Joel Miller is the book editor for WorldNetDaily. Additionally, his own publishing company, Oakdown, recently published “God Gave Wine” by Kenneth L. Gentry Jr.


2002 WorldNetDaily.com

There is a very good article on the demise of the Church of England in this week’s London Spectator, must-reading for American Christians because the languor into which our British brothers have fallen may someday grip broad evangelicals stateside many would argue it already has, at least as far as the mainline denominations go.

To appreciate the problem, one need only look at how amazingly irrelevant the church is in society today. It is more tolerated and endured than taken seriously or enjoyed. And sometimes the toleration is just patronage, a defense against the embarrassment that people feel that such a backward institution still exists in the modern world.

“The media are embarrassed by religion, and prefer to treat it as light relief,” writes Theo Hobson for the Spectator, adding, “bishops are treated with wry indulgence, even amusement, as if they are on loan from Monty Python.”

These churchmen “are assumed to be a bunch of bearded, worthy dullards incapable of real thought, and their institution is assumed to be necessarily moribund. If it is admired at all, it is for its sheer logic-defying staying power, like the chain-smoking French woman who’s made it to 120.”

Hobson has good cause to say what he does. The Church of England only survives because it is supported by the state. It long ago withered from any real cultural relevance. Instead of holding itself out as the answer to the world’s woes the way the church traditionally has like many America Christians, the Brits have become squeamish about such claims.

“It has become unthinkable for a Church leader, or any public figure who is a Christian, to speak as if the gospel of Jesus Christ is superior to other creeds; to talk about Christianity as an exceptionally, uniquely good thing,” says Hobson. “In public, at least, such talk is taboo.”

Never mind that Christ said he was the only way to the Father, that the Christian faith is, thus, the only true faith. Such exclusive and tired, old claims are easy to forget when you are striving to be inclusive and hip.

It is the great sin of accommodation gone to its logical conclusion, seen clearly in the everybody-loves-Islam, post 9-11 days.

“I am not saying that the Church should have used Sept. 11 to denigrate Islam,” says Hobson. “But this Church takes sensitivity too far: It would rather never mention the name of Jesus Christ in public than risk being accused of racism, or whatever.”

We might apologize for President Bush, a professed believer, gushing forth with such praise for Muslims; after all, he’s got a coalition to hold together politics being, as it often is, the refined art of boot licking. But Christian ministers?

The first people responsible for proclaiming Christ are fast becoming the last people to actually do so. And if they do, Jesus is proclaimed along with everybody else.

It’s pop psychology in vestments: My religion’s OK, your religion’s OK.

Thus, as Hobson observes, “Whether it means it or not, the Church of England’s main function is to obscure the gospel; to ensure that it cannot be an influence upon our society. It very effectively sits on it, keeps it out of play. In this Church, Napoleon’s witticism is true: State religion is indeed the ‘inoculation of the state against the virus of religion.'”

But this is hardly the mere curse of statist influence.  It is the forever problem of churches pandering to the world, sucking up for approval, as if the tipped secular hat were somehow a sign of legitimacy.

It’s not. It’s actually the reverse, a sign we’re not doing our job.

We as Christians are not called to pine after the approval of the world, but rather to rattle its cage with the uncompromised Word of God, to disciple and baptize the nations. This means we are actively involved in the wider culture, announcing the claims of God the truths of Scripture trusting the Holy Spirit to quicken hearts and reform lives, which will lead, in turn, to a reformed culture as the faith outworks into society.

Sadly, the church hardly does this anymore. Either we are too pietistic, happily ensconced behind our stained glass and not wanting to get involved in that dirty world outside, too scared and fearful of what the world might think, or just too busy waiting to get raptured out of this mess instead of helping to clean it up.

As a result our churches, statist or not, are anemic, wasting away on a diet of Scripture Lite just enough Bible to feel good, but not enough to feel obligated to actually do anything.

The church, says Hobson, “is seen as so pitiably weak that it would be unfair to scrutinize it properly, like kicking a man when he’s down. Because of this attitude, it stays down.” But this won’t do, as Hobson knows:

“I do not want to exercise the same indulgence towards my Church. I am ashamed of it and angry at it. I want to kick it into getting up.”

The same needs to be done for our increasingly self-sidelined evangelical churches in America, and I hereby pledge my boot to the endeavor.