James Emery White’s , in his new book ( Christ Among the Dragons: Finding Our Way Through Cultural Challenges), offers nothing less than a stunning chp on the importance of the church, and we will close this series with this post.
And he doesn’t hold back on the superficiality of the “church” in low church evangelicalism, and much of evangelicalism at large.
Can you say “I believe in the Church”? Do you think low church evangelicals really believe in the church? Do you think Protestant liberals believe in the Church? Do you think the major denominations believe in the “one” Church? Who do you think believes in the Church one, holy, apostolic, and catholic?
I’ve not seen this observation but White says D. Michael Lindsay discovered that many, many evangelical leaders — corporations, athletes, celebrities, etc — rarely go to church.
What do you think? Cyprian: “You cannot have God as your Father if you don’t have the Church as your mother.”
Now some big questions: Do you consider the following adequate examples of what it means to go to church? (Please don’t quibble with “going to church” as going to church on Sunday AM; not the point.) The issue here is “Do these things qualify for church?”
Faith activities at home instead of attending church services
Watching “church” on TV/internet
Listening to “church” on radio/internet
Attending special religious events, like concerts
Participating in a marketplace/work ministry
What has happened?
James Emery White says it was the Reformation and the Reformation is on steroids among American low-church evangelicals. The Reformation led for many to lose a sense of history and a robust ecclesiology. For many, the church has been trivialized. For others the discovery of the Church tradition, and the history of the Church, leads to the Canterbury trail or crossing the Tiber. (If you’d like to see my study of this, see: Finding Faith, Losing Faith: Stories of Conversion and Apostasy
In the USA a great example of this is the democratization of the Church: clergy/laity distinction is blurred, people judge their spiritual impulses without wisdom from clergy, little sense of limitations.
Good example: rabid parachurch commitment where one’s faith community is the parachurch group instead of the local church.
White proposes five C’s that characterize the church: community, confession/creed, corporate, celebration and cause (mission).