Many people seem to recognize that the church has a problem. In many respects it is a PR issue. A lot of folks have a negative image of religion and its purveyor, the institutional church. Often, when faced by criticism of the church’s history, its proponents want to admit that in the past the church has sponsored some questionable activities, but that in the large, its influence has been positive. Generally these supporters refer to the historical work of the church in sponsoring orphanages, medical care, and aid to the impoverished. The balance between the good and the bad coming from the church is certainly arguable. In my mind though, this attempt to identify and quantify the benefit of the church on the physical well-being of people overlooks the larger negative impact of the church on the psychological and spiritual health of society.
The real problem with the church is the same today as it has always been. The church sees itself as the dispenser or God’s blessing on all mankind. Instead of taking the symbolism of the one body in which all mankind is united under the benefit of a fully revealed God as its model, the church has chosen to be an eyedropper which parcels out God’s bountiful blessings in small doses to only the select few. In fact, the church’s favorite activity seems to be finding some new group to focus on in denying them access to God. If society revolts and demands that a previously excluded group be included, the church simply moves on to focus on a new group for exclusion. If possible, the secular government in concert with reactionary politicians is enlisted to promote and facilitate this exclusion.
Just look at the history of the groups the church has brought into its crosshairs: Jews, Muslims, Africans, atheists, heretics, the mentally sick, the physically afflicted, women, all foreigners, immigrants, criminals, liberals, progressives, free thinkers, questioners, the religiously non-compliant, the educated, homosexuals, abortion advocates; the list goes on and on. No wonder the opponents of the church are so numerous; nearly the entire world resides in one of these categories. Of course, the real problem is that the church feels perfectly comfortable being the excluder of so many. They think it is their goal and purpose to be exclusionists. As long as that thinking prevails, the problem with the church will remain the problem with the church. The uniting of mankind in the mind and body of Christ will never be accomplished by the thinking that motivates the church to promote unending disunity.