If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Several years ago I read with deep interest about atheist gatherings that deliberately borrowed the model of church services. It may sound odd, but atheists, not having a holy day or a history of worshiping anything, suffer from a challenge when it comes to building community. The word community is important in today’s culture, where everyone is admonished to subject his own standards and values to those of the community. Some atheists have looked around for a model for building community, and they found a good one in church practices.
Christian churches traditionally meet for an hour or so on at least one day each week. Atheists who interacted with Christians discovered most of them enjoy a sense of belonging and a great deal of support for both grief and celebrations because they are part of a church. Some atheists thought those experiences were admirable. Sadly, worship of God and growth in spiritual maturity coupled with strong moral guidelines were not included among the things atheists admire about churches, and the centrality of the Bible as a source for guidance in building community and all the other admirable features of churches was utterly ignored. Atheists seized upon the value of weekly gatherings during which people sang, listened to inspiring words, and shared learned wisdom. In other words, atheists found a way to make club meetings a feature of atheism.
Too many churches seem to have adopted that model for themselves. Just today I heard a church announce it was hosting an event to teach Taoist Tai-chi. Taoist teaching in a Christian church? This sort of thing sounds very much like something an atheist club would find interesting. Atheists do not worship any god, but they love to study about them, even if only to parody them in weekly gatherings. Clearly this allegedly Christian church has forgotten that the central teaching of Christianity—Christ is The Way, the only Way, to God. Taoism claims to be A Way, but if Christ is The Way, then there is no other way to God. Taoism cannot be one of the ways if Christ is the only way.
Of course, it is more popular to celebrate the notion that each of us finds our own way to God. Contemporary culture will praise this church for getting out of the rut that insists on Christ alone. Society adamantly resists the message that Christ is The Way. In fact, the White Privilege conference bitterly declares Christianity’s message that Christ is The Way to be at the root of all our social issues—injustice, racism, economic inequality, and so forth. On the other hand, atheism would assert there is no God to be found, hence no need to find a way or The Way, but atheists do enjoy getting together and telling one another all is well, no matter what way each of us individually sees it.
Christians need to take note of the way atheists see Christian worship. There are few people who have never attended any church service whatsoever, and many atheists are actually former Christians. If music, public speaking, and handshaking is all they gleaned from Christian worship, Christians need to be asking what we are projecting. The demographic data documents increasing numbers who never set foot in a church, increasing numbers who leave after setting foot in a church, and steadily declining numbers who assert and demonstrate faith that Christ is The Only Way to God.
This data sheds a bright light on the statement of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He said, “If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.” Among atheists, the church is now already nothing more than a model for a social club. Christians need to ask themselves if Christ really died on a cruel cross in order that he might be merely memorialized on a crucifix hanging over a bountiful breakfast brunch in the church fellowship hall.
3 thoughts on “What is the right Way?”
I see things infiltrating the modern church more and more. Small things….but it is those small things that embed themselves like a sliver and before you know it you have blood poisoning. I have gotten in several discussions with “churchies” about yoga. Yes, a seemingly harmless form of exercise….or is it? Seems to me that the true yoga focuses on clearing the mi d and
Woops…sorry….as I was saying…clearing the mind, then chanting. Really? Harmless? Maybe in the veginning…but I think it is a splinter. Just saying…
You are definitely on the right track, Lisa. Yoga is body prayer. Both yoga and tai chi originated in the context of the worship of false gods. Satan absolutely loves it when we who know Christ are diverted by worship practices that are about the worship of any substitute for Christ. Tai chi and yoga both fall into the category of questionable practices for Christians.
Many Christians who engage in such practices will declare with some outrage at criticisms that they are not praying when they do these exercises. You could say the same thing about dressing up like a devil or a witch on Halloween. The world is full of activities carefully crafted by Satan to draw us away from the vigilance to avoid evil that we should always exercise.
I get even more pushback on Halloween than on yoga. People cannot imagine what can be wrong with dressing up like all sorts of creatures–zombies, witches, devils, fairies, leprechauns and many other creatures. Yet the whole concept of Halloween lies in a demonic perversion of the story about people who rose from the dead when Christ was crucified. I don’t make a habit of confrontation, but when I am the one being confronted, I do defend my position.
Secular thinkers consider Christians to be unacceptably picky when we take our faith principles to the gym or the workplace. As a Bible teacher, I am reminded that idolatrous behaviors crept into the culture of ancient Israel, just as yoga and Halloween have crept into ours, and God judged them for their apostasy. I will be posting next week on a related topic, the “every moment” view of our life in Christ. I think you will find it interesting also.
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