Monday, August 07, 2006

Mainline Christianity is Dead: And Why that is A Good Thing

Like many of you, I was on the hunt for some group of people to worship with on my summer vacation. Our first Sunday away, we decided to attend a small church close to the family cottage that is a part of the Presbyterian Church of Canada.
Some might immediately wonder why we chose a PCC church – after all, they are not exactly your prime example of Gospel life! But I was hopeful there might be some good and I also like to take my family outside of their normal experience once in a while.

But I was not prepared for the absolute folly that would take place.

A brief sketch of the morning service: We entered the small 100+ year old sanctuary to the sounds of a small band (guitar, drums, piano and vocalist) singing some choruses and more modern songs. The minister was on vacation so one of the church women got up to lead the service after the singing. She announced several times that Sidney would be preaching... but it turns out it was Cindy.
Before the preaching, however, another woman came down the aisle asking my son if he wanted to go with her – if you know my son, you might guess what happened next: “Sure!” he said in a loud voice. “Where are we going?” – well, to the front they were going, then without so much as a “Bye” they were out the side door! One of my daughters got roped into going to this children’s service and when asked about it afterwards she replied matter-of-factly, “It was dumb! There was no Bible story, no lesson or anything. She just told us that bullies are bad and then we played Pin the Smile on the Bully!”
We sang some more songs – two grand hymns that I am convinced no one there understood – and some horrific songs about political justice, how everyone is our brother and how we should smile at green grass. (I am not exaggerating!) Some time around here I noticed the picture of a cigarette pack on the front of the bulletin... right there on the bench by the flowers. A few read (in the worst sense) prayers were scattered about.
But the worst was yet to come. The preaching.
I have never heard or seen anything like it. This woman, in the space of 35 minutes, told us how she simply had to watch her soap opera every day, that she was divorced, that her parenting philosophy was to “let each person do their own thing,” that once she had quit her job and jetted off to some cruise line to “find someone to harbour with,” something about “butt scratching” that was visually modeled for us, that lust was okay as long as we didn’t act on it, that the reason David sinned with Bathsheba was that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, that his sin was something we could learn from, “although I’m not sure if it was God’s plan, that’s not for me to decide,” that R-rated, sexually explicit movies can be good to watch if they show us the terribleness of sin, and on and on it went.
It was evident she had absolutely no concept of the Biblical doctrines of sin, punishment, atonement, the flesh, sovereignty, holiness, sanctification or even how to pronounce the name “Uriah!”
Lest you think I am being picky, let me just add that this amounts to a very small sampling of what went on!
Which takes me to my point – mainline denominations like the PCC are dead and this is why: God is not there. End of story.
God will not come down to a place where His supremacy is denied, His Word is mishandled, His Name is mocked, His presence is not sought, His holiness is forgotten, His Son is ignored, His created gender distinctions are not honoured, His Gospel is not preached, and His reality is considered trivial. That is what you get in mainline churches and that is why they are dead.
Now I know there are exceptions... but I stand with Lloyd-Jones when I ask, “Why would you even want to be a part of such a group? What possible reason is there to remain unequally-yoked?” Real Christians and real Christian churches that are in mainline denominations owe it to the clarity of the Gospel and the purity of Christ’s church to come out from among them. Leave your buildings behind if need be. Big deal. Do you think we shall stand in heaven one day and hear God complaining that we let a really nice old building get away from us?
And I would be so bold as to suggest that if you find yourself in a dead church like I have described, then it is time for you personally to leave. You are wasting your life and endangering your spiritual walk.
Churches like this do more harm than good.
The Bible was read at this church, but the way it was handled taught that it was irrelevant to life. And the preaching was entirely void of Christ. In fact, the word “Jesus” was only pronounced two times all morning – in the song Shout to the Lord. This was moralism to the 100th degree!
A Christian, a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ will shrivel and wilt in this kind of hoogly-infested nonsense. Wake up, friend, and get out. Get to wherever the Word of God is preached and lived and spend half your day Sunday driving there if need be. There is no substitute for a real church filled with real Christians.
A few modern songs, Powerpoint and microphones are no replacement for genuine worship, Gospel preaching and real prayer.
Our family prayed for several days that God would save the folks in that church and bring true revival. That is their only hope. But if He will not revive, then I pray He will put it to rest – for these well-intentioned wolves will kill the sheep if they keep playing church.