I recently received the July-August 2008 issue of New Horizons Magazine, a publication of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC). In the past I attended an OPC church and my wife still attends an OPC church planting effort in Rockford, so I’m sent the magazine. It is interesting to look at these types of publications once you come out from under the fog of religious indoctrination. The lead article is “One Plus One Equals One”, a great testimony to the misuse of math for the glory of God! The theme of this issue is church planting and while there is much that could be said about the articles in this issue, the one that interested me was “Reviving a Church in Madison.” It tells of a church in Madison, WI where “an explosion shattered the body” and worship ceased for a few weeks. But miracles of miracles, a few people remained interesting in getting the church started again and:
“The Holy Spirit began to heal the wounds from the meltdown…” and “New joy in what the Lord is doing pervades the congregation. Praise God for his faithfulness in sustaining his people.”
These are interesting thoughts about a God that is always praised regardless of the outcome. It doesn’t seem to matter what happens, praise is always to be given. What about the “explosion (that) shattered the body”? This is a euphemism for a whole mess of problems and conflicts that occurred between people in the church and perhaps the leadership. The problems were so great that the church was split and torn apart. It doesn’t really matter what these problems were. The congregation was composed of people. These are people with real lives and real problems and real emotions. People who were Christians (membership in OPC churches is for Christians only and is fairly rigid) and supposedly committed to Christ. Yet a sovereign, omnipresent, omniscient, all loving, all caring God who sent his Holy Spirit to dwell within believers could not cause cooler heads to prevail and save HIS people the agony and emotional problems that result from a church meltdown? And these people, who supposedly have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them and supposedly have the love of Christ within their hearts, couldn’t settle their disagreements or at least leave peaceably?
Once the meltdown had occurred and the damage was done, God then healed the wounds of some of the people that remained and begin to revive the church. “Praise God for his faithfulness in sustaining his people.” What? Where was He to sustain his hurting people during the meltdown? Where was He when it came to turning the hearts of his people to God and preventing the meltdown in the first place? Where was His Holy Spirit in causing the love of Christ to shine through these problems and prevent the meltdown? I know, they are just sinful people saved by the grace of God. But if God’s chosen people (a Calvinist believes he was chosen by God before the foundations of the world) who supposedly have His Holy Spirit dwelling within them and the love of Christ within their hearts behave in such a manner, what does this say about their God? If they behave no better or no worse than the sinful people around them, it seems to me that the Holy Spirit and the love of Christ have little to do with the real world a person lives and moves in. In other words, the way a person lives out their faith, tells a lot about their faith. In this case, their faith is based on nothing and nothing in return is given. Having faith in an invisible, magical friend in the sky doesn’t make it so and having faith in an imaginary being has no power to help you in your daily life.