Close Your Church for Good, Chap. 1, Sec. 8. If the church of the past adopted and accepted the powers offered by Satan but rejected by Jesus, what should our response be today?
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It’s no use arguing that the church should have done something different. We weren’t there, and even if we had been, we probably would have done the same thing as they. What’s done is done whether we agree with it or not. The past cannot be changed.
But one thing that can be changed is the present. Whether we agree or not with the decisions of our predecessors, we make our own decisions today. We can choose differently. We can, if we so choose, reject the siren call of power, money, glory, authority, recognition, and control. We can root out the areas in our churches that draw us away from love, service, and sacrifice.
And many believe we have done just that. Though all agree that there have been abuses in the past, most think that in general, the church has improved. We hasten to add, of course, that the church will never be perfect because it is filled with imperfect people. And that’s probably true. The church, like individual Christians, is always a mixture of faithfulness and failure. But this doesn’t stop all the positive things the church accomplishes. The general consensus among churchgoers is that we are a loving, generous, humble, sacrificial, service-oriented, forgiving, merciful, and friendly organization. The trouble, however, is that this image of the church is generally not shared by non-churchgoing people. They tend to see us as greedy, hypocritical, unforgiving, judgmental, harsh, critical, and selfish.
So where is the disconnect? If the church is as loving and generous as we believe, why do people on the outside see just the opposite? The possible answers are numerous, but the solution is what concerns me. And the solution, I believe, must be based on the fact that in general, people are blind to their own faults, though they are obvious to everyone else. Just take church history as an example. We can all look back and see the abuses and problems of the past. We wonder why they didn’t see their mistakes, and make the necessary corrections. How could they be so blind? But the point is that one hundred years from now, people will look back and ask the same questions about us.
Did the church of the past err? Yes. Are we erring now? Probably. The trick is to find how and where, and then what to do about it. We do not know what future critics will say, so the best we can do is listen to some of the critics of today. And then, with the aid of Scripture and the Holy Spirit, try to discern what is true and how we can change.
That is the goal of this book. With one ear to Scripture and the other to our unchurched critics, we want to see if there is anything in the church today which still reflects the abuses of the past. Where are we falling to the temptations and influences of the devil and his attempt to twist and pervert the church away from the purposes and plans of God? Where might we reflect a desire for self-reliance, riches, authority, recognition, glory, and control? If such desires and influences exist, they must be identified and changed so that we may truly live and function as the body of Christ.
Each of the following chapters will look at one area of concern. After showing why it’s an area of concern, we will attempt to discern the biblical and traditional basis for this practice or program in an attempt to determine its original purpose. Next, we will try to discern any Satanic influence in this area, which has caused it become twisted or perverted away from the original purpose. And finally, suggestions will be made about how that practice or program can be resurrected to reflect Jesus Christ and the life-transforming glory of the gospel.