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The Resurgence the Political Church:
or How The Mighty Have Fallen (Again)

by Wayne Mayfield


In a survey released on 2/25/08 (www.pewforum.org/survey) the world was shaken to learn what many of us who are doing ground roots ministry already knew: the pulpits of the orthodox protestant churches have socialized themselves into being nothing more than the same as passive religions like Hindu and Buddhism to religious followers. Who would have foretold this day!

Another fact that seemed interesting is the movement in congregations from church to church among all but the Baptist and Catholic churches. This church hopping is no longer a small group but extremely exaggerated in the last 20 years. This brings to light some interesting probabilities. I think we have to look at why these two groups of Christians seem to hold their congregations locally.

One of the possibilities could be in the structure or method by which each enriches their believers to realize and seek a deep relationship with the church (as a cohesive family) and a true sense of belonging as a member in the body of Christ. For a long time Protestant churches did one of two things to decry the Catholic Church. The first was the established authority that kept pace with change without surrendering a constant line that waivers not in the face of political correctness though considered out of step by independents claiming to be in step with the real Christian times . Too often the Catholic Church was vehemently attacked as being too old fashioned, out of sync, and too ritualistic. Find me one Protestant who hasn't said or heard this!

The same has been often said about the Baptist Church. As with the Catholic Church, when change was truly needed, it came - conservatively: such intention and care, realistic and intuitive considerations of change that in the end, though often slow coming, did come with relative sanity.

These two churches offered what others don't recognize seriously enough, it is the politics of the church that determines the security of its believers, not politics of the world around them invading the church. One could say these attitudes of care to the believer are rudiments of faith demanding a position that truly sets us apart from man and his political agenda.

Letís be clear on this point: politics as defined by Leo Strauss, when scholar in residence in Santť Fe, New Mexico, taught his students politics is the act of relationship between people that effects others by their choices and is therefore the great science of man and history. This seems apt enough for us to understand we are not talking social politics that has effect on governmental function and has the power to change a populace under a national declaration. Yet, we are surely talking about the politics Paul spoke of when he said we are a peculiar people, in this world but not of this world. Paul recognized the different 'kingdoms' and dynamics conjunctive with understanding we were politically involved according to Leo Strauss's definition with the world around us. Our politic was never meant to be subservient to the politic of society or governing bodies who move intentionally against the ruler of the Highest Supreme Court of the Heavens and He who has absolute authority against what society wants, thinks, and feels.

What does that mean on the ground floor? We must ultimately choose to not be spin doctors with the gospel. And we don't surrender principles by spinning around social issues relative to our duty bound principles nor surrender to the cause of comfort and acceptance. Nor should we promise possessions of the world or the power afforded to appease human nature to do 'what feels good' or is pleasurable: i.e. looking good for the appearance of goodliness to ease our conscience for failing to follow what we claim to know and believe.

Goodliness is not Godliness. To many pastors this goodliness appears the path of righteousness that is acceptable for this time and since God loves all, better than a person unruffled in their becoming aware of the possibility they may have to choose or flee the flock, or finally face they may never really found the true salvation afforded them by grace. Jesus did not condemn not having salvation but rather the claim of possessing the truth and playing politics while commanding the followers to do what they could not. This is the very essence we see unfolding today. If it was wrong for the Pharisees, how much more for us the enlightened ones.

Our second issue for consideration is the people of the pulpit are the 'family of God' parent and as such will at times face a rabble of discomfort in their congregation (love will dissolve this!). As that parent we must have orderly times of family unity that is similar to 'time to get up, time to eat, time to go to school, and time to celebrate our family unity by those special things we do together that is about our being a 'family.' But, all this can not remove the cause of mindful discipline at any time and true wisdom that allows each person to feel in touch with the God they serve and the family they belong to under His father-ship.

These bonds were part of the law before Christ came to us. Even He, when preparing to meet His chosen destiny, had the Passover feast with the twelve. This would serve to keep them not only cognizant of the sacraments of the last supper He gave them - it would unify them in life, faith, and to the church from generation to generation: a family called Christian. And quite frankly, most protestant churches do communion just once a month. Did our savior not say "every time" we meet (though Protestants non-orthodox claim He only meant at an appointed time and has nothing to do with coming together in faith)? (1)

Many of the churches meet on the appointed day, walk through the ritual, bad mouth churches who observe the 'family' traditions as religionist bound by such acts and never realize they exemplify the very thing they gossip against while trying to not do as the orthodox groups.

The church groups that seem to remain strong are those weaving the fabric of consistency in traditions that bind the family (congregation) in a blanket of security. The traditions bring Christ to the forefront as the center of all truth and love. Even an earthly family who has problems can sit at a meal together to solidify their unity as family. Could it be that families that have become fragmented were taught this behavior as acceptable by example which is now a reflection of the church environments from which these households were influenced?

While these examples are illustrative, I must also caution there are other reasons we must consider in this breakdown in the steadfastness of members that is sadness among us. The amount of time directed to the good of the parishioners is reflected in the sense of community that reaches beyond the four walls of worship. If the church can't reach beyond the walls for the community in active faith, how can the church member believe the church is really there for them in their most needful times. And if that community outreach is not inclusive outside the walls of the church, how does a member have confidence it is inclusive within their faith community.

In the politics of church member must not feel that 'business as usual' only pauses for the largest contributor or the oldest members of the congregation having a higher political standing when it comes to the church meeting the needs of believers.

Because the human element is often lost within the dynamic of most churches, those leaving the Christian faith are finding solace within the confines of alternate, passive religions that feel to those people as though there abides more concern for them as a person than by appearance and condescending approval they left behind. More to the point, they don't feel the group expects more from them than the group is willing to expend to them and their needs.

