Skip to comments.Following the Truth: Empty Churches – Where Should We Draw The Line?
Posted on 06/12/2012 6:03:28 PM PDT by Salvation
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It has been said God created man in His own image, and we have been returning the favor ever since.
We have to remember to break out of the American mindset that bigger is better, that bigger proved we are doing something right.
We are commanded to preach the word, in season and out. If it is out of season our churches will diminish in size, in season churches will grow.
John 6:66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, Do you want to go away as well? 68 Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.Jesus preached hard topics, church shrinkage sermons if you will, why are we afraid to do the same?
**I’ve been to some churches where all they ever preach about is the gospel, as if they think nobody is saved yet or nothing else is important.**
Now this is unbelievable for me. Today is the Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, who is known as the evangelical doctor, because he preached ONLY on the GOSPELS. If a saint is honored for this, does your statement make any sense? Maybe that pastor was on to something.
“God the Father has abrogated the precept against images, having made a perfect image of his eternal Word”
If that was the case, then the Apostles would not have forbidden the eating of food offered to images. They didn’t forbid the eating of bread and wine in remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ however.
Yes and show me that God has abrogated the precept against images...show me where any of the scriptures say that!
**suffering and death of Christ**
For many who are suffering on earth, this is very important, for we can unite our suffering to Christ’s.
If a blind man or woman from birth, nevertheless comes to strong faith in Christ(Fanny Crosby the famed hymn writer is one), what “imagery” can such an one “relate” to?
When Christ healed one blind man, he did so in two stages...he first asked the man what he saw and the man replied...”I see men as trees walking” Christ touched the man again and he then saw normally. The man in question had never seen anything, so Christ had to impart wisdom so that that the man could relate to the world as a sighted man would see it apart from the touch and smell and hearing sensory derived mental symbolism he had developed to adapt to a world he could never see before.
That’s why optical imagery isn’t as important in the spiritual state of things...and why God laid down precepts against graven images...sometimes what you see can get in the way of true spiritual sight!
And I have seen people go up and touch the crucifix to venerate the image of Christ.
I did show you — twice. It’s not my fault you aren’t receiving it.
It’s clear you want to consider yourself bound by the Law. That’s a rejection of the Gospel, but I can’t stop you.
“It is a visual expression of the mystery of God’s Incarnation”
Of course for us Protestants this is the problem, believing as we do that visual representations of God are forbidden.
I just wanted to defend the purpose I think RC’s have of the crucifix, it is not a glorification of violence, and I am happy to defend RCs on that.
**Jesus preached hard topics, church shrinkage sermons if you will, why are we afraid to do the same?**
Good question. Hopefully more ministers and priests will not fear preaching on the difficult subjects — especially those dealing with eternal life vs. living in the m modern world.
**forbidden the eating of food offered to images**
This was an Old Testament rule, wasn’t it?
Not unless you're Judaizers. Mainstream protestantism has never harbored this objection.
“Not unless you’re Judaizers. Mainstream protestantism has never harbored this objection.”
A Judiazer? Hardly.
(I am not defending mainstream Protestantism, so-called, a 20th century abomination that has lesbians “pastoring churches” while they march for abortion rights. . .)
If you learn the history of the Reformation, you will learn that a big objection was against visual representations of God, particularly Jesus.
I hope a love of God’s moral law does not mean one is a Judiazer. A Judiazer, as far as I know, tries to teach that one must keep Jewish ceremonial law in order to be saved.
Idolatry, use of images in worship, and/or making images of God are against God’s moral law. They are not ceremonial laws.
In Catholic Churches, the Crucifix is accompanied by the Tabernacle, which holds the Body of Christ in the Eucharist, so we know Jesus is present. There is NEVER a time in Mass when we are not reminded that He is Risen, and is with us, ALWAYS.
Fanny Crosby who saw without seeing... while you are still stuck with “men as trees walking”! You’ve shown me nothing scripturally that supports your contention!
Yet we were talking about imagery that can be seen with the eye, even to be venerated by some....what imagery can a blind person cling to as a “reminder” of the faith? ( your words)
I’ve cited the example of Fanny Crosby, blind from six weeks, speaking of a different kind of “seeing” when she came to faith...there have been many others.
