Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Questions and Answers

I've been gradually answering a series of questions that I raised back in May in the post entitled Sorry, But I Can't Stop Asking Questions. We've made it to July, and I'm still answering them. This is dragging on too long. Therefore, I'm going to finish the final six questions right now.

Why do so many simple church folks have poorly-defined doctrine?

Having swum in the simple church waters for a while now, I realize that a significant number of these Christians have fairly poor or at least poorly-defined doctrine. I'm referring to significant issues such as the gospel itself (obviously the most important), the reality of Hell, homosexuality, women's roles, etc. Why has this happened? While I'm sure many different reasons exist, the primary one may be that many simple church people tend to "go it alone" when coming to their own beliefs. They pick and choose whatever they feel comfortable with, not bothering to compare those beliefs to historic Christianity. I'm all for studying the scriptures to find what is true; however, this ought to be done in primarily in community as opposed to isolation.

One further thought: plenty of institutional Christians have poor doctrine. This stems from drinking the Kool-Aid of bad teaching from the pulpit. Denomination after denomination in this country has stated beliefs and practices that have little to nothing to do with the bible. Just take a quick look, for example, at the Episcopalian Church. They hardly resemble Christianity at all.

The truth is that poor doctrine exists everywhere. We must let the bible drive what we believe and come to those beliefs within the setting that is the body of Christ.

Why do churches spend so much money on themselves?

This is an easy one to answer. The institutionalized church has one great, often unstated goal: self-preservation. This is why it spends almost all of its tithes and offerings on paying its own bills. After paying the pastoral salaries and building expenses there is little left over to give to anyone in need. An additional factor is that American Christians like comfort; the buildings must be nice.

Why do churches deny any Christians access to the Lord's table?

I believe this is done with good but ignorant intentions. It also occurs not within the New Testament's model of a full meal, but rather during the ceremonial Lord's Suppers that feel like funerals.

Some pastors are afraid that non-believers will partake of the small cup of juice and the stale cracker. Therefore, they only allow "local church members" to eat it. In doing so, they are denying access to the table. What a mockery this is! Who is the pastor to deny access to the Lord's table to any believer? It is the Lord's after all.

Within institutional Christianity the entire Lord's Supper has become a big mess. It does not even remotely resemble the joyful family meals we read about in the New Testament. It needs an entire reformation.

Why do many Christians invest so much in secular politics?

The answer is that many believe that the USA is some sort of second Israel. "God is going to change the world through the red, white, and blue!" Wrong! God has never made any promises to America. Also, these Christians simply do not understand (or refuse to) that the church should function outside of politics. The church is a spiritual reality. It operates according to God's principles. To mesh with politics always brings harm and disappointment to the church.

Why do we divide over so many inconsequential issues?

We divide because we want to be right. We do not believe that we can stand united with other Christians who believe differently than we do on doctrines of secondary importance. Division is the easy thing to do; it's a much more challenging task to live peaceably with those who disagree with us. Also, we don't take God's commands for unity seriously; we act as if they are optional.

Why do we expect secularists to care about Christian principles?

I'm always amused when I hear Christians bemoan the state of our society. I cannot figure out why Christians think that a secular culture would care at all about what God has to say about anything. Frankly, what amazes me is that the USA is not worse off morally and ethically than it is. The fact is that man's heart is cold to the things of God until God works the miracle of regeneration. We ought to expect a lot less from society and a lot more from the church. The church alone can see with spiritual eyes. We alone should be caring for what God wants. We tend to hold society to too high a standard while we give the church a free pass. The church ought to be the beacon God intends it to be. Let's hold each other to a higher standard.

1 comment:

Neil Braithwaite said...

Eric -

Maybe the answer to your question about people who have left "corporate church" having "poor" or "poorly-defined" doctrine is that they tend to keep the doctrines of the corporate church or churches they were formerly affiliated with. In which case, since most Christians only have a shallow understanding of whatever doctrines they say they ascribe to in the first place, it stands to reason that simply leaving corporate church doesn't magically enlighten them to either the doctrines they currently hold or true doctrines.

You can take the Christian out of corporate church (With all it's questionable teachings and false doctrines), but it's tough to take the corporate church out of the Christian.

For the majority of Christians, leaving corporate church is just the beginning - especially for those who have been trapped in it for any length of time. After years of indoctrination by the corporate church, one must be willing to basically start from scratch when it comes to "doctrine."

For myself, it has been a powerfully enlightening and eye-opening experience. It has also been a very humbling and often difficult experience as well. But I must say that when you give yourself over to the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit rather than man, God will reveal His truth - and the rewards will surpass anything you can imagine.

May I suggest several books and a video that have helped open my eyes on my journey: