My life in the church has been rather odd. Yet, I’m not terribly unusual for my generation. To wit, as a baby I was “dedicated” in the American Baptist church (go figure a church that calls itself “baptist”, but is kind of fussy about a group that sees baptism as really only kind of an initiation thing). I was married by a Congregational pastor (kind of interesting also, why is a Christian clergyman marrying someone who isn’t a baptized Christian?) I was, finally, baptized by a United Methodist minister and four years ago ordained by a Lutheran minister. I was not churched as a child and it was only a “there are no atheists in a foxhole experience”, that God used to lead me to be baptized in my mid-twenties.
I tell you this so that you will see that I’ve been there, done that and have a few t-shirts. Notice that the churches I’ve come from, have been or morphed into Christian churches very much on the fringe/far end of the liberal Christian churches. I really got a stomach full in the United Methodist Church. Toward the end of my stay in the UMC, I had an experience that really illustrated what that church was about. It was at the New England Annual Conference, and well ya, you can imagine, liberal New England. There were various persons being recognized for achievement for the past year.
One woman had started a clinic on Cape Cod (yea, tres chic in both senses), to of course treat the trendy/chic diseases of the time. (Yea, I know I feel stupid even characterizing it that way, but to liberals there’s chic and then just mundane). Well (I was going to say praise the Lord), but there wasn’t any of that going on, It was effusive applause simply all about the woman and her efforts and how oh so trendy. Next was a man (middle aged, white, yea already a few strikes against him) and also evangelical. He was recognized for planting a church in New Hampshire and when he spoke he praised the Lord and was very effusive in how Christ was being lifted up by the church he planted. His reception was, at best, luke warm. Clearly he did not fit the profile that found approval in the flat-line, uhmm, I mean main-line, church of 20th to 21st century America.
I knew many orthodox, evangelical Christians in the UMC. Their feeling, for the most part, was that they stayed in the UMC in order to be a faithful remnant, a faithful witness to Christ in a church that was heterodox and even heretical.
Now that I’m in a Church that is orthodox, Christ centered, Scripture centered church, I look back on those who are still in liberal churches and while I pray that the reasons they stay are the right ones, I do question the motivation. Do you stay in a church because that’s where family is/has been, where you’ve ministered for years? Or do you say no, I’m not going to support this by my presence anymore and pick up and leave. Maybe it’s time for the faithful remnant to stop supporting these churches with their presence, their time, talent and treasure. Let’s be frank, faithful Christians are maintaining, if not enabling churches that are Christian in name alone. As I witnessed, they make no pretense to honor Christ, or they so seriously distort Scripture that the reality is simply not recognizable.
I submit that if all the orthodox Christians still in liberal churches would just pick up and leave, these old/liberal/irrelevant churches would implode into their thoroughly rotted structures. I have to ask, would that really be bad? No! It’s way past time to eliminate the tiny little groups who have been supported by orthodox Christians who continue to distort, if not outright lie about the message of Christ. How many have they led to destruction because of their spiritual poison must be immense and as orthodox Christian we really need to ask ourselves if we should be enabling ministries that endanger the spiritual health of millions. Again, No!