A Sydney radio station; HopeFM, broadcasts a sermon from Reverend Manchester of St Thomas Anglican Church North Sydney each Sunday following the 0800 news bulletin. The sermons are always spiritually nourishing. My household hears our second sermon for the day at a local mid-morning church service.
Last Sunday morning, Reverend Manchester made an interesting observation about how there is a wave of unbelief sweeping the world. He spoke of how the world has turned from gospel truths to accept worldly lies. With all due respect Reverend Manchester added little by making such an observation in that many have recognised that the world is in a post-truth state. Moreso, many have identified how the world is very good at selling lies. However, Reverend Manchester did valuably add to the conversation by mention of how the wave of unbelief is also affecting the church. Not pulling any punches, Reverend Manchester suggested that the wave of unbelief had not just affected congregations, but also clergy.
Reverend Manchester’s observation was a small component part of a message germane the day’s subject text from the book of Acts. He made his observation and purposefully moved on. As such Reverend Manchester did not offer any examples of how the wave of unbelief is affecting the church. I was left to speculate on examples. I recall that Dietrich Bonhoeffer in The Cost of Discipleship rallied against cheap grace. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship (a form of unbelief in that one is not heeding the whole biblical message). I speculate on some possible examples of unbelief affecting the church here:
Examples of the church following worldly form:
- Homosexuality: that the Bible is contorted to suit people’s sexuality and lifestyles (as considered in this post),
- Homosexuality: that the Bible can be used to justify appointment of clergy in same-sex relationships (as considered in this post),
- Homosexuality: that clergy can swop camps (as considered in this post albeit that the gentlemen, at odds with senior clerics, supports his position based on his interpretation of Biblical truths).
Examples of the church allowing other form:
- Muslim teaching: a Muslim being permitted to teach in a Christian cathedral from the Koran that: 'Allah can have no son' insists Surah 19 of the Koran. The teaching repudiates a creedal concept of the Christian faith.
Examples of the church behaving badly:
- Child sexual abuse: that clergy can justify the most heinous abuse of children and then cover-up each other’s behaviour (as evident from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and by general reference also this post),
- Redefinition, or leniency of application of definition, of sin (as evident from this post).
Example of the church gnarling administration:
- Sermon form and length: that sermons need to be shaped to worldly expectations that dictate form and length – at cost of power of delivery of God’s Word and at cost of Synod meeting time being directed to meatier matters (as considered in this post)
God does not tolerate unbelief amongst those who know better. Many who justify themselves before mankind will be dealt with most harshly by the ultimate judge. Some will find that it would have been better that a millstone had been tied to their necks.
Note: All links good as at 9 January 2017
Note: On Homosexuality and calls for the Bible to meet relatively modern and diverse definitions of sexuality: No-one more misinterprets the Gospel than those that come to Jesus with clenched fists, rather than open palms.