A Leader In World Decadence
Faith is one thing. Churches are another. The faith of the founder as it
is, turns into an organized religion
of churches, mosques or temples and is always debased from the original
vision or conception of the founder of
the faith by adding or deleting some from the original vision. This
makes for some unhappy situations at
times. Generally prigs say that they cannot support a church that is not
perfect. The priggish and neurotic
quest for perfection on everything should apply only to God; not the
church. God is-perfect He can pass
muster, but none of the churches that belong to Him are. Church views
are often debased views. Sin is a
factor ever present in any church. It is important that people realize
this in working with the churches.
Otherwise, like pride, they are riding for a fall.
Now refusing to belong to a church because it is not perfect is not a realistic or mature view. People are sinners. All churches are made of sinners in thought, action, and creed. All churches are debased mixtures of truth. The question is: how much, how important, and what should be significantly wrong in the thought, action and creed of any church before you drop out or change it. Do not do this lightly.
But naturally you should support, take part and maintain a church even though churches are not perfect. This is fair play reasoning taken from the fact God supports you on earth and continues to be supportive even if you are far from perfect. (I would also suggest that the longer you need to consider how imperfect you are, the more imperfect you happen to be.) You ought to be aware immediately that you are imperfect and a sinner God has redeemed by His mercy and grace. You may do right but you will never do perfectly right. Don’t expect to. This expectation can turn you into a religious neurotic. Recall, that you as an imperfect servant of God, should give the best effort you may give at the time. Then as the old hymn goes, “Tell it to Jesus.” Then shrug it off. Forgive yourself. Remember how “the just shall live by faith.” Then as the Scots say, “Carry on.”
Let us look at one way (there are many you can come across easily if you think) that the vision of the founder has been changed or deleted by the churches. Protestant churches de facto usually require marriage of their clergy. That is marriage is not in the requirements of the churches but it is generally sought by the churches. As neither Jesus nor the Apostle were married, this gives you an idea of the inconsistency of the situation. That would eliminate either of them ever being called to a large contemporary Protestant congregation. The situations of Jesus and the Apostle are well known but considered irrelevant to the circumstances.
On the other hand the Roman Catholic clergy are required by canon law (de jure) not to get married. The celibacy of the clergy is a big thing now and being much discussed. There is not any direction in scripture that the clergy be celibate. In fact, if you will recall, Moses had a black wife. This would in many circumstances lay the parishioners out today. In the Roman Catholic case the theological view of God on this as an issue is unknown. But that did not hold anybody back any from the making the rule of celibacy.
So you may see from example what I mean. As faiths are turned into the organized congregations, that are formal religion, some rules and customs quite foreign to the original vision of Founders of the faith are added, fortunately or unfortunately, or deleted, unfortunately or fortunately. You may note this generally is the case with all religions around the world.
Often the excess of doctrine, theology and custom devised by the organizing religionists in churches have little or nothing to do with the Founders of the faith. So what I am saying is the “baggage” of theology, custom and rules carried by some churches of every sort, may just not be what the Founder of the Faith was for. If I were an Eastern Christian, I would certainly dump some of the cultural baggage that Western Christian religions are carrying East with them.
Sometimes we just don’t know what is the best stand on certain issues. The Amish won’t use motorized farm machinery because that isn’t in the Bible. This gives them a quaint life style but is it truly what Jesus would have wanted? One thing for sure, they aren’t polluting and the food is usually “natural.” On the other hand those overusing polluting gas automobiles and farm chemicals have no right to assume that is progress and God is for it. We tend to assume mindlessly that God is for Progress, but what amount of progress and how it is to be applied, I am not sure. I have some deep reservations.
Then there is this factor . America wants to be a leader of the world. It has achieved being a real leader in the world. For one thing, America leads the world in decadence. It is the undoubted style setter and leader of world decadence. This is generally recognized by some of every faith known to man in every nation all over the world. Get serious. Who wants decadent leadership?
As American churches go abroad, many carry decadent American customs. The American churches carry too much decadent liberal church baggage with them. You are aware, I hope, that what is technologically up to date may not be what is spiritually worthwhile to foreign citizens. Liberalism introduced in philosophy and religious outlook has had a devastating effect on many Americans religions. They are soaked in secular atheism, materialism, selfish abuse of individual freedom and attacks on the family as a sacrificing social institution. Above all they are smug with intellectual arrogance.
More effort should be made to make all peoples understand that Christianity does not necessarily go along with many American churches. Many American churches are carrying the cultural baggage that needs to be thrown overboard. Liberalism is a short term thing. It seems to enlighten at first, and to some degree it does, only later it turns into an orderless and amoral social disaster.
Genuine Christian faith and American materialistic, secular, liberal religion are two quite different things. We need to make this well known in America and spread abroad in the world. The world does not need decadent religion from a technologically advanced but socially decaying and morally degenerating country. It needs what America could once have given it, but seemingly no longer can. In America the technology has advanced but the spiritual greatness has departed. America has gained the world but lost its soul. (Matthew 16:26) It has become what many of our American ancestors were sick of, so they left: the land of the soulless rich. The circle has come around.
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.