Friday, October 15, 2010

What's wrong with today's "Christianity" -- so-called?

Here are some quotes I found online of authors discussing the present condition of the traditional religious structure of Christianity --- so-called:

“How did the lessons of history vanish so quickly? When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire , the bishop moved his seat from among the people to the altar. It became the place of honor, power … and later the throne. Then gradually the clergy even removed worship from the people and kept it for themselves … while the people watch. Later, the Reformation merely exchanged the priest for a minister and put a sermon in the place of communion. Then, the rest of history simply supported these distortions. The Enlightenment turned preaching into worship, and modern management turned preachers into executives. Today, too many priests of Christendom wear Brooks Brother’s suits.” Thomas Hohstadt from “Dying to Live – The 21st Century Church.”

“As the Church Fathers attempted to cope with the various pagan philosophies that threatened the church from without and the heresies that were popping up with within, they resorted to establishing a hierarchical structure as their solution. “Hierarchy” comes from two Greek words meaning, “rule by priest.” Thus, in doing this, Church Fathers neatly and permanently divided God’s people into two castes: laity and clergy. We have lived with this caste system ever since, even though the Bible teaches otherwise.” Jim Petersen from “Church Without Walls.”

“Twentieth century Christians must re-learn the language of Scripture with respect to church. For the original meaning of countless Biblical terms like “church, “minister,” “pastor,” “house of God,” “ ministry,” and “fellowship” have been largely lost, thus eroding the landscape of the New Testament assembly. What is more, these words have been invested with institutional power – a power that was foreign to those who originally penned them in the Bible. Consequently, a pressing need in the church today is the rediscovery of Biblical language.” Frank A. Viola from “Rethinking the Wineskin.”

“Events in the history of the churches in the time of the Apostles have been selected and recorded in the Book of Acts in such a way to provide a permanent pattern for the churches. Departure from this pattern has had disastrous consequences, and all revival and restoration have been due to some return to the pattern and principles contained in the Scriptures.” E. H. Broadbent from “The Pilgrim Church .”

“Church history is rife with examples demonstrating how virtually every past renewal has been hampered because the new wine has been routinely repackaged into old wineskins. By the old wineskin, I mean those traditional church practices that are patterned after the old Judaic religious system that separated God’s people into two separate classes, required the presence of human mediators, and laid stress on outward form and ritual. The facets of the old wineskin are many: the clergy/laity distinction, the spectator-performer styled church meeting, the singe-pastor system, the program-driven worship service, the passive priesthood, the edifice-complex, etc.” Frank A. Viola from “Rethinking the Wineskin.”

“Lewis Black: ‘You know, you go into a church, where it’s like a vacuum. Where’s the place were you can’t possibly find Him? It would be in a church, apparently. It’s like they’ve done everything they can to create a space where you have no sense of Him being around.”

“Interviewer: ‘So, the church has blocked God out?’

“Lewis Black: ‘The church has created a space for itself like and area that’s a vacuum where God can’t enter because nothing there is really supporting His existence. That’s the way I’ve always felt when I’ve ended up in a temple or a church. Except for in Italy where you kind of go, ‘Oh, boy, they’ve really put a lot of money into this.’” From “The Door – July/August 1999”

“Where in the New Testament do you find a man – the same man – who (1) preaches every Sunday, (2) marries people, (3) brings a message over a corpse, (4) then buries it with a prayer, (5) visits old ladies, (6) says prayers over football games, (7) CEO’s a church, (8) presides over elders and deacons, (9) is virtually always in a dress suit, (10) speaks strangely and prays funny, (11) baptizes new converts, (12) and whose office and all the above practices are supposed to be based solidly on the Word of god and found in Scripture.” Gene Edwards in “Beyond Radical.”

