God is NOT Dead (pt. 2)

In a previous article entitled “God is Dead,” I pointed out how the church is in decline in North America, and all but dead in Europe. People often get upset whenever numbers are presented about the decline of religion in our country.

I ended the article with an allusion to the title stating: “The church is not God.”

I also said that the decline in religion, or church attendance is good news. Not only is it good news, it is something that God is happy about, because He is causing it.

Read more…

God is DEAD

The April 8, 1966, cover of Time magazine was the first cover in the magazine’s history to feature only type, and no photo.[4] The cover – with the traditional, red border – was all black, with the words “Is God Dead?” in large, red text. The question was a reference to Friedrich Nietzsche‘s much-quoted postulate “God is dead” (German: “Gott ist tot“),[5] which he first proposed in his 1882 book The Gay Science.
(quoted from Wikipedia)

 Read more…


What’s He doing up there?

…the Rev. Kendall Harmon, theologian for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, blames social mobility.

“Mobility means your ideas are more challenged and your family and childhood traditions have less influence, particularly if you are not strongly rooted in them. I see kids today who have no vocabulary of faith, and neither do many of their parents.”

Harmon recalls, “A couple came into my office once with a yellow pad of their teenage son’s questions. One of them was: ‘What is that guy doing hanging up there on the plus sign?’ “

This quote was taken from a disturbing article.

Before anyone is inclined to criticize the language as blasphemous, let’s consider how such a question could be asked. We too often come from our own little window on the world, and have little idea what is going on outside our purview.

I was with a group of local pastors last week, and one said he had read an article that claimed that evangelicalism as we know it will soon be gone. He gave the link to the article to which he referred, and I have followed it to the link given above.

“Mobility” is the sociologist’s catch-all factor for most of the ills of modern society. While it is certainly a factor contributing to the decline of traditional faith in our country, it is by no means the prime factor.

The middle paragraph from the quote above is most telling. Yes, our ideas get challenged as we become more mobile, more global; but that does not mean that our ideas or the basis of our ideas must change.

Christians have been slow to confront the reality of what is happening in the world around them. Just 30 years ago older adults were still saying that we should not send our children off to college, because “They will lose their faith.” They blamed the liberal influence of the agnostic or atheistic instructors. However, those instructors were not, and are not to blame.

I’ll say it again: liberal instructors and colleges are not at fault for the loss of faith of those who attend their institutions.

That is about like blaming the Chinese when someone loses a finger playing with a firecracker.

Consider and apply these verses of Scripture to the situation:

{Proverbs 24:10 ESV} – If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.
{Jeremiah 12:5 ESV} – “If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?

Notice in the opening quote above that the parents came to see the pastor with their son’s question. Apparently, they were not able to answer the question themselves. That says they had not been taught, and it is therefore obvious that their teenage son has not been taught.

This is not an isolated instance. Jay Leno takes pleasure in going onto the street and asking simple Bible questions to which most do not know the answer: What is the first book of the Bible? Who is the main character in the New Testament?

So, what is the problem? Where do we fix the blame?

I am probably myopic or biased or both, but I always end up placing the blame for such things squarely in the pulpit.

The blame is not with the family, for the family was at one time coming to our churches.

The blame is not with the schools, for the schools were at one time influenced by the families that sent their children to them.

The blame is not with society, for society was at one time comprised of the individuals who attended our churches.

No. The blame is in the pulpit, because we tried to be relevant. We watered down the gospel in an attempt to attract those who were not coming. We watered down the requirements of discipleship in an attempt to keep those whom we were losing.

I too often attend services where a Bible text is given and something is talked about that may or may not illustrate something in the verse.

Seldom do I hear preaching that expounds the Bible as the Word of God that is “alive and powerful and sharper than a sword…” I have to go online or to the radio to find that kind of preaching.

 I will pick on a modern mega-church leader as a prime example. Joel Osteen preaches to tens of thousands every time he stands on the platform. I’ve listened to parts of his speeches at various times. I have yet to catch him quoting a Bible verse any sooner than 12 minutes into his talk. The verse quoted is always a feel-good text to support his feel-good message to a group of people who need their collective ego massaged.

And I’ve heard the same drivel from preachers who regularly preach to less than a hundred souls.

Someone will say, “That’s what we have Sunday School for–to teach the Bible.” Again, we are not paying attention to what is going on. Historically, Sunday School has been attended by 50% of those who make up the church rosters.

Our look-good, feel-good-about-ourselves method of only proclaiming how many were baptized, or how many were saved, or how many were added to the church membership without addressing how many we have lost has come back to haunt us.

