Failure of Churches, Whose Fault

Loutzenhiser's picture

This question has been circulating in my head for the last few days and seems to be a subject of prime interest among several members here, so I thought to start this thread to try to answer the question.

First let me be clear in that I do not believe that all churches or pastors are failing in thier resposibility to God. But I do see many churches and pastors failing or struggling in the winds of adversity that blow through the religious community today. WHY?

Let me set up our situation here. We live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, west of Seattle on the Kitsap Peninsula. We are home to some of the richest and most technical businesses in the world, ie., Microsoft, Real Player, etc.. In this region the fastest growing religion is Wican. That is New Age witchcraft. In our area the highly praised kids are the Crystal and Indigo children. For more information on crystal children link here. Church attending christianity is some %6.5 of the population. The large churches here (average membership 600 to 5000) either teach christianity/hinduism or prosperity message. For example Casey Treat. On the small end we have several congergations that use sheperding such as the Apostolic Lighthouse. (I feel for the women in that church. TJ and I have "rescued" 3 of them from thier controlling/abusive husbands.) The fastest growing christian community in the area is the storefront pentecostal movment. Small churces of between 5 to 50 members. The problem here is the lack of umbrella or oversite allows for some "intersting" beliefs to flurish. The Church of God of Prophecy is the largest number of this group. Here one can find everything from Mary, Jesus' mother as the literial wife of God to "It is not your fault you are failing in life. You must remove the Demons that are controlling your circumstance". A little something for everyone. We even have large congeration with an excellent pastor who teaches that water baptism died out with the Apostles (extreme dispensationalism), Grace Bible Church.

Can one wonder that I am seeking for the tenets of the original church?

The highest category of failure among the mainstream pastors in this area is "the other woman" and the second is (and this shocked me) pastors who come to believe that they are Jesus or are a direct messenger of God (in other words their words have precedence over the bible). Latest victim to that one, one of our local Nazarene churches.

Now the question is what do we do about it and how can we go about purifying God's church. Or do we just start over again with a new movment? How about the Spiritual Cleanliness Movment? What basic tenets should God's church embrace? How do we keep the pastors and congergation pure and inline with God's word?

michael_legna's picture

There are so many issues

I have been giving this question/questions alot of thought lately to see if there were any answers that a Catholic might offer on this subject that were the least bit illuminating. The problem (if it is not apparent from recent answers by Catholics) is that Catholics do not see a problem with the Church itself. We see real problems with its members (including ourselves), but we see this as different. It happens that this difference is at the root of many misunderstandings between Catholics and Protestants (especially on the issue of Papal infallibility - but that is another topic so I won't go into it here). Right now I will try to stick to answering the actual questions and maybe explain why it is so hard for a Catholic to see them the way others do.

Questions 1 -
But I do see many churches and pastors failing or struggling in the winds of adversity that blow through the religious community today. WHY?

Why? Well I think congregations (and I will use this term instead of Church to make a distinction between local errors and ones that impact the entire body of Christ) and pastors fail or struggle in the winds of adversity because they are human (in the case of pastors) or led by humans (in the case of congregations) who get to hire and fire their own pastor. Of course each kind of failure or struggle has its own specific cause, but I think I will get into that as I answer the other questions.

Question 2 -
The problem here is the lack of umbrella or oversite allows for some "intersting" beliefs to flurish.

Certainly a lack of oversight can make it easy for a group or individual to go astray, this is because without this oversight a group lacks real contact with the truth - it lacks roots so to speak. But once you see that, one needs to ask the deeper question of where those providing oversight (in the cases where it exists) are getting their connection with the truth or their roots. For a Catholic this can only come from a connection with the original Church (the ground and pillar of truth). Most congregations and pastors today don't even claim to have such a connection, let alone offer any proof of such.

Question 3 -
Can one wonder that I am seeking for the tenets of the original church?

No, I don't blame you. If you want to know the tenets of the original Church study the Bible and the early commentaries of the Early Church Fathers. I would add that a read of the Official Catholic Catechism wouldn't hurt, but you don't have to accept that. I guess what I am saying is first investigate the connection the source of these tenets has with the original Church. No connection then don't trust their tenets.

Question 4 -
The highest category of failure among the mainstream pastors in this area is "the other woman"

This is not really a failing of the congregation and certainly is not a failing of Christ's Church. It is a failing of the specific pastor and since all pastors are human you are never going to be able to assure yourself of being able to avoid this problem. The thing you have to be willing to require is the individual sees their actions and sin, be willing to stop and seek repentance and go and sin no more. If they are not willing to do this, then they should be removed from their position within the congregation or you should seek another congregation.

Question 5 -
and the second is (and this shocked me) pastors who come to believe that they are Jesus or are a direct messenger of God (in other words their words have precedence over the bible).

This is both a problem of the individual and the congregation which is now preaching doctrines which are clearly contrary to the word of God. If they are saying things contrary to the Bible then clearly they can have no connection with the original sources. Of course this requires discernment, as their can be teaching that may be contrary to your understanding of some verses, but then that is where apologetics come in. If you are prepared to handle these apologetic arguments you can make this decision yourself. But many are not, so they should (as all should) begin again with a study of the congregations connection with the original sources first. Do they have any or even claim any connection with the early Church? Can they show this connection through their ordination or through their doctrines by quoting the early commentaries? If not don't even start with them.

Question 6 -
Now the question is what do we do about it and how can we go about purifying God's church.

The real solution is not to become involved with congregations which do not have a connection with the original Church. But if you are already involved and problems arise, you need to be ready to demand repentance by the pastor or doctrine changes within the congregation, or vote with your feet.

Question 7 -
Or do we just start over again with a new movment?

No need to start over - Christ's Church was promised to prevail, even over the gates of hell. It is out there you just need to find it. I would start with the Catholic, Orthodox or Coptic Church as they at least claim such a connection with the early Church, but you can start anywhere you want as long as you never stop looking. God will help you find Him if you seek Him.

Question 8 -
What basic tenets should God's church embrace?

There are so many answers, so many people will give you. I would be glad to answer this but it would turn into a listing of Catholic doctrine, so instead I will just suggest you read the writings of the Early Church Fathers along with the Bible and form your own opinions based on interpretations of scripture in light of each other and test your interpretations making sure that any interpretation you come to is never contradicted by any verse at all.

Question 9 -
How do we keep the pastors and congergation pure and inline with God's word?

See the answer to questions 4, 5 and 6 above.




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