If you have been alive for any length of time, surely you have noticed great changes in our world.
If you are too young to judge this for yourself, find someone old enough to intelligently tell you what kinds of changes and what degrees of changes have affected western culture in the last few decades.
We have put a man on the moon, witnessed a revolution in communication, and brought comfort and luxury to ordinary people. We have elevated standards of living to the point that those now in poverty live better than did kings centuries ago. Yet ask yourself in sincerity: has the quality of our lives really improved? Are we happier, more stable and endued with more hope for our future?
I am one who believes that measuring the quality of life by such things as the stability of family units, the common moral denominator we share, our immersion in materialism, the quality of public education, and the music and art we seek speak loudly on behalf of the decline in the quality in our culture. The big questions are “why?” and “what can be done about it?”
The “why,” I believe, is easily answered. Ever since the roles of pope and emperor were separated centuries ago, the chasm between the secular and religious has widened. The world since has taken the highest moral ideals in its history and relegated them to a reservation called the church.
Here on this reservation the church remains relatively safe from persecution by secularist, so long as she knows her place. On the reservation, churches are given the license to operate in the quiet pastures of societal irrelevance, asking only an occasional benediction of her ministers at a ballgame or luncheon. This “pat-on-the-head” approach to religion, sad to say, suits most churches just fine.
Seeking only identity, acceptance, and tax exemptions, the church expects little to change in the world as the result of her convictions or influence. God’s mandate to “compel them to come” is an imperative that had found its way into the great ecclesiastical garage sale.
The thirst in the human soul for truth that may have once existed, however, has never been quenched. It simply has been forgotten and replaced with an IV bag of secular saline solution with the occasional vitamin thrown in. Preachers who preach in sterile generalities, dispensing the waters of life in atomizers abound. The dynamic, convicting messages of the “Old Time Religion” have been relegated to stories Grandpa tells. That has earned Grandpa the pat on the head as well, but if you look closely into Grandpa’s eyes, you will see that he remembers what we have forgotten.
A little biblical perfume in the church seems to satisfy, though deep inside of us, our souls still thirst. Let’s face it, most church leaders are content to perpetuate the system which has given them acceptance, position, influence, a modicum of respect and a pension.
The great surrender I am describing comes on many levels.It is on a world level, for most churches have surrendered their redemptive mission. Their messages and convictions are echoes of secularism, and their members are indistinguishable from the world in which they live in nearly every way.
The capitulation of church power in our land has had to have two main prerequisites: centralization of authority and dispassionate congregations content to delegate away their God-given responsibilities. Centralization of power, a process that perpetuates itself, is always the mechanism of ecclesiastical control and historically the foundation of evil.
When a constituency is content to delegate the supreme responsibility they have as believer-priests and guardians of truth, the focus of power will become smaller, not larger. Given man’s nature, that is ALWAYS a bad thing.
All leaders are human beings and need a system of checks and balances to operate properly and with accountability. Sadly, Americans have either abdicated or delegated their responsibility in almost every area of their lives, and this includes in church.
Machines do our work, television and the Internet entertains and informs us and preachers spoon feed us the spiritual pablum that few people sitting a pew have ever verified for themselves.
It is no wonder that few Americans can tell us why they have rights and few church members can tell you with authority and conviction why they believe what they have been taught.
Both have delegated away the responsibility that was given to them in a sacred trust. Once relinquished, it is rarely returned.
In the medieval university, all knowledge was ultimately unified, hence the word “university.” The working assumption was that when all the diversities of leaning were presented, they found an ultimate center in God.
Now, the schools have replaced all absolutes in human behavior with a fetid bog called “moral relativism.” Every man is now a god unto himself. Like any mutation then, the organism is always degraded and genetically compromised.
The result is that college graduates can run mega-computers, but can’t manage their own lives. Taps is sounding for the Renaissance man. What is my answer? Look back in our cultural record and honestly evaluate what made people happy and stable, what made the economy prosper, what made the family strong and why Grandpa has that sad longing in his eye when he talks about the “Old Time Religion.”
In every honest analysis will be a foundation set on the bedrock of the Judaeo-Christian ethic. This was the core belief of our Founding Fathers, and we abandon it at our own peril.
God made a promise to the spiritual Renaissance man: “…whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” It is time to reclaim that promise while we still can.