We also have encouraged imagination as the power of the creative force within man being the same as Gods creative force and our creative force has become more important than the God of Life whose power to give us life and is why our ability exists to be creative. Yet, imagination left to socialize desire doesn't give us the ability to exercise our will with Gods. Most pulpits have presented the creative show of talent as worship of God. (2)

So we have created a show of worship but not the worship of the One who made a show of the fallen man and the pit. The power of worship to the Glory of God Himself is more than talents alone. Also, though, this can not excuse us from our utmost either nor be the medium we use or hold the family together with productions. We can get that much from TV and videos.

My third point is about our national position economically as a church that is becoming apparently very troublesome and reflects some things history has always pointed us to and should help us view concern this survey and on a bigger scale. Where it will point may not be pleasing for us as Christians or as Americans. But I think if we are to look wisely beyond our social politics and short term gratification, we will be like the wise virgins (bridesmaids) who were prepared and not caught off guard and received the honor of the bridegroom.

Since the cross, nothing has been so opposed to a worldly agenda of man as the active church and salvation. Nothing has cried out for the welfare of the human race as the measure placed upon us as God's greatest hope. NOTHING! This includes our economic welfare also. Sadly the church has taken this opposition and misused it to have inquisitions mass murder. Jews, Irish, and other groups have been slaughtered in the face of this misused power afforded the cross. Spain, England, Italy, Germany, and others have in the name of Godís authority misused their position and made null and void generations of progress and will surely answer for these teachings and intentional failures someday in eternity.

I defy any Christian or non-Christian historian to find one exception to what I'm about to say since the day of the cross to be false. (3) Christians will accuse me of empowering political beliefs about us as true. I am sure I will be branded as giving cause to those who have found Christianity as lacking in honorably following good will and truth in actions. But I did not write the history nor have the power to revise it as the scholastic community in America has taken liberty to do in educating our children.

Neither can I ignore the history that is truth. And in these times, can any of us afford to do so?

Early on money and the position of the church survival and its relationship to the community around it quickly entered into the history of the world and is very well noted in Acts and the Epistles. Even our Savior addressed these issues quite aggressively.

So this leads me to the place where I wonder how the same independent churches who are drawing large numbers of believers to their ranks warning of the second coming prophesies being fulfilled faster now than all the times past can in the next breath preach prosperity and building a hedge against the times to come with financial faith. Ninety percent of these teachers are living in houses 80 times bigger than they need while begging money for ministry. A good steward of finance would realize that all the money in the world means nothing when the financial systems fall. What a joke!

If you are a real Christian don't you have a promise of a hedge? A promise of rescue? Or are we just trying to hedge our bets with what is Gods anyway? And suppose it waits one more generation. Then these teachers become foolish even in their own eyes for all the good that could have been done.

Every time the churches of wealth have control, hunger abounds, plagues ravish the young and old alike, and war becomes a mandatory solution. God never made the church the financial power, but He did establish what their financial stature was to be used for - exactly. The church is not given the position of the one afforded to individuals concerning finance. Unlike the individual, the church does not have a base figure of ten percent, or twenty percent, but to give the greater majority. And, I'm sure you will be saddened to know, it isn't for bigger and better building or human self preservation unequally doled out. The church money is not for excess of comfort for itself. Supposedly, it is about the community without to have a place called refuge within. It is supposed to be for good will to all men, not good pleasure of the fattened lambs.

A friend of mine who has read this noted that Jesus gave more of Himself to the people not in ministry than he gave to those in ministry. How did the people of ministry think their position is greater and more deserving?

This leads me to one final thought: how come more of the people leaving these independent churches become agnostic or atheist. Could it be they are so mystified at the ministry because people just don't seem to be about the book they claim to follow? Could it be they realized the believer is induced to give to the gospel while their spiritual guides are ever fattening their position of prosperity as though they don't believe God will really rescue them (and maybe in some cases with cause) nor really believe He has a perfect plan for us. Perhaps God will make the prosperous hordes of wealth accountable for those whom they left laying in the grips of a terrorism called greed and selfishness. Soon, I'm afraid, we will see what Isaiah wrote about those who say they better (cars), bigger towers, more silver and gold because God really approves of them allows us to see clearly who lied the most and went beyond grace with little faith.

Conclusion

I hate to say this so bluntly but it seems it is the only way: he who quenches hope bruises the tender reed of the ones so loved by God and slap Him across the face for the willingness to suffer like us. And every human lost that was once a smoking flax of exuberance lost in the political smoke cloud of social acceptance may indeed be a testimony that will cast down the evil one and those as his deadly accomplices who looked so good.

Who will weep then for their lack and being as the bridesmaids who decided to 'eat, drink, and be merry?' This will surely reveal the depth of grace where we dare tread, you think?

To those given so much how can we excuse away giving the world so little hope, charity, and care? Perhaps this is why the facts in the survey are as they are. Perhaps this too is part of eschatology we have neglected.


(1) Consider the Great Holy Prayer in John 17: unity with God, unity in purpose and cause, and unity as a people. Communion serves to unite us to this cause more than any act we know except our salvation.

(2) Let me be clear here and make sure I'm not misunderstood. Excellence should be our 'our utmost for His highest.' What I do want to express to the pulpits across America is our excellence is not what brings His Presence but the heart of the believer that comes to Him in their faith.

(3) For those who want to go before the exceptional event of the cross, economist, as historians of financial trends, will tell you such models were also the same from region to economic region over all no matter the magnitude or lack of a larger magnitude, the basis applied even then.

The ancient Ebla (Tell Mardikh) archeological find allowed us to see a deeper view of 900 years of economics as recorded in the records held in the clay tablets recovered. We can not ignore such evidence dating us in the continuum of the historical economic failures and the impact of certain issues.


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