Saturday, October 10, 2009

where do I go from here

I've got a real problem.

Much of what is going on in the Church makes me want to vomit. Sometimes even literally. Like right now, my stomach is turning. I am so often repulsed by the Church in this country. I hate the substitute gospels of patriotism and moralism. I hate the judgmental undertones (and sometimes overtones). I hate the segmentation; the ghettos that are created at the expense of community.

I'm repulsed by the consumerism. Did you know you can rate churches on the internet now? No real surprise, I guess. The Church in this country is almost entirely driven by marketing. It's a business model. Meet people's felt needs and give them good entertainment, they'll buy your product. It's all pragmatics, really.

But it doesn't have anything to do with the gospel.

I hate the sexism, racism and fundamentalism.

Many people are being saved, you might say. Yes. I think it is obvious that God's sovereignty allows for the gross and obscene omissions and commissions of our sin-weighted souls. That is amazing grace.

It doesn't excuse us. It doesn't absolve us.

There is a deeper problem. I AM a part of the Church. I can't just opt out.

Beyond that, I love the Church. That's what makes all of this so difficult.

What can I do about all this? Especially when I'm so sick at my stomach.

Grace and peace.


VanceH- said...

Jaginer, I feel this dissonance too. I've stopped calling myself an evangelical because it seems strongly identified with many of the negative things that you mention.

I think it is likely that church (not "Church") will change a lot in the next 30 years. I don't see any evidence that the majority of the 20somethings will be interested in anything that resembles the marketing oriented churches we have today.

I doubt that the existing organizations will change their stripes--that is just too hard to do. I think change will come from new organizations, new ways to do things. The closest thing I see is the Emerging/Emergent movement--but they are hardly a cohesive force right now.

Two things I think they have that are essential: 1. Recognizing that the tension between science and a hermeneutic of inerrant scripture must be dealt with. A community that accepts all the benefits of science / technology and yet denies its validity is intellectually bankrupt and is not sustainable.

2: Recognizing that scripture is not reducible to a stable orthodoxy--it is obviously designed to keep many things in tension (e.g., God's omniscience/justice and God's forbearance). We cannot reasonably carry forward the idea that we (our particular community) has access to Truth, and that no-one else is worth listening to. Yes it is a slippery slope, but it is one we are already on. We can't not engage in what is good and evil for us today--and we can't claim that it statically determined in the bible. Yes, that is uncomfortable, but it is reality, and not accepting reality is the path to insanity.

jaigner said...

Vance, thank you for the encouragement.

I also think that the pragmatic church has peaked. I long for a Church in this country that turns itself around and lives out the gospel in a real countercultural way, against the tides of consumerism.

I just worry that we don't know the way out. I mean, I have lots of friends my age (twentysomethings) who still don't get it. Of course, living in Texas has something to do with it, but they just don't know anything else than a marketed, programmatic, self-consumed Church. They still love youth groups, gluttonous fellowships, political and moralistic pulpits, etc.

I just pray we get that living out the gospel doesn't mean not watching prime time and passing out tracts and evangelistic cold-calling (yeah, just happened at a place around here).

I'm not even sure how it looks most of the time. I just pray my eyes will be open.

mheuermann said...

Churches are filled with people, but empty of power. Here's what I'm sick of: pastors who won't preach the whole truth. Our churches would look a lot different if pastors had the guts to preach like John the Baptist, Jesus, and the apostles did.

But if Christ was willing to die for the church, certainly we should be willing to live for her.

jaigner said...

Michael, thanks for your comment. I agree that our living for the church is not up for debate - and our call to do this is implicit in the call of grace on our lives. The underlying point of my post is that I'm willing to do this - at least my spirit is willing.

The issue of truth is difficult. I know there are cases of people refusing, consciously or otherwise, to preach the conviction

The really difficult part is that, though there are a number of salient things of which we can grasp in faith, nobody can hold the whole of God's truth in our own hands. Our human finiteness coupled with the parasite of sin ensures this.

We can see this by looking at the landscape of Christian belief. There are a countless number of committed and humble Christians who take the Bible seriously and genuinely seek the Spirit's leading who cannot come to a consensus on the whole of truth.

Beyond this, the Bible is our source of truth regarding what we need to know about Christian belief and God's story of creation/redemption, but it does not contain all truth. There is truth revealed in Creation. There is truth revealed in the Spirit and human conscience. There is truth to be found everywhere - even non-Christian belief - but it all belongs to God. Paul understood this when he drew upon ancient Greek thought.

I don't know, man. I love the Church. That's why it's so grieving to see it in the state it's in.

Blessings to you, Michael. Thanks for reading.

E. A. Harvey said...

When the true church gets muddled with the general "folk religion" of America, a whole bunch of crap falls under the label of Christianity. That's where we are now. When Christianity falls out of favor to the point it is no longer marketable, the true church will be able to flourish. That may be a long time in coming.

When I look at the countries where Christianity is flourishing, growing, and thriving in true doctrine and discipleship, they tend to be countries where Christians are persecuted and oppressed by the government and other groups. So while I too decry the mess that is American Christianity, the wimpy part of me says I'm not sure I'm ready for the persecution it would take to fix it. Does that make sense...?

jaigner said...

I can understand it, although I would hope that I would long for the gospel to thrive here.

I think it can happen, though. I'm not sure what the political and cultural response would be and how difficult it would be for those of us alive here to see it. I might just move to Canada.

Whatever happens, pragmatic Christianity is slipping...very slowly, but it is losing ground.

Dan Martin said...

Jonathan, I have nothing to say but to agree with your characterization right down the line. . .and though it may be more acute in Texas, I find the same things--all of them--drive me to distraction in California.

Vance, your comments lead me to believe you'd resonate strongly with my blog as well; feel free to stop on by. In particular your identification of the core issue of how we approach scripture, you'll notice, is a big area of interest with me.

Michael, we need to unpack your challenge of living for the church Christ died for. . .you're onto something, though I'm not entirely sure what.

And Leesha, I have also thought about the difference faith displays when it's under pressure and persecution, and I keep hoping that's not what it is gonna take here. To be honest, dialogs like those we have on your, and Jonathan's, and my blogs (among others) are part of what gives me hope. I'm in my forties and not my twenties, and there are fewer of us in my bracket than Jonathan's, but we're out there. Something interesting is happening within the church invisible, and I think it has a chance of getting fun. . .

Grace and peace!