What is the Church For?

In the category of “see, we don’t make up this stuff” comes a two-part series (Part I, Part II)   on the Church from the Iowa-flavored Politico-Evangelical blog of radio personality Steve Deace.  One of the advantages of his blog is that you pretty much get a grass-roots view not prettified by pretensions or correctness.  In this series called What is the Church For?, the author quickly shows where it is headed:

many churches are overlooking important truth necessary for living in our modern culture. I think there are two types of issues churches needs to equip people for. The first are individual issues that all people from all cultures from all time periods face, like pride, lust, greed, idolatry, etc. Then there are issues that entire cultures struggle with as immorality always finds its way in.

In other words, the purpose of the Church is to be a leader in the culture wars, and leading it with the weapons of moralism, worldview, and right-wing politics.

She does at least mention the gospel:

When I look at what the Church stands for today, I see many great teachings. In my own life I have been challenged to look at my shortcomings in areas like humility, looking for God’s purpose in difficult circumstances, and spreading the Gospel. These are great things. But when I read the writings of Paul in the New Testament, he addresses not only these issues, but also issues of culture.

That, folks, is the only mention of the gospel, something which is, apparently, great as far as it goes BUT it doesn’t really get at the more important “issues of culture.”  The gospel gets a merely obligatory mention because the author is really itching to spread something else:

One of the most important jobs of the Church is to equip the people to go out into the world and proclaim the truth by giving them a “lens” to look at the culture through a biblical worldview.. . . Simply, the church’s job is to tell the truth about what the Bible says with regard to the current “deceptive philosophies” in our culture so that the people are equipped to support those that courageously stand for truth.

This would be a stark affirmation of what we sometimes see but don’t say for fear of sounding shrill: some Evanglicals have bought into worldview so much that, in some places, it supplants the gospel itself.

But the Church isn’t just about worldview; it’s also about getting out the vote:

it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” Throughout history, the culture war has been fought in the end by bloodshed and war. But God has mercifully handed us a weapon to fight this battle without these horrors. This weapon is our vote.

Noticeably absent from the article What is the Church For? are the Lord’s Supper, baptism, worship, and doctrine.  Sorry for nitpicking, but if you ever wonder why some of us have issues with worldview and the politicization of the Church, or blog about Big Worldview, Little Church, remember: it’s not because of a fictional bogeyman in the closet.

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7 Comments

Filed under Culture Wars, evangelical politics, Spirituality of the Church, Worldview

7 responses to “What is the Church For?

  1. Richard

    Priceless. The Great Commission didn’t make the list. And, as we approach Good Friday–Jesus was crucified for what? Lord have mercy. The conservatives sound like old style liberals.

  2. dewisant1

    “…Jesus Christ died fer nothin’, I suppose…”
    (Sam Stone – by John Prine)

  3. dewisant1

    Can something not pertain yet still be germane? I have this to offer, from Gordon H. Clark’s monograph on the Atonement (which I am reading because it is Easter and because, well, it’s the Truth):
    “…Many ordinary Christians are woefully ignorant. In a class of enthusiastic students at a summer conference, all of college level, all “on fire for Jesus,” singing wild “gospel songs” with abandon, thirty-four out of thirty-five had not the dimmest notion of justification by faith. They could clap their hands & stomp their feet, but not one of the thirty-four could recite the Ten Commandments. In fact, the lone exception was not a member of the conference staff, but a visitor who just sat in. The present treatise will at least quote some very elementary Biblical passages, if not for the edification of those whirling dervishes, at least for the sober minded, even if poorly instructed, church members who genuinely want to understand this central doctrine of Christianity. I do not despise ignorant Christians because of their ignorance, but who can praise those who are determined not to learn?”

    I am silenced by that last sentence. Would to God that more self acclaimed “Leaders” would remove from the Pulpit & return to the Pews.

    Thanks, Sir, for a wonderful blog…

  4. I am finding a lot of discomfort with Westminster West’s definition of what the church is; just like there is a lot of discomfort with an emphasis on the doctrine of jusfication by faith alone (the Gospel). You can easily fall into an uneasy feeling of why does it seem like everyone is against what is coming out of Westminster West. I’m of the persuasion that the church has to guard the good news of the Gospel with all its heart, soul, mind and strength. It’s worship and liturgy should be structured to promote an outflow of gratitude for what Christ has done for those who have been elected to believe. We need to hear the Law and the Gospel on a regular basis and why people react against this good news can be mind boggling at times. The only good reason I can think of is that they really don’t think they need to hear the Gospel regularly and thank God for what He has done for us. I am sure one can think of lots of other reasons too.

    Just stopping bye to see what your up to MM. I miss your humor and insight. I have been making off topic remarks at oldlife and need to hide out for awhile. And I am getting tired of reading Richard’s pietistic and predictable comebacks to what everyone throws his way. There are lots of other things to do besides blog. Perhaps I should take a long and extended break from it for awhile.

    • John, I am wondering why you don’t like the Westminster West definition of the church. Of the Reformed alternatives, I would think you would find it the most palatable.

      Yes, there are plenty of non-blogging activities, like a few outside projects I have going on right now. I hate paying for what I can do myself. But it’s possible you’re too self-conscious about your posts over at Old Life. It’s not so bad to have lighter moments mixed in with the serious, and sometimes I chuckle even if I don’t respond. Speaking of lighter comments, maybe Richard has been contracted by Piper’s church to intervene and he’s getting paid by the word?

      • I do find Westminster’s West definition of the church palatable- but I find a lot of resistance towards it in my reading of other viewpoints. Westminsters West definition works only if one believes they are a sinner in dire need of the Gospel. Then I advocate massive doses of the Gospel on a regular basis. Here is an interesting quote from Luther on death:

        works 54:65, tabletalk–“I don’t like to see examples of joyful death.
        I like to see those who tremble and shake and grow pale when they face
        death. It was so with the great saints. They were not glad to die.”

        That kind of shook me up when I read it.

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