Originally published on my long dead Xanga page.
I’ve decided it’s high time that I stopped simply documenting the things that are going on in my life and started actually writing about something. This revelation occured for two reasons: 1) What’s happening on a day to day basis is usually not very interesting. 2) With no column, I have no place where I can force my opinions on others. There’s all the exposition you’re getting tonight. On with the show!
In my first post I mentioned that most Christians are ignorant of the most fundamental concepts of how the world works and that in many cases the church is at least partially responsible. I said that mostly for shock value because as we all know, good church kids never question what they are told or try to change the church. All the people who have been there for years have done a good job and it is not our place to shake things up. I say unto you… baloney. I have no doubt that there are many churches that are working in exactly the way that God has planned. I believe that in many churches, gifted people are using their gifts and talents to advance the kingdom of God and make His church into the bride He desires. However, I also believe that if we are not questioning the health of our churches and honestly measuring them against the standard set forth in the Bible, then we are not doing our jobs as members.
If you ask the average church member why they believe what they believe I dare say most will either not have an answer or reply with a human source leading them to their beliefs. In rural East Tennessee most belief systems are determined by the way the church has always believed. If it was good enough for my great-grandpa, then its good enough for me. And the church often fosters this intuition-based belief system for fear of offending the members. Offended members are not as active in the choir, nor will they help the church meet its annual budget. Beyond that, many pastors in this area do not offend by challenging grandpa because they got their belief system from grandpa too! A friend of mine was taking a preaching class at Temple University in Chattanooga, and was preaching directly from an untranslated Greek Bible, providing literal translation himself as he taught. The professor stopped him and said that in that class King James was the only translation allowed. My friend explained that he wasn’t using a translation and proceeded with his message. He was asked to sit down and received a D in the class. When he asked the teacher why he felt that the KJV was the only Bible worth using, he replied that it was more accurate. My friend then asked if the professor was basing this claim on his own study of Greek and Hebrew and a detailed comparison with other translations. The professor replied that he knew that it was more accurate because that’s what he had been told his entire life. I would like to say that the professor saw how ludicris this reasoning was, but instead he stood by his assertion. If it’s good enough for grandpa… In these churches scholarship is outlawed as a sin. Why would you need to study when you already have all the answers? In the minds of these church members, theology and doctrine are just the devils tools used to deceive believers from the truth. Grandpa’s truth. But there is a second element in this blindfold on truth…
The church is supposed to stomp out sin and darkness, letting light flood into these strongholds. Unfortunately, in this respect, I think many churches do more harm than good. The church should be a place where broken-hearted people can stand confess their sins; then, stripped of pride and exposed before brothers and sisters in Christ, they can be lifted up and brought back into the fold. However, a streak of judgment runs though many churches and this causes sin to be hidden. Though all in the church sin, rather than confess they compensate by looking down on others in the church. “At least I’m not as bad as…” The tradegy is that this is exactly what the enemy desires for evil thrives in secrecy. Rather than destroy sin, many churches provide inadvertantly have created the ideal evironment for sin to slowly choke the life out of people needing freedom from their bondage.
These two elements, tradition and judgmental attitudes, keep many Christians in the dark about the basic truths of life. You don’t know where to turn for answers because according to what everyone else in the church says, everyone else in the church is where you go for answers to begin with. You can’t ask questions for fear of condemnation for not being more faithful. You feel guilty for asking questions in the first place, but you can’t even confess to this supposed sin because then you will be judged. You only option is to follow blindly and supress any question or conviction; in due time, you will become a good church member and all these questions will slowly disappear on their own. That’s how many churches keep their own members blind to the very truths of life, intentional or not.
This dark picture is not the picture of all churches. Hopefully, this kind of church is a small portion of a healthy, active body of believers. Maybe I am just in a an area where this is more widespread. I’m afraid, though, that I’m being overly optimistic if I say that that the church in America is not in dire need of real revival. We need to break done the walls of judgement and free ourselves from the bondage of tradition. We need to foster an environment of forgiveness and service, not one of judgement. We need to be a force, fighting the darkness in our culture before it swallows us whole. We need to be in the Bible, pouring over the truth of God’s revelation even if it’s sometimes a hard pill to swallow. No more hiding in the darkness! No more feel-good churches that cater to comfort! No more anti-intellectualism! No more closemindedness! No more being judge, jury, and executioner! If we are to be the bride of Christ, it’s time to clean ourselves up.
More to come….