The world sees the situation. When will we also wake up?

For an article from a confessing Christian who believes we won’t wake up, click here. The writer has some very interesting observations.

The Socialization of Loneliness

NOTE: This post was lifted from a comment posted under “Church Repair.” I have known this writer for more than 40 years; before I was a Christian. I think her statements reflect the feelings and experiences of many of our readers.
By Charlotte McCann
I would also like to comment on loneliness, but don’t see a category to put it in. 🙂 However, I feel it is a direct result of the church not being what it should be, so will put it here.
I struggled with loneliness most of my growing up years. Then I met Jesus. And for the next 17 years loneliness simply was not a part of my life. We always had believers as friends and meaningful involvement in each others lives, even if we were only in a given geographical location for a short time.

And then, 20 years ago, we returned to the Bible Belt and moved into a small town, knowing no one.

I have struggled with guilt over the tremendous loneliness I have experienced over these past 20 years, though I guess I finally accepted it as part of life around 6 or 7 years ago. However, just lately I have heard of 3 instances that just about cover the gamut of experiences and all my guilt has finally left me. I finally truly see that I am not the problem; rather our modern church/culture is.

The 3 instances:

A 30’ish married couple with young children who have been part of a church for over a year in a new community they moved into. Lonely. Are wanting to move somewhere where they might have friends. Great people. Not weird or strange or shallow. Fun loving and interesting fellow believers. Lonely.

A 24 year old son on the edges of our culture who has never even pretended to attend church or have a serious relationship with our Lord since getting out of school and out on his own. Just admitted to not having a single friend (though he “socializes” a lot). But he sees the shallowness of his social life and realizes how lonely he is.

A very sweet 80 year old woman who has been widowed many years and been a part of an established church for probably over 20 years, going about doing good. Not self-righteous or pious or full of pity. But lonely.

And so I realize truly I am not alone. And how sad it is. And cry out, “Church, where are you???!!!) It is certainly not what is out there now.

I am interested to see what Mr. Viola and his friend have to say as to what the church truly should be. I understand that first we must lift up our Lord and that our goal is a relationship with Him — not friendships. I am on board with this. Yet He walked this earth and died for us — for others. Can we do less?

 

Editor’s Note: I remember reading of an exercise a researcher did. He visited many churches over the course of a year paying close attention to whether he was noticed or not. More often than not, he got out without anyone having ever spoken to him. Today, that is not the case. We have plenty of people designated to interact with anyone and everyone who comes through the doors of the church building. Sadly, though, the continuing testimony that I hear is either “I don’t feel welcome,” or “I’m lonely.”

 

 

 

 

Church Repair

I have just completed reading Pagan Christianity? by Frank Viola & George Barna, and have begun Frank’s sequel book, Reimagining Church.

Without specifically stating it, I believe their basic premise is that the church as we know it today is fundamentally flawed and therefore beyond repair.

In my 40+ years of being involved with the Church, I have seen, participated in, and even attempted to resurrect that which was dead. A particular problem of the existing church would be addressed and efforts made to repair the problem.

I have seen pews replaced with chairs (and vice versa). I have seen the seating arrangement changed from rows to circles. I have witnessed a multitude of change in singing–hymn books, mimeographed chrous printouts, overhead projector, PowerPoint, and Bible only. Preaching by a one-man show change to an open pulpit. Open pulpit change to just a few. And the list goes on ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

Why? Why do we continue to tamper with the existing format and structure? Why not leave well enough alone? Thankfully, Martin Luther did not have that attitude.

We continue to tamper with it for the same reason a new church is formed almost every week in our country–because someone, somewhere, believes that somehow things can be better.

Better than what? Better than what is, because what is does not satisfy. And so we continue to fidget, manipulate, organize and disorganize in an attempt to get it right.

And, that, my friend, is at the basis of most of the changes–we want to get it right. Therefore, the attempts themselves are not wrong. They usually originate with good motives, noble intentions. But, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)

According to how I understand Viola/Barna, the foundation of the Church has been destroyed–at least by the modern expression of the church. I am coming to grips with this, and am beginning to agree with their premise.

Jesus Christ is the foundation of the Church, and while He certainly cannot be destroyed, the foundation of the modern church is destroyed, because it is not founded on Christ and Him alone. It is founded on such things as doctrinal purity, or worship style, or preacher personality, or denominational dignity. None of these has much to do with Jesus.

And so, I have about finished with the critique of the modern church and am about to launch into their understanding of what the church should look like.

So far, I am enjoying the ride.