Thursday, June 3, 2010
The Christian-Controlled Marquee and a Need for a New Church Division
There are two Christian marquees that I encounter every day on my way to work. One is owned by a very conservative, King James Only, Baptist church. The second one is outside a Christian owned business (hair salon). Both of these signs are very visible.
I will mention the church one first because it seems, of late, to be the lessor of evils. For a while the Baptist church has provocative sayings such as “Thank God for Global Warming” as well as anti-gay sayings. For the past year or so their sign has been rather benign (“We are a Family of Families”) and doesn’t’ change that much, but it is very visible as it sits on the main highway.
The business though is a different story. It is held up, on our island, as the ideal integration of Christ into a business. I know nothing about the owners but like everyone else on our island, I know clearly their positions on a number of issues. Unlike the Baptist church, they change their sign at least once a week.
This morning the sign read, “We would love to change our Governor for the one in Arizona.” When I saw the sign, my immediate thoughts went out to the very large Hispanic population on our island. How do they feel about the sign?
Now, I honestly believe that good Christian people can have a variety views on immigration and there is not one clear view that is “Biblical.” But there is a tendency among Evangelicals to want to “keep the foreigners out of my country.” They attempt to wrap Biblical concepts around this view, but we all know it is personal and selfish. Not to say that the other sides aren’t the same.
However, I personally am perplexed by this America Fortification view.
I use to teach a Sunday school class on world missions. We prayed earnestly for missionaries willing to go to all parts of the world. We studied about great opportunities missed in history, when the church did not send missionaries to countries, like China, who were begging for them. I watch all kinds of TV preachers crying and telling how they are brining food to the poor in the developing world (with 50% going to support the up keep of their many vacation homes). Yet, when the people, whom we suppose to care so much about, want to come here . . . we hate them.
Before this sign, the beauty salon had up signs about the myth of global warming. I am still perplexed why Evangelicals are opposed to that. Is there some obscure verse that says that global warming is myth? There’s been signs by the Christians about defending our right to own guns, pro-life (which is more understandable), anti-Obama, anti-Arab, anti-electric cars and etc.
So seeing the sign this morning started me thinking again. The evangelicals, which I am no longer part, have defined themselves so precisely, from a cultural stand point, that I think a time must come where there is a major split between them and us simple Christians, “simple” meaning without a lot of cultural beliefs wrapped in Jesus.
Right now there is a huge abyss outside the door of the Evangelical church. That is why, when most people walk out, they fall into nothingness. Some do find people of like mindedness in the Catholic, Orthodox and some of the old-mainline churches such a Lutheran. Those can be good places for us, but they are not consistent. What I mean is, I attended a pretty good Episcopalian church when I was in college. But I tired to attend one last year and it was 90% New Age spirituality wrapped in Jesus the same way that the Evangelicals wrap the right-wing agenda in Jesus.
Mike Spencer talked of the demise of the Evangelical church. I do believe that something will grow from the stumps like mushrooms. I don’t know what it will be. I tried a house church and I had great hopes for the house church movement at one time. But now, every house church I’ve visited or been part of has one foot in the cult grave. Bizarre things can happen there. We are talking about spiritual manipulations, weird experiences (used to manipulate). I’ve known a couple of house churches that seemed good on the surface, but it turned out to be dens where the confident, charismatic (not literally but in terms of personalities) have secret orgies among the pretty girls under their control.
Now I know that I could find good places in some house churches, good places in some Catholic or Orthodox churches, but there is always a gamble.
But this is not about me. I’ve resolved that I’m not going anywhere right now as a gift o my wife.
But I’m thinking about the Church in general. I think there has to options to capture those exiting the back door and going nowhere. I do believe that there is a Bible mandate to meet together and to hold each other accountable.
I wish I had the confidence and talents to start a low-key “safe house” for Christians who can’t stand all the “plus” stuff. You know, Jesus plus this or that. It would be as much as a church as any. It would a way station to catch those who were on their way to nowhere.
The sad thing is that most of those leaving, who have not put the years of thought into it as I have, really do believe it is the Evangelical church or the devil . . . so they finally choose the “devil” rather than put up with the farce any more. To suggest that they could meet with me in a coffee shop or a bar and be real seems so bizarre to them they would never think it was possible. To them, it seems so wrong that not going to church at all seems better.
Just a few more spontaneous thoughts.
Posted by MJ at 2:52 PM