. They can hold to these historic doctrines (right or wrong) but if they embrace a Sacralist attitude, their creeds will not protect them. They might have people affirming the Westminster Confession or the Formula of Concord, but if they're completely acculturated due to Sacralism what good is it? The tide of culture will overwhelm them and since they are one with the culture...they won't even see it's happening.

Everyone seems to think Satan's tactics and servants are clearly seen. We know there are false churches and false gospels and sometimes it is quite obvious who some of the wolves are. Benny Hinn and Joyce Meyer are obvious tools of Satan. That's just an example of a population segment so far gone, our Adversary can become very bold in how he deals with them. His tactics become quite audacious and people fall for it.

How would our Adversary wage war on the Churches clinging to the Bible? By Benny Hinn? By someone dressed in black with pointed fingernails?

He can't send his servants into the midst of these congregations who stand up say, "Worship Satan."

So what would he do? Remember he's a liar, a deceiver.

How about changing the gospel into something that's good for you, something that will help you with your relationships, your business, things like that? Does the gospel do that? Sometimes, but is that the nature of our hope? Is that even remotely to be the focus of a people who are supposed to be engaged in mortification of self, dying daily to the deeds and desires of the flesh?

What of a gospel that confounded a nation and its culture with the gospel? Suddenly the history, economics, government, and goals of a country are tied in with the gospel. What do I mean by that? I'm not saying the ministers stand up and say, "Worship America." No, but when someone thinks they're being a better Christian or honouring God by doing x,y, or z…you're equating those actions with worship. Maybe it's okay to do X…let's say vote or pass out flyers or something. But does that make you a better Christian, or is something that applies to the realm of Christian liberty? Is someone else sinning because they don't do it?

What about someone like Chuck Colson? If he's teaching Christians to worship (even if indirectly) something other than Jesus Christ, then he preaches a false gospel and is every bit as dangerous as Benny Hinn. And I contend he is.

Have we become naïve about the nature and tactics of demonic power? I'm not trying to conjure up the boogey-man type demonism you find in certain Charismatic churches. Rather, I'm talking about genuine spiritual wickedness in high places. It almost seems like because some have made a joke of it, or turned it into triviality, we dismiss the reality from our thinking.

Or if we're Sacralists we focus on some of his crew, like terrorists and gays, and miss the real manifestations of his power…those who appear as angels of light.

The forms are sometimes different, but culturally and spiritually we're dealing with the same issues Christians have always dealt with. May our response be rooted and grounded in the Word of God.

20 comments:

Philip Robinson said...

I have a limited understanding of what you are saying here, but as far as I do, I think I would agree.
What or who is Benny Hinn? If the Church is the only true Theocracy today, I would love you to set out which church, for by both your and my own assessment, they all fall short. I'm having quite a hard time with this myself, as "going it alone" doesn't seem right either.

Protoprotestant said...

That's wonderful that there are still parts of the world that haven't heard of Benny Hinn. (smile)

If you could generate a list of the top ten worst faith healers, frauds, and televangelists of all time, his name would be vying for the top slot. His name is proverbial here.

As far as your other question.....

There's the rub isn't it? This is the whole dilemma for today. The going alone bit isn't right, but which Church? I don't know. I labour over this issue, it is the source of much consternation.

Perhaps part of the answer is to not think in terms of denominations, but congregations? I hope to write more on the issue of 'church' in the near future. It's in the queue. I certainly don't have the 'answer' but I hope to throw out some helpful ideas for people to consider.

In some ways this question drove me to have a closer look at the pre-Reform movements that have so long captivated me. There's something there we don't seem to have today... an entirely different notion of what the Church was.

With the theologically liberal churches, you are certainly free from the confessional traditionalism and formulations. That can be good, but means in a denominational context you're standing side by side with Unitarians. Take the UCC for example. That's the United Church of Christ, not to be confused with another group called the Church of Christ.

Anyway, the UCC was formed from the leftovers of the New England generated Congregationalist Churches, German Reformed, Hungarian Reformed, and a few other groups. I know of some congregations that are reasonable Orthodox, and trying to follow the Scriptures. I know of another where we live that when they say the creed, the literature they give us says,

'We believe in God the Father/Mother Almighty maker of heaven and earth..."

