10 reasons to [not] attend church

I found this post by Kurt Onken today at the Wittenberg Trail, and thought it was worth referencing.

The socially-palatable, seeker over-sensitive church has no future.  This may appear to some to show that Christianity is losing ground.  However, I disagree. I think Christianity has already lost ground in many churches.  This is why people like the Internet Monk talk about the coming collapse of the evangelical church.

It’s time to take it back.

America’s Christian heritage

While I’m not a big supporter of the “America’s a Christian nation” thing, I do believe that the United States was indeed heavily influenced by Christian principles, and that historically, the so-called “separation of church and state” was never meant to exclude religion – even Christianity – from public life.  James Robertson has re-posted from J.Grant Swank From MichNews.com an interesting collection of quotes from many of our founding fathers that deserve to be read.  (You can go to the site to read Swank’s editorial comments, which I will not post here):

President George Washington wrote a prayer addressed to “O most glorious God, in Jesus Christ” and ended it with this: “Let me live according to those holy rules which thou hast this day prescribed in Thy Holy Word. Direct me to the true object, Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life. Bless O Lord all the people of this land.”

President Thomas Jefferson: “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis — a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

President James Madison: “Religion is the basis and foundation of government. We have staked the whole future of American civilization not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”

President Andrew Jackson: “I nightly offer up my prayers to the throne of grace for the health and safety of you all, and that we ought all to rely with confidence on the promise of our dear Redeemer, and give Him our hearts. This is all He requires and all that we can do, and if we sincerely do this, we are sure of salvation through His atonement.”

Patrick Henry: “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, property, and freedom of worship here.”

President Abraham Lincoln: “The ways of God are mysterious and profound beyond all comprehension. ‘Who by searching can find Him out?’ God only knows the issue of this business. He has destroyed nations from the map of history for their sins. Nevertheless, my hopes prevail generally above my fears for our Republic. The times are dark, the spirits of ruin are abroad in all their power, and the mercy of God alone can save us.”

President Grover Cleveland: “All must admit that the reception of the teachings of Christ results in the purist patriotism, in the most scrupulous fidelity to public trust, and in the best type of citizenship.”

President Woodrow Wilson: “America was born a Christian nation. America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of the Holy Scriptures.”

President Dwight Eisenhower: “Without God, there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Begin is the first — the most basic — expression of Americanism. Thus, the founding fathers of America saw it, and thus With God’s help, it will continue to be.”

Many of us, both liberal and conservative, seem to have forgotten our foundation and have forgotten what it really means to be a Christian.   Maybe President Obama should take a few moments to read these quotes, and perhaps he’ll remember how it was that he got where he is.

What do you mean, “Christianity isn’t about making me happy”

“I was quite shocked…that most people thought the reason for Christianity is to make you happy. I shared that with the youth worker at my congregation…as I told him about that I invited him to bring the high school students to my class because I was expressing things about the faith and that particular Sunday I was going to talk about the Creed. So the youth came and they participated a little bit…when they went back to their own class they voted whether to come to my class anymore, and they voted not to, because they didn’t want to learn the substance of faith.

I was very disappointed, and I asked about what they were doing in their junior high class to prepare them for high school class. There they were doing “How Christianity helps us grow up.” But it was matters of “I need comfort when I break up with my boyfriend.” There’s more to Christianity than how its going to make you happy… Young people have very little doctrinal content. And that’s dangerous because, if it’s just feelings that hold them to Christianity, when their feelings aren’t there…they’ll move away .”  – Dr. Marva Dawn from The White Horse Inn, 8-24-08

Thanks to Charles St-Onge for the quote.

This issue has been plaguing me for some time now. One of the issues that gave rise to the Reformation was the theological and Biblical ignorance of the Roman Church, including the leaders. Many of the local priests didn’t even understand the Latin that they recited daily from memory. Today, as “educated” as we are, with an amazing plethora of resources available for free on the internet, the contemporary evangelical church is largely ignorant. And, they apparently want to stay that way, even many of the leaders. I’ve heard from more than one pastor that they don’t have time to read or study (aside from what they have to do to prepare sermons, etc.). More and more sermons are on the level expressed above, “where do I find comfort when I break up with my boyfriend?”

It’s embarrassing, and it’s frightening. I’m putting my son, who’s a high school senior, though a self-study theology program (called “The Theology Program“), so at least he’s got some kind of foundation. He’s not getting it in the youth group. Fortunately, my wife and I taught 3 years of Jr High and High School classes (my wife has taught for longer) where we provided basic theology, but still, it was nothing like the education I had growing up. As a Lutheran in Confirmation class, I learned church history as well as basic theology, including the meaning of the creeds, and so on. It takes a church, not just one person.

Who cares, today?  I don’t think the church we’ve been attending does.  Churches today are offering more practical, “meaningful” topics to attract people to their classes. It’s not about education, it’s about marketing, experience and entertainment. It’s time for a new Western evangelical reformation, and the emerging movement isn’t it. Cultural relevance isn’t it.

The church needs to rediscover the Gospel, that Jesus is Lord (king) and that he’s got a plan. We’re not just here wasting time waiting to be taken away to some Heaven-Nirvana. We’re called (remember “calling?”) to a purpose, to start working for the Kingdom here and now.

To those waiting to hear the next “feel-good” sermon about what’s in it for you, this is what I have to say: “Suck it up. Wake up. Get over it.” Certainly there are benefits for you in the process; Christianity is a religion of “enlightened self-interest.” But recall the Bible talks about working out your salvation. That’s not working for your salvation, that’s putting your salvation to work.

Welcome to the New Reformation.

The good, the bad, and the just plain weird

It’s music day at the ol’ blog, with three musical numbers to brighten your day. I’ll leave it to you to decide which is the good, the bad, and the just plain weird.

First, a little ditty from Quixote that would probably fall under my “Letter to a Christian Nation” heading.

Next, I’ll send you over to Dr. Winn for two Christmas tunes that are at the very least, out of the ordinary. One is a rather original rendition of “O Holy Night” that brought back memories of what used to be called “special music” in my hometown Lutheran church. The other tune is my family’s favorite rendition of “Blue Christmas.”

Enjoy! (or at least, experience…)