Far worse things than closed churches
THERE ARE far worse things than closed churches. The far deeper problem is not dwindling attendance, but the loss of the heart of the Gospel among those that do attend…. I have found that people – in general, in the churches – do not understand what the central message of Christianity is. And so there’s a vacuum at the very core of the Church’s existence, and that affects the whole church, no matter how much one congregation might be an exemption.
There are other messages that masquerade as the real thing and those other messages are more insidious than you might think, because on the surface, they sound more friendly, more inclusive. This mindset has affected our whole culture – including Canada – and it’s becoming more difficult to understand the difference between general spirituality and biblical Christianity.
It’s interesting to see how much this has taken hold in the Church. Spirituality is thought to be more inclusive than Christianity, so people have become a little bit afraid of a robust Gospel. I have a dear Christian friend in Rhode Island, who wrote me of her distress that people in her church don’t want to hear too much about the specificity of Jesus Christ – what we scholarly types call the “scandal of particularity” – because they think it might make someone feel excluded.
Well, yes, it might make someone feel that way. It all depends on how it is presented.
What we need to remember is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ, when fully understood, is infinitely more inclusive than any “spiritual” program.
The Revd Fleming Rutledge, sermon preached at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, Toronto, November 1, 2015.