"A self-indulgent love of our own voices"
February 14, 2014
We've all heard the mantra of the church-less Christian: "I am into Jesus, not organized religion." That used to be said by a few outliers who really had not much experience with the church to begin with. Now however it has become more mainstream.
- Jared Wilson
What I have observed in evangelicalism over the last 25 years is an increasing desire to recast the church as a clearing house of various people's personal ministries and spiritual experiences. The idea is a church as a big tent paying the bills for everyone's personal small church. Who is a pastor or elder to tell someone they cannot "express their gifts" in the church? Why not promote books by John Calvin and T.D. Jakes? Why not practice Eastern meditation exercises in a women's "Bible study"? It is all part of the project of creating a church that is more about hearing the echo of my own voice in my heart rather than the voice of God from His Word.
Many thanks to Jared Wilson for writing a helpful analysis of the latest assertions of church-less Christianity. He rightly grounds our thoughts about church in our thoughts about God for what we think about the church is a window into what we think about God.
We should go to church — not mainly, but nevertheless — because it confronts and stunts our spiritual autonomy and individualism. We should go lest we become Cainites, saying “I’m not my brother’s keeper.” Or reverse Cainites, “My brothers aren’t my keepers.”Read the entire piece HERE.
Of course most of us prefer to worship at the First Church of Hanging Out With My Friends at The Coffee Shop. Of course the more elite of us prefer to worship at My Own Speaking Engagements Community Church. Because, we believe, we “learn better” when we’re the ones doing the talking.
But something happens when you stop submitting to the communal listening of congregational worship and start filling the air with your own free range spiritual rhetoric. Your talk of God starts to sound less like God. He starts sounding like an idea, a theory, a concept. He stops sounding like the God of the Bible, the God who commands and demands, the God who is love but also holy, gracious but also just, et cetera. He begins to sound less like the God “who is who he is” and more like the God who is as you like him.