The United States is at war. Actually, they are not very united. The battlefields are raging with issues such as abortion, women’s rights, gay rights, racial discrimination, education, economics and list goes on and on. Some people buy into the sophisticated worldview known as globalism. Others prefer traditional nationalism as a political and cultural worldview. The differences are so vast and so numerous that a global library could not contain them. Donald Trump came up with a slogan: “Make America Great, Again!”
The dilemma for the Christian church is similar to the battles being fought in the United States with a few additional problems. The church is polarized. Theological ignorance abounds. Utilitarianism is the trend. Ecclesiastical intrigue is common as fried chicken. God’s law is horribly misinterpreted. Moralism has replaced justification by faith alone. For those who know me, I offer a satirical slogan: “Make the Church Great, Again!” I call it satire because that slogan is the biggest joke of the century. The church always has been great and always will be great. Nations rise and fall, but the church is eternally God’s people.
James H. Thornwell, a pastor and theologian during the 19th century expressed serious concern over pragmatism and secularism associated with the church in a letter to Dr. R. J. Breckinridge, July 24, 1846: “I am seriously afraid that the foolish liberality of the age will speedily plunge us into the same disasters from which we have just escaped. Our whole system of operations gives an undue influence to money. Where money is the great want, numbers must be sought; and where ambition for numbers prevails, doctrinal purity must be sacrificed. The root of the evil is the secular spirit of our ecclesiastical institutions. What we want is a spiritual body; a Church whose power lies in the truth, and presence of the Holy Ghost. To unsecularize the Church should be the unceasing aim of all who are anxious that the ways of Zion should flourish.”
The church will be the object of discussion in the next few blogs.
The definition of the word “church” is not complicated, but it has several different aspects that must be considered. The word church in the Bible has nothing to do with a building. When Christians call a building the church, they either do not know the biblical meaning of the word church or they are just using the word church because that is what it means according to traditional language. The word church (or churches) is used in the English Bible 109 times (NASB). None of the 109 references refers to the church as a building, other than 3 references of the church meeting in a home. The Greek word ekklesia is translated in the English Bible as church. It refers to a local congregation of professing Christians or the total of all God’s people. (Doctrine of Sound Words, p. 282)
The aggregate of all local congregations and every individual Christian constitute the church, the people of God, the body of Jesus Christ. Understanding the fundamental doctrine of the church will bring peace and joy to the soul.