When They Look at the Church
We are often so busy looking at “them” that we don’t stop and ask what they see when they look at us. Currently, when the Mormon or JW looks at the church they see the Anglican Church, the church at war with itself, or the Charismatic Church, the church in love with itself and a mix of denominations, the church divided against itself. One of the basic claims of the cult is that the traditional Christian Church is apostate as evidenced by what they see when they look at us.
Of course, this is explained in Scripture in the parable of the wheat and weeds (Mt.13:24-30) and I often find myself explaining the nature of the church to the cultist. In Ephesians we read:
"And he gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers to prepare God's people to works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Eph.4:11-14)
Now what will the church look like "until we reach a unity of the faith"? Unity is not something that falls out of heaven into our laps. It is something that develops as we give ourselves to "works of service" and apply ourselves to the apostle's teaching (Acts 2:42) "so that the body of Christ (the church) may be built up until we all reach a unity of the faith". Of course there is no room for complacency and every right thinking Christian seeks that maturity in the church. But since the church is living stones and not Portland stone, and since we are "being built into a spiritual house" there is need for grace as we become what we are destined to be.
Archbishop William Temple observed:
"What we must completely get away from is the notion that the world as it now exists is a rational whole; we must think of its unity not by the analogy of a picture, of which all parts exist at once, but by the analogy of a drama, where, if it is good enough, the full meaning of the first scene only becomes apparent with the final curtain; and we are in the middle of this. Consequently the world as we see it is strictly unintelligible. We can only have faith that it will become intelligible when the divine purpose, which is the explanation of it, is accomplished." (F. A. Iremonger, William Temple [London, 1948], p.22)
What Archbishop Temple said of the world might be said of the church in the world. It is a drama, in process, and the full meaning will indeed become apparent with the final curtain. Meanwhile we must recognise what we are in the middle of, and to what end it is taking us. That said it doesn’t help when Christians live up to the cultists worse fears by being reactionary, self-obsessed and judgemental.
If These are Christians
The problem with the Church
The Problem with Anti-Cult Ministry
The Fear is Irrational
The Prejudice is Petulant
The ignorance is Inexcusable
The Indifference is Frightening
Christians and the Magical World-View
What the Former Cultist Needs
What Good is it if a Man Claims to Have Faith?