Centuries of social, political, cultural, and religious diversity weigh heavily on expressions of Christianity. Party politics, greed, personality driven ministries, ministry as business, and denominational and non-denominational church struggles over members seem to be the order of the day. These influences have moved Christians further and further away from divine principles to which Christians are called to live out before a world that is far from God. The Church is called to be holy; so Christians must pursue holiness amidst an unholy world. The world does not know God so the world cannot lead in holiness. The best way to win the world to faith in Christ is by bearing witness to Christ through the Christian’s lifestyle of holiness – a life that is indifferent of the world—and expressed love towards those who are not living that life. Miller argues that a careful revisit of historical developments that have altered Christianity from its biblical form of indifference might be a meaningful way for the Church to regain its fervor in representing Christ in the world—a world that God expects for Christians to be in but not of. Read the rest of this entry »
Posts Tagged ‘church’
In this conversation, both of my friends (the pastor and his wife) are very supportive of this woman joining the elder board. Not only has she faithfully served in the church but also has ministered at other churches and in the community with obvious giftedness and anointing, which has earned her great respect. However, one elder, in particular, is having a problem with the thought of a woman having authority over a man. Of course, you can imagine the Scriptures that he has identified to preclude any such eventuality, among them 1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.
This issue of women serving in church leadership remains a contemporary “hot button” and raises the question of how spiritually gifted women might fulfill their God-given calling within the local church and beyond. These scriptures mentioned above remain the arsenal for the prohibition of women fully expressing their giftedness in serving the body of Christ. Further, traditional views/practices and cultural assumptions related to the preclusion of women serving in leadership roles in the church reinforce these textual interpretations.
As a former pastor and journalist, MacDonald offers a basic premise that the contemporary American church has lost its impact on contemporary society because it has sold out to consumerism. As a result, the church’s effectiveness has not only been diluted but it has lost its primary mission of providing a conduit of authentic spiritual growth for the church body and being a powerful witness in the world of moral formation.
MacDonald starts with three stark observations aimed at church leaders. First, he notes the entertainment-orientation within the American church-at-large by citing the prevalence of hefty operating entertainment budgets, large projection screens, worship styles that are more worldly than God-honoring, and an emphasis on the cash collection devoid of a worshipful expression. He comments, “Unfortunately, a church that functions like a fun house cannot fulfill religion’s central mission. The Church can’t transform the desires of people it’s trying to titillate” (p. 36).
Second, MacDonald accuses the church of offering comfort to the exclusion of healthy confession, which has led to making church members happy at the exclusion of deep inner transformational change. He writes, “Small groups, organized around shared interests, offer indiscriminate affirmation rather than the rebuke or admonition that participants sometimes need” (p. 62).
Third, MacDonald identifies the weak moral character of the church, noting the financial indebtedness and mismanagement, evidence of rampant personal addictions, and unresolved relational conflicts that provide anything but a positive witness.
In summary, MacDonald attacks the religious consumerism that he observes running rampant in the American church as indicative of the consumerism in the American culture, which caters to a “feel-good” mentality in order to appease church-goers. He cites as an example of consumerism the practice of mega-churches opening their doors to corporate sponsors. Anyone seen Starbucks coffee available in church lobbies?
MacDonald’s admonishes, “The Church must overcome both its baggage and its present tendency to pander in order to become a character-shaping force in the twenty-first century” (p. 87). So I pose these questions ~
- Is MacDonald’s critique of the contemporary American church valid? Why or why not?
- What specific counter arguments might you offer in response to MacDonald’s criticism?
- How can the American church remain culturally sensitive without losing her soul and central mission?