Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

skeptical of Transformation

7/25/20

A burning issue within church theology is the question of when and how will the work and ministry of Jesus ever bring about worldwide transformation in the hearts and minds of humanity. In countless ways this very question defines the history of the institutional church and the ebb and flow of its theology. By ebb and flow I refer to the way each new generation attempts to explain why that worldwide transformation has never happened so far.

Thus over the centuries various denominations have advanced biblical interpretive schemes to answer the introductory question. Maybe God never intended a worldwide transformation or any significant change at all. Maybe Jesus was thwarted in his mission by Jewish intransigence and now must return with a more forceful second effort. Maybe the church has just been too negligent in propagating the Gospel, and they need to try harder so transformation can be achieved by instruction in righteousness. Or maybe transformation has been sidelined because the church has failed to suppress public unrighteousness through the power of the state. The problem is obvious and the purported explanations numerous.

One common denominator throughout the history of the church is the assumption that since societal transformation has never happened through the teaching of the Gospel, then society must continue to be ordered and controlled by state sponsored laws and enforcement agencies. Thus, religious skepticism about the possibility of  reordering society with the Gospel serves to strengthen and prolong the general reliance on the law and order philosophy. The default position of human thinking is that state oppression of certain people is the only practical answer to this lack of human transformation under the Gospel.

This default never even considers the possibility of a transition in human thinking and motivation in our future. What has been done in the past must remain into the foreseeable future. This is the one constant within church history with all the varying understandings of the Bible story.

It stands to reason that a church which has no real expectation of the Gospel ever changing much in human attitudes, behaviors, and expectations will never get very interested in or dedication to that message. Paid ministers may exhibit some level of  attachment to a transformative Gospel, but the average church member will be largely indifferent.

Of course, we also have the complicating factor that there are so many different interpretations of what the Gospel message is and what that message was designed to do. This is part and parcel of the question of why 2000 years this side of Christ, we still question what he accomplished and needs yet to do. This manifold confusion makes indifference to the teaching of Jesus and the propagation of the Gospel essentially guaranteed.

Then here we are again. The church is hip deep in political intrigue and turmoil. Their obvious answer to why Jesus seems a failure is that Christians have not been effective enough in aligning the state with their theology. Strangely the one, they claim to honor, specifically rejected the state as his agency on earth. The church likes to claim that role to themselves, but then they insist that the state be a co-agent, adding coercion as a necessary element to advance the transformative power of the Gospel, which is otherwise insufficient.