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Thursday, February 18, 2010
The New York Times has a sad article about mainline (read: theologically liberal) churches in the American Northwest that have turned to environmentalism as a last ditch attempt to stave off the impending closure of their doors. It makes sense that they would turn to another religion to postpone the end; they abandoned Christianity long ago, but they've finally found a new god to worship: Gaia. This sentence says it all:
“I’ve never been good at door-to-door evangelism,” said Deb Conklin, the pastor {emphasis mine} at Liberty Park United Methodist Church in Spokane, Wash., where an aging and shrinking congregation of about 20 people worships on Sundays. “But this has been so fun. Everybody wants to talk to you. It’s exciting. It’s ministry.”
Thank God that only through Christ can a church remain alive. These churches will die, and good riddance.


Chris A said...

I just thought of a perfect movie quote to describe this "ministry". It comes from Napoleon Dynamite.

"Might as well do somethin' while you're doin' nothin'."

- Uncle Rico

Darius said...


Luke C. said...

Not all churches or pastors "going green" are mainline or dying:

Darius said...

Well, if they aren't dying yet, they will soon enough.

While it is difficult to determine a church's grasp of the Gospel by their website, it does appear that the Ann Arbor Vineyard one seems a bit "seeker-sensitive" to me. In fact, the pastor said as much in one of his sermons: "We pastors want happy churches filled with satisfied customers." Really?!? That pastor has no grasp on what Christianity is about if that's what his focus is on. Speaking of sermons, I skimmed through several of his "Judge Not" sermons and found them to be significantly wanting in Biblical principles. He takes Scripture and twists it and forms it to what he wants it to say. Very poor exegesis.

The Gospel "once delivered" seems to be a distant and fading memory at that church... making the environment one of their idols is just the most recent step toward outright apostasy. Apostasy is almost always gradual.

Chris A said...

I don't want to comment on anyone's particular church, but I will say that I think churches should approach political involvement very carefully. Many churches are simply deceived by political propaganda, and they pass that on to their congregations as if it were the gospel truth.

This works both ways, and is not simply a liberal thing. Conservatives have done the exact same thing, and I could provide many shameful examples of this.

One very popular conservative American preacher allowed his television show to be used as a vehicle for a smear campaign against President Clinton that was riddled with lies. When it became apparent that much of the documentary was untrue, he tried to absolve himself from any responsibility. These things reflect very poorly on the reputation of the Church.

Darius said...

That is a good comment, Chris. Christians on both sides of the political make the mistake of putting hope in politics. Liberals tend to do it more since it is inherent to their ideology that more government is a good thing. But conservatives do it as well.

Which is why Christians need to be clear that politics is no more a cure-all than anything else in this life beyond Christ. What it does offer is ONE method to helping people... in my conservative opinion, by keeping government small and people's freedoms large. The Church needs to jealously protect its responsibility to care for the needy and destitute rather than willingly turn over that job to a government who doesn't have God's glory in mind or an efficient way to dispense care to those who need it. Politics IS important, but no more important than caring for the single mom down the street (in most cases, it's less important on the individual level, since we affect the political world much less than we can affect the life of that single mom).

To vote poorly and unwisely is a sin, but no greater a sin than, say, lying. Some people tend to forget this and thus demonize those on the other side as terrible sinners when they are just being foolish. On the other hand, politics IS informed by our worldview, and the worldview makes the person. If you don't have a Biblical worldview, it will show itself in your politics, but usually also in your personal life. Furthermore, ideas have consequences and anything you do to promote an ungodly political worldview could have repercussions, at least among your family and friends.

Christians should speak against the idea that America is "the last great hope of mankind" or at least keep that statement in perfect balance with the truth that Jesus is the ONLY hope of mankind. One can say that America is currently the only political entity that offers political hope, but only as far as that hope realizes that it isn't ultimately America who offers it but God.

Chris A said...

The only thing I might substantively differ with you on is the idea that liberals rely more on government than do conservatives. In theory, the liberals would do so more, but in practice, I think its pretty much the same across the board.

When I saw the Republican National Convention in 2008, I thought I was witnessing the most cultic political event of my life. People get caught up in this kind of frenzy until it takes on a metaphysical kind of strength that is like mass hypnosis, everyone shouting these empty brainless slogans. It really is nothing new, but for some reason it just seemed very over-the-top to me, more so than usual - and I've watched these things the better part of my life.

I noticed the exact same phenomenon with Obama, but it was actually more intense. Women were passing out like it was the Beatles or Elvis, and then when he was inaugurated...dude! It was like he was a cult leader! It was so bizarre and troubling to watch. It actually made me kind of sick. You could almost see these people being sucked into this black hole.
Like I said, its nothing new, but either my awareness of it is heightened or desperation is causing people to give themselves over to this sort of thing.

Certainly no one has reached the heights of Obama-like charisma in recent times. Actually I think Clinton possessed greater charisma, but somehow Obama's appeal seems to be much more strong and deceptive. Obama is a freaking brand name!

But if the Republicans could manufacture someone with as much charisma as Obama, I'd be willing to bet you'd have a similar phenomenon on the right. They're looking for someone Reagan-esque I think. Romney tried to play the part, but he's too much of a Stepford politician.

There I go getting way off the topic again...

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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

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