A New Protestantism
On religion you can be misled by too sweeping overgeneralizations.
Because a denomination does
one thing or a few things wrong, does not mean it does everything wrong.
So bear with it and try to purify it
at first. If you find an intransigent attitude and unreasonable amount
of wrongs, then you should consider
changing denominations, but don’t expect perfection anywhere. Yet some
are less dysfunctional in church governments, attitudes and doctrine
than others. This is reality!.
To be fair in analysis, a church organization must be doing something right, fulfilling some need, or it would finally cease to exist. Churches should be examined by the needs they fill. Different churches fill different needs. If you look for a be-all and an end-all, you will not find it at all. There are errors and cases of the inspiration of religion misapplied obvious to all and nearly everywhere. But the defect is due to the universal sinfulness of mankind. So I do not think you will or should expect a perfect church or ecclesiastical denomination anywhere. In fact the more perfect they claim to be, the less I would be inclined to trust them. My rule of thumb is those who claim to be the most, the only, are obviously spiritually least because they want to convince you they have been freed from the negative influences of human nature and sin. Never is anyone or any group freed of that.
One of my examples is Christian Science. It is a faith with good and healthy intentions. Many good people are in it. So let us be able to do recognizing without demonizing. One of my uncles, a college professor of music, became a Christian Scientist. He died of a cancer of the eye he would not have treated. Instead he went to Boston to the Christian Scientist Hospital where they read over him that there was no such thing as disease. Now that there is no death is a truth, but to say there is no disease is a sad lack of awareness of the evils floating around us even as deadly virus move in polluted air.
At my Christian Scientist uncle’s funeral, a wise friend of the family remarked to me that without Christian Science, my uncle was a hypochondriac. It was only after he became a Christian Scientist he could deal with it. My wise older friend pointed out to me that my uncle could not deal with his health fears, so he abolished the fear by saying there was nothing to fear. This was hardly a solution, because there was plenty to fear as his cancer showed. He needed to calm his fears and be reasonable.
My uncle lacked a balanced faith. He did not need a blind faith, or no faith, but a balanced faith. He did not need a faith that denied the presence of material diseases and degenerative evil in the world. He needed a spiritually-aware-of-evil faith. In my analysis it was the misapplication of religious inspiration that killed him. The inspiration of religion was not wrong, but how it was applied to reality was misleading.
I advise a more spiritually balanced faith. In a spiritually balanced faith we do not give up our religion because some phase of it goes awry. We seek to restore the balance in faith without eliminating the inspiration of faith. Where there are misapplications of religion, and these will be in any organization in which humans take part, our duty is to eliminate them to the best of our ability and to restore as best we can the sanity and balance of faith.
Now my difference with the too liberal is they wish to abolish the traditional doctrines of the church in order to have a new religion. I have no desire to have other than a New Testament oriented Church. I wish to change some applications, not deny the inspiration. What ultimately the too liberal seem to be trying is to set up is a church without God. Now in order to worship God, you must believe in God.
We have seen idiocy in the Vicar of the Anglican Church in England who is ministering to a church but he does not believe in God. Where there is no God, the only thing preached is the Word of man, and that will end in ultimate disaster. Man is NOT the measure of all things. Grace is.
My thought is that to trim the tree, we do not have to cut it at the root, which is God.. We need to reaffirm the River of Grace, but to affirm the river, should we deny the stream? The too liberal make no sense to me. They seem to lack sanity. Is the New Testament a misapplication? I think not! Why would we deny the stream of living water in order to reapply the energy of the River?
It is not the religious inspiration which is wrong, but some of the misapplications thereof. And if not the redirection and reform of misapplications of religion, what is Protestantism? Belief in God is not wrong anymore than a river is wrong because it sometimes misuses or misapplies its energy. To me this negating too liberal liberalism or a painful literalism is clearly insanely self-destructive. We need a re- orientation of faith, not a negation of it. To be a Protestant is a glorious calling affirming the inspiration of faith but correcting wrong and misused applications of it.
America and the Western world are trying to deny the existence of God. Cut off from God they may wither. The too liberal are trying to deny the existence of Christ and the New Testament. This is beyond insanity, to try to cut off America and even the world from the living waters of grace mentioned in John 4:10. Our reason needs to be spent not on arguing whether there is a God, but reasoning on what comprises the will of God, and then spiritually growing in applying it. Something done wrong might be corrected, but something not done at all is ineffective, Put on enough faith to believe, that you may do for others, then when you do for others, you know God is, because you have touched upon the Great Harmony, the Oneness of God, that we know only by doing and living one for the other.
If we talk whether there is a God, we just spin the wheels of our minds. But if we not talk but do the will of God, we achieve something. But in denying God, the too liberal are working to bring down destruction, not by the will of a vengeful God, but by the will of Natural Law. For a Natural Law in morality, action and belief exists. When we are not ruled by special grace, common grace will have the last word. Do we wish the world to receive the karma its injustice and insensitivity formulates? Let us hope that does not happen while we are on it.
I preach a New Protestantism, a neo-Puritanism, where misapplications due to the sins of human nature become evident, and are corrected, but the happy inspiration of religion is not given up. I seek to maintain the old inspiration of the Trinity: Christ and His love (the Son), God the Sovereign and Creator (the Father), and the sense of God with us (The Holy Spirit.) Then having a God of Grace, let Him dispense grace/ goodness/ love. As Luther said, I say, that on religion we should take a stand. Can a sane man do otherwise? God will help us in this most confused time. Amen.
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.