The latitude is nice when you compare it with denominations that practically speaking treat the Westminster Confession as Scripture...but that seems to go a little too far!


Astonishingly the cultural-Christian element, or the bit stronger term of Sacralism seems to reign in all these circles. You can find churches preaching the Bible, but then confusing it with Nationalism...a problem I believe you've had in Ulster as well? We're having a bad spell of it right now in light of our current President. Personally, I believe a lot of it is racially motivated. I don't know if you saw your latest newscast, but even BBC has been covering this Glen Beck rally in Washington DC...lot's of Evangelical Christians there. Sorry to say I know some that went. These are men concerned with following the Bible, but they've confused everything with the United States. Are they Christians? I have no idea. I'll certainly give them the benefit of the doubt, but I won't darken the door of the local Baptist church they belong to. Incidently at the moment the exterior doors are decorated with American flag ribbon-wreaths. Are there Christians there? Yes I think so. There are others present which would give me reason to hesitate. Is it an actual viable Christian Church? I would have to say no. That may be an oxymoron to some, the idea that there are Christians attending a non-Church so to speak. Those are issues and constructs I hope to address in the future. I could say yes they are church, albeit in serioud error. But that seems to create another oxymoron... a local church I won't attend?

Protoprotestant said...

part 2

Or you have the 'liberal' churches which aren't as keen on the Nationalism but the church is really viewed as a cultural institution, something akin to a social club. It's just the "American" thing to do. Sometimes they can be just as Nationalistic. I know some of these folks as well. Their good ol' American United Methodists. They're patriotic, call themselves Christians, and attend Church pretty regularly. But from many conversations I've had it's obvious there's no gospel at their church. It's just moralistic platitudes, a little social commentary, some nationalism, and lots of self-help psychology type stuff. The Bible has absolutely no bearing on their lives. I don't mean to sound judgmental, but I know them pretty well. While being in that denomination would allow more 'wiggle room' as we would say...this particular congregation I'm thinking of is just a prime example of what I'm talking about in the post. It's a false church, I don't how else to put it. They're not preaching Christ, there's no Word, and these poor people think they're Christians...but to them it just means being good moral people, loving their kids, their country, and holding to middle-class values. It would be better for Christ's Kingdom if that church wasn't there. I've talked with these people, but whenever the envelope is pushed a little...they just run to their United Methodist Pastor who tells them I'm wrong. Hey, he's got a seminary degree and his name is on the sign. I'm just some guy with my Bible. They know I possess some knowledge regarding the Bible and are happy to ask questions and they like my answers...except when it's an answer that challenges them.

But then like I said before...there's a certain freedom you can have amidst some of those groups that you can't have among the Confessionalists. If I was ordained in a conservative Presbyterian denomination like the PCA or OPC...they would have defrocked me for saying half the things I've said here.

If you're upset as I am about the issue of Sacralism...it leaves very few options. If I'm right on this, then indeed we're surrounded by apostasy or at the very least borderline apostasy. In both the conservative and liberal varieties, Christianity is defined by the culture rather than Scripture. And in both cases the existence of these 'churches' harms real progress.

Protoprotestant said...

We've had people come to Bible studies and they're just stirred and moved by the study of the Bible. Believe me, we're not getting into anything profound, but they're getting nothing at their churches. We've had enough people to start a church, but for many the idea of not meeting in one of these proper buildings with a steeple and a sign out front...well, it just wouldn't be church. Or the idea of breaking with the cultural norm...meeting with a home group (or even somewhere else) and not a conventional 'church' is just too disturbing. They want to be able to tell people, "Oh yes, I go to such and such Church of God," or the local Baptist church... It's socially awkward to say, I meet with some people in the backroom of a store, or in someone's living room.
And so they keep attending their churches which they themselves don't like, but to them it has an air of legitimacy an unconventional group lacks. Where does this type of thinking come from?

Probably not very helpful. I don't know what to do. Like I said, if someone I know if newly converted...I don't know where to tell them to go. I can attend certain congregations, because I know where they're coming from, and I can overlook certain things, but I wouldn't want to recommend them, especially to someone new.