“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight, but no vision.” Helen Keller, herself a Christian embracing a career of service inspite of her handicaps!
Helen Keller was a fad-chasing celebrity loudmouth who reckoned her disabilities a license to lecture the world on the blessings of socialism, birth control, and Progressive Thought in general.
In parishes served by the Dominican order, the processional crucifix is carried with the “corpus” facing the priest — who presumably is going to preach. The idea is that seeing the crucified Lord he will be stirred to deeper meditation on the love of IHS.
A self-professed atheist friend who worships at the Episcopal parish near her home said to me, “Episcopalians are about the resurrection; Catholics are about the crucifixion.” I was stunned. I asked my bubba and sissie lay Dominicans, and we all were taken aback and said, “How can you distinguish them?”
Among Cat’licks the period from the evening of Thursday of Holy Week to the Evening of Easter Sunday is all the “Triduum Sacrum” — the Three Holy Days. And I think of it, really, as one big, long service with time out to sleep, eat, go potty, etc. And the church starts vested in festal array for Maundy Thursday, then is stripped for Friday and daytime Saturday.
Then festal decorations are prepared but not put out. At the Vigil the church is in nearly utter darkness as we hear readings of Man's fall and God's gracious response before the Incarnation.
Then there is a great fanfare and ringing of every bell in the place as people appear with flowers for the altar and various other areas, the altar is draped in festal cloths, candles are lit, and a huge banner is unfurled which proclaims “Worthy is The Lamb.”
And before all that, in between what one might call the “proper services” there are devotions of various kinds. So, as I say, for those able to be there for the whole thing it's just one long “trip.”
So while I can see that some might easily separate the two, it's hard for us to do so conceptually. And if the cross sometimes seems more prominent, it's a trick of foreshortening. After all, we are carrying our crosses,as instructed, so they are closer and sometimes seem bigger than the celestial city.
The question had been raised in the Early Church what to do with the new gentile believers who were not of the circumcision, (should they circumcised?...what of the jewish laws should they be made to follow?). There was a great storm of controversey as a certain “judaizer” sect arose that argued that the new Gentile believers should be circumcised and be made to follow Jewish customs. It was argued most strongly that the Gentile believers were saved under the laws of Christ’s grace and not be subject to the old Mosaic laws that the Jews themselves could not in reality keep!
The Gentiles were told to avoid fornication and avoid idol worship and food served with its blood....”If ye do that, ye shall do well!” They were told. (Paul in a later epistles argued against the consumption of food offered up to idols as well especially if it made weaker members of the faith to stumble in the manner of idol worship). Otherwise the Gentiles were to follow all the tenents of Christ and teachings of the apostles that Christ had delivered to them. All things were lawful but not all things were expediate they were cautioned and in truth a follower of Christ in terms of behavior and orientation to the world would not be that much different to that of observat Jews.
The only real written compendium of scriptures were the old testament but newly explained via the laws’ fullfillment in the person of Jesus Christ and the witness of the Holy Spirit in the new believers’ hearts. God had promised that in the latter days he would write his laws not on tablets of stone but hearts of flesh via the outpouring of his spirit on all flesh.
What I'm talking about, and it isn't surprising that a Catholic would misunderstand, is that "preaching the Gospel" means telling the plan of salvation and nothing else. It would be like you went to church and Sunday after Sunday the only thing the preacher talked about was how Jesus died on the cross for our sins and you believe in Him, receive Him as Savior and you are saved. There's nothing wrong with speaking the truth but if this was the only thing the preacher EVER spoke of, the congregation would never grow beyond in their faith. He would never learn about the plan God has for our lives, how he wants us to live in holiness and that we are indwelled with the Holy Spirit who gives us the power to overcome sin in our lives and grow in our faith. What Paul called the "meat" of the word. The REST of what the Bible teaches.
I realize that for many Catholics, the "gospel" means Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - the books in the Bible known as the Gospel according to... But what I'm talking about is the "Gospel", the good news that Christ died for our sins, was raised for our justification and by believing in Him, we have eternal life. Is that more clear?
