In order to have a false but thriving church, the kind seemingly most
you need a belief system, a bureaucracy and a building program. This
will enable all the
shallow graceless churches to by-pass the human heart. Christianity is
mostly about the heart.
But today Christianity is all about outer-shell Christianity. Our churches are
shells without that interior music of the divine that redeems the
emptiness of the shells.
Most of our churches in this day and age by-pass Christianity regularly. They have nice church buildings with expensive bureaucracies, but many members have no idea, none, of what Christianity is all about. That is the heart. If you do not believe me, read the Book Of Jeremiah. Jeremiah understood the need for the heart to be involved in faith.
I asked a church woman what God was interested in. She said God wanted her church to build a new social hall with another bathroom for their church building. She was serious. This church was used several hours a week and that usually only on Sundays. I asked of course, “How about a parking lot?” She said, “God wants that next.” How I laughed as soon as I was away from her so as not to hurt her feelings, poor thing. (These buildings would be used a few hours one day a week and really help no one grow spiritually. Her view of Christianity was so literal it was unbelievable. Her religion was advancing creeds, bureaucracies and buildings. As for me, I felt I could hear the Lord laughing.)
As for the people in the churches of many faiths, Christian or not, I find very few with hearts in God and hands reaching out to do His work. If your idea of religion is a creed to support, a building to go to, and sitting and talking, sitting and hearing, sitting and being talked at, you understand little if anything about God. And that is not just the Christian God but any respectable God of any respectable faith.
If you want to enjoy the benefits of religion, (and why go to God unless you find the experience enjoyable), you need to get your hearts involved with God. This means a personal relationship with God according to your ability and circumstances and a relationship with God that goes out into the false churches and beyond them.
The fruits of practicing Christianity are actions of grace, as we understand them, and a better conscience than we might have otherwise had-- had we not known Christ. But to achieve this high state takes grace from God and steady cultivation of the interior life with God by men and women of regular and responsible habits.
Please don’t assume because there are so many false religionists and shallow thinkers in churches, there are no real Christians. Yes, there are. They are generally few and far between, but I have met many. And they do have an effect far beyond their numbers. It is surprising how the few serious Christians have a sort of fourth-way influence on others (Now you may say, “fourth way” in contempt, but I say fourth way is better than no-way.)
In the meantime most religious people must muddle through a public pseudo-church that is not on the same beat with God, but is better than no church at all, yet undoubtedly trying at times. Sometimes the church even gives us a good laugh. For in Christ we must laugh or cry at times. I had rather be a laugh away from Christ than in tears over manikins. For I do believe God worketh in high and ironic ways. And when I see the irony of God working I clap my hands and laugh.
We may be forced to move around in and have part of our spiritual being in a local pseudo-church, but do not forget the real church begins in the chapel of your heart. Take it with you to the pseudo-church. Also take along your sense of humor. That sense of humor is a shattering grace from God you may need in a pseudo-church of creed, bureaucracy, and buildings. Or a silly too liberalism on the same level of the creeds they are supposedly fighting. Religion is living and applying God, not mere believing in creeds. Who cares what you believe as long as you do nothing? Do nothings fight over what they believe. But who cares?
The conventional believer and the non-conventional believer are both fixated on the same level concerning belief. Neither seem to do much but cluck, cluck, clucking. Such chicken heads! They cluck about creeds, bureaucracies and buildings endlessly. Meanwhile many outside the churches starve while others are spiritually needy.
The creedal cluckers are decadent Pseudo-believers arguing over creeds while the Lord’s real work is not done. Is this not a Marie Antoinette Christianity? The right creed boils down to a form of etiquette in approaching God. It is from the ravings of an over intellectualized and effete Western church where much of what they do is argue over theoretical details that make little difference on earth but are said to be a big difference in heaven. If I were you, I’d wait until Heaven to find out. In Heaven, we can learn the endless details of boring creeds. But meanwhile in life there is Christ’s work to do, life to address, grace to be carried to people.
As for the hobby of doing Christian creedal needlepoint, I choose not to take it up. I am for any creed, any lever, that moves people to do the work of God. And when people start to tell me how their creed is most right, I say, “That is the first thing I will ask God when I get to Heaven.” But I am not really worried about fifteen minutes off purgatory. Or whether the Virgin Mary was not conceived by the Holy Ghost. And I have no use for the endless army of irrelevant issues that try to sidetrack the church from doing God’s will which is to fill nature’s common grace with God’s special grace.
Yes, I have my own opinions, but meantime we have much Christian work to do. What do you think Christ would have us put first? People or the creeds in which there is so much vanity and endless discussion. People first, creed second. (The truth is we have an overly intellectualized Western Christianity. Western Civilization places too much emphasis on the mind’s believing creeds rather than the heart’s heaving for others. It is only when the heart is engaged that mankind truly is. But the decadent Western theological mind seems obsessed with linear logic and very literal thinking. For Christianity in the West truly, the devil has been in the details. May modern Eastern Christianity be wiser.)
The Book Of Jeremiah shows the necessity of expanding the heart first in religion. For there are church members who only hear the Word. In fact it is heard to death in endless churches and sermons. But there are those saving few who really do the Word. Those who really try to apply God in their lives and carry grace into the lives of others. They are in line with Biblical religion, for James 1:22 says: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”
Many of our modern churches simply deceive themselves on what they are and what they are doing. Look around.
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.