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Ray Rooney, Jr.: How the Church Can Regain Relevance
Monday, January 27, 2014 7:36 AM

“Everything is nothing, with a twist.”  Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five 

Can you imagine how ridiculous the Church must look to someone unfamiliar with its history and self-identified reason and purpose for being?  We are all over the map.  Voices from the Church are heard to shout “pro-life!”  From the same group of religious folks can also be heard “pro-choice!”  Some in the Church believe the do’s and don’ts of human sexuality are very clearly outlined in the Bible.  Marriage between one man and one woman is the focal point of sexuality with sex anywhere outside that relationship considered sin.  Others in the Church are very vocal in their support of marriage between lesbian women and gay men.  Some people in the Church say God isn’t offended by anything people say, do, or believe.  Others say God is angry with everyone about anything. 

Some in the Church hold to all the tenets of the Apostle’s Creed (which includes the virgin birth and resurrection) while others believe such things are merely mythological tools invented by the early Church for teaching purposes.  Some believe Jesus is the Son of God.  Others that he was simply a moral man whose goal in life was to set an example of tolerance, kindness, and humility. 

What it boils down to is that anyone can come up with anything and some in the Church will nod their heads in agreement.  The reason the Church has lost its clout in society is not because it is too narrow-minded and people have left it behind so they could broaden their horizons.  It’s just the opposite.  People have left the Church behind because in agreeing with everything it ultimately stands for nothing!  People want to self-identify with groups that share their same convictions.  With so many people and groups claiming to be followers of Jesus embracing things that are completely antithetical to each other the whole thing (Church) simply becomes incoherent.

Yet in the Bible itself you will find the following:

“Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.” (Psalm 119:89)

“Every word of God proves true.” (Proverbs 30:5)

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17)

The bottom line is this.  The Bible does not grant the Church the privilege of embracing anything in order to make anyone happy.  For believers, the word of God is the beginning and the end of all things.  It is unalterable, right, permanent, living, and embodied in Jesus Christ.  Its purpose is not to make everyone feel good about themselves. 

Simply put, the Bible is the story of how sin came into the world spreading devastation and destruction and how God made a way through Jesus to overcome sin’s consequence.  And nowhere does the Bible say that the way to overcome sin is to redefine it.  So let’s just say it.  Everyone in the Church is not right.  When they say God created some people gay they are wrong.  When they say God approves of a decision to terminate a life in the womb based on a lifestyle choice they are wrong.  When they say the resurrection of Jesus was a mythological tool used by the early Christians to engender hope and was never intended to be taken literally they are wrong. 

What I have found is that people in the Church tend to embrace the parts of the Bible that affirm the way they are living.  They reject, ignore, explain away, or misrepresent those parts of the Bible that condemn their behavior and/or beliefs.  Everyone does it (including me).  The question is who in the Church are brave enough to recognize the word of God gets the final say in all matters and not just the ones we like and embrace? 

If the Church is going to regain its prominence in culture and the world it is going to have to stand for something.  And when one stands for something it is inevitable that it stands opposed to something else. By standing for holiness, the Church stands against many things.  Its adherents and proponents are going to have rediscover a word that has been shelved for some time now: repent. 

Ray Rooney, Jr.

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