There have been stories in recent weeks that perfectly highlight the complete spiritual disarray within the denominational church in the UK. The most disturbing feature for us is the churches recent transition from the passive silence to the positive approval of the spectacular departure from Biblical morality within society. At a time when the truth and love of Jesus Christ is needed more than ever, we instead are left with a church environment that is carried along like the wind with the narrative of a culture that defiantly opposes God. By many measures, many protestant denominations have become more apostate than the Roman Catholic church and that’s no endorsement of Roman Catholicism.
It doesn’t matter which denomination you choose, compromise or clear doctrinal error is all too evident to a lesser or greater degree. In fact, the mainstream church now looks so similar to the secular world it exists in, the value system in practice is hardly different at all. This is being reflected in attendance numbers where the situation in London alone is particularly alarming – in the last two decades over 500 churches have closed (whilst over 400 mosques have been built). Something is clearly going very badly wrong as congregations are leaving fast in search for alternative spiritual food.
Let’s look at an example within the Church of England as this is the most visible arm of the denominational church in the UK. It’s no exaggeration to describe the theological situation here as ‘doctrinal anarchy’ with everything from the weird to the wonderful. Last week, Joshua Sutcliffe, a Christian maths teacher was suspended for inadvertently referring to a group of girls as ‘girls’ – it turns out one of them wanted to be identified as a ‘boy’ and the teacher was deemed guilty of ‘misgendering’. This is the same week that the Church of England issued guidelines to its 5000 schools instructing them to encourage children try out the ‘many cloaks of identity’ and ‘explore the possibilities of who they might be’ with a clear reference to gender identity and sexual orientation. Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby wrote the foreword for these guidelines. When do we ever hear popular Anglican leaders speak out against this? This has gone way past a passive silence – the Church of England is fully embracing this agenda that clearly goes against Biblical moral teaching and will do untold damage to children and families in the process.
The situation in many other denominational churches is no better – most movements start really well with a strong Biblical base and then they change. The Methodist movement started in powerful fashion as a reaction against the corruption of the Church of England with John Wesley preaching from outside the state church about the true gospel. Since then, every liberal trait of compromise can be found within the modern Methodist landscape and it’s difficult to see how it’s any different from the Anglican church it set out to rescue people from.
Take Pentecostalism – a Pentecostal (as the name implies) is one who attaches importance to the power and identity of the Holy Spirit which began on the day of Pentecost. However, it’s easy to forget that this was also the anniversary of the day the Jews celebrated the law being given to Moses. Therefore, a true Pentecostal is one who recognises both the work of the Spirit and the authority of the Scriptures – they both work in complete harmony with each other. Modern Pentecostalism has shifted from this dramatically – many Pentecostal and charismatic churches have just become frothy entertainment centers with the emphasis on experience and pursuit of pleasure as opposed to Biblical truth and the holiness of God.
Even the supposed conservative Baptist movement is well along the road to compromise. The Baptist Union of Great Britain now permit same-sex marriage ceremonies in their churches and has deferred the stance of sexuality to each individual congregation to make up their own mind – this is not strong leadership. At a time where strong leadership is needed more than ever, we’re faced with same flaky, wishy washy approach as the rest.
Coming back to this story of the Christian maths teacher, where is the church in all of this? Why will it not speak out? Why won’t prominent church leaders speak out? Has the mainstream church became so impotent that it is left to organisations such as Christian Concern and The Christian Institute to speak out instead?! We are reaching a crossroads where any association with the compromising church is becoming harder and harder to defend – association can only be taken as agreement.
Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. (Romans 16:17 NKJ)
Thus says the LORD: “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said,`We will not walk in it.’ (Jeremiah 6:16 NKJ)
We fear the denominational Church is broken beyond repair – it has walked or is walking into complete apostasy with little hope of revival. There is no doubt that there are a sprinkling of good Churches and good leaders within this environment, but their influence will continue to weaken or they’ll be squeezed out from within. On the one hand, we instinctively cry out in the hope that the influence of the few faithful believers could be enough to cause change – maybe change can be made from within? Unfortunately, this just doesn’t happen in reality – real change almost never comes from within bureaucratic organisations. Particularly when the status of Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God has been reduced so much to be replaced by tradition, experience and secular culture.
As is always the case, those exiting the doors of denominational churches will be accused of jumping a sinking ship and causing division. In reality though, it’s NOT the ones who stay on the true path who are causing division – it’s those who move along a deviant path to Scripture that cause division. However, because the ones taking the different path are much greater in number, it’s the minority who get accused of division. We need to follow the example of Jesus who firmly stood against the religious leaders of His day, stuck to the narrow path and instructed others to do the same.
For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. (1 Corinthains 11:19 NKJ)
It is right to be disgusted and appalled by what is going on in the mainstream church, but we should not be discouraged – this IS to be expected. Attendance statistics for mainstream churches will continue to plummet, but God knows those who are really His. The gospel will continue to prevail and people will continue to be saved. However, this will increasingly happen OUTSIDE the scope of the denominational Church. Scripture says judgment begins at the house of God – we believe that time is happening. Spiritual refugees spilling out of these movements will continue to pop up small gatherings. The church will return to how it originally began – meetings in people’s homes or small congregations in rented buildings.
We take no satisfaction in sharing this – however, real love compels that the truth be shared as the landscape looks so bleak. Churches get the leaders they deserve – for the sake of your own spiritual health, please make sure your church is feeding you with Biblical truth and firmly defending the saving gospel. Jesus Christ IS returning soon – is your church one of the few that will be ready?
“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD, “That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the LORD. (Amos 8:11 NKJ)