A.J. Castellitto
August 18, 2014
The empty church
By A.J. Castellitto

A good friend of mine made an excellent point regarding the consequences of trying to merge Christian faith with a love for sin,

"When sin supersedes salvation, when we identify more with our sin than we do our Savior, that's when we get despondent, depressed, agnostic."

A compromise, in which we water down the gospel and shape it in a way that is less offensive, will only lead to greater indifference.

If God loves us exactly as we are, why should we change?

Would we even see a need for the radical transformation that only can be realized through the saving power of the Savior, Jesus Christ?

If we are able to hold onto Jesus, and at the same time hold onto sin, guess where our allegiances will ultimately lie....

We cannot serve two masters. Personal redemption and eternal salvation is an all or nothing proposition, and our carnal sensibilities and opinions have no bearing on the matter. The ultimate spiritual outcome is dependent upon our standing with God.

If all of Christendom becomes more palatable, or creates a better public perception, will it then be sought and embraced? If we downplay the personal salvation of the sinner, will the message be less offensive? If we blend with the culture, will we win more converts?

Or will we just become another choice on the menu of religious philosophies with no claim to absolute truth.... ?

The following examples are indicative of the type of resistance we face in today's secular society:

The belief that hell is false; merely part of Christian folklore – a central aspect of an overall attempt to control the population with guilt and eternal consequence.

The belief that sin is false and all self-defeating behavior (and criminal conduct) stems from our chemical makeup and poor social conditioning.

The belief that morality is not universal (as per the natural conscience / distinct order/design of created man) but relative and the personal goal of civil society is to aspire to live by the Golden Rule, despite well documented historical evidence of the wicked, corrupt, self-serving tendencies of humanity throughout the ages.

The belief that the Bible promotes racism, sexism, oppression/slavery, murder, etc., and merely represents outdated, archaic mythology – indicative of the times it was written.

The belief that evolutionary science proves the Christian creation account, and related existential truths, to be a fallacy.

The belief that one can still be "spiritual" outside of everlasting truth.

The belief that Christianity is one of many roads to heaven.

The belief that Jesus (historical and divine) never existed.

The belief that Christianity has been a primary source of pain and suffering over the centuries.

The belief that Christianity's influence should not exceed good works or enter the realm of proselytism.

These are the attitudes and biases we are up against. It makes you wonder if we are, in fact, witnessing the beginning of the end of Christianity in America. How are we to respond to the numerous exaggerations, generalizations, characterizations, misconceptions and the overall unlearned bias and ignorance about Christianity and its existential validity?

In a world where even the Jesus narrative is blindly deemed 'urban legend,' what is a Christian to do?

First, we have to understand that these are all lies perpetuated by secular skeptics, looking to taint and ultimately destroy Christianity. Throughout history, these recycled and repackaged allegations periodically surface among certain fringe segments of the scholarly community. These accusations have been aptly defended by godly men throughout the ages.

When our fundamental beliefs are challenged, we must resist any notion of compromise. As we are met with secular opposition there are a few vital principles in which we should be mindful:

Christianity does not evolve. God is the same today as yesterday.

Christianity will never be politically correct, and it should not be "used" to advance a personal ideology or agenda.

Christian doctrines of original sin, repentance, regeneration, hell, etc., are not PC and will never be.

Ironically, the idea that we accidentally evolved from random chemicals is deemed PC by today's secular standards. Regardless, the fact that such an idea has been deemed politically correct, does not make it superior and/or any less absurd. Rather, the true absurdity lies in a widespread and ever-increasing cultural shift toward individual/social narcissism deeply rooted in the prideful agnosticism of the modern man. The average young adult suffers from a warped sense of entitled purposelessness.

Are judgmental Christians a problem?

Of course, and it's frustrating for the churched and unchurched alike when the so-called body of Christ is filled with hypocrites, legalists, sin sniffers, and con men of the 'health and wealth prosperity' sort. Jesus stood for none of those things.

On the other hand, when the Church finds herself thrust into a culture war, she's placed at a major disadvantage. Early Christianity, in its purest form throughout its inception, was such a counterculture movement. A point can be made that we are once again becoming the counterculture. Can we influence another awakening? Can we trigger another spiritually-enlightened resurgence?

In the end, the religious leaders guilty of compromising truth for attendance figures and tax breaks will have neither. Catholic and Protestant youth who are no longer being schooled in theological fundamentals are fleaing the churches in droves. Pastors are sharing a carnal, low-cost, easy-believism form of faith that looks and sounds like something Dr Phil would offer. Jesus is offered in a general sense but there is no true attempt to convey a personal 'shed blood of Christ' application that generates gratitude and obedience. A sinless convert is a fickle, and ultimately, faithless convert.

Too many modern day pastors are failing their litmus test and leaving a multitude of tormented souls in their wake. They are ultimately planting the seeds of their own demise.

A secularized church is an arbitrary church and ultimately an irrelevant one; which is exactly what they want.

© A.J. Castellitto

 

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A.J. Castellitto

A.J. Castellitto is a freelance writer who resides in NJ with his wife and five children. He holds a B.S. in Counseling and Human Services from the University of Scranton and his writings have been published at The Center for Western Journalism, The Christian Post, Intellectual Conservative and Reformed Perspective Magazine.

Tweets: @AjCastellitto

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