We Are Witnessing the Death of the Influence of the American Church.
America's Churches Have a Lot in Common With This Picture
We are without excuse.
Georg Hegel (1770 - 1831), a German philosopher whose approach to life was "the rational alone is real" made an interesting observation concerning mankind's inability to learn from history.
"What experience and history teaches us is this - that people and governments never have learned anything from history or acted on principles deduced from it."
There have been six major empires that dominated most of the histories of our Western civilization: Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman. All of these came to a demise and there were great similarities within their societies towards the end of their dominance upon the world scene.
- Rise of the attitude of hedonism, pleasure at any cost, including homosexuality.
- Purloining the language by changing the definitions of certain words from the original meaning in order to serve their current selfish agendas.
- The rich got richer and the poor got poorer; the poor became extremely ostracized within their society; a plague, you might say.
- Violence within their societies among their own became beyond the government's ability to control.
Gaius Cornelius Tacitus
Perspectives from a Historians Viewpoint
Gaius Tacitus (56 - 117), a Roman senator and historian who wrote of Jesus, Pilate and the crucifixion in his last work, The Annals, circa 116, book 15, chapter 44, made an interesting observation concerning current Roman society in his work, The Agricola and The Germania,
"Step by step they were led to things which dispose to vice, the lounge, the bath, the elegant banquet. All this in their ignorance they called civilization, when it was but a part of their servitude."
Katlyn Charlesworth (While Rome Burned), "In an empire as unruly as Rome, it is quite easy to get away with something as thespian as murder."
Max Barry (Lexicon), "All empires fall, eventually. But why? It is not for lack of power. In fact, it seems to be quite the opposite. Their power lulls them into comfort. They become undisciplined."
Edward Rutherfurd (New York), "All empires become arrogant. It is their nature."
Paul Kriwaczek, (Babylon: Mesopotamia And The Birth Of Civilization) "Assyria soon discovered a painful truth: empires are like Ponzi schemes: financial frauds in which previous investors are paid returns out of new investor's deposits." He goes on to add that holding on to power now requires looting and tribute from new sources. Sound familiar?
What does this have to do with the Church?
A Biblical Lesson - Sodom & Gomorrah
A Biblical Lesson From Sodom and Gormorrah
A Lesson From Genesis
Ask a thousand "church" goers why Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God and I believe that the majority of their answers would be for the sin of homosexuality. They would be wrong and I am sad to say that the sin problem that swept them away are seemingly just as prevalent within many of our churches today. In Ezekiel 16:49-50, God let us know exactly what was the root of their grievous sin problem; murder and vice are just the symptoms of an even deeper problem cleverly masked in what we would call today civilization or the American dream. Four deadly attributes:
- Pride - It goes before destruction, Proverbs 16:18; God hates a proud look, Proverbs 6:17 Ever notice how so many groups identify their belief or movement with the word pride? Pride is the opposite of the person of Christ and is a stench to the Father.
- Fullness of bread - In other words, wealth or the lack of need. Do you not know that God has chosen the poor of this world to rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom...? James 2:5 The love of money....etc., you know that every evil can be found with this curse at its root.
- Abundance of idleness - I like a quote by Lord Chesterfield, "Idleness is the holiday of fools." As Tacitus put it, idleness does not just lead one to seeking pleasure but a form of bondage, an addiction that will never end with what this world has to offer except in death. It seems that the news is constantly filled with the idle rich dying due to excess and the thrill seekers number finally coming up. Fools, everyone.
- Neither did she (Sodom) strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. Jesus told us the poor shall always be with us, yet the U.N. arrogantly announces that they have a target date to eradicate world poverty. Don't hold your breath. Isn't it amazing that in this country with all of the social programs being put in place, the ranks of those who fall below the poverty level have grown substantially with no end in sight.
The outcome of these fatal four was that Sodom became haughty (put themselves above others) and committed abominations before God to whom they are to give an account. They placed themselves above the laws of God, denied the Creator and became servants of the gods of pleasure and vice.
Romans 1:22-32 "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools...wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness...and served the creation...and did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman...as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge....Being filled with all unrighteousness … envy, murder....haters of God … without natural affection...unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them."
Violence is product of the disease of pride, wealth, pleasure seeking and its inherent distain of the poor. As James 4:2 puts it: "...ye kill, and desire to have and cannot obtain." The poor desire wealth and the rich desire more: it is something that will never be satisfied outside of a personal relationship with Christ.
The Judgment Seat of Christ
The Church and its Dangerous Problem
The American church is facing a major dilemma and if we look closely, that which led to the destruction of Sodom is well entrenched in much of our "churchliness" which we foolishly play on our worldly stage.
- Pride - The arrogance being proliferated by our seminaries as they produce little professors that are now armed to be the trained leadership. We parishioners have fallen into the trap that they alone know best and we must leave the work of the church in the hands of those duly educated. Strangely, the Word states that a pastor is a gift to a body of believers with a sole purpose of equipping the saints to do the work of the Gospel. We idly sit by and wonder why our churches at times flounder: it is because the majority has chosen allow another to usurp our Spirit given talents, thereby limiting our effectiveness. When it comes to the ever looming mega-churches, it is the leadership that have become stars within the world of American Christendom. It is a sad fad to sit under this massive money making enterprise that has made many of the stars of the show very well-to-do in their own right. They are crowd drawers and pleasers but yet they actually know very few of their members and are known to guard their privacy. This does not sound very Christ like. What do you think happens to these large edifices when the star attraction falls or leaves for better and higher aspirations? I have witnessed this disturbing spectacle.
- Wealth - Wealth changes a person and the leadership is no more immune than I. Too many who supposedly preach the Gospel have become wealthy and have even adapted their ministry's message and method to fit their income level within the community in which they serve. Leadership knows who are the big givers and will try to protect that relationship by preaching around something that might offended the wrong hearer. We need to also consider how much of the local assembly's funds stay within the church's purview; again usurping the laic portion of the assembly in meeting more needs within their community as a witness for Christ. A deacon's fund should the largest fund held by any congregation, for the needs of its own should come first, also as a witness for the Gospel. "They will knows us by our love for one another."
- Idleness - Too many pastors pull a book off of the shelf and with a few personal touches here and there, voila - a new series of messages for his church crowd. We are to honor those who are diligent in the Word, not in Christian psychology (oxymoron), precepts of money investing nor in a 12-step process to a better healthier life. The real crime lies within the congregation as we sit by and let someone else do our work. Every one of us has a gift for use within the body but yet we are more interested in fun pursuits while the world around is dying and going to hell. Remember, he who does not work does not eat.
- Deaf ears to poverty - Our mantra: we gave our 10% to our church; we have fulfilled our duty. He who sees his brother in need and does nothing, how does the love of Christ abide in him? Sadly, I have met non-Christians who are more ready to help those in need than those who claim the name of Jesus. I believe on this one point alone, more of us will be judged as falling far short of what is required; this will be evidenced by wood, hay and stubble on the day the Bride is made clean.
I believe that a shaking of the Western Church is coming soon, so..."that which cannot be shaken shall remain." So many of our problems today are that we have become a social club where anyone can come and hang out; old or young. We have pandered to this mentality and our assemblies have become weak and unprofitable. God is going to put a great need within our hearts for Him and one another, something that has been missing for far too long. Do not be deceived, whatever you sow, you shall reap whether it be good or evil. May God bless!