I'm glad to hear that. I was going by some articles I've read as well as people talking about it. Probably a few were even comedians and TV shows. From the link http://www.planetizen.com/node/11375 I read:
An in-depth look at Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit that - home to the second largest Arab population outside the Middle East - some call "America's Muslim capital."
Dearborn is a microcosm of the Middle East planted in the Midwestern United States. The roughly 40,000 Arab Americans of Dearborn (out of 100,000 total residents) defy the myth many Americans hold of a unified Muslim world. While there are some radical Islamists, Dearborns growing Muslim population runs the gamut from international traders to educated professionals to local business owners. Every Arab nationality and religious sect is found in Dearborn, from Yemeni traditionalists to secular modernists.
Like I said, I was just going by what I have heard and the terms Detroitistan and Dearbornistan were used to describe the effect the Muslims are having on cities that are past their heyday and are being changed into microcosms of Arab countries. The WASPs moved out and the Muslims moved in. But whenever you get tired of the cold, you are more than welcome to relocate to Charlotte, it's beautiful here!
Extremely well said! Thank you.
The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God and the Call to Conversion started with Jesus Christ, though. And HIS words are in the Gospels, although Paul quotes him quite regularly. But the direct quotes are in the Gospels.
Of course then Jesus sent out the 12, and then the 72 and eventually we have the reading from the last chapter of Matthew as Christ is about to ascend into heaven — go out to all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
I understand you calling the entire Bible, the good news, but I still like to think of the Gospels as the words and deeds of Jesus Christ.
God bless you.
Just some general observations. One of the black baptist churches in our neighborhood has a WONDERFUL Xmas carol service. They did a silent night you would not believe! And at the end the pastor said something like, “We’re Baptists, and this is what we do,”and then gave a very nice “invitation.” Who am I to cavil at the traditions of another Christian fellowship?
When I preached, ... heck, in the pulpit in the “practice chapel” at seminary there was a big sign: “Woe is me if I preach not the gospel.” So when I preached I made very nearly every sermon “evangelical” in structure and in main message. I thought then and I think now that there’s a kind of double aspect to ‘accepting Christ.” In one sense, there’s that moment (summer of 1971 for me) when you say, “OH! You LOVE me! Amazing! Include me IN!”
But then in another sense, it seems to me when things get tense or our enemy conducts an especially wily attack we find that though we SAID, “Be Lord of my life and of all that I have and am!” we’re actually holding out — in ways of which we are scarcely aware.
SO, I guess you could say my sermons were like, “Here’s another aspect of our lives in which we need to hear of the saving love of God, and here’s what he proclaims to us. to that part of us that’s still holding out.”
I still think that I mess up (sin) the most when I forget the Love of God in XP IHS and all that he is for me AND thee gift of the Spirit. So I don’t mind being reminded in season and out of season.
“Sermon” may mean ‘teaching,” but “preaching” means “proclaiming.” So I guess a good sermon has a little teaching and a little news in it. That’s how I think of it anyway.
I believe you must have been a very well-liked pastor. What I am trying to get across here, and don't seem to be successful with a few, is NOT that the Gospel (the plan of salvation) has no place in a Sunday sermon - of course it does. What I experienced (only one or two pastors) was using that same sermon EVERY Sunday. Not as part of the sermon - which I think it SHOULD be always proclaimed - but THE sermon being the same, repetitive thing. Believers - once they ARE believers - need to learn the meat of the word of God and I think you will agree, the Christian life entails a lot more after a person comes to saving faith than before.
So, yes, "Woe is me if I preach not the Gospel", but woe is my flock if they learn nothing BUT the Gospel. And, again, when I say "Gospel", I am not speaking of the life and words of our Savior as told in the gospels of Matthew,Mark, Luke and John, but the "good news" that Christ has come to save us from our sins.
I sure hope you guys are comfortable because you've really touched on a nerve here.
I get precisely what you are saying BB.I sat in church for years hearing pretty much the same sermons over and over.There was the odd sermon that really hit it out the park if you were inclinded to chew on what was being said but so many had folks checking their watches.Well,I sat there checking my watch to but a lot of the time it was out of a sort of frustration.Almost every time I sat and read God's Word I could not help shaking my head at the memory of a statement I read years ago about church."Church is a very dangerous place and the Bible itself is dynamite.Ushers should issue helmets and the pews should be fitted with safety belts!"
