Sunday, June 08, 2008

I think it's more than the name

From The Washington Post:

The Rev. Todd Thomason looked out at the nearly empty pews of his congregation at Baptist Temple Church last Sunday. He had preached long and hard about Abraham leaving all that he knew and setting out into an unknown future on nothing more than faith in God. He was hoping that, after the service, what was left of his flock would have the courage to do the same.

After 100 years, Baptist Temple, he feared, was dying. In its heyday in the 1950s, more than 900 members crammed into the sanctuary of the pretty white church in Alexandria that was built for 500. Now he was lucky to get 30. Perhaps the problem, he began to think, was the name itself.

"We're probably the most progressive church in the city, but 'Baptist Temple' sounds weird, like it's charismatic and conservative," Thomason said. He worried that the word "Baptist" had become indelibly tied to the political religious right and that when combined with "Temple" it sounded like a fundamentalist "bring out the snakes" kind of place.

I wonder. Perhaps it isn't the name but the doctrinal position that is causing people to abandon the church. You can get trendy left-wing politics and new age spirituality anywhere so why bother to get up early on Sunday and drive to church?

The same is true about conservative politics as well. You can get right-wing politics on talk radio so why get up early on Sunday for that either.

A Christian Church has one thing which the world simply does not and never can have and that is Christianity itself. A church should be a place where Christians can come together to receive instruction, exhortation, edification, comfort and council on matters of their Christian faith and it should be a place where people can participate in a corporate of worship and praise of God.

The church experience should also provide an opportunity for Christians to serve the Lord by serving their fellow man in various types of charitable activities but always with the understanding that such good works are not ends into themselves but are designed to earn a hearing for and provide credibility for the Gospel message.

If you look at the mainline Protestant denominations you find that most of them are not just "declining" but out-and-out dying. The reason for this is that they have abandoned biblical literalism for a watered down theology and political correctness.

To paraphrase Martin Luther, if I uphold all of scripture except for that part which the world and the Devil are currently attacking I have not confessed Christ no matter how loudly I profess Christ. Churches which act embarrassed about the Bible either ignoring or explaining away things like special creation or miracles or its teaching on homosexuality may receive praise from some activists but they only earn the contempt of ordinary citizens.