Does any of that make any sense? It's my thoughtful 'I don't know.'

What's your assessment of the situation there?

Anyone else who would care to chime in...please do so. I know the people reading this that have communicated with me are all equally frustrated.

If I'm not mistaken everyone is either going solo, or attending something they are less than happy with.

We're not looking for perfection. We can't be. But there seem to be some big issues being missed wherever you go.

The question I've been asking for years....Where do you draw the line? Maybe that's the wrong question? It kind of leads toward a lowest common denominator answer. Maybe there are certain positives we should be looking for? The problem is when we say things like love and fellowship...they're a little to nebulous to be helpful.

Great question...both in the good sense, and in the vast sense.

Protoprotestant said...

Sorry that was a 3-part answer, but the comment feature limits how many characters per post etc....

For anyone else reading that has lost comments in the cyber-vacuum. Whenver I'm typing more than a paragraph or two I just quickly open my word processor, type it there, and then copy and paste on the webpage. That way if the website dumps it, I don't have to re-type it all. Then you can just close it w/out saving, or save it for reference.

I learned it the hard way.

David said...

Another wonderful post. Good stuff here. Also, I saw your question addressed to me on the other post regarding what led me to start questioning the status quo. I haven't had time to get to that yet, but I intend to. Hopefully soon. You on the other hand are quite prolific. I don't know where you find the time. Does all of this sharp analysis find its way into words effortlessly?

Philip Robinson said...

You have articulated many of the issues I have with various churches, which is why I describe myself (tentatively) as "post-denominational".
My wife says I am just turning into a grumpy old man. So I do find fault in every denomination, including my own. But if there is indeed error in every denomination, is there not good/truth/Christ in them all too? "Where 2 or 3 ..."
I find it helpful to search for the Spirit in those churches I most definitely disagree with most. But where does that leave us?

Protoprotestant said...

David, thanks for the encouragement. I guess I've just been letting this stuff percolate for many years, so right now it comes out pretty easy. I've wanted to talk about these things for a long time, I just thought nobody cared.

I just try and make time, get up early, go to bed late. The funny part is I've found that writing this stuff helps me as much as anyone else I think. Having to try and put it down helps me to try and make the ideas coherent. It's a great exercise. I wish I had started a long time ago. Actually I did several years back. I wanted to write a book, but I dropped it realizing there was no way it ever had any hope of being published. So now, with this project I can be a bit more informal which allows for some speed and I can reach an audience. And now, beyond anything I hoped for ... I can have exchanges with other people like you! It's great. I look forward to your continued interaction! Many blessings to you!

Protoprotestant said...

Philip,

Is there somewhere on one of your blogs or something someone else has written that elaborates a little on the post-denominational idea that you're talking about? I'm just curious. Until coming into contact with you I had not heard the term, and I find it interesting.

Nothing wrong with being a grumpy old man (smile)...if it's for the right reasons.

I think on a practical level...I'm looking for people who have their Bibles open and want to think through these things and then let the ideas shape their lives. I've found many a theologically sound person who has little interest in thinking things through, and I've found others who are sometimes of somewhat dubious orthodoxy and yet they seem to be alive.

I'm not talking about people who just enjoy intellectual joust and exercise. Rather, people who really want to Know God through His Word and live for Him. I can put up with a lot if that's their attitude. Maybe they've got some messed up notions. Maybe they go to or are part of a 'bad church'...but if that spirit is there... that love for the Lord that translates into a real vitality...that's what I'm looking for. In the end I might enjoy more fellowship with someone attending a bad church (so to speak) than someone attending one that has more doctrinal precision.

Is there one group today I would wish to identify with? No. There are definitely some that have a lot more truth than others...but there's no one group that has it all right and correct.

I know exactly what you mean by error and truth. On the one hand when you step back, and see the big picture, I can see such a mix of good and bad in every denomination that it could be the basis for a really inclusive ecumenicism.

I have a friend who theologically speaking is very close to me. For him, that translates into a, what I almost consider I hyper-charity. He'll attend almost anywhere...even Roman services when he's visiting family, or in a Catholic country in Europe.