I believed that.I couldn't help it.After all,if the Bible,the Creator's message to those He created in His own image actually is what it claims to be,then we actually have in our posession a bonifide extra-terrestrial artefact.Who could not,or would not,be awestruck at that thought? This was and is awesome in the truest sense of the word.Yet here we sit yawning and checking watches as if all this is no big deal.
"Believers - once they ARE believers - need to learn the meat of the word of God..."
I came to the impression that the major problem was that if a person was sat in church they were assumed to be a believer.Yet Jesus said the "work of God is this,that ye believe..." Believing is obviously work,it's not something we are naturally inclined to do.Not where Jesus Christ is concerned anyway.In fact we are 'naturally' inclined in the opposite direction to Him.So to say "once they are believers" ends up giving an impression that that part ie:believing is done.I know you know that bb I'm just trying to make a point.
The Word tells us "faith cometh by hearing" and I think that that applies to everybody to some degree.I also think that if faith (trust) comes by hearing then it follows that what is heard the most is trusted the most.Not always simply trusting with the mind but that much deeper trust that resides in our hearts (that we do not fully know).The kind of deep faith in things that effects the way we think and that gives us the context in which we view reality.
Folks were hearing God's Word about twenty minutes a week and the words of the prince of the power of the air about fifty hours a week.As long as the two aren't brought side by side then all will be peace and quiet and no sparks will fly.
The few times I was invited to give a sermon I could think of little else but trying to help them believe.I wanted to try and convince them,to persuade them that what they believed about God and eternity was actually true.Not that this was a wonderfull story,not that it was a beautifull belief or a usefull peacefull religion but that it was cold hard reality wether we believed it or not.
It seemed to me that once a person grapsed that,they wouldn't need much coaxing to "work out their own salvation with fear and trembling" and would come to church chomping at the bit for meat.Well fed and armed against the countless hours of godless babble the world will dish up week after week.
" What I am trying to get across here....is NOT that the Gospel (the plan of salvation) has no place in a Sunday sermon - of course it does"
However if that is all that is ever preached it ends up being perceived as a sort of placebo against what is happening all around us every day in a world that is becoming less pretty by the hour.Not to mention more hostile to christianity.To my mind FWIW,helping believers believe is building each other up in Christ.Helping folks to be "persuaded that He is able" helping them to make their election and calling sure so that they will NEVER fall! Because in spite of hearing the gospel week in and week out,it seems many are indeed going to fall away.
Sorry it's all over the place but I'm sure you get my drift.
"I believe you must have been a very well-liked pastor"
You both are.
God bless you
I am not a pastor but the few times I can remember when I was asked to speak (to women's groups) in the early years after Bible College, I admit that I did not do my due diligence. Part of it was not knowing how and part was, to my shame, fear and laziness. I think I would do a much better job now because with age comes wisdom (hopefully) as well as I have a lot more life experience WITH the Lord to be able to relate to others. These forums are GOOD practice and I pray every day that my words do at least some small good in others lives and that, above all, Christ is glorified. I may not be able to preach before a congregation, but I CAN speak the truth of the Gospel to all those God brings my way. On that, we ALL can, and are, called to do.
I hope you have a blessed night! Thank you again for your input.
"Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?" (Matthew 24:45)
Considering the season Jesus is talking about He appears to be saying blessed is that servant that when I come,he is telling the church,He's coming! That's about as 'due' as a season gets!
One of the reasons I'm a lay Dominican is that the principles of the order were what I had been doing anyway. Prayer and study should be the well from which preaching issues. I especially like what BB says about "words that are custom made for the ears in attendance that very day." I did recycle a couple of sermons a couple of times but I found that if I did not "live through it" again in preparation, the whole thing went flat somehow.
So whether it be some Catholic pastor's recycled sermon on whatever, or some evangelical's recycled sermon on "God's plan of salvation," to the extent that it is not "news" to the preacher, it will not be news to his hearers. It won't be a proclamation, it'll be little more exciting than the manual on maintaining a bicycle -- not utterly useless but not something to die, or to live, for.
