6/09/2007

Pew Filling and Millstones

Video link to CNN piece on Goth Eucharist and U2charist
This piece is about the new Goth Eucharist introduced in the Anglican Church and the U2charist, where church services revolve around music by U2.

Matthew 18:6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

John 12:42, 43...They would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.

1 Thessalonians 2:4 On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.


Whenever I read, watch or listen to stories about a church attempting to increase its numbers through some ill-conceived scheme, I feel a sense of disappointment. This story is no exception. Leaders of a church gathered together, discussed the problem of failing church attendance and the needs of the world. Rather than recognizing that what the world really needs is to recognize their sin and the grace of God, these leaders decided to create an outreach program that virtually emasculates the power of the Gospel. Sin is condoned rather than condemned. The need for grace is never mentioned. Church services are about finding your way, but no one ever says to what. Certainly the need for love is preached, but no one really addresses Who it is that does the loving or what that love involves. It is true that these types of services do attract new members for a time. People are going to church who wouldn't normally go.
So what?
Who really cares if the entire church is packed to the ceiling if the Truth is never preached?
The church building is only that: a building. It has walls, a ceiling and some pews for people to sit in. It doesn't necessarily house members of the Church body. In fact, if a local church insists on absconding its duty to preach the Word of God, it may find itself well outside of the Church body.
Many who argue that we should make people comfortable, never judge and never preach about sin use the fact that Jesus ate with tax collectors and prostitutes to support their position. They argue that the Pharisees were the ones who judged. I used to be angry at such an inaccurate interpretation of the Bible. Now, I feel sorry for these people who have such a poor understanding of Scripture. By and large, these people shake their heads at the decline of the church, never realizing that it is their wrong understanding that is at least partially to blame. It's true; Jesus ate with sinners. However, He never once condoned their sin. There must be 50 or more stories between the four Gospels where Jesus tells sinners to go and sin no more. Furthermore, the chief sin of the Pharisees was not that they judged. Indeed, there are many references in the Bible instructing us to judge with right judgment and not by appearance. The chief sin of the Pharisees was that they rejected God all the while claiming to be God's children and that they heaped extra law on the people but did not obey the laws God had actually given them.
No one can argue with the fact that we live in a needy world. Many people are alone, depressed, without love. Some destroy their lives through a variety of addictions. However, the way for a church to address this problem is not to condone sinful behaviour, change services to accommodate rock songs that have no reference to God at all, put on a light show or preach wimpy sermons that talk about an artificial love all the while ignoring the real problem. The correct way for a church to address the world is to speak the truth. To be sure, we must speak this truth in love, but it must be truth, not a feel-good message.
It is important to firmly place in the forefront of your mind that preaching the truth may not necessarily fill the pews. It might, but there is no guarantee. Although we are called to preach, moving hearts is the divine work of God and not man. Furthermore, the Truth of God is offensive to some and welcomed by others (II Corinthians 2:15, 16). That the Word might cause offense is not up to us. I am not advocating that we be deliberately rude and cause offense where none need be. I am simply stating that if offense is caused, we should not assume we were the cause. The Word is simply offensive to some. Who really wants to hear that they are sinful and in need of grace? However, that some might be offended should in know way deter us from obeying God.
The leaders of the Anglican church should have asked themselves whose approval were they really seeking.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent points.

joe said...

Many of the church's ills stem from what is taught and not taught at seminary. Often those who go through the training go on a vague feeling and are consequently thoroughly indoctrinated in anti-Christian nonsense. The graduate is then thrust upon an unsuspecting public to spew the nonsense he has been taught. The goal then becomes numbers to pay for his/her salary and associated expenses. The church needs a thorough cleansing from top to bottom. Only then will the Faith be proclaimed to all mankind.

Right from Hamilton said...

Although i'm not to sure about Goth Eucharist (i'm assuming though that it's more like Contemporary Eucharist with Goth style Xtian music like Creed) I definitely don't see any problem with the U2charist. The members of U2 are all practicing Church of Ireland (Anglican) members and Jesus' message can be found in several U2 songs.

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