If he was in the Irish Republic...if there's a Protestant church in the town he's staying in...he'll go there. But if there's not, he'll just go ahead and go to Mass. I would never go to Mass, and I might or might not attend the Protestant church. It just depends on what it is.

Years ago we realized almost everyone has 'some' of the truth and a lot of error.

So on the one hand I understand his charity, but I just cannot go that far. I cannot attend mass. I cannot sit through the local Methodist, Episcopal, and Presbyterian services in my area. I've talked with the pastors and 99% of the time it seems fairly obvious....they're lost. Many are Universalists. Many are Unitarian. Many don't even believe in the concept of sin. Many of them will affirm Biblical truth when asked, but if pressed, or if you know how to ask the questions, they will suddenly affirm that well, no, Jesus is most certainly still in the grave. The Bible is just the words of men in the end...things like that. They'll praise Christianity, but then also praised Bultmann and Barth, Tillich, and Schliermacher....people who in end destroyed the faith of many.

Protoprotestant said...

So I can be really quite ecumenical...in which case, fine we can attend just about anywhere and do what we can. My friend's point of view.

Or the positions I'm advocating can lead us to see ah...the apostasy is very widespread and very penetrating, affecting even Churches which on the surface seem to be preaching the Biblical gospel. That leads us to almost...go it alone.

I don't like either option at all.

The one position my friend and I do not agree on and it's a big one...is Sacralism. He finds it a very minor irritation, to be expected, and has produced as much good as bad. Maybe he's right?

But if he's wrong and I'm right...then 2010 is little different than 1110 or 1210. We're in a Dark Age.

And thus...my fascination with the Church of that period. And of course, I'm arguing it wasn't Rome.

But like that period, our day is a mess. I think there were some believers in the Roman fold. And like that period there were many believers who were torn, on the one hand attending the cultural-social-proper expression of Church...the local Roman body. But on the other hand they wanted to meet with the Waldensians or whatever group, because they wanted to study the Bible, they thirsted for the Word of God.

So is the answer to Waldensian-ize (Reform) the mainstream Church? Is is possible?

Or is the answer to get the vacillating people to quit going to the mainstream Church giving it strength and validity...and discrediting the people who are outside of it and trying to maintain the truth?

Tough one. So in the end, I'm on the one hand super-ecumenical...on the other a grumpy old man (in spirit) who has almost written off most everything that's out there.

Sigh.

Philip Robinson said...

You'll find my initial musings on post-denominationalism on the first posting on my "soul-searching" blog - and the related comments.

I find the distinction you make between denomination and congregation interesting. More food for thought.

Protoprotestant said...

Found it. Thanks. I left a comment there as well.

I've read some of the latest posts at the top. I hadn't made it to the earlier posts at the bottom.

If anyone wants to check out Philip's post, the link is below.

http://soul-searchingblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/drowning-in-churchianity.html

You can copy and paste.


As I said in my comment there, I totally sympathize. The question is how do we make that journey? So we end up back at the issue of Authority...which then (I think) gives us a basis to wrestle with all these other questions and issues. As you know I'm arguing for Scripture Alone as the authority.

Without that, I'm not sure how to proceed. As you've considered the question, do you have any thoughts? Seeing that you're working through Genesis...I'm inclined to think you're also looking to Scripture as your authority?

Philip Robinson said...

The Authority is not the church but the LIVING word - the Bible's message directed straight into our hearts by the Holy Spirit when it is read prayerfully. I don't know how many times Scripture has provided me with answers to prayer, and understanding in response to prayerful reading.

But I still have reservations about going it alone. The Church, and submitting ourselves to some form of church authority and discipline does seem to be also Christ-ordained - so that is the paradox.

I was once advised by a old Christian friend when discussing the Pauline doctrines to 'keep it simple' like Jesus did. He knows best, and used simple parables to explain things which are probably beyond our full understanding anyway.

We had a text on our wall at home from Isaiah, "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found". A searching heart, like you have John A., is what is needed. God bless you.

[My friend, now with the Lord, kept things simple: "Turn or burn" and "Trust and Obey" were his basic tenets]

Anonymous said...

This issue of fellowship and submission to the Lord in His Body is a serious and troubling one for my husband and me, too.

Perhaps looking at some of the OT prophets like Elijah and Jeremiah might result in helping us find the Lord's wisdom and guidance? I myself haven't yet done this, but I think of how these two men were alienated from the rest of "God's people" and from the "authority" of the kings, yet were in God's will and purpose. Of course New Covenant truths apply to us, but there may be some insight for us in these examples.

I personally vacillate between hoping that going on "alone" is a prophetic act that will result in others coming out of deception and gathering together, and wondering if "overlooking" the deceptions to continue sitting in these churches is the right way to go, trusting that "love covers a multitude of sins."

For us, the responses and actions of others helps us decide: we did sit under and overlook for a couple years, but there was no desire for dialogue, nor for accountability brother-to-brother, but a strong clergy/laity distinction which we believe is error that prevents challenges to the staus quo. When we could not sit through a patriotic sermon that we considered blasphemous, the pastor's response determined that we could not keep sitting under. It was the pastor who dealt angrily with someone not going along with his views but unwilling to talk about nationalism, patriotism, war, sacralism, culture wars. He has not as yet reconciled.

For us, we think we need to gather in our home those few saints we know who are hungry for simple fellowship around the Table of the Lord, the Word, and prayer. We have led this type of "church" in the past. No agenda but to seek Him and allow His direction to unfold, then help each other obey that direction.

Because we do not have a reform background nor ever had an institutional or denominational view of the Church, this simple gathering as opposed to organized church is not new or untried to us. Our biggest obstacle is that after the organized church shut down the home fellowships and the evangelistic ministries, we have simply gotten backslidden in our spiritual disciplines and filled up our time with other stuff.
Yes, I admit we have not maintained our devotion to Christ as we ought. It is difficult when not in a fellowship of others with like committment. There seems to be no one else with like committment anymore. But we are repenting, and taking steps to do those things we know to do, one of which is to gather with others who desire to seek the Lord. The Word is the Authority, and the Holy Spirit guides us into all Truth, as we submit one to another in the fear of the Lord.

Philip Robinson said...

anon,
Thank you for that honest account of your own journey. You suggested examining OT prophets such as Elijah and Jeremiah, and just by chance, I was finishing off a new post (on "Soul-Searching) on Jacob wrestling with the Angel of the Lord. While it is about personal issues I think it may well apply to wrestling with 'church' corporate issues.

akaGaGa said...

I have finally arrived at your blog! Thanks for your patience. On a general note, there is much in your historical references that I don't understand, but this particular post strikes a very familiar chord. My husband and I have been out of formal churches for several years now, and here's one reason why:

I've heard many conservative and Reformed ministers say if there's nothing else in your area then go to a theologically liberal church. It's better than nothing and you have to go somewhere. At the very least you might sing some old hymns and if they use a prayer book, most likely it was written in a more theologically sound time.

Once again this outlook is rooted in social argument.


We don't "have to go somewhere" and I would add that this attitude is also rooted in maintaining the status quo; i.e., the popular definition of church. If true Christians don't go to regular churches, those churches lose their power base, which those still in the system will always oppose.

However, the Bible doesn't define church as a weekly meeting at a dedicated building with a pulpit, and the more people who understand this, the better. As for those who aren't "comfortable" in another setting or tradition? May God open their minds to follow the Lord instead of the pack. Christianity is not about social acceptance.

My personal decision has been that attending a church regularly amounts to endorsing and supporting what that church does. When and if I ever find one that I can endorse and support with my heart, I'll attend it.

In the meantime? My Christian fellowship is with a very small group. It includes a Bible study of 6 or 7 souls, regular phone conversation and prayer with an elderly friend, my husband, my son, and a handful of souls on the internet. That's my church, and I've long since accepted that this is God's will for us right now.

Protoprotestant said...

Akagaga,

Hey, thanks for stopping by. Please don't feel like you had to...but I have enjoyed what I've seen at your site.

I am thrilled to find some other people out there thinking about these things. There are more than I thought...but not very many.

