My titled may have caught you off guard. It may have made you feel defensive. In fact you may have come here to argue with me. All of that is fine. But before we get to far down the rabbit hole let me start off by saying I believe in my heart of hearts that Christians have to live justly and relate purely.
So when I say doing good and being good won’t be good enough, I really do mean they are good things that we ought to be doing but in of themselves they are not enough to sustain the church, or disciple people.
So with that being said, please hear me out and then by all means argue with me in the comment section.
There is a thought that seems to be quite common; what the church needs to do to reform and reach this generation is get out of its walls in to the community and do some good. To this thought I give a very hardy AMEN.
However it has also become quite common to in the next breath attack things like seminaries, historic churches, clergy, and even high level teaching. To this I must protest.
Perhaps the most vocal wing of the church that thinks in this direction is the Missional Church. I had an opportunity to take in a seminar given by a prominent missional leader some time ago and I found some of what he said very compelling and other things he said rather concerning.
The compelling aspect of the talk was how Christians ought to bless others, how our faith ought to be lived out 24/7 not just for a few hours on any given Sunday. He talked about ways of being and living, a faith that was more skin deep. I was loving it, and I was drinking it all in.
When asked about maintaining things like formal training, orthodoxy, clergy and churches his answer shocked me. He said he didn’t know. For the most part they value on the job training to formal training, lay leaders to clergy, public meeting places to churches, and working groups to small groups.
While I value all of these things, as stand alone entities I have my doubts.
Near as I can tell the missional movement is attempting to address a very serious criticism being lobbied against the church; that we are hypocrites preferring to stay in our own holy huddles as opposed to showing genuine care and compassion for the world. This is something that needs to be addressed without a doubt.
And it must be addressed now.
However there is another criticism that I consider more insidious; that Christianity is an intellectually devoid superstition that needs to be eradicated.
Maybe you don’t consider that to be the more serious problem. In fact you may even agree that the major failing of the church has been its lack of social concern and community involvement.
However over the last 100 years or so Christianity has been slowly but steadily regulated to the outskirts of western society. In recent years some very passionate and very articulate people have been explaining why it ought to be pushed further away. This is the problem we have to solve and no amount of good deeds will do so.
Please consider this for a moment. Imagine a small group of say 30 or 40 people move into your area. They begin to pick up trash, paint parks, and grow gardens. They also organize food drives, clothing giveaways, and after school reading programs. They have been known to go to hospitals, nursing homes, visit sick children and homeless shelters. Along with their obvious good deeds they meet once a week to engage in religious practices. They are devout followers of Apollo, the Sun God. Each time you run into them they take the opportunity to extol the virtues of their beliefs, their community and the warm love of their god.
The question I leave you with is; would you even join them? Would you become I follower of Apollo because of their deeds?
I can’t answer for you, I can only supply my own; no I would not. I wouldn’t because no amount of good deeds, or well lived lives would change the fact that I consider the belief in the Greek Gods to be ludicrous. If we fail to shape the intellectual landscape of the Western world in a relatively short time the people we interact with will see our claims of Christ as equally ludicrous. If nothing changes, in the not so distant future Christianity will appear to be yet another superstition cast off and no amount of hot soup served will change that.