Friday, May 27, 2005

Revisiting the "Church of Me"

I was reading a recent issue of Time magazine (May 23) and many of the editorial letters were about the selection of the new pope, with a number of them critical of the Catholic church for picking a pope so out of touch with the liberal members of his flock.

Now, I'm no apologist for the Catholic church. But many of the doctrines these liberal Catholics want changed are the same doctrines that separate liberal and conservative Protestant churches, and I cannot stomach their arguments.

The first problem I have is that these people don't seem to understand the way doctrine is supposed to work. We read the Bible and allow the words, given to us by God, to dictate our doctrine. We do not develop the ideas we like and then read them back into scriptures. Why is this distinction important? Because one of the major complaints of the liberals is that the conservative churches need to conform to "modernity," to cast off the old doctrines that are not relevant to the people and the times, to abandon a spirituality that does not reflect the new relative morality.

The problem, though, is that the Bible supports none of these ideas! "Enlightened" ideas about abortion, stem-cell research, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity . . . Biblical principles reject these things. You can't just change the Bible because you don't like it. Paul wrote about these people who follow doctrines which "tickle the ears." Of course we want to move away from Biblical morality. Real morality is hard, because mankind isn't moral. But that doesn't mean lowering the standard . . . as if that were even an option.

The next problem is that these guys just don't seem to understand the purpose of the Church. Many of the letter writers in times say that the Catholic church would see a lot of growth and the return of its liberal parishoners if the church would simply acquiesce to their doctrinal demands. This is not as much of a problem in Protestant churches, as most people will simply leave the conservative denominations for a liberal one. However, denominations that are locked in battles to determine which one they are, the United Methodist Church for example, do apply.

"Church" is not about getting people to sit in the pews. The goal is not to just get people in the door. It's not like it's a social club, and the church with the most members gets bragging rights (and tithe money). The responsibility of the Church is to spread the message of the Gospel, tell the world about the salvation offered by God through Christ, and to live obediently to the Lord while doing so.

That means that it's not good enough to just get people in the door. That also means that altering doctrine to get people in the door is also unacceptable. If the doctrine changes, then the Gospel being preached is a false one. If the doctrines are altered, then we are not being faithful to God in serving Him.

I'm wrapping this up with this: God doesn't change just because we want Him to. In fact, He doesn't change period. The liberal "Christians" (in parentheses because this is often questionable) in this world would do well to note this.

No comments: