As usual the national magazine for my denomination gets me… ummm… thinking.
The latest edition contains an article about the post-theistic church. It describes churches that have been moving away from God language and music in favour of more contemporary and secular references, to the point where their members are getting uncomfortable with the God language they encounter at services at other churches.
There’s a claim in the article that post-theistic theology helps people begin to start talking about their own spirituality because they feel like they are in a safe environment to ask these questions.
There’s a couple of huge problems here.
First, why does it take the complete stripping of Christianity within the church to make it safe for people to come and ask the questions they want to ask? In my opinion, it doesn’t. I have seen many churches with deep theological roots have wonderful conversations about faith in the context of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. If this wasn’t true, I wouldn’t be here. There are churches where asking questions is intimidating, I know this as well. This is where we need to work. We need to make people comfortable and let them know “there is no stupid question” because there isn’t.
The second problem with distancing ourselves from God is shown in the Bible. Look at the Old Testament, you know, the part where God gets mad all the time and punishes people. When you look at these times in the Bible, ask the question, “Why did this happen?”
These situations often happened because they distanced themselves from God. They became “post-theistic”. They stopped letting God lead and guide them, and they got themselves in big trouble and then God would have to come in and bail them out.
Thank you God for loving us so much.
Look at the world around us. What kind of shape is it in? Institutions are failing, governments are falling, corruption abounds, and where do we go from here? We continue to try and fix it ourselves. How’s that going for us?
We need to look to the Old Testament and remind ourselves how God wants us to be close to Him. When we push him away, all hell breaks loose and we have no where to turn for help.
We are living like the chosen people of the Old Testament stories. We are distancing ourselves from God and finding ourselves deeper and deeper in trouble.
Take God out of our churches? Yes! But not in the way the article indicates. The world needs God more than ever right now, and our theistic churches need to let people know we are a safe place, and we can help you get to know God who is the only one who can make all things right in the world.
We need to be like the Old Testament prophets who called people to come back to God.
We need to take the God we worship out of our churches and into the public squares of our communities before it’s too late.
From my experience as a church leader, a good number of people are actually looking for “the church” to stand up for what it exists for. They expect a church to be firm about what Jesus says. They want “tough love”. They want transparency and real meaningful spirituality – not a dumbed down “spiritual club”.
I think what churches are missing the most is a focused plan for discipleship. Calling people to be real students of Jesus and allowing him to be their life leader outside of the Sunday morning service.
The reason many churches shy away from focused and meaningful discipleship is because it is hard. It is hard to lead, it is time consuming, and it calls people to genuine life-change.
The churches that have discipleship are usually growing (though maybe slowly) and they are spiritually more stable and more mature.
I understand your concern about people, in what is obviously a Christian organization, trying to turn it into something secular. I think your argument that they should turn to the Old Testament, however, will ring hollow with the people you are talking about.
I read the article you are commenting on. It dealt with people who simply don’t believe that the Christian story in the New Testament is true. They see it for the mythology that it is. Telling them to go back and read the even more fantastical tales in the Old Testament will certainly not convince them.
I am pleased that they are abandoning bronze age fairy tales but I agree they should find a new community that doesn’t demand credulity.
Thanks for your comments Mark. Indeed, why calls themselves church?
I understand these people won’t access the Old Testament, but my target with my blog is the current religious leaders of our denomination. In my own personal reflection, I am seeing great parallels with Old Testament activities. Prophets are being ignored. Culture abandoning God. We are entering into a new cycle of this.
I guess my point is, it’s the whole thinking of the Gospel as mythology that is getting us into this mess, and by embracing this movement within the “church” it is only going to cause more problems in our society.
Like the Old Testament prophets, I feel I need to draw awareness to this issue.
I can’t thank you enough. Really
I read the article today, and was disgusted.
Every time I turn around, I am frustrated and disgusted by the lack of clear doctrine in our national church.
And I’m a 19 year old.
And I believe Jesus Christ was the son of God, part of the Trinity- not just a human being, as I was told tonight by a UCC minister.
And I believe God is essential to church. To life. To spirituality. To living.
Any church without recognition of God is not church. They may be a community. But they are not a church.
Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone.
We are never alone.
For our trinitarian God is with us both.
Thanks be to God.
Being of this line of orthodox thinking is a tough place to be in our church at times. It seems as though more liberal voices have taken over the stage. That’s not true, they are just the more vocal ones.
We are out here, and there are more of us than you realize. Check out http://cruxifusion.ca It’s a place where we are starting to organize ourselves and let each other know we are not alone. You are more than welcome to join the conversation with us.
The United Church has become a political organization not a Christian church. The ministers and the congregation know nothing about the scriptures – how to read what they say in their ancient Jewish context – not read whatever socialist ideology you want into them.
It is just a political club now. If you aren’t left-wing and nutty you feel you don’t belong there -and they let you know you don’t belong there. Some church.