I had what you might call a very "high" doctrine of preaching. I agree with mitch5501 that Scripture is uniquely transcendent. I would add that the preacher is then kind of an ambassador bringing word from that transcendent world. He must show how the journey and his time there have changed and are changing him and his life.
He has to spend time with the book and with its author! And he has to do that with his "flock" in his heart. He has to present himself, "warts and all," to God and then to his people.
This doesn't mean the sermon should be all about him. On the contrary! But I think as we put on the headlamp and clamber and crawl into the cave in whose deepest corners we find a new encounter with God, we are also at our closest to one another, united in Him as we are.
"Church is a very dangerous place and the Bible itself is dynamite.Ushers should issue helmets and the pews should be fitted with safety belts!"
I would add that if half of what we Catholics say about the sacraments, and especially about the Mass, is true, that same thrill and fear, that same very real danger pervades the entire Sunday morning (or whenever) experience. We should understand the very real possibility of an earthquake rending veils, shaking pillars, casting down the tall and proud mighty.
What mitch5501 says about the assumption that one's hearers are believers is also deadly, and his words about the work of belief are spiritually wise. If we may compare the moment when we finally "get it" for the first time with an ice pick piercing our frozen hearts, then for the rest of our days we must hope and pray that that initial fissure will spread through the entire block until the whole cold heart is shattered.
This is high-falutin' stuff. Maybe part of the duty of the flock is to hold their preacher responsible to this great work, and then to try to support him (cut down on the bickering about the sanctuary flowers, etc. and the whispering about how his wife keeps house) so that he is enabled to quit recycling and telling tales of old journeys and to resume the study and prayer which are integral to solid preaching.
Here endeth the rant.
I think it was in the Diocletian persecution that "all" that was asked of Christians was that they put a pinch of incense in a brazier before an image of the emperor. They didn't have to "mean" it, they just had to do it. And many refused and were martyred.
I read a review recently of "For Greater Glory," in which the reviewer was astonished and even horrified that Christian viewers approved of the young boy's preferring a painful death to a verbal renunciation of IHS.
And I know even Catholics who think the fuss about the HHS mandate is much ado about nothing. Why not? They're going to get the abortion, the salpingectomy, the vasectomy, the Norplant anyway. Why make a fuss? Go along; get along; continue the good work of hospital and university.
But I see in the apostate Sebelius and in BHO the seeds of a new persecution, a new winnowing, like that of Gideon's army.
The long term effect of that will be, I think, to fill the pews again. When freedom, livelihood, and even life is on the line, preaching will be renewed and the faithful will catch fire.
Oh you don’t know how much I would LOVE to move to Charlotte!!!!!
I think you may be right.
We were the Yellow Life Balloon people at our HHS rally. I can’t tell you the amount of people coming up to us who knew little about the issue. They got a very intelligent explanation from some informed young people. Many were blown away by the kids. And I think hearts were converted.
God will use us as He can and what looks bad, may in the end be a very good thing.
(my 12-year-old danced with the counter-protestors. She held her own and I was very proud)
Good for your daughter!
We had a few clueless (seemingly) counter-protestors. I was MC so I made them welcome and explained that we were there as much to protect their rights to voice their disagreement with us as our right to act in accordance with conscience.
A few people said they seemed to be impressed when they understood what we were about.
Where are your “after action” pictures?!?
Here is a local blog with a few photos.
That's me looking like an idiot (it's a studied look, I've worked very hard on it) with a newsie who had a good sense of humor. Awesome picture of His Luminosity Father Commander Joseph Rosario Scordo, OP, USN (ret.) (I call him "Luminosity"; he calls me "Dawg-boy") and cute picture of the real big cheese who is also the prexident of our chapter of lay 'Minicans.
Luckily, no one got a picture of me. But here's one of our Crusaders for Life chanting for the Antis. My baby(!) is the long haired blonde in the front. She took a sign and went right out with them. They left not long after.
Mad Dawg — Putting the DUGH in Duhminican since 2012