Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What do the churches need to repent of?

Thinking about how Christians need to fast and pray and repent for the sake of America I was trying to determine what the main sins of the churches are -- where we should start. There are plenty of problems with America at large of course, but how much of it should be laid at the door of the churches? In a sense all of them, I believe, simply because a strong Bible-based and Spirit-led church utterly dependent on God would have prevented them from happening. I'm assuming the failure started with the church back somewhere but I don't know how to locate that point. The Deism of our Founders perhaps? The Higher Criticism that infected so many in the middle of the 19th century? Well, the churches that succumbed to that are now utterly apostate, denying the full inspiration and authority of the Bible, allowing women pastors, treating homosexuality as a normal expression rather than a sin, even having homosexual pastors. And that's just the start of it. Whole church denominations are given over to some false doctrine or another and if this isn't the Great Apostasy predicted in scripture it's hard to imagine what that would look like. There is also an amazing trend of supposedly Protestant churches treating Romanism as a true church.

But I'd like to think more about the specific sins of the churches that are still good churches, that still adhere to Biblical inerrancy for instance, that teach the true gospel of salvation by faith alone through grace alone.

Even in those churches you may hear teaching that is very soft on divorce and remarriage for instance. Studies have determined that Christians are divorced in the same proportions as the rest of the society, even possibly greater proportions. We hear these statistics and they make us sad but does anybody stop to think that this has to be because the churches themselves aren't upholding Biblical teaching on divorce and remarriage? I've thought this for some time but hardly ever hear this preached against. I found one good discussion of the problem BY A ROMAN CATHOLIC (can't find the link right now, hope I can track it down). I had to agree with him. Too bad. The Catholics do get some things right biblically which is a terrible indictment of the Protestant and nonCatholic churches.

I know of churches that are more or less Bible believing and true to the gospel that nevertheless have divorced/remarried pastors and elders and deacons, which seems to me to be clearly in violation of scripture, specifically Jesus' own teaching on the subject. Seems to me if God should bless such a church with revival He'd have to begin by convicting them of this violation and the only way it could be properly dealt with would be pretty inconvenient to put it mildly. The Israelites who had married foreign women in the time of Ezra, and even had children by them, were put through the wrenching experience of separating from them because their marriages were a violation of God's word in that case too. Sometimes repentance and restitution are messy.

But if churches want to be in God's favor, if we want revival, something like this is going to have to happen. I'm going to have to find that link and get into the specifics of this, but it does seem to me that if Christians would simply pray and honestly seek God's will instead of "leaning to our own understanding" it would be revealed to them directly, they would be personally convicted of sin in these matters and wouldn't need to hear a lot of sermons on it. Of course if they've been hearing permissive sermons that support them in their sin then they are trained in resisting the Holy Spirit for starters, and may not even listen to a contrary view of the scripture anyway.

Another issue that continues to strike me as a violation in the churches is the abandonment of the requirement for women to cover our heads in the assembly. My study of this completely convinced me that the vast majority of the churches are in violation of scripture on this point, and this is also a matter that I think an honest and protracted seeking of God's will would resolve. Not to cover our heads is to violate God's creation ordinance of man as the image of God and woman as the glory of man. In the churches this means that the glory of man is allowed to compete with the glory of Christ. This is one practice that ought to be simple and straightforward that has been made unnecessarily complicated because people just don't want to have to do this.

It ought to be clear enough from the fact that on the basis of the same scripture that calls for a woman to cover her head in church a man is required to uncover his, and we enforce that part of the directive while ignoring the other. It's not about women having long hair either because there was never a time when women did NOT wear their hair long until very recently, so Paul would have had no reason to exhort them to wear it long.

Those two issues, divorce/remarriage and the head covering, are where it seems to me the churches need to start the process of repentance.

(Not that I think it's going to happen, of course, I'm afraid I'm pretty sure that America is going to be destroyed by God's judgments because the churches will not rally to our calling, but nevertheless I hold out a small hope that I'm wrong.)

A couple of end times messages

Most recent radio talk by Brannon Howse of Worldview Weekend. This is part 2 of some revelations about Newt Gingrich's far-from-conservative politics, and he goes on to talk about how all the current crop of unacceptable Republican candidates are part of God's judgment on the nation.

Most recent email from Jan Markell of Understanding the Times: A pastor's analysis of the deterioration of Christian culture as seen in comparing the recent Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster with the Titanic disaster. The Titanic sank in an era of Christian culture that taught even unbelievers to put the weak before the strong. But on the Costa Concordia we have behavior that even barbarians would have been ashamed of -- "every man for himself" with big strong men shoving aside women and children to save themselves.

"Survival of the fittest" in action. The Man of Indomitable Will, the Antichrist, who disdains all weakness, doth slouch to Bethlehem to be born very very soon.