Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I’ve been following closely the debate concerning my father-in-law, Mike Licona, and Norman Geisler. As I checked Mike’s facebook today, he wrote about being in South Africa and how after he gave a talk at a church on “Who Did Jesus Think He Was?” 37 came forward wanting to start an apologetics group.
Average church in America?
“Apologetics? Do I need to apologize for being a Christian?”
A lot of time and money is spent building new churches for people to go to. Many new churches can sadly start over reasons such as not being able to decide what color the carpet should have been in the old church. Of course, there are some that reach a specific group which is highly understandable, such as Korean churches. Many of us don’t speak Korean and we should be thankful for those who do starting churches provided they’re in line with orthodoxy.
But as I thought about that church in South Africa, I think about what’s going on in America I thought “Do we really need more churches?”
I just went to Google maps and had no trouble finding a church within a mile of where I live. If I expand the search, I can find many more churches very easily. Does anyone really think the problem that we have in America is that we just lack churches for people to go to?
Seriously. How many churches do you pass by on your average commute to and from the workplace? How many times are you saying “I really wish there was a church here in our area.”? Of course, what you could be saying is “I wish there was a good church in my area.” It’s like looking in the fridge and saying “There’s nothing to eat.” There usually is, but usually what you see in the fridge is not providing the desire that you have.
Could it be that the real problem is that we do not use the churches that we have? Too often in churches, we have pastors who are simply ignorant of the Bible and then produce a group of people who are also ignorant of the Bible. These churches are prey for groups like the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or the New Atheists.
Study is a dirty word to the average person today. I was tempted to say the average layman, but even pastors can often pride themselves on their ignorance. They may not know what they’re talking about, but by golly, they have passion and they can count on the Holy Spirit to take that passion and override their ignorance.
How many people really think the Holy Spirit honors having to do the work for someone because they didn’t want to take the time to do it for themselves?
Something that we need to learn in the church is this. No matter how passionate you feel about a belief, that does not make that belief right. Of course, you could be entirely right, but do not think you are right just because you have a lot of passion.
I just got done recently reading Tim LaHaye’s “Rapture Under Attack” where he says that the reason the pre-trib position is spreading and growing is because it is just the teaching of the Bible and the Holy Spirit is blessing it!
Okay. Sure. That’s a possibility.
However, I also suspect I could read a post-trib author who would say “While this view has not been as popular, we do see it on the rise today because the Holy Spirit is showing people that it is in the Scriptures and giving it His blessing.”
Anyone can claim the Holy Spirit for their belief system. Anyone can say the success of the teaching spreading is because of the Holy Spirit. They could in turn say the reason a true teaching is not spreading is because of the hardness of the hearts of men. Whichever way you go, you can come up with a reason why a teaching is spreading or not spreading.
What needs to be done by everyone on every side of every debate is to focus on the reasons for why your view is true whether it is spreading or not. Let us keep in mind Mormonism has been on the rise throughout the world now and the Mormons would point to their message being true as the reason for that spread. They would say the Holy Spirit is confirming it by the burning in the bosom.
I do not doubt Mormonism is spreading. I do not doubt that Mormons feel something very strongly. I do doubt that it is the Holy Spirit. I am not a believer in Mormonism simply because I do not think the facts support Mormonism.
Facts. You know, maybe that’s what we need to get back to. Maybe we need to get to truth. It seems too often in our churches we are trying to get people to a feeling rather than to a mindset. We want people to feel Christianity is true. We don’t want them to think about why it is. We want people to feel the love of God. We don’t want them to think about what the love of God means. (That is no simple doctrine!) We want people to feel good about themselves. We don’t want them to think about what it means that they carry the image of God and what it means when they are told that they are sinners.
Of course, I am not against feelings, but feelings are to be in response to something. We have our beliefs based on our feelings when our feelings are based on our beliefs. If one is given good reasons for believing Jesus rose from the dead and one realizes they can understand and articulate those reasons and feel great as a result, praise God! If they have the reasons and can articulate it and are just not a feely type and don’t feel what the first person feels, praise God just as much!
And wouldn’t it be great to have churches doing that more than just being support groups? Now again, don’t misunderstand. Churches do need to be providing support. Members do need to be caring for one another. However, the church is not meant to be your local branch of Weight Watchers or Alcoholics Anonymous. I have no problem with churches letting such groups use their buildings. That’s fine. The church is meant to be more however. The church can help you diet. The church can help you maintain sobriety. The church is meant to do more. The church alone is the only organization that can teach forgiveness of sins through the God-man Jesus Christ.
When the church becomes just a social club, we have lost the point of it. It has become all about us instead of being all about God. What we need is the foundation of good theology rooted in Scripture and Christian thought throughout the ages and then from that foundation we can draw support for one another.
Let us also remember worship is not meant to be something just to make us feel good about ourselves. I really wish the church would return more to the classic hymns of the past. When I was growing up, I remember they sounded slow and boring, but now that I am older, I realize the rich depth that is within those songs that I have missed.
There are some songs sung in churches today that I will sit down during. I think some are outright wrong. Many are just shallow. A good worship service is seen as one where we leave feeling good, but we are not the ones who are to judge if a worship service is good. The service is not for us. It is for God. We often forget that we are worshiping Him. We are not putting on a concert.
The church has all that it needs today to be a powerful force. In America, we should be a country having a massive influence on the world scene with Christian witness. What do we have? We have a media that celebrates sex outside of marriage, abortion as the law of the land, homosexual advocates pushing for marriage, the idea that we need to be tolerant of Islam, Joyce Meyer and Joel O’Steen being seen as great Christian literature, political correctness being a reigning ideology, a church afraid to “offend” anyone, and the greatest threat to a church often seen as being when a new Harry Potter book comes out. (Which by the way, I thoroughly love the series for all concerned)
We have the most access. The internet can be found in the majority of homes today and while there’s a lot of junk on it, there’s also a lot of good stuff for those who will take the time to look. We have a huge number of ministries here with numerous educational resources. We have television and radio shows dedicated to the spread of the gospel. We have libraries and bookstores where people can find books to study. We also have enough wealth here to finance several ministries. We should be on the forefront in evangelism and Christian witness.
We are not.
And the solution is not to build more churches.
The solution is to use the churches we have built by filling them with Christians who know the Scriptures and can teach them accurately. We need songs that will edify and enrich our theological lives. We need to be aware with the media of our age and how to use it and how to interact with it. We need to be involved in government activities instead of running from them using our power as Christians to limit abortion, same-sex marriage, and other such practices. We need to be educating our youth and teaching them how to think. We need to be again establishing real Universities and Seminaries where Christian thinking can be spread.
Can we do it? Well we can. There is no doubt about that. We have the means to do so. It is not a question of can. It is a question of will. Will we do so?
I pray we will, for if we do not, it might not just be the case that in America, the next generation does not know of Christianity. It could be that there might not even be a next generation due to an America that fell away from its heritage in faith and lost its identity altogether. There might not be a nation to pass on to our descendants.
The choice is yours and mine where we go from here.