When the Church Loses Its Saltiness

“Ecclesiastical structures that depart from the faith do so by the loss of distinctiveness, the gradual conformation of their thought and life to that of the larger community. Sociological observations confirm that, by and large, the religious institutions of the United States do not teach values that are distinctive to their own traditions but rather use religious terminology that ratifies the values of the broader society. There is little to distinguish what the churches say from what other institutions teach, and we are left therefore with only an indistinctive religion-in-general.

. . .

Thus, the master of the American church is likely to be whatever cultural or intellectual fad has gained the ascendancy. Christology displays this tendency when the Gospels are used selectively to show that the ‘real Jesus’ was an exemplar of the American middle class, or perhaps a guerrilla fighter, a social democrat, or a model of psychological fitness. That is a recipe for intellectual and spiritual sterility, for by accepting the dead end of the reigning assumption, the church absorbs whatever conclusions ‘enlightened’ people consider current. In sociological terms, the church functions as just another means used by the political and social establishment to integrate society’s values into the next generation. The support it receives depends on the extent to which it uncritically transmits values. Its passivity makes it acceptable and ensures its irrelevance. C. E. M. Joad saw the Church of England being transformed by this process into a ‘mere purveyor of vague ethico-religious uplift.’”

Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983. Pp. 235-37

Spiritual Warfare

We should remember that the Christian is only taking back from Satan that which was never his in the first place–the Christian conducts warfare to repossess in Christ’s name what was ceded to Satan through sin. There is not one element of Creation that rightfully belongs to the Devil; not children, not the family, not marriage, not education, not civil government, not science, not the arts, not language, not labour nor economics. All this and more has been usurped by him, and gladly given over to him through human sinfulness.

Love Your Neighbour as Yourself

Union Jack

Christians do not seek human law to establish their faith–they establish better laws by their faith. Governments can make many things legal, but what is legal may be abhorrent in God’s eyes. We may know this by looking into His moral law. Bad legislation is a curse, and must be rallied against. It is an argument of straw to suggest that Christians are seeking to force unbelievers into faith, or Christian behaviour. We are simply doing what God requires when we expose falsehood and lies.

When Wilberforce (1759-1833) chipped away at the British slave trade for 20 years, before it was outlawed in 1807. He then set out to abolish slavery in the entire British Empire, and did so successfully 1833. He learned of his success 3 days before his death. He was not seeking to pass laws to make men Christian. He did not wish to force people to pray, take communion, or read their Bibles; but he was seeking to save the slaves from their misery. Unless we think sodomy is not such a bad thing, is it not an enslavement to the lowest form of debasement known to man? Can we not see the horror of the abortion from the fleeting sense of the baby? Can we, who supposedly have the light, let people sit in darkness when it is in our power to agitate otherwise?Wilberforce

The command that we “love our neighbour as we love ourselves” encapsulates the idea that we must seek to repeal bad law, and enact good law. The laws that permit same-sex marriage, to teach sodomy to children, to abort children for any reason, to allow euthanasia, and to generally permit and encourage promiscuity, are bad laws. They are demonstrably evil, and letting them stand unchallenged, is a form of hatred against our neighbours, not love. To sit by and say, “we can’t expect unbelievers to act like Christians” is a moot point. Out of simple love of neighbour these new cultural norms must be exposed as the lies they are.

Wilberforce became a Christian in 1785, and from that point on he championed the abolition of slavery. Being a disciple of Christ meant that and it means this: that we are Christians in every facet of our lives. Jesus said to “make disciples of all nations.” Discipleship means much more than personal piety, devotions, church attendance, evangelism, and benevolence (although it includes all this). It means that we are called to follow Jesus, and we cannot, must not, leave Him at the door of the office, shop, academy, or legislature. If He is not Lord in these places, is He Lord anywhere, besides our hearts?

Too much of current Christian thought seeks to reel in believers to an enclave of faith and devotion, and to, in practise, ignore the wider Kingdom of God. I am totally embarrassed for what some preachers have said recently, “Bake the cake! Bake the gayest cake you can!” As though this is an act of love! Really? Are we showing love when we affirm the proof of a man or woman’s depravity? Can we not show love without participation in their sin?

I think of the poor businessmen and businesswomen who are abandoned by the ministers of the Gospel at this time; it is a blight upon the church of Christ. They are told to do as they are told, as if God blessed their businesses so that they can be good apostates. Wisely, most are refusing, despite the crowing of the crowd. It truly hurts, though, when the scorn is cast from those who preach the Gospel. They are as called do business in God’s Kingdom as the preacher is, and it is a perfect hypocrisy to expect them to live by a lower standard. That is a truncated Gospel.

I have heard it said, that “if a person wants to do business in the world, he must do it by the world’s rules.” So I ask, when the world determines that it owns the children of the church, do we hand them over? Worldly psychology has claimed ownership of the soul, so we must stop trying to convert (and therefore, change) those trapped in sin? Sociology exerts ownership of the family through children’s aid societies, so families too are out of the scope of the Gospel? What of discipleship is left? What part of life falls under the Lordship of Christ? If Christian businessmen and businesswomen must submit to the state against their faith and consciences, then when the state demands that preaching the Gospel conform to state standards (they say you’re one of the “helping professions”), these preachers will have to comply, since that is what they are teaching now.

In the first generations of Christianity, the culture was ignored and violated when Christians had the audacity to gather up the abandoned infants and elderly. In later generations, Christians violated cultural norms at every turn, and saved souls and sanctified culture.

In modern times, I think of the Ten Boom family (and many others), who violated both culture and law, and hid Jews from the Nazis (the holocaust was legal, after all). Why did they do this? Because the Jews were in need, they were their neighbour, and the Ten Booms obeyed God rather than man. In all areas of life, there are many such examples. The price paid for non-compliance was often very high. But is this not what Jesus said would happen (Matthew 10:34-39; 16:24-26)?

God is Lord over this world and everything in it, including governments and institutions. This is true whether it is acknowledged or not. Christians cannot pretend otherwise.