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WORD VIEW: Non-thinking church


Esther Phillips

WORD VIEW: Non-thinking church

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You may have heard the story of the man who was passing through a certain district and saw the devil sitting on a church step crying bitterly.
Although amazed at the devil’s apparent sensitivity, the man, who must have possessed an unusual compassion, expressed his concern. Between sobs, the devil explained how hurt he was at the number of accusations being made against him in the church.
He was being blamed for all kinds of wrongs of which he was innocent.
Although I find some statements made by Reverend Charles Morris questionable, there are some with which I have to agree. For example, it is a common thing in many of our evangelical churches to use the devil as an excuse not to take responsibility for our own actions. We are not given to self-scrutiny. For every conflict, failing or misfortune, the devil becomes the fall-guy. In this way, we need never address directly our awful personality traits and our character flaws.
This, though, is just one of the strands of the non-thinking to which several of us in the evangelical churches appear to have committed ourselves.  
Another example is this matter of being “slain in the Spirit”. The phenomenon is based on the concept that the Holy Spirit’s presence could be so overwhelming as to cause one to fall under its power. Absolutely no human intervention is necessary for such falling to occur when it does.
It has become common practice, however, for some religious leaders to literally push their members down. Some individuals now “stand their ground” and refuse to comply. Many are more obliging and fall willingly.
Of course, it helps that there are “catchers” to break the fall.
But do congregations in general question the pushing and refuse to be a part of this practice?
Not at all. It is far more important to preserve the church culture.
Another “non-thinker” is how we view other religions, although I can see how this could be problematic. Let me state that I am a committed Christian. At the same time, I understand the predicament in the minds of some resulting from
Jesus’ claim. In John 14:6, Jesus says: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (New King James Version.)
Straightforward as the statement may appear, are we sure that we have grasped all its possible meanings?
I believe in a God who is just. I believe that this God was interacting with humans across all time and all cultures before the entry of the historical Jesus into the Jewish culture. The various peoples and cultures would have expressed their understanding of this Supreme Being as they best perceived, and as it has since been handed down by their traditions.
If the claim of Jesus is true that He is indeed the only way, then it must be that He is accessible to all human beings across all time, all cultures and all religions. Since it cannot be possible that it is the physical, historical Jesus who is omnipresent, it must be the transcendent Christ who is.
I once heard a theologian attempt to solve this “Christian dilemma” in this manner: he was of the view that Jesus Christ appears at the death of every human being, offering each one an opportunity to accept Him. In what form or essence does Christ appear? Who knows? But I find the theory appealing.
It is certainly consistent with the overarching love that is fundamental to Christian teaching.
A large percentage of evangelicals must find Rev. Morris’ statements shocking. I certainly could see no good in his assertion that there is nothing wrong with sex before marriage. With our present climate of promiscuity and the attendant high rate of sexually-transmitted diseases, HIV and AIDS, our youth do not need what could seem like encouragement from no less a figure than a man of the cloth.
Rev. Charles Morris, however, challenges us to think. I agree that there is a point of departure when reason cannot answer the questions of faith, but on the other hand, the intricacies of the laws governing the universe, including biological structures, suggest a Supreme reasoning process at work.
Failure to think is an open invitation to manipulation, exploitation, mind control, deception and a host of other sins which are, sadly, too often present within the church.

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