Sunday, April 29, 2012

Whither the Church?

The continuance of the Roman Catholic church is a mystery. Corruption within the church led to the reformation under Luther and Calvin, and today’s numerous stories of child abuse by the priests has led to a sharp demise of adherents.

Ireland, which has always been a Catholic stronghold, has finally broken ties with the Catholic Church, closing its embassy at the Vatican. Disgust at the corruption, cover up, and guarded apologies, has reduced the church going attendance in Ireland from about 65% in the 70s to about 17% now.

Not that the protestant church has a record to be proud of. Recurring scandals such as Jimmy Swaggart, Koran burning by a foolish pastor, and recent intemperate remarks by a Alberta election candidate, continue to confirm public distaste for the church.

The recent education bills promoted in Ontario and Alberta are perhaps the first frontal assault on biblical beliefs. They place in jeopardy those who hold and teach Christian beliefs in regard to sexual conduct. Is this the first wave of open persecution against the western church? We’ll see.

Christianity’s final demise is lauded by various commentators and an aggressive atheism rides the wave. Yet the rise of problems facing the west—debt, sexual disorientation, increased self-centredness and violence to press demands, and greater governmental control, all parallel the retreat of Christian belief.

If the church fails, perhaps it will be the actions of those calling themselves Christians who are largely to blame. The Gospel is the most compelling message ever proclaimed, but it can’t be heard over the noise of its proponents’ actions.

Of course, each Christian is a microcosm of the believing church. We all carry within us, during this period of grace, the propensity to both good and evil. We have to ask ourselves if our lifestyle and beliefs will attract others or deter them from the faith.

We should be a testimony to the truth of God’s love, but need the ongoing grace of God to cover our failures. Which brings us back to the church. Considering its poor record, it’s a wonder it does still exist. That can only be attributed to the grace of God to his people individually as well as the church community at large.

And if the western church is in for a period of persecution, perhaps this will sort the sheep from the goats and open a new wave of true witness. Even the apparent defeat of the church God can use to increase His Kingdom.

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