Evangelicalism

Building Up the Body: Four Marks of Maturing Churches

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From Voice, Nov/Dec 2013. Used by permission. (Read part 1.)

Churches that take the Lord’s instruction in Ephesians 4 seriously will be the ones marching in the direction of maturity (Ephesians 4:13). Those who do not, will find themselves drowning in a sea of immaturity (4:14). These are the two options Paul lays before his readers. The first option finds the local church being equipped by the teaching of the Word and in turn building up the body of Christ. Such churches will be marked by four things.

First, unity: “Until we all attain to the unity of the faith.” Throughout the epistles the term “the faith” does not refer to subjective faith (e.g. “I believe; I have faith in God”) but to objective truth. “The faith” is a phrase synonymous with sound doctrine, or the body of truth as taught in the Bible. True unity is grounded in correct theology.

A certain pastor, in writing a critique of my ministry, said that he “leaned toward unity but you lean toward purity.” That may be a true evaluation, but I do not believe there is unity without purity. An attempt at unity without doctrinal purity is merely uniformity. Many today are willing to lay down their conviction of Scriptural truth in order to get along. Organizations are built under the umbrella of minimal beliefs but at the cost of great compromise, which leads to the doctrinal impurity of the church. While not all doctrinal beliefs are essential to the faith, and some are not hills worth dying on, I am amazed at what many are willing to jettison in order to embrace some form of outward unity. Paul, however, calls for a unity that is wrapped around the cardinal truths of the faith. Read more about Building Up the Body: Four Marks of Maturing Churches

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Building Up the Body: Evangelicalism's Failure

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From Voice, Nov/Dec 2013. Used by permission.

One of the most insightful of recent books concerning the church is actually written by an unbeliever. Alan Wolfe, a social scientist, has been observing the changing American religious scene for years. A few years ago he shared his research in The Transformation of American Religion (New York: Free Press, 2003). The message of his book is that “religion in the United States is being transformed in radically new directions” (3). Wolfe claims,

Talk of Hell, damnation, and even sin has been replaced by a nonjudgmental language of understanding and empathy. Gone are the arguments over doctrine and theology… More Americans than ever proclaim themselves born again in Christ, but the Lord to whom they turn rarely gets angry and frequently strengthens self-esteem. [As a result] the faithful in the United States are remarkably like everyone else. (3)

If Wolfe’s assessments are on target, what would be the catalyst for this transformation (or better, degeneration)? Wolfe’s thesis is that in an effort to win over American culture, Evangelicalism has stooped so low that it can no longer be distinguished from that culture. Take doctrine for example. Small-group Bible studies avoid theology like the plague, lest it prove divisive. Sermons are no better. Read more about Building Up the Body: Evangelicalism's Failure

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