Just Criticism or Bashing?

One of the current fads seems to be church bashing. Or is it just (as in, fair and balanced) criticism?

Bashing or criticizing, whichever we decide it to be, has shown up in non-fiction, magazines, blogs, fiction. Some people say they are fed up with the church and opt to “drop out” of formalized religion. They are followers of Jesus, they say, and evidently that exempts them from “doing church.”

Curious, because I thought church was who we were, not what we did. Seems like I remember the Apostle Paul writing an analogy about the church and the body. We aren’t all feet, he said, because how could we then see? And we take special care of those who are weak.

Is that what’s happening when Christians hurl vindictive comments at the “failed institution”?

Let’s admit, the church is filled with sinners. Forgiven, yes. And in need of forgiveness. One of the sins we commit is pride, certainly, a particularly egregious sin the drop outs point to. You’ll find no argument from me. Pride is egregious. The church has prideful people. I know because I’m one.

But doesn’t that mean that we are the ones in need of special care? Care, in the form of loving confrontation and encouragement and forgiveness and counsel and discipleship and prayer. How can drop outs minister to those in the greatest need if they are out, not in? if they don’t know the needs of their weaker brothers and sisters? if they aren’t around to model humility as they imitate Christ?

Which makes me wonder if the criticism leveled at the church isn’t actually bashing. When was the last time you railed against your hand for dropping something? Or against your toe for stubbing itself on the end table. Well, idiot, you wouldn’t be throbbing in pain right now if you didn’t stick out so far or if you’d only LOOK where you were going. Why don’t you grow a pair of eyes, for goodness sake!

Interestingly, Paul, in I Thessalonians, calls the Christians he was writing to, “brethren beloved by God.” How would that phrase fit in with the criticism of the church today? Brethren beloved by God, I can’t stand what you’re doing on Sunday morning. Your formal worship is a mockery of what God intended. Your evangelistic efforts are cheesy. You don’t do half as much as you should to help the needy. Why don’t you get out of your safe little bubble you’ve created for yourself, brethren beloved by God?

How would that strike someone coming from a person on the outside?

Honestly, it reminds me a lot of the criticisms leveled against Christian fiction by readers who admit they haven’t read Christian fiction. In order to join the conversation, don’t you first have to be a part of the reading audience? Or the church-goers?

A final observation. It’s amazing how a person in Florida or St. Louis or Phoenix can make a judgment about the Church universal. I’ve read, for example, the church is doing the worst job of evangelizing in the history of the world! Do people who make these kinds of statements know what’s going on in Colorado or Illinois or Georgia, let alone what’s happening in China or Kenya or Bolivia?

So a person has a bad experience in church. Maybe in several churches. Do these experiences then override the counsel of Scripture and give a person the right to stop assembling with other believers? And if an individual stops assembling with other believers, is he giving just criticism of the body he’s left, or is he bashing his brothers and sisters when they need him most?

What are your thoughts?

Published in: on October 27, 2009 at 5:02 pm  Comments (4)  
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