Tuesday, August 18, 2015 8:02 AM

Church and Faith in a Fallen World

Tuesday, August 18, 2015 8:02 AM
Tuesday, August 18, 2015 8:02 AM

You cannot serve two masters. The Pharisees believed in God, and worshipped God, but yet they lost their souls for their traditions. Here is a quote that says well…be careful that you do not serve two masters.


All religious association have a restrictive side because of their unwillingness to submit to correction by the transcendent Word of God. The church as an institution gives a prominent place to Scripture, but it willingly subordinates Scripture to its own traditions and creeds. It reads Scripture through the lens of its own confession of faith. A sect is necessarily constrictive, since it adamantly refuses to let itself be taught by the wider church. A cult is equally resistant to instruction from the wider Christian community, since it believes that truth lies not in sacraments, creeds and confessions but within the human soul. The true church will allow itself to be taught and corrected by the living Word of God, who abides within the church as a purifying leaven. This kind of church is an eschatological, not merely a historical, reality.

Still another form of religious association in this schema is the denomination, which here signifies a transition from church to sect or from sect to church. A denomination is a compromise solution—seeking to bring together the inclusive vision of the church and the exclusive claims of the sect.10 It is a cultural or accommodationist religion intent on preserving its theological and social identity in a pluralistic milieu. It is noneschatological, since its focus is on preserving the institution rather than on heralding a definite message that the kingdom is at hand and thereby calling for a radical decision of faith. The rise of denominations presages the eclipse of eschatological faith and ipso facto the end of a Christianity that makes rigorous demands on its people. A denomination irremediably weakens the Christian witness because truth is prone to be sacrificed to pragmatic considerations.[1]


10 H. Richard Niebuhr has this insightful observation: “Denominationalism … is a compromise, made far too lightly, between Christianity and the world. Yet it often regards itself as a Christian achievement and glorifies its martyrs as bearers of the Cross. It represents the accommodation of Christianity to the caste-system of human society.” See Niebuhr, The Social Sources of Denominationalism (1929; reprint, Hamden, Conn.: Shoe String Press, 1954), p. 6.

[1] Bloesch, D. G. (2004). The last things: resurrection, judgment, glory (p. 22). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

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