Thursday, September 18, 2014
Way back in the early 80s, Tony, a sociologist by profession and motivational speaker by reputation, observed, "Denominations are done."
If you look at the stats, denominations are dying if not done.
While I may be wrong, I know, for example, on the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belvidere, Illinois that maybe a handful of people really care about "our" denomination and maybe 40% of our membership even know we're in one and they'd have to be reminded!
I was talking with one of the brightest presbyters in my franchise at a judicatory meeting not too long ago.
He said, "A college student asked, 'Is Westminster Presbyterian Church a part of Christianity or some other religion?'"
Think about it.
Sounds like a virus from Capron, Illinois.
Every young pastor of every vital and growing church that I know either isn't part of any denomination or puts their affiliation in the smallest font possible in their literature.
Tony was right way back in the 80s.
Sadly, too many older pastors like moi and denominational jingoists/idolaters have their own Jeffersonian Bibles that have omitted what Jesus said about new wineskins and continue to long for the way things never were or maybe were but are no more.
That's why their churches, to borrow metaphors from the 7 letters of Revelation, are morgues with steeples at best and lampstandless at...
Don't get me wrong.
I'm all into 1 Corinthians 14:40.
Without some kinda gatekeeping and accountability, you'd have churches using Joel Osteen books for CC classes.
Yet, especially in the mainliners, there's only minimal Biblical, confessional, constitutional, historical, traditional, and common sense gatekeeping and accountability.
If you're not under God as best exemplified in Jesus and explained by the book, you're like American morality captive to the latest popularity polls.
Faith, for them, is all about feelings and opinions and desires and...
"I know that's what Jesus and the Bible say; but I think..."
Truth is there's more gatekeeping and accountability going on in networks of Biblical remnant churches that are under God as best exemplified in Jesus and explained by the book.
That's because remnanters don't need anyone/anything other than Jesus by the book for gatekeeping and accountability.
They are developing networks of gatekeeping and accountability that are far more faithful to Jesus by the book than those formerly faithful mainline denominations.
Eugene put it this way for me back in October 2011: "Motivational speaking is often a sly way of manipulating. You don't have to motivate Christians."
Christians believe Jesus is Lord and Savior and only Jesus is Lord and Savior and behave like they believe Jesus is Lord and Savior and only Jesus is Lord and Savior by the book.
That's the only gatekeeping and accountability that matters to Christians.
All I'm saying is denominations, especially the mainline ones, have no credibility to claim gatekeeping and accountability raison d'etre because they have made up definitions of gatekeeping and accountability apart from Jesus by the book.
They may be nice organizations; but any connection between 'em and Jesus by the book is increasingly coincidental.
Remember, if Satan likes to quote the book every now and then to score points among the ignorant...
He said/asked, "You've been saying the PCUSA and other mainline denominations are 'irretrievably apostate under current management.' What do you mean by that?"
Response: "I mean mainline denominations that have moved to the sidelines of American cultural relevancy have so distanced themselves from former fidelities that their leadership, especially clergy, will have to be born anothen in a John 3 kinda way before they can ever turn around and back to Jesus by the book. Annnnnnnd byyyyyyy the waaaaaaay, this ain't really anything new. Remember, it was clergy who conspired with an accommodating secularist and ignorant laity, Greek synonym being idiotes, to murder Jesus."
He asked, "But what about lay leaders? Don't they have any responsibility for what's gone wrong?"
Response: "Shepherds don't follow sheep! One of the great bastardizations of the leadership charisma in too many of today's churches is thinking/acting as if everybody's called to undershepherding in allegiance to the Good Shepherd and that anybody's word is as good as anybody else's word or any subject. It's like Macleod always told us, 'I'm going to have a layman preach on Layman's Sunday when they have Layman's Sunday at Mt. Sinai Hospital and I get to do brain surgery!' Barth said, 'It's not a matter of whether one wants to preach. It's whether one can.' Frankly, designations and wall hangings mean nothing. Vanities! John Robertson once told me, 'Too many clergy separate themselves from God by degrees.' I know people who have no degrees or designations or wall hangings who are much better preachers and gospelers and disciplers than the ones wearing those fancy robes sporting fancy titles that Jesus didn't like either. So, yeah, I blame it on the clergy more than anybody else. Read Matthew 23 for more on that!"
He asked, "You've been quoted for years as saying you will not leave 'one stinking denomination for another stinking denomination.' But isn't there something that could push you over the top and cause you to join one that, maybe, stinks less than yours?"
Response: "While I may be wrong, I think I'll be forced out first for not affirming or accommodating or paying for and participating in their apostasies; or, at least, not looking the other way. And if you've been reading anything that I've written over three decades, you know I'm up with that in the Biblical tradition of remaining faithfully a la Hamilton and Luther and Bonhoeffer and...Jesus! I've written and said enough about that. If you don't get it by now, either you're really thick or don't wanna get it. But, yeah, if I'm not forced out but they make it mandatory for me to pay for and participate in anything that contradicts Christianity as personified in Jesus, prescribed in Holy Scripture, and upheld by over 2K years of Biblical, confessional, constitutional, traditional, historical, and common sense Christianity, I'll just ask our leadership and membership to ignore 'em, network with other parts of the faithful remnant, and pray and try to be faithful to Jesus by the book. No splash. No dash. Just, uh, praying and trying to be faithful. But I sure as heaven won't exchange one set of ecclesiastical chains for another set; especially 'cause the old denominational wineskin's dead anyway. I remember Tony telling me back in the..."
Really, it's not that complicated.
It's only hard to figure out what it means to follow Lord and Savior Jesus by the book if you don't really wanna follow Jesus by the book but wanna make it seem like you're following Jesus by the book by making up stuff that kinda seems like it might be somewhere near Jesus by the...
Getting back to Eugene, I remember sitting next to him on his back porch at Flathead Lake in Montana and thinking, "He is a man of primary source."
That's why he breathes truth.
That's why he breathes common sense.
That's why he breathes...Jesus.
He just explains what's there in Jesus by the book.
He doesn't make up stuff apart from Jesus by the book.
That's why he keeps saying it's simple.
That's why he's not into reams and reams and reams of paper/overtures/declarations trying to explain what's in the book.
All ya gotta do is read the book...over and over and over and...until ya get it/Him.
I may be wrong, and I am always eager to be corrected and will confess publicly and pray and try to repent fully, but I am convinced, until proven otherwise, that all of this denominational talk - elating or exiting or remaining - is symptomatic of the disease of just not following Jesus by the book.
No meetings after meetings after meetings after...
Just Jesus by the book.
Sooooooo as long as I have the freedom to follow Jesus by the book and not waste my time on..., I'm remaining, with prayers and energies, faithfully.
If that freedom is taken away from me, I'll be forced out or...
So far so...
Blessings and Love!