About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Criticism Of Church
This article is a
follow-up to my last article. If
you haven't read "The Counter Cultural Church", click this
link to read.
When I say I was born and
raised in Christian Evangelicalism; I really was.
From the time I was conceived until I left home as a young adult
you'd find me in that which we call church at least three times a week.
That doesn't include the times when it was our family's turn to
dust the pews, vacuum the floor, and clean the washrooms, something
church pays people to do these days.
As a young adult you'd see me in coffee houses, homes, schools,
church buildings, parks, and on the streets, in the service of the Lord.
From dawn to dusk, Bible college in the mid 1970's was one
continuous meeting. Some of
us were beginning to feel "meetinged out".
For all of my 62 years of life I've been associated with church
in one shape or form, and there are numerous shapes and forms of church.
I estimate I've attended about 12,000 church meetings in my life.
It's not that I despise
my Evangelical roots because I don't.
Granted, I still believe the legalism preached to us stifled my
spiritual growth. All the
"do's and don'ts" kept me bound by my feelings associated with
guilt. I feared that hell's
fire could consume me at any given moment.
One slip would do me in. The
demonization of the gift of tongues Jesus gave me led me to a new
expression of church as seen in the "Jesus People Movement" of
the late 1960's and early 1970's.
For the most part I
consider my parent's generation to have been dedicated to Jesus.
Some of my friends will recall Edith Mainprise, our pastor during
the 1950's and early 1960's. She
was single, down to earth, and a dedicated servant of Jesus.
You couldn't have asked for a more warm hearted pastor. Then
there was Mr. Wanamaker. He
openly shared Jesus and was criticized by his co-workers for doing so.
There were many godly people in the
After countless trips to
the altar as a youth, in February, 1970, during a five second prayer in
my bedroom, Jesus ripped away my feelings associated with guilt forever.
From then on I could serve Him without hesitation or fear.
Part of serving Jesus for me was giving myself to Biblical
instruction. No longer did I
read a few Bible verses each day to suppress and appease my feelings
associated with guilt. Instead,
the Bible formed the foundation for my life.
In less than one and a half years I had memorized more than 2000
Bible verses. I could quote
the whole book of Philippians by heart without stumbling over words.
Don't ask me to do that now.
I soon learned that the
Bible I grew to love didn't hide the faults of God's people.
Genesis 16 tells of Abraham's lapse of faith.
Exodus 17 tells of Moses' sin that disqualified his entrance into
the Promised Land. 2 Samuel
11 tells of King David's adultery. Acts
5 describes Ananias and Sapphira lying to the Holy Spirit.
Acts 15 recalls the dispute that separated Paul and Barnabas.
1 Corinthians 1 points out factions in the church.
1 Corinthians 5 tells of a man having sex with his step mother.
1 Corinthians 6 describes Christians engaging in lawsuits with
each other. Galatians 2
recalls Paul rebuking Peter in public for his hypocrisy.
Revelation 2 and 3 shows Jesus calling on seven churches to
repent of their sin. On and
on it goes.
The church at Ephesus
was one of the seven churches Jesus called to repentance.
In Revelation 2:5 He told this church to repent or else cease to
be. Similar exhortations
were given to the other six churches located in Asia Minor, now present
day Turkey. Apparently, at some
point in time these churches didn't take Jesus seriously.
Eventually, and it did take some time, they circum to Muslim
armies who stripped them of any resemblance of church that still
existed. As is often the
case, Jesus used an anti-Christ regime to judge his unrepentant people. Let
it be known that it really wasn't Islam who wiped out these churches.
It was their own failure to repent that did them in.
The fall of these seven
churches happened a long time ago, but their demise is relevant today.
With the rise of a secular anti-Christ culture in the western
world comes the rise of a renewed anti-Christianism.
Like the Muslim armies of the past, this anti-Christ culture is
pushing the church towards extinction. The Bible warns us of such things
in Matthew 24:9 – 10. Let
this be known as well; our conflict with the present anti-Christ culture
is God's tool to bring the western church into compliance to His will.
For that part of church that doesn't comply, this conflict will
do it in. Matthew 24:10 says
that many will turn from the faith under suffering caused by such conflict.
2 Thessalonians 2:3 describes a falling away from the faith which
in many respects is taking place in the western church now.
By nature I'm always
looking ahead. I'm thinking
of the next step as I'm taking the present step.
That's why my vision of church may differ from your vision.
I envision a much different looking church in the days ahead.
We're now stepping into an uncharted future for the western
church some have been warning us about for years.
We're being pressured to conform to an unbiblical and illogical
doctrine of tolerance that if allowed, will undermine church as we've
known it. For this reason,
even though our expression of church has been relatively effective in
the past, it won't work in the days ahead.
We must decide now between the culturally correct church we're
being pressured to be or the counter cultural church Jesus wants us to
In 1 Corinthians 11:31
– 32 Paul says that it's better for us to judge ourselves than to be
judged by the Lord. The
seven churches of Revelation missed this point.
We can't afford to miss it. In
2 Corinthians 13:5 Paul tells the Corinthian believers to examine and
test themselves to see if they're really in the faith.
We should be doing the same.
The Bible doesn't hide
the faults of church and neither do I.
The Bible tells us to examine ourselves, and that I do.
The Bible calls us to repent and so I'm repeating the Biblical
call. Am I a bit critical of
church? I am.
So, from my tiny obscure corner of Christendom I join others in
the Body of Christ who sees the need for the western church to repent.
Jesus' church is far too precious to just sit back and let an
anti-Christ culture run it into the ground.
The outward expression of church as we've known it may, and
probably will, be run into the ground, but once underground, those who
are faithful will be the counter cultural church we were meant to be.
Our first step towards this church is genuine repentance, thus
the reason for my criticism of that which we call church.