The American Church – What Is Wrong? What Is Right?

An Excellent Spirit has been writing on the state of our nation the last few weeks. So have some of our favorite writers. Two such favorites, Mike Adams and Dr. Mike Brown, both writing in Townhall, recently penned interesting columns that impacted our thoughts on America as we enter the New Year.

First, Mike Adams, the sometimes hilarious criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of Letters to a Young Progressive: How To Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don’t Understand, due out in April 2013. Adams writes of his experience at a mega-church over the Christmas season when he went home to Houston, Texas.  It is not so much what he said in his article, nor the fact that most Christians will find it offensive that Adams found any fault with a ministry, pastor or church. Read the whole article for yourself and decide for yourself. Here  What is important to An Excellent Spirit is what Adams said at several points of the piece. “That is symptomatic of what ails the church in 21st Century America. Production and marketing take center stage. Core beliefs are lost somewhere in the process.” An Excellent Spirit has fellowshipped at tiny churches that met in homes with 10 people including the pastor and his wife and two children. We have attended several of the most famous mega churches in America and we are members of a mega church today. We have seen what Adams said in both the large and small churches, so it is not the mega church that is the culprit. Rather it is the human beings that make up the church, large or small.

Adams, commenting on the production showing a video that took the Lord’s Name in vain three times before the entire congregation, “The service wasn’t meant to honor God. It was meant to entertain.” The pastors of the Houston mega-church are even named by Adams and come in for his criticism. “Kerry and Chris delivered a joint sermon, which had a broad general theme connected to the giant locomotive that stood behind them. The thesis was that we need to relinquish our need to control people and circumstances and instead let God direct our lives. But during the short sermon, Kerry’s wife said something rather unusual. It had to do with holy moments in our lives. It was as morally confused a statement as I have ever heard inside a place calling itself a church. Without batting an eye, Chris Shook stated that all of the moments in our lives are equally holy no matter what we are doing because they were all created by God. So she insisted that we must learn to live in the moment, rather than seek a holy moment – because, once again, all moments are holy, and equally so.” Sadly, Mike Adams is much better when he writes about the behaviors on campus and the mentality that grips academia.

Mike Adams

Adams then gives his readers a short exegesis on what he thinks is or is not “a holy moment”. Adams then goes on to his point, “Obviously, not every moment in our lives is equally holy or God honoring “no matter what we are doing.” It matters very much what we are doing. Everyone knows that, including Chris’ husband Kerry who contradicted his wife about five minutes later. Near the end of their joint sermon, Kerry thanked people for coming to The Woodlands Church on “Christmas Eve, one of the holiest nights of the year.” Put simply, there can be no holier or holiest night if every moment in our lives is equally holy. Either Kerry was right or his wife Chris was right. A cannot be not-A. The law of non-contradiction matters. Every right thinking person knows that Kerry was right. His wife needed to sit down and let her husband the senior pastor deliver the correct message unencumbered by contradictions steeped in moral relativism. The culture teaches moral relativism. The church needs to correct it. Of course, having Chris up there was the most important thing because it shows that The Woodlands Church really isn’t a Baptist Church after all. They let women preach and that shows they are culturally relevant. A little bad theology never hurt anyone. In our holiest moments, we recognize that sound theology must defer to the secular doctrine of feminism. Some doctrines are holier than others. And relativism is culturally relevant even when it isn’t logically consistent.” It is not that An Excellent Spirit agrees or disagrees with Mike Adams. He has his “right” to his opinion, as do the Shooks and those at Woodlands Church. We do however recall something about God saying “touch not My anointed ones, do My prophets no harm.” (1 Chronicles 16:22). Psalm 105 sets forth this Word in detail. (Pslam 105:15) Read the whole thing.

But, what of God? God is quite particular about His Name and His Word. God says that He has concern for His Great Name which has been profaned by those in the nations to which they have gone. Then, in Ezekiel 36:22-23, God declares, “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of My Holy Name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will show the holiness of My Great Name, which has been profaned among the nations, the Name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I show Myself holy through you before their eyes.” Read the whole column and decide, not whether you agree or disagree with what Adams said about what occurred at Woodlands Church at a service. We can all be sure that God will do that for Himself. There can be no argument that Adams has a point today in urging the Body of Christ to stand for something more in America than multi-cultural good feeling stage productions. God’s Church must begin to live what God’s Word tells us to do each day, especially those days when we are not in a celebratory environment and vulnerable to feeling the “season to be jolly”!

Next we turn to our friend, Dr. Mike Brown. Dr. Brown is a seasoned observer of the Church the world over. He is currently in Hong Kong and recently returned from India. His latest Townhall column is on a similar theme as that of Mike Adams. Dr. Brown gives us a list of what he says is wrong with the Church in America and what is right. Ever the optimist, Dr. Brown starts with what is right. “To be clear, though, I’m speaking of the circles in which I travel, meaning evangelical Christian circles, so my observations might not apply to other Christian groups in America. What are some of the strengths of the American Evangelical Church?

We are at the forefront of feeding the poor and providing disaster relief worldwide.

We are a generous people when it comes to funding gospel work in America and abroad.

We have produced an abundance of Christian resources.

We have a positive, can-do mentality.

Our churches offer many practical programs to help everyone from recovering drug addicts to couples needing marital counseling.

We are strongly pro-life and pro-morality.

We are strongly pro-Israel.

We have sent many missionaries to the nations, also providing them with financial support.

To be sure, Dr. Brown is right about the things he names that our churches, large and small do well and stand for today. An Excellent Spirit would not have to labor to come up with a few more, but lets look at Dr. Brown’s list of faults.

Our Christian expression is often shallow and superficial.

We have been plagued with scandals among our leaders.

We preach a carnal prosperity message.

We export our false teaching around the world.

We have created a worldly, cultural Christianity.

We have perfected the gospel enterprise.

We run our churches like businesses.

We are self-dependent.

We are heavily politicized.

We have produced super-star preachers.

We are exceptionally gullible.

Our “pep talk gospel” is hardly the gospel at all.

Dr. Mike Brown

The two “Mike’s” have had their say. An Excellent Spirit does not publish either man to affirm all that he says; rather we pray that our readers will react to each column by responding, praying and asking God what He wants for His Church. Criticism is not bad, in and of itself. It is only bad when it violates the Word of God and His Holy Spirit will convict of that violation. An Excellent Spirit trusts both men as Christian observers, cultural resources and academicians that America needs more of. What do you say?

In the weeks ahead, we will be saying more about what these two good men wrote about. We will also publish what our readers send us as that is what is most important to God.