If you want to score points in your preaching and writing just accuse “the Church” of doing something wrong. It doesn’t matter what the wrong is, it’s the Church’s fault.
Why is our country in trouble? The evangelical church isn’t teaching people responsible financial stewardship. Why are there so many abortions? The church of North America was slow to cry out against the sin, and at one time supported abortion. And the beat goes on. Is it untrue? Who can judge, since after all, there is no such thing as either the evangelical or the North American church?
Now this. Why are kids leaving the Christian faith? Because the evangelical church no longer teaches our kids the faith, but fun. At least that’s the charge in a popular blog post.
It’s like those commercials that say, “Americans want more money but face great challenges.” Really now. Light strikes Marblehead first in the morning. Which Americans? All of them? Like the Church, they’re a can’t miss target. Doh.
So who is “the Church?” Hmm. Or who is the “evangelical Church?” Not sure, but they’re pretty immoral and lax, whomever they are. Hey, I study these things and I don’t know who they are. And I can pretty much promise you that those excoriating this “Church” in their preaching and writing don’t know either.
This Church is everybody and thus becomes nobody. It’s a church that never meets for worship, nor is the “pillar and support of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). It’s a whipping post of air. It exists only in the imagination. The Bible never defines it and thus Christ knows it not.
So why do otherwise upstanding Christians hold up something imaginary? And then, to compound the offense, take something as precious as “church” is to Christ and then charge it with all kinds of sin? Because they really do think it exists. And who knows why else they do it?
In the NT, the only church that real flesh and blood people experienced took one of two forms. This is still true today.
One, they could be in the persecuted church. Paul wrote, “For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it” (Gal. 1:13). He went to real churches, wherever he could find them, and tried to destroy them. He wasn’t merely trying to stamp out the people, but the institution itself.
Whoever this “evangelical church” is, it ain’t the persecuted. I mean, I think. Because I’ve never experienced the evangelical church, though I have persecution. See also Acts 9:31, 1 Cor. 15:9, Phil. 3:6 for this persecuted church.
Two, there is the local church in a city or a town. By my count ninety-six of the 110 occurrences of the word church that refer to Christian churches in the New Testament refer to this kind of church:
“To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours” (1 Cor. 1:2).
That’s not “the evangelical Church” either. Or, The Church.
When people talk about the evangelical church they aren’t talking about a single local church, a group of local churches, nor the persecuted church. About the only choice left is the Catholics because at least they talk about every church being Catholic, at least in some sort of squishy universalistic sense. But they who speak of the evangelical church definitely do not mean the RCC.
We are left with nothing.
Note: The Universal Church is totally cool but in part consists of the redeemed already in heaven with Christ. Since these people don’t have flesh and blood bodies they don’t fit the two forms of “church” I mentioned above (1 Thess. 4:16-17). I suppose I could have included them here to press the ridiculousness of blaming “the Church” for our nation’s woes and, yes, even our children’s idolatry with fun.
Want to learn more? Check out this article.
O, btw, the blog gets really, really good at the end.