Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

theological inquiry

3/28/13

 

I think it should be obvious that the institutional church, which is what is represented by every church building and paid minister, is not a promoter of theological inquiry. The surest way to raise a ruckus in any church group is to throw open the door to questioning what is taught and practiced in the name of Christianity. You can bet that every preacher and every church leader knows this fact and therefore cannot be enthusiastic about encouraging deep Bible study and the associate questions.

 

Additionally, you can guess that the average church audience is not particularly keen on hearing that the Old, Old Story of the previous generations might need some revision. What has been inherited religiously from our forbearers is very comfortable and accepting it as unassailable means no need to experience the pain of uncertainty or to suggest any blindness or misrepresentation in the past. Individual members, especially those who contribute significant money, yield considerable influence over what the church teaches and allows to be questioned. Preachers are also employees, so not only does open inquiry generate discomfort in the ranks, but it also threatens the preachers livelihood. Not a pleasant spot for one who might wish to be more open to questioning but cannot accept the risk of job loss.

 

Therefore, the preachers and leaders don't want to deal with change and the members for the most part don't either, so on they go teaching and believing what they always have. In that environment, what results in sermons and classes is merely an endless regurgitation of past doctrines.  If the members become bored and complacent under those conditions, there is little wonder. If the church is not going to be the forum for honest discussion of spiritual questions and issues, it becomes irrelevant to daily life. And in that way church services become social events where the members self congratulate, engage in small talk, and return home spiritually anesthetized.

 

The preachers and leaders in the church are not ultimately responsible for this situation. They inherited current traditional Christianity; and we, the congregants, encourage them to continue it by being so acquiescent religiously and so adverse to newness. The church will follow the will of its membership. They have to or die. History proves it.

 

Individual members must take responsibility for what they believe or even imply they believe by associating with a particular religious group and their doctrines. It really is harmful ultimately to sit silently in the pew for years disbelieving some of what is taught, excusing that silence as just getting along and not wanting to make waves. You must know that you are not the only one in that group who has a particular question and would like to explore an answer beyond the pat, traditional one normally offered up. If you find the church's answers insufficient and confusing, others almost assuredly do too. Until someone takes a first step, risking criticism and maybe even ostracism, we can forget about the church ever being the forum for religious freedom and growth.