Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Death of Christianity

Christianity is dying.

No, it is not dying everywhere.
It is dying on the North American Continent.

It is dying because we have not become disciples to Christ.
It is dying because we preferred to keep our own selves alive;
...that is, we have not put our own selves to death.
Christ cannot live in our hearts until we do so.
In The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer said,
"When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."*

We don't want to die.
We want to preserve our own lives.
Leave everything and follow Jesus?
You've got to be kidding.
I've got a life, after all.
I can't leave that!

We don't want our institutions to die.
We want to preserve our own institutions:
—those institutions we call "churches."
If those institutions become moribund,
...we want to restart them with a few quick fixes.
A few quick fixes:
—some good Bible-based preaching, more small group ministries, etc.

Bill Hybels had a few quick fixes. He founded a megachurch.
But Bill Hybels failed. He failed to make disciples to Christ.
A few quick fixes are not going to cure Bill Hybels' church.

The Anglican Church in Canada has failed.
The Episcopal Church in the States has failed,
...and it is exporting its failure southward.
These failed because they did not make disciples to Christ.
"Ah," you say,
"But we Anglicans have a few quick fixes to get re-started!"

Good Bible-based preaching. Lambeth Quadrilateral. The 39 Articles. Etc.
The Lambeth Quadrilateral does not make disciples.
The Thirty-Nine Articles do not make disciples.
Pulpit ministry, however good and Bible-based, does not make disciples.
Only Disciples make Disciples.

And lastly, we don't want Christendom to die.
We want to preserve our "Christian" nation.
We want to serve our fellow-"Christians" living in our "Christian" nation.
We are doomed to failure.
"Ah," you say, "But we Bible-Believing Christians have a few quick fixes!"
A few quick fixes:
Vote for the right president. Oppose abortion and same-sex marriage.
But Christendom is our kingdom, inherited from Emperor Constantine.
It was never Christ's kingdom.

Educate! Educate!
If only we believe the right things, then we'll be Christians!
All the education in the world cannot make a disciple.
When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.
After we become disciples, then is the time for education.
First, we must die to ourselves.

A few quick fixes will accomplish nothing, except to fool ourselves.
We must go back to the very basics.
We must go back to the beginning.
We must start over.

What are the basics?
It is so simple.
Jesus told us.
Love God.
Love God so much that there is no room for anything else in your life.
Everything else will follow.

Alan Morris and I are trying to start over.
In this space I will soon (perhaps today) publish a general Rule of Life.
A Rule of Life, taken by itself is just a quick fix.
But if we have died to our selves...
Then only, perhaps a Rule of Life will lead us into deeper discipleship.

"Follow me!" says Jesus. "Leave everything!"

Am I ready to be a disciple?
Are you?

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