Our new friend (new to the blogosphere that is) RJ-77 over at Sons of the Reformation posed a question the other day about the definitions of legalism and liberalism as they relate to Christianity or theology. His answer to the question spawned some very good comment conversation, even roping in several outside opinions (outside meaning people not associated or known to those of the P.I.C.) including one poor misguided soul who is intent on believing the Apostle Paul is a false prophet. In light of this, I found it quite serendipitous that I should stumble upon an article from the LA Times addressing Christian liberalism and it’s contribution to the downward sprial of most main-line Protestant Christian denomintaions. And I found the article while looking for news on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of all things. Written by a Catholic I believe, the article is very good and I highly recommend reading it here.
Ok, done? Good. Let’s continue.
In a nutshell, the article explains that the main-line churches that have embraced this liberal take on Christianity, especially on such issues as homosexuality, the ordination of women, Christs deity and the feminisation of the Godhead, among other things, have seen their numbers drastically shrinking. The author also postulates on the reasons why these ideologies (I won’t even refer to them as being theology) are driving parishoners away.
I see those fleeing to be in two separate camps: attendees of those churches that hold to a literal and authoritative interpretation of the scriptures that are leaving because they see how the denominations have taken to writing their own (un-Biblical) rules, and those attendees who are saying, “Hey, why waste a day off work by going to church? It isn’t any different than society at large and they want me to give them money.”
In trying to be some kind of all inclusive, ear-tickling, feel-good factories, the main-line churches have watered down the gospel and eschewed sound doctrine for politically correct fluff. Make no mistake, a church’s doors should always be open to individuals of any race, creed, ethnicity, etc., but never at the expense of sound Biblical teaching. Church is a place for sinners, but that doesn’t mean the sins are to be overlooked and not dealt with appropriately. So if the liberal church’s are tossing aside the Bible like it’s an outdated almanac, because that’s what they are doing, though they wouldn’t admit to it I’m sure, what is the basis for what their preachers are preaching? More I’m-ok-you’re-ok garbage that anyone can find at the local Barnes & Nobles in the NewAge/Philosophy or Self-Help sections. Without the Bible, God’s Word to man, there’s no point. What do I need church for? Which begs the question, why do people attend these churches? Social contacts? Because they always have? Societal pressures? It makes them feel better? Other moral teachings the churches have not yet tossed on the trash heap? I suppose all of those things.
I don’t harbor malice toward the attendees of these types of church’s, or even the denominational leaders. They probably think they are doing what is right and best, most of them. I would pray for them, that God would touch their hearts and minds, and help them to look again at the Bible for what it is and what it says. There are some courageous leaders in some of these denominational churches that refuse to accept this kind of watered down theology and are pulling out. As the LA Times article says “many of the parishes and dioceses (including that of San Joaquin, Calif.) that want to pull out of the Episcopal Church USA are growing instead of shrinking, have live people in the pews…” Why are they growing? Because they are teaching what people actually want to hear…the Word of God. It will take more of these very courageous people to turn the decades-old tide, but it’s not impossible. Remember something called The Reformation?