As I just wrote to someone else, I don't know where people are at, so I'm just going for it and if someone doesn't understand something, then I'll have to hope that they'll ask. And some are, which is great! I don't expect everyone to agree with me on everything. It's not likely, but I'm hoping to generate some thought and discussion, and though this isn't the most popular place, I've been quite shocked at the number of people who are visiting. I'm sure not everyone leaves with a positive opinion, but that's okay too.

So as far as history or anything else...if you're interested, just ask. I can either answer or point you somewhere.

I'm dealing with several different areas here. They all come together in my mind, but I don't expect everyone else to see the connections. Some posts here are very interesting to some people, while others I think probably generate yawns.

It certainly is not necessary that everyone strives to master theology, philosophy, history, or modern Western culture and geo-politics...and I haven't mastered those topics either, but I'm trying to come at these things with my Bible in hand, because something is seriously wrong with the scene we call: The American Church.

I want to deal with why is it like this, how did it happen, and what can we do...and has it happened before?

My wife and I have wrestled with the Church issue for years. As our children have grown older it's only become more difficult.

I'm planning to dive into that topic in the near future. Obviously I don't have all the answers, but I hope maybe I can help some others as they wrestle with it, by identifying the issues and asking the right questions.

There are still some viable churches out there, but in general even the one's which are still plausible are hurting. In a little over ten years, all of our present children will be adults, and I keep asking myself:

When they have families, where will they go?

I don't know. I think we need to start thinking differently about these things...along lines that you've mentioned. You're thinking the right way and asking the right questions I think. I can't disagree with anything you've said.

We would all agree that we're not looking for the perfect church, since there is no such thing. So we all would have to agree that on some level we can and ought to tolerate certain things we don't agree with. The question is how much...and how far? That's a little tougher.

It's sad in a way, but that's where we are at. I hope to dive into it theologically, and I think there's some historical precedent and lessons we can learn as well.

It's a pleasure to find someone else who's not afraid to think outside the box, someone who's in a Remnant mindset...the need of our hour.

God bless.

akaGaGa said...

We would all agree that we're not looking for the perfect church, since there is no such thing. So we all would have to agree that on some level we can and ought to tolerate certain things we don't agree with. The question is how much...and how far? That's a little tougher.

It is tougher, but I've come to believe that's not the right question. My questions are more like this:

How do they deal with disagreement? Do they defend their beliefs with the Bible or with church doctrine? Are they open to discussion? Are they learning and growing, or just defending the status quo?

If they say, "I've never really thought about that," then they might be on the right track. There are many things I've never thought about, and we can all say the same thing. The question is, how do we react when God challenges a mindset we have? Are we letting Him renew our minds or are we clinging to something simply because it's what we were taught?

It's hard to change, and many people just refuse to do it.

Victoria said...

Great point, GaGa, and one that is important to us too. How do they deal with disagreement, or accountability one to another? Most organized churches, and some home church stuff also, is all about power and personal ambition and paranoia and control: protectiveness of one's "place" and "status" or cravenly loyal to a person more than to Christ and His Word and Spirit. I can't tolerate that from folks professing to love the Lord above all. It is easier for me to overlook stark error in people who may be that way because they are young in the Lord, or not had good pastoring, or coming from a wierd background, but at least are genuine. There is always hope of correction and growth for such people. And there can be love with such people. But without authenticity or genuineness or any humility there can be no real love, therefore can come forth no real power for true ministry to the Body nor to the lost. Only playing church, so why bother?

akaGaGa said...

You're right, Victoria, in that some home churches are simply repeating the mistakes of traditional churches, but on a smaller scale. Power trips get old, don't they? :)

And you're right, also,that There is always hope of correction and growth for such people. My husband is teaching a very casual Bible study for a small group, four of whom have spent their lives in a traditional church - and didn't have a clue what their church's doctrines are! It just never came up.

The study is fun because their are always holes to fill in their understanding, so we dart here and there. And they're not afraid to ask questions, and even disagree with my husband, but always with good humor. It's real and no ones trying to outdo anyone else.

That, I think, is a little more what real "church" is supposed to look like.