Saturday, February 28, 2009

Maybe we're the apostate church?

This blog is really a record of changes I've been going through. I'm going through a period in which all sorts of things that feel wrong to me, that have bothered me for some time at some barely-conscious level, are coming to consciousness and I'm willing now to argue the point. The question in my last post about living on credit is just one of the latest.

As I say in my Profile I started out at the beginning of 2007 seeking the Lord and through that seeking being led back to a concern I had dropped a few years previous to that, about the question of whether women should cover our heads in church. That was the one that started it all. I'd dropped it because I'd discovered hostility to it -- specifically a jocular mocking of the idea as a few of the women pranced around coquettishly wearing hats for a while, including the pastor's wife (I'd discussed it with him earlier but not with her). After that I rationalized dropping it as being too much of a disturbance to make an issue of it. But some things SHOULD cause a disturbance. Not that it should come from me personally. (Or maybe it should if there's nobody else. I'll have to pray about that more.)

Some two and a half years later, though, at the beginning of 2007, I was clearly convicted of it and had to begin covering my own head at least, no matter what. I also did a thorough study of the question in order to be able to defend the idea to people, covered all the material available to me including a recommendation by my pastor, found many good articles on it on the internet. I started wearing a simple little beret type hat to church, pretty inconspicuous (and not really quite what the Bible requires either, but a beginning compromise since shocking people with anything more than that is clearly not going to be productive), but again found myself frozen out by the women, mostly polite nonresponse but again with some subtle mocking behavior. Six months later I left that church anyway, for a number of reasons, some of them doctrinal. At first it was accidental: For a while I was without a ride to church. I kept letting it slide and then all my disagreements with them started adding up too. I believe it's the best church around here, nevertheless, the best preaching anyway, on most subjects, and the Lord may yet have me go back.

More recently I got involved in the Bible versions question, which I've covered at perhaps tedious length on this blog already. That was also an issue for me some years before that I'd also dropped -- also because it made me the lone defender of an unpopular idea among the Christians I know, coward that I am. On this subject I find myself almost just as much at odds with the King James defenders as with the multiple-version Westcott and Hort defenders. I guess that's because I'm really a Textus-Receptus defender more than a King James-only defender. But I'd like to see the King James preserved as far as possible for a variety of reasons. On this subject it seems even the best churches and best teachers in my opinion are completely given over to the multiple translations and I probably have even less of a chance of convincing anyone I know of this than of the head covering.

Back at the beginning of 2007 I also started pursuing the question why we aren't having revival in the churches, whether we could still, and how it might happen if the Lord would permit it. Time is getting short it seems, things are looking a lot like we're winding down to the Very End. Many signs of it as I discussed early on in this blog. Really wanting to know why we aren't having revival in such a time as this led me into thoughts about how perhaps the churches are simply too far out of God's will by now for Him to be willing to send us a true revival. Perhaps the women's head covering matters more than anyone wants to think? The last major revivals I'm aware of, a century or so ago, were in churches where women still wore something on their heads. I doubt that could be the only reason we aren't having revival now, of course, but after studying it I can't think it's unimportant. It's a creation-based command of God, it concerns his government for his creation, it involves respect for his order in this universe.

As for other reasons, well, even in the conservative churches you'll find Jesus' teaching on divorce and remarriage compromised. He said, and Paul confirmed it, that there's no reason for divorce except sexual unfaithfulness and no reason at all for remarriage ever, after divorce that is; it's only legitimate if the first spouse has died. None of this was a point of contention a hundred years ago. I've heard it argued that if scripture grants an exception for divorce an exception is granted also thereby for remarriage, but I'm not yet convinced. For one thing it is NEVER stated anywhere that remarriage is permitted. Not that it can't be forgiven once it has been committed ignorantly.

Along with all this compromised teaching in the conservative churches as a reason God might not give us revival, there are plenty of fake revivals going on too, and a real danger that the majority of lukewarm Christians could be drawn into the counterfeits even by a serious seeking for true revival. This is a real possibility because there is so little genuine spiritual discernment among Christians, and because we've all sat under this compromised teaching I'm talking about. Somehow or other the whole church, at least the whole church in the West, is out of step with the Lord. How far out of step? How deep is the problem?

We conservative Christians are used to being able to point to churches we recognize as apostate, all the "liberal" churches that outright deny certain Biblical commands and precepts, on homosexuality for instance. But is it possible that the apostasy is actually closer to home?

One thing that bothers me quite a bit, though I feel bad saying it because it seems so innocent in a way, is all the light sentimental and jokey emails I get from Christian friends. It's just not a Christian tone. I'm also lately getting particularly bothered by the political focus of so many of them -- and I've contributed to that myself. Where is the church that was to be a light to the world? We're just acting like the world. Where is the power? Where is our awareness of the glorious Kingdom and our Lord of glory? Where is the radical self-denial we're supposed to be living? I have to say that I do not see this in ANY church or ANY Christian I've ever known, certainly including myself.

A subject I want to talk about in a blog or two after this is some helpful websites I've discovered and especially what I've learned about the practices of the first couple centuries of Christians. THEY lived what Jesus taught in a way we simply do not. They lived true self-denial, true love of the brethren, true separation from the world in a way that has become sadly foreign to Christians today, sadly and certainly including me.