“Unfortunately, in most church services the leadership will create something every meeting. In our culture this is one of the things we pay leadership to do. With or without God, we will have our meeting. If we consider all the fundamental, Spirit-filled, evangelical, historical, and catholic churches in our country alone, do you know how many services there are on any given Sunday? Maybe millions. How many do you think God attends? What is your criteria for evaluating? They preach, pray, take communion, and do good works. That is good, but we can do all that without God. Millions and millions do.” David Fitzpatrick from “Let My People Go.”

“The church has been brought into the same value system as the world: fame, success, materialism, and celebrity. We watch the leading churches and the leading Christians for our cues. We want to emulate the best-known preachers with the biggest sanctuaries and the grandest edifices. Preoccupation with these values has perverted the church’s message.” Chuck Colson from “Loving God.”

“One reason there are so few shepherd elders or good church elderships is that, generally speaking, men are spiritually lazy. Spiritual laziness is an enormous problem in the Christian community. Spiritual laziness is a major reason why most churches never establish Biblical eldership. Men are more than willing to let someone else fulfill their spiritual responsibilities, whether it be their wives, the clergy, or church professionals.” Alexander Strauch from “Biblical Eldership.”

“The early church possessed no buildings and carried on its work for a great many years without erecting any. This fact has something significant to teach us concerning the character of the church.” Ernest Loosley from “When the Church Was Very Young.”

“We evangelicals today make the money changers (in the Gospels) look like bungling amateurs the way we have turned faith into products to be sold in the marketplace. The use of television marketing styles and so on is incredibly uncritical and profoundly worldly.” Os Guiness from “Eternity.”

“This is not church (referring to the Sunday morning meeting where he was speaking). Church is a 24 hour/7 day thing. We should be able to prophesy just as good Tuesday afternoon as on Sunday morning. We should be sensitive to the Holy Spirit at all times during the week. It is abiding in the Lord…” Rick Joyner from “Tape of the Month Message for May, 1997.”

“We can plan a new wineskin, but if we still intend to control the people, we will face great conflict. God is interested in new wineskins, but He is also breaking the control spirit. I believe the Lord is saying, ‘Let my people go,’ not just for ‘one day or two days’ like Pharaoh did – a little release, a little expression, but ultimately still under his control – but let them go to be obedient to God, to do all that God has prepared for them to do and to bless them as they go.” David Fitzpatrick from “Let My People God.”

“The hallmark of authentic evangelicalism is not the uncritical repetition of old traditions, but the willingness to submit every tradition, however ancient, to fresh Biblical scrutiny and, if necessary, reform.” John Stott

“The congregational church can be defined as plot plus building plus priest plus salary plus programs.” Wolfgang Simson from “Houses that Change the World.”

“I never cease to marvel at the surprise expressed by many church people upon learning that every congregation in the New Testament was a house church!” Del Birkey from “The House Church .”

“Once the prophetic was discredited, Christ came to be regarded as far away, and the clergy were conceived of as having His affairs in their hands, and doing His work on earth though the Sacraments. This led to the exaltation of the ministers of the Church.” A. M. Renwick from “The Story of the Church.”

“Although men played the dominant role in ancient societies, Paul’s approach to authority was flexible enough to allow women to share in the oversight of the churches in their homes. ( Rom. 16:3-16; Phil. 1-2)” Robert and Julia Banks from “The Church Come Home.”

“It is a sad plight today that many, many times God’s people are ‘gathered together’ as a lot of material and ‘spiritual stones’ but never assembled or ‘build together’ as a house for the Lord, a habitation for His glory.” Kevin Connor from “The Church in the New Testament.”

“May He deliver us from our American corporation mentality which has turned local churches into hierarchical machines, power structures, and passive priesthoods, all supporting the unbiblical notion of a clergy-laity class system.” Frank Viola from “Rethinking the Wineskin.”

“Nothing has turned off this generation more than people who use Christianity to play political power games for the exaltation of their own ego and charge the poor for it.” Wayne Jacobsen from “The Naked Church.”