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The Church Impotent

The church at one time had a total vision and ministry, but, in the modern age, it has surrendered its ancient works of mercy to a cold state bureaucracy.

Chalcedon Editorial
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The church at one time had a total vision and ministry, but, in the modern age, it has surrendered its ancient works of mercy to a cold state bureaucracy.[1]

What began with Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority in 1979, and morphed into the Religious Right by the late 80s, is now facing a mid-life crisis. After a few Republican presidents, the creation of multiple religious political organizations, and years of 24 hour Christian television and radio, are we looking at a more righteous America? Not hardly.

Instead, we have an aggressive anti-theism, abortion still in place, the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of gay marriage, a war on God-created genders, pornography on demand, increased violence, rioting, incessant wars, and a full-blown worship of the state.

How’s the church doing? Well, big box megachurches are still popping up all over the country, but what good are a plethora of churches if the social decline is so pronounced? We have more, bigger, richer suburban churches and yet the country is worse. In other words:

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. ~ Matt. 5:13

Or as Rushdoony wrote:

The Church of the Warm Fuzzies is too much with us. As a result, the church is impotent; instead of shaping history, it is shaped by it. Instead of acting on the world scene, it reacts. Serious questions must be raised about such a church, because a powerless church seems to be a contradiction in terms. A persecuted church is attacked because it is a power center, and an enemy of Christ’s enemies.[2]

“Surrendering the Ancient Works of Mercy”

Certainly, the millions of professing Christians in America do love God, their families, their churches, their communities, and their country. They desire revival and a transformation of the culture, but the problem is more so their beliefs—specifically their understanding, or the lack thereof, of the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God is the rule of God in heaven and in earth, but godly dominion comes by way of self-government and Christian charity. This is the heart of Rushdoony’s unique and powerful volume, In His Service: The Christian Calling to Charity:

The power of the early church was in its remarkable ministry of service to the needy, to widows and orphans, to the sick, the homeless, and to travelers. Captives were ransomed, discarded newly-born babies picked up and reared, and much, much more. It was the power of obedience.

Was this ever the emphasis of the Religious Right? If it were, it wouldn’t be called the Religious Right, because these works are not the works of the state, but that of the church ministering directly to the needs of others. It’s good to have Christian voices in civil government, but the error is when the modern church has “surrendered its ancient works of mercy to a cold state bureaucracy.”

Returning the Church to Being a Power Center

One would hope that the present disillusionment of Christians regarding the state would lead to a new emphasis: a return to those ancient works of mercy, charity, justice, and more. We did it with Christian education as a vast multitude of Christian families homeschooled their children and churches built Christian schools. Instead of trying to “take over” civil government, Christians “took back” government by the self-government of Christian education.

This can also be achieved in other areas, but that requires a knowledgeable people committed to the work who are also willing to utilize their tithes for direct Kingdom efforts. Just try to calculate how much of God’s tithe is consumed in the megachurch. Studies show that 85-90% of giving by church members goes just to pay for facilities and staff. So much for the ancient works of mercy!

The “church impotent” will only become a power center when it begins exercising power by way of godly service and self-government in terms of God’s law. Until then, it is still very much in league with the cold state bureaucracy sustained by a hope that a true Christian will one day be in the White House. All the while, the true work of the Kingdom awaits their awakening and action.

Let’s help them in that process!

[1] R. J. Rushdoony, In His Service: The Christian Calling to Charity (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2009), 42.

[2] Ibid., 41.

[3] Ibid., 38.

Chalcedon Editorial
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