As one who has spent a lot of words noting the adverse effects of the institutional church, the conclusion that this church has served God’s purpose in human history has come slowly. My understanding of God’s sovereignty leads me inexorably to conclude that everything in history works out in the long run according to God’s plan and in accordance with His will. Therefore, logically, the actions and influence of the institutional church over the last nearly 2000 years has to have been necessary and useful. As one raised within the church, I should have realized (maybe admitted is a better word) that my own association with church sponsored Christianity was an essential step in my spiritual life. In my case, it was not appropriate to remain in that association, but the journey had to begin somewhere.
In promoting a spiritual mindedness and incessantly pointing mankind to a reality beyond what we can see physically, the church has served to temper our innate self-centeredness. In providing a venue in which fellowship is offered, the church has likewise fostered a feeling of community and provided a vehicle for benevolent activities within that community. Since I believe that expressions of love and support for other human beings are the truest form of respect for God, these benevolent opportunities must serve to draw men closer to the Creator and their own true nature.
In other words, I now see is that the history of the church is not to be condemned, per se, but rather is to recognized as one of many developmental steps in our overall spirituality. All human progress is a mixed bag. There are good and not so good aspects. Learning, growth, and development are what is important. Both good and bad experiences can contribute to that process. If God is in control, then everything must contribute to mankind’s spiritual evolution despite how we may perceive it from our limited vantage point.
This realization represents an epiphany of sorts for me. I recognize a need to move on, embracing the future instead of bemoaning the past. That is the next step for me.