Friday, February 26, 2010

God is Imaginary: #20 Notice Your Church

Notice Your Church.

Much that they say in this "proof" is true, but it is not the whole truth. The church does waste copious amounts of money that should be used to further the church's mission. With that said, I'll offer a couple of common reasons for the waste:

  • The church is filled with human beings who are full of pride and conceit. In that regard, however, the church is the right place for them: On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. Mark 2:17.
  • The church has adopted the "church growth" mantra, and is trying to use the appeals of the world--entertainment, social situations, etc.--to further its mission. It doesn't work very well, but not everyone is as single minded as St. Paul: For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2.

However, we do need to make a distinction between the "church" as an organization, and the "church" as a community of believers, which is traditionally referred to as the visible and invisible church. The invisible church exists where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them (Matthew 18:20). It does not need any sort of building, or permanent location.

The visible church was established as an institution (not a building), to fulfill the mandate given through St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. It has continued to this day because, despite its flaws, it serves a useful function. One of those functions for which I am particular grateful is the expertise, education, and training. As a lay scholar, I do not have the background in Biblical languages necessary to study the original Scriptures. I am entirely reliant on the dedicated men who do such translation. I by myself cannot fund such scholarship, but that is one reason why an organized church was established in Scripture.

The focus of their ire in the above post was on lavish church buildings. Are such buildings sinful? No. The Old Testament believers built the Tabernacle and various temples--of which Solomon's was the most lavish and magnificent (perhaps more magnificent than anything ever built). Yet these buildings were built by the command of God for his worship and glory. Therefore, they cannot be inherently sinful.

It is easy for us to dismiss the worship of God. Surely, we imagine, we, and God, have more useful things to do than to spend time worshiping. We could be helping others, or studying Scriptures, or doing anything but worshiping. I won't spend much time on the definition of worship, other than to refer you to 1 Corinthians 10:31. However, just as we can glorify God with our voices, we can also give glory to God in the buildings we build and the worship we give to Him there. Building a beautiful building to the glory of God is an act of worship, and should be treated as such.

However, does including a basketball court fall under that mandate? I'm leaning towards probably not.

Back to the Fifty Reasons.



Blogger Prof. Roger Kovaciny said...

Visiting a dirt-poor Mexican town an American was indignant over the money wasted on its magnificent cathedral, and said so. Fortunately the priest understood English and said "If the people had kept the money, it might have meant an extra half pound of ground pork once a week, or likelier the father would have smoked it up. But one day a week they can get out of the mud and the dust and the stink, forget their troubles, cry out to God and worship with as much beauty and glory as the President of Mexico."

Man does not live by bread alone.

1:22 AM  

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