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Trivializing the Faith

By R. J. Rushdoony
November 01, 1998

Four of us, all clergymen, were discussing the increasing irrelevance of many churches. Incidents like these were cited. A church in the Midwest called a pastor who apparently was what they wanted, orthodox and resistant to the denomination's growing modernism. He seemed to be all they wanted and more, but dissatisfaction was soon evident. The man, a Westerner, actually wore colored shirts during the week! Another case: two important families resisted the calling of an able, orthodox man because his shoes were not properly shined!

The church has drifted for some time because of the trivialization of the Faith by too many peoples. Just as hymns now are expressive more of feeling than doctrine, so too the standards have been reduced to trifles and doctrines underrated. The church has been trivialized, and a trivial church is in some respects more of a problem than an apostate church.

A trivial church is governed by its members, not by the Bible nor by doctrinal standards and confession. A trivial church can become more apostate than a heretical one because it is so radically humanistic. To cite an example, one church, with a thoroughly evangelical pastor, grew rapidly under his ministry, in part because of his able preaching, and in part due to its expansion of ministries to all kinds of age and special interest groups. The pastor became aware of the fact that special interests were more important to members than the Faith. He therefore planned a series of sermons on "Priorities." Our needs cannot outweigh God's requirements in the life of the church. But the committee of women in charge of the weekly bulletin and other publications promptly revised his announcement, saying it would harm the church! As a result of what followed, the pastor resigned.

Trivializing has become standard practice. Hymns celebrate man's faith more than God's word and the doctrines of the Faith. Trivialization begins with us and our response to our God and his word. It begins with a trivial people. They can be able, pleasant to know, willing in some ways to work hard, but never except on their terms. The universality or catholicity of the Faith is replaced by their smallness and pettiness. If God's absolute and sovereign word and purpose do not prevail, then man's will is done, and the Faith is trivialized.

In Psalm 63:1-2, David speaks of his thirst for God and his intense desire to know more of God, and the better to serve him. That thirst for God and the knowledge of him must consume us or else we have trivialized ourselves and everything we do. Man, created by God to be the heir of all creation, has chosen instead to be a trifler even when entrusted with holy things, and he will pay a price for this. Least of all should the church be a place of trivialization. We need to assess our lives, cleanse ourselves of trivialization, and to serve the Lord with all our heart, mind and being.


Topics: Philosophy, Church, The

R. J. Rushdoony

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965.  His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.”  He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

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