In my writings I have identified many aspects of modern Christianity that fall short of what Christianity was meant to be. As I discovered these issues, I became very vocal about them and wrote articles like “A Call to Christianity”, “Why I Hesitate to be Called a Christian” and “Mass Exodus”. These articles were written partly because I was frustrated by my own contribution to the falsification of Christianity and partly because I was excited. I am excited because identifying an error is the first step to recovery, and I am desperate to recover what it means to be an authentic Christian. However, a solution to these issues has constantly eluded me. Pointing out an error is of little value, if you do not have a solution to present in it’s place. In this article I will identify another falsification and present a solution to the challenges that I have previously identified.
Many of the issues with modern Christianity appear to be the result of our culture’s influence, combined with formulaic religion. See the article “The Revolutions” for more on that. The falsification of Christianity, that I wish to identify in this article, also finds it’s origins in our culture. I want to be very clear at this point; I do not believe that our culture is inherently evil. I believe that God’s design is for his followers to be active in their culture, but we are not to allow the culture to influence the supernatural principles that God put into place (John 17:14-19). Falsifications of Christianity are difficult to identify because they attach themselves to good, Godly principles like hard work, dedication and sacrifice. As a result, we are more apt to defend the falsification, even when it is clearly lacking supernatural power. See more on that here. This is why the religious people of Jesus’ day refused to see the truth. They had allowed the Jewish/Roman culture to influence their view of God, and when Jesus showed up he did not match the expectation. Their expectations were not bad, they were very logical. A king should look like “X” and deliver us from “Y”. The expectations work in a physical world, but they fall short in a supernatural world.
Now let’s examine the falsification in question. It is not inherently evil, I would even argue that it is a gift from God. Additionally, it is the foundation of our culture. It is entrepreneurship. America was built by people who harnessed the entrepreneurial spirit, so it should not come as a surprise that it has been adopted by Christians in our culture. Have you ever wondered why two churches, that teach the same message, can have vastly different sized congregations and community impact? That is because they are built by the skill of different entrepreneurs. The church’s success is not based upon supernatural principles, that were designed and communicated by God, they are based on a leader’s entrepreneurial abilities. Those abilities vary by person and are a gift from God, but they are miss-applied in establishing a biblical, authentic church. You cannot birth a supernatural kingdom, using tools/gifts that are intended for the non-supernatural world. When it comes to church, we have put the cart before the horse. Books and knowledgeable people have told us what our churches, and church leadership, should look like and we have rushed to make cookie cutter representations of it.
Here is one example: When an American pastor decides to start a church, Sunday school is a given component. Almost as if it was a Biblical mandate, no one even questions the need for Sunday school or why we do it. A little research shows us that Sunday school, in the United States, was started in the 1790’s (see wiki article: Sunday School), by Samuel Slater. Slater is better known as “The Father of the American Industrial Revolution”. Can you see what I am talking about? The staple of establishing a church was brought to us by the man known for formulaic, entrepreneurial efficiency. As a result, Sunday School is inseparable from Christian gatherings today and if God ever wanted to do anything different, he would be out of luck! This example is just one of many areas where formulaic religion has been applied.
If you now find yourself attempting to defend the concept of Sunday School, you have missed my point. This is not a commentary on the ills or advantages of Sunday School, I am simply using the example to illustrate that American Christians rely on formulaic religious “norms” when establishing God’s work. Instead of hearing the voice of God for our unique calling, we are willing to rely on accepted religious gurus, books and programs and credit God as the author. As a result, we have churches that are built on the principles of entrepreneurship, not on God’s specific, supernatural principles. These institutions are not completely ineffective. They educate people about God and encourage good works through group therapy, much like the religious temples of Jesus’ time, but they lack the supernatural power to turn their world upside down.
I am not advocating that we take away our gatherings, it is Biblical to gather together. The solution that I am presenting is that we scrap the models, guru advice, leadership books and accepted Christian “norms”, in favor of a return to one simple thing: Hearing God’s voice.
As followers of Christ the clear, specific direction of God should be as common as breathing. We have allowed that level of relationship with God to devolve into well established, mindless formulas, that lack power and supernatural substance. See the article “Power Failure”. If you are not content with a form of Godliness that denies the power of God, I encourage you to put all of your focus on ensuring that you can hear God’s voice and are willing to obey, regardless of what culture (religious or otherwise) tells you. It is the only solution that has a Biblical track record of adding to the kingdom of God.