These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks

For reasons unbeknownst to me, but possibly having something to do with his hippie devil software, Nathan Hale’s blog does not acknowledge the validity of my WordPress account, so here I am writing my own post here instead of in the comments for his latest post.

It’s a grim state the Church Militant is in these days.  You’re off to a good start with this list.  But I think the fakeness, the irrelevance, the lack of true community, and the petty politics are all just symptoms of the larger underlying sickness.

And the Church, wit ye well, especially the American Evangelical establishment, is fundamentally sick.

There are many symptoms.  My own personal bugbears include rampant anti-intellectualism and the inevitably attendant intellectual dishonesty, an intense concern for the motes in the eyes of others with the usual disregard for the beams in our own, the utterly dismaying lack of Charity in the broadest sense, and the apparent disregard for what Jesus actually said and how He told us to live.

“Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”

But fundamentally what it comes down to is that too many churches fail utterly to feed the soul.  Some of them simply lay a bare table, serving up empty homilies and platitudes.  Not meat.  Not even milk.  Just a stream of non-dairy creamer (which, as an informed consumer, you should know holds no sustenance whatsoever).  Some others, well, they’ve got some meat to them, maybe, but it’s meat dripping with vile poison.

And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.  Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die.

When a tree is whithering, look to the roots: is it being fed?  On what is it fed?

I’ve been in many, many churches, from Fort Worth to Tokyo.  I’ve seen the same things almost everywhere, in some degree or another. Pettiness, shallowness, materialism (so often couched in a properly Calvinistic frame),the busybody’s itch to reform other peoples’ habits, and a general lack of reflection, of questioning.

So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

All over, I’ve felt the same hunger of the soul and, at the very altar of the Most High, been left unfed.

Of course, the problems with the Church are just the first half of Nathan’s article.

The second half, I think, could come down to “well then, what do you propose to do about it?”

Some days, for instance days when I read about some blasphemous moron accusing the President of being the Antichrist (the subject of antichrists in general is an angry rant for another day) or vomiting up hate or watching their diabetic daughters die because they think prayer will work better than insulin, I get to thinking that maybe the sickness runs too deep and amputation is the only option.  I frequently find myself reluctant to use the term “Christian” to describe myself.  It’s got a taint to it, now, and “Follower of the Way” is a better term anyway.

But no.  I’ve got a rightful claim to the title “Christian,” and denying it would be cowardice.  So instead I’ve been working at upholding what I believe Christianity means.

For a while now, I’ve been doing this more or less alone.  Church isn’t the best place to find the Christ.  Probably it never was.  Jesus lived and died and rose again outside the walls.  And outside is where I’ve been for some time, looking and listening.

But I think the time is near, now, for me to go back to the sheepfold.  And if the Church falls short, it’s time to do something about it.

Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

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4 Responses to “These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks”

  1. Thanks for the thoughtful reply, brother. Indeed, discerning what to do about this sickness is one of the most difficult parts of the situation that the church finds itself in. As someone in leadership, it’s something that’s always on my mind and a question I still don’t have all the answers to. I think your decision to re-enter the institutional church is a good one, though…we need more people like you here.

    I believe part of the solution is true worship renewal. Not another “worship movement” like what happened in the late eighties/early nineties (talk about a mixed bag of blessings and curses) but a real, hard look and how and why we do church. A re-education of our clergy and laity on what worship was, is, and should be in the congregational context is in order.

    Through worship renewal, I hope that we can really begin to emphasize again what should have been our primary message all along: the good news of Jesus Christ, and how we might encourage each other to live as followers of the Way.

    To begin a real growth in the church, we have to be willing to not only educate ourselves as to what worship means as a Christ follower, but also to stand with bold conviction and with graceful love for what we know is right.

  2. bradellison Says:

    Indeed. “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

    Of course, as a mystic and sometime borderline anarchist, I’d argue that the very existence of the church as an institution inhibits that renewal. Any organization, no matter what its original purpose, will inevitably shift its primary focus towards self-perpetuation. Real reform almost always comes from the outside.

    On the other hand, the outsider needs an anchor. We can’t jettison the institution entire, because we need it.

    So the trick is maintaining the tension between the two poles, order and independence.

  3. 8thday4life Says:

    Good stuff!

  4. so I hope you are also following the discussion on facebook, both my page and Nathan’s. Intreating.

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