Commenting on a comment about McMurray Church Kids

listening

A few days [weeks? eep!] I wrote a post about a conversation with a kid in my town who attends a certain Church in the area. As they had been attending a while, I asked them some questions about their faith. The premise is simple; Christians should know the basics of their faith. I wasn’t expecting them to wax eloquent on the virtues of supralapsarianism soteriology, but they should know what the gospel is, right?

If they were indeed saved, then that means that Christ took them from darkness to light, ripped out their heart of stone and put in a heart of flesh. They went from being slaves to sin, to slaves of Christ.  Salvation is more than giving these lost souls a new change in perspective or a new outlook on life. You’re not just offering them a new god to believe in, or a few suggestions so that they might have a more fulfilling life, or even granting them validation to live a life of contented moral deism. Instead, real repentance and faith in Christ is a radical restructuring of their existence. It is the crumbling of their world and the rebuilding of a new and better one. It is the destruction of their previous worldview, the death of their spirit, and the regeneration of a new man. They are being ripped out of the life they thought they knew and are being born again.

To not understand this or be able to articulate this, even at its most basic level, is really, really troubling. If you can go through that whole process and not be able to even explain what role Jesus played it in you being saved, then something is terminally wrong. And for someone to supposedly experience this, and then not be able to tell anyone else anything about it, or be able to direct others to the freedom in Christ and the way of eternal life, is a damning indictment. It just is.

In light of my probing this question, I received this comment in the combox:

 “Its obvious you are trying to discourage the general public from attending this congregation. I am assuming you call yourself a Christian. In which case shouldn’t you be trying to witness to people not going about finding fault or do you think by doing this you are causing anyone to be saved. Pretending to be genuinely interested in someone’s opinion only to criticize them or their church openly is definely not Christian behavior! By the way this is a great church with people that love God.”

Speaking to you directly; I don’t think its obvious that I’m discouraging anyone from attending this congregation.  If I were, I would name the congregation publicly and tell people that very thing. Furthermore, because I am a Christian, I believe it is incumbent upon me to do so. I take my lead from these verses

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:  preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

It would seem that you have no tolerance for those who would do this, even though this is what we are called to do. Nor do you seemingly believe there is anything wrong with not knowing anything about the faith, or if it is wrong then we definitely don’t want to point that out, right?  It would be one thing for these kids to simply not know- which is terrible in and of itself, but its another thing to ignorantly tell people the exact opposite thing. In light of this shocking reality, for you to go on the offensive and rail about “not criticizing” is misplaced at best and destructive at worst. It is not loving at all, in the true sense of the word, and it ultimately demonstrates that you are the one who doesn’t care about these kids, even though I would hope that is not your intention.

Is this Church a good church? I think so. Because I have not said which Church it is, you have no way of knowing whether or not they are a great church.  I listen to their sermons every week and I usually see Christ exalted and worshiped, but that doesn’t always work itself down in the ways that it needs to. Something is amiss here  and somewhere something is breaking down. This is an inescapable fact. If the three Church kids I’ve encountered have have no idea even what they are talking about and can’t tell you what the gospel is or who Jesus is and what role he plays in salvation, or even how to be saved, after attending this Church for years and years, then their spiritual maturity is not a priority, and they are letting these kids down.

Can Fort McMurray congregants articulate the gospel and other basic tennants of our faith?

octopusjesus2

I wrote a post recently about my encounter with a local Church kid [two posts down]. I had the opportunity to speak to him about his faith and about the gospel, and he made a mess of things. In response to this story, one of my commenters wrote this

“The reality is that the MAJORITY of the adults that attend these Institutional Churches have no real understanding of the Gospel or the Cross.

I challenge any of your readers with this: Ask 5 grown adults in ANY Institutional Church, it wont matter what denomination it is, to clearly articulate and lay out for you the basics Tenants of the Faith.”

I think that’s a pretty bold challenge, and one I’ve often thought about. While we know that having an intellectual knowledge of Christian doctrines does not necessarily translate into having a love for God or of having a saved soul, it’s also true that having that intellectual understanding often is  a mark of a deep love for God and for his Word. I think it’s a sign of sanctification and maturity that people know at least the basics- otherwise what on earth are they being taught?

I wrote in a previous post “mush before milk before meat” that it seems that many churches will spend 10 weeks preaching on leadership, or 4 weeks on a sex series sermon, or 12 weeks on finances and 8 weeks on interpersonal relationships, all the while three quarters of their church members are theologically and doctrinally ignorant.

They can tell you all sorts of mystical, magical things about listening to the still, silent voice of God, but they have no conception of how to answer a basic apologetic question, like “where did we get the Bible from, how do we know it’s true, and who decided what books should be in it?”

They can probably tell you about the amazing way they felt during worship, and how God “showed up” this one time, but couldn’t tell you how the Old Testament relates to the New, couldn’t name a single church father, and couldn’t tell you anything about the first 400 years of Church history.

They can tell you about how to narcissistically insert themselves in the Biblical stories as if somehow these stories are about them, but they would run for their lives if asked to explain the Trinity, or God forbid offer even a basic refutation to the theistic challenges of a Muslim, Oneness Pentecostal, or a Jehovah witness.

They can tell you about the awesomeness of the latest books from Joel Osteen,  Joyce Meyers, and any other spiritual lunatic that comes around, but they can’t speak with authority on what the five solas [Fide, Gratie, Scriptura, Christus, Deo Gloria] are, why they matter, and how the relate to each other.

They can tell you about a lot of things, but can they articualte a clear presentation of the Gospel? And how many of them would not only not know, but rather would actively argue against fundamental Christian doctrines like the exclusivity of faith in Christ for salvation, issues of biblical sexuality, the nature of God, the nature of sin and mankind, and a host of other things? How many of them, when pressed, would reveal to have some really bizarre and idolatrous views of Christ and his work and his means?

Its a good question, and speaking from my experience alone, one worthy of deep thought and reflection.

That comment does reveal a pretty good question- namely how many pastors in the local Fort McMurray area would feel confident and comfortable that if they asked ten of their churchgoers five or six questions on very basic doctrinal issues, that their members would give clear, biblically sound responses? How much more so if we asked the teens?

If you’re not a pastor- how do you think your peers and the teens in your own church youth group would do?