Is liberal Christianity signing its own death warrant?

Is liberal Christianity signing its own death warrant?  That question was from 2012.  Maybe a better question for today is whether Christianity is signing its own death warrant – liberal or otherwise.  However, I think the best question is can Christianity sign its own death warrant.

Is liberal Christianity signing its own death warrant?

Christianity signing its own death warrantAs I said, that question was from 2012.  It was the lead line in an msnbc.com article on July 19th of that year.  <Unfortunately, the article is no longer available online, so we’ll work with the extracts I have from it..>

It starts off with:

The Rt. Rev. Mark Joseph Lawrence, the Episcopal bishop of South Carolina, fears for the future of his church.

Try to keep this sentence on your mind as you read.  You’ll see why when we reach the conclusion.  BTW, although I originally wrote about this back in 2012, much will be added – especially the 2nd and third questions from above:  

Maybe a better question for today is whether Christianity is signing its own death warrant – liberal or otherwise. 
However, I think the best question is can Christianity sign its own death warrant.

Since so much will be changed / added, I’ll make no attempt to identify the original thoughts as compared to the new ones.  Just consider this a re-write based on my experiences and hopefully growth over the past six years.

Liberal mainline denominations (?)

The msnbc.com article includes the following statement:

“I see other mainline denominations that are fairly liberal, like the Presbyterians and the Methodists, just really being very careful about jumping over this hurdle,” David Hein, Hood College historian and co-author of “The Episcopalians,” a history of the church, told NBC News, “because it really wreaks havoc with the denominations for the national headquarters on down, the institutions, the seminaries, the parishes when you start to lose huge numbers of members.”

At this point, don’t worry about what the hurdle is.  We’ll get there very shortly.  But there’s something else to look at first.

it really wreaks havoc with the denominations … when you start to lose huge numbers of members.

True enough – it does.

But is that the big issue here?

Is it the denomination that needs to survive –
or the souls of the people in them?

It was just last week that I wrote about Confidence in organized religion hits all-time low – which talked about how people are losing confidence – not necessarily in God – but certainly in organized religion. Now – here’s another article in the mainstream press about pretty much the same thing.

What really struck me right away was the concern.  Not the hurdle – but the concern.  However, it wasn’t a concern for the people – God’s people.  It was a concern for the denomination.  For the “brand” of church.  For the various institutions of the church.  But not necessarily – or apparently – for the people.

The hurdle

So – what is it that has the church leaders worried?

One week after the U.S. Episcopal Church overwhelmingly voted to approve a provisional rite for blessing gay unions and the ordination of transgender people, Bishop Lawrence said in an interview with NBC News that his denomination is moving too far out of the mainstream.

Seems like they fear the churches are losing their way.

In Deuteronomy 5:32-33  when Moses was recounting the events from when he received the commandments from God – he said this to the people –

Dt 5:32 So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. 33 Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.

do not turn aside to the right or to the left

Do not leave the path the Lord has set for you.
D not turn right or left.
Do not lose you way.

So – these church leaders –
they recognize they are losing their way –
in this case turning to what we call the left.

They realize this is a problem, but is it for the right reason that that they are concerned?

Note:  Before you make up your mind about exactly where I stand on LGBT issues and the church, please see LGBT in heaven?, and Church denies funeral for lesbian.

Back on topic.  There another recent article (recent as compared to the msnbc.com article.  This one was from the New York Times.  It’s titled Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?

This one starts of with –

IN 1998, John Shelby Spong, then the reliably controversial Episcopal bishop of Newark, published a book entitled “Why Christianity Must Change or Die.” Spong was a uniquely radical figure — during his career, he dismissed almost every element of traditional Christian faith as so much superstition — but most recent leaders of the Episcopal Church have shared his premise. Thus their church has spent the last several decades changing and then changing some more, from a sedate pillar of the WASP establishment into one of the most self-consciously progressive Christian bodies in the United States.

If this sounds a little off the straight and narrow path from God – hang on to your hats – things become even clearer in the next paragraph –

As a result, today the Episcopal Church looks roughly how Roman Catholicism would look if Pope Benedict XVI suddenly adopted every reform ever urged on the Vatican by liberal pundits and theologians. It still has priests and bishops, altars and stained-glass windows. But it is flexible to the point of indifference on dogma, friendly to sexual liberation in almost every form, willing to blend Christianity with other faiths, and eager to downplay theology entirely in favor of secular political causes.

Dt 5:32 So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. 33 Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.

Now – one might think that a religion that has strayed so far into the pop culture of the day would be wildly successful – right? After all – they are changing themselves into what the world is turning into – in an attempt to draw in the crowds.

Well – here’s what’s happening –

Yet instead of attracting a younger, more open-minded demographic with these changes, the Episcopal Church’s dying has proceeded apace. Last week, while the church’s House of Bishops was approving a rite to bless same-sex unions, Episcopalian church attendance figures for 2000-10 circulated in the religion blogosphere. They showed something between a decline and a collapse: In the last decade, average Sunday attendance dropped 23 percent, and not a single Episcopal diocese in the country saw churchgoing increase.

Dt 5:32 So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. 33 Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.

Now – those of you into math & logic will know – the only thing that can be certain from the statement above is what’s called it’s contrapositive.

Let me give you a brief example to explain what contrapositive is. 

Let’s say that I own a black car. 
Someone asks me if the car in front of my house is mine.  
I tell them, if it’s my car, then it’s black.  (Not helpful for answering the question – but it’s what I said.)
The contrapositive would tell them that it the car isn’t black, then it’s not my car.  The contrapositive is reversing the order of the objects in the If – Then statement – AND negating both of them.  The resulting statement is always true.
On the other hand, simply negating both objects in the If – Then statement gives us something that could be true or false.  There’s just no way to reach any valid conclusions by negating both – unless they are also reversed.  (If it’s not my car, then it’s not black – may or may not be true depending on what color the car really is.  If it’s blue – then it’s true, by pure coincidence.  If it’s black – then it’s false, also by pure coincidence.)

Now – with that example in mind, let’s look those two verses from Deuteronomy that we keep reading.

What Moses said was that IF the people followed the ways of God and didn’t turn to the right of the left THEN they would live and prosper in the land He would give them.

The contrapositive says that IF they didn’t live and prosper in the land He would give them THEN they didn’t follow His ways and they did turn either to the right or the left.

While it’s tempting to say that IF one doesn’t follow His ways and does turn to the right or the left THEN they won’t live and prosper in the land He would give them – it’s not necessarily true.  As we saw from the example of my black car – this isn’t a 100% certain outcome.

Really? Is that true? One can not follow God and still prosper?
In the end – God will make sure justice is served.  But in the short term, things are not necessarily so.

Check out what Jesus said about loving our enemies.

Love for Enemies

Mt 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

So – the conclusion that we can logically draw from this collapse of these organized religions is this:

A lot of the people want to follow the straight path.
They recognize that their “church” isn’t doing that.
They aren’t prospering (in a true religious sense).
They aren’t living in the “land” that God gave them.
So they are leaving that religion which isn’t following the ways of God.

Please note – this logic does not follow for all failing churches.  It’s very specific to churches exactly like the one in question.  A different set of circumstances on why a church is failing – for instance people moving out of a town that was very small to begin with – invalidates the model.  Therefore any conclusions reached using this model would also be invalid, other than by pure coincidence.

Both articles have suggestions for these organized churches.

In the New York Times article they conclude with –

Today, by contrast, the leaders of the Episcopal Church and similar bodies often don’t seem to be offering anything you can’t already get from a purely secular liberalism. Which suggests that perhaps they should pause, amid their frantic renovations, and consider not just what they would change about historic Christianity, but what they would defend and offer uncompromisingly to the world.

Absent such a reconsideration, their fate is nearly certain: they will change, and change, and die.

Ouch!!

That’s pretty brutal.

And yet – remember the logic above.
From a logical point of view – there’s no other conclusion possible.
If they don’t return to the ways of God, they cannot live and prosper forever, they cannot survive forever.  They may prosper for a time.  Maybe even for a long time.  But we have to remember that the goal is for the souls of the people attending the church to survive and prosper for eternity.

 

In the msnbc article – Bishop Lawrence – who was quoted at the very beginning – says this –

“I had an issue of conscience in which I believed that a line had been crossed in the church’s teachings, that I could no longer pretend that nothing significant had happened,” Bishop Lawrence said, adding that he has no intention of leaving the church, despite the walkout.

“It’s not merely a matter of adapting the Church’s teachings about Jesus Christ, about salvation, about right and wrong to the culture,” he said. “The culture is adrift in sexual confusion and obsession.”

“I still believe there is a broad and silent middle [within the Episcopal Church], I just don’t know what it would take for them to stand up with moral courage and say, ‘We don’t believe this,'” Bishop Lawrence said.

 

Sounds like my conclusion in the Low Confidence in Organized Religion piece –

Be involved.

Somebody’s souls could be saved.

Anybody’s souls could be saved.

Everybody’s soul in your church could be saved.

But let’s look beyond just confidence in organized religion.  If you have little to no confidence in your church, you probably won’t be involved there.  And for sure – if your not involved in your church – you will be saving Nobody’s soul in that church.

And – to be sure – this isn’t a concept I made up.  It’s a variation on something Jesus Himself said to the Church in Laodicea in Revelation.

To the Church in Laodicea

Rev 3:14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Rev 3:19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

Rev 3:21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

My conclusion –

Any given denomination isn’t what’s important.
The Church – God’s Church – His people – that’s what really matters.

Using Paul’s illustration of The Church as a body with many parts:

One Body, Many Parts

1Co 12:12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

1Co 12:14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

1Co 12:21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

1Co 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues ? Do all interpret? 31 But eagerly desire the greater gifts.

It’s important for every part of the body to fulfill it’s role.

It’s important for every member of the church body to fulfill it’s role.

It’s important for The Church to fulfill it’s role.

Dt 5:32 So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. 33 Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.

Bishop Lawrence concludes with –

“If ever there was a time for the church to be clear, hopeful, and to offer a moral compass to the struggling, and grace, and forgiveness, and healing to the broken, it’s now,” Bishop Lawrence said.

Remember –
The Church isn’t just the pastors / ministers / priests –
The Church is everyone –
The Church is all of us.

I still believe there is a broad and silent middle [within the Episcopal Church], I just don’t know what it would take for them to stand up with moral courage and say, ‘We don’t believe this,'” Bishop Lawrence said.

The words of Moses from the Old Testament talked about the promised land –
the land of milk and honey –
the place here on earth that they would posess after wandering in the desert for 40 years.

Dt 5:32 So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. 33 Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.

For us as Christians –
what we are promised for living / prospering / prolonging our days –
in the end –
we are promised an eternity in Heaven with God.

“I had an issue of conscience in which I believed that a line had been crossed in the church’s teachings, that I could no longer pretend that nothing significant had happened,” Bishop Lawrence said, adding that he has no intention of leaving the church, despite the walkout.

“It’s not merely a matter of adapting the Church’s teachings about Jesus Christ, about salvation, about right and wrong to the culture,” he said. “The culture is adrift in sexual confusion and obsession.”

“I still believe there is a broad and silent middle [within the Episcopal Church], I just don’t know what it would take for them to stand up with moral courage and say, ‘We don’t believe this,'” Bishop Lawrence said.

Is it time for you to stand up and say ‘We don’t believe this’?

Can Christianity sign its own death warrant?

After everything we’ve looked at, this question may seem like there’s an obvious answer.  Obviously – since we’re well on the way, Christianity can sign its own death warrant.

But wait!  Not so fast.

Maybe you think I led you to a point where you’d say yes.  You might even think I tricked you.

However, what I really wanted was for you to be saying “something’s wrong!”, long before this.  Why?  Because no matter how hard we may try – we cannot “kill” God.  He’s already made that quite clear.  For instance:

Isa 59:15 Truth is nowhere to be found,
and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.

Even now, there’s some truth.  It seems like there’s less and less every day.  But there is some.  So while we haven’t yet reached this point – we will.  Things will get even worse than what we just read for the church.  For the true church.

The LORD looked and was displeased
that there was no justice.

Even now, there’s some justice.  It seems like there’s less and less every day.  But there is some.  So while we haven’t yet reached this point – we will.  Things will get even worse than what we just read for the church.  For the true church.

Isa 59:16 He saw that there was no one,
he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm worked salvation for him,
and his own righteousness sustained him.

Even now, there are some who will at least try to intervene.  It seems like there are less and less every day.  But there are some.  So while we haven’t yet reached this point – we will.  Things will get even worse than what we just read for the church.  For the true church.

When we do reach the point of no truth – no justice – no one to intervene – then God will step in.  So even then, the church won’t really be dead.  Not the true church.

Isa 59:17 He put on righteousness as his breastplate,
and the helmet of salvation on his head;

If this sounds familiar, it’s because of something Paul wrote:

The Armor of God

Eph 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

However, when we cease to do these things, then God will step in.  And God will do what we are not to do for Him.

he put on the garments of vengeance
and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.

For instance:

Jer 51:11 “Sharpen the arrows,
take up the shields!
The LORD has stirred up the kings of the Medes,
because his purpose is to destroy Babylon.
The LORD will take vengeance,
vengeance for his temple.

However, while the obvious reference here would be to the physical Temple in Jerusalem, there’s something else involved.  Actually, someone else.  We know this from John’s Gospel.

Jesus Clears the Temple

Jn 2:12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.

Jn 2:13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”

Jn 2:17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

Jn 2:18 Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

Jn 2:19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

Jn 2:20 The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

Jn 2:23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. 25 He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.

So the ultimate reference in the passage from Isaiah is one that would not be truly understood until Jesus’ time, because the Temple was, in fact, Jesus Himself – crucified and then resurrected (“rebuilt”) in three days.

It’s interesting to note that, when we read the passage today, a non-Christian would look at the word raise as meaning rebuild.  However, in Jesus’ time, the Greek word we translate as raise meant much more.

1453 ἐγείρω [egeiro /eg·i·ro/] v. Probably akin to the base of 58 (through the idea of collecting one’s faculties); TDNT 2:333; TDNTA 195; GK 1586; 141 occurrences; AV translates as “rise” 36 times, “raise” 28 times, “arise” 27 times, “raise up” 23 times, “rise up” eight times, “rise again” five times, “raise again” four times, and translated miscellaneously 10 times. 1 to arouse, cause to rise. 1A to arouse from sleep, to awake. 1B to arouse from the sleep of death, to recall the dead to life. 1C to cause to rise from a seat or bed etc. 1D to raise up, produce, cause to appear. 1D1 to cause to appear, bring before the public. 1D2 to raise up, stir up, against one. 1D3 to raise up i.e. cause to be born. 1D4 of buildings, to raise up, construct, erect.  [1]Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

Isa 59:18 According to what they have done,
so will he repay
wrath to his enemies
and retribution to his foes;
he will repay the islands their due.

To those who view God as “mean” / unjustly doing things to people, this verse tells the reality of things.  God does not do things without reason.  “Repay” makes this clear.  Those who are punished receive what they have coming. 

The concept of enemies and foes seems straightforward.  They are the ones who actively fight against God.  But “islands”?  After some thought, we might see that there’s a difference here – something represented by islands. It’s about a third type of person.  God rewards those who are for Him / follow Him.  And we just read about those who fight against Him.  Earlier, we saw what Jesus said about the church in Laodicea – being lukewarm and not really caring either way.  They aren’t for or against God.  They isolate themselves from God.  Like islands surrounded by water – they try to keep God away from themselves.  Or is it the other way?  Probably both.

We see this view borne out with the view of heathen, as we see here:

18 The general sense of this verse is clear, but there are difficulties of detail. The thought apparently is that God will recompense according to the dealings of men. To His foes He will repay wrath and to His enemies their recompense; to the isles He will recompense their just desert. The word gemulah may mean both recompense and deed, or dealings; here the latter sense is to be preferred. The second occurrence of the preposition ‘al (upon) is without an object, a phenomenon unparalleled in the Scriptures. We are rendering accordingly (lit., like upon), but we cannot be certain that this is correct. It is difficult to determine whether the foes and enemies are the wicked in Israel or the heathen. It is possible, in light of the preceding, that these two words do refer to those members of the chosen race who had steadfastly resisted the Lord and had shown themselves to be His enemies. If this is so, the final clause, with its mention of the isles, refers to the heathen, whose judgment is closely connected with that of the wicked in Israel (cf. Jer. 25:29; Ezek. 9:6; 1 Pet. 4:17).  [2]Young, E. (1972). The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 40–66 (Vol. 3, p. 439). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Isa 59:19 From the west, men will fear the name of the LORD,
and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory.
For he will come like a pent-up flood
that the breath of the LORD drives along.

From the west and the east.  This would be the result of us carrying out the Great Commission – making disciples of all nations.

Mt 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

If Jesus is with us until the end of the age – we have yet another indication that the church isn’t going to sign it’s own death warrant.  At least, not the true church.

Isa 59:20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion,
to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,”
declares the LORD.

The Redeemer – Jesus – will return.  Again, the church is not going to die.  Not the true church.

Isa 59:21 “As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever,” says the LORD.

From this time on – the time of Isaiah’s prophecy.
And forever – it actually takes two Hebrew words to give the concept of this word we read as forever:

5704 עַד [ʿad /ad/] prep. Properly, the same as 5703 (used as prep, adv or conj); TWOT 1565c; GK 6330; 99 occurrences; AV translates as “by”, “as long”, “hitherto”, “when”, “how long”, and “as yet”. 1 as far as, even to, until, up to, while, as far as. 1A of space. 1A1 as far as, up to, even to. 1B in combination. 1B1 from … as far as, both … and (with ‘min’—from). 1C of time. 1C1 even to, until, unto, till, during, end. 1D of degree. 1D1 even to, to the degree of, even like conj. 2 until, while, to the point that, so that even.  [3]Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

5769 עֹולָם [ʿowlam, ʿolam /o·lawm/] n m. From 5956; TWOT 1631a; GK 6409; 439 occurrences; AV translates as “ever” 272 times, “everlasting” 63 times, “old” 22 times, “perpetual” 22 times, “evermore” 15 times, “never” 13 times, “time” six times, “ancient” five times, “world” four times, “always” three times, “alway” twice, “long” twice, “more” twice, “never + 408” twice, and translated miscellaneously six times. 1 long duration, antiquity, futurity, for ever, ever, everlasting, evermore, perpetual, old, ancient, world. 1A ancient time, long time (of past). 1B (of future). 1B1 for ever, always. 1B2 continuous existence, perpetual. 1B3 everlasting, indefinite or unending future, eternity.  [4]Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

While we see one word in English, the use of two words to say the same thing is an indication of special emphasis.  Forever is a promise from God, that absolutely will happen.  No conditions.  No possibility of anything else happening.  This is literally, forever,

Conclusion

Christianity cannot sign it’s own death warrant.  

We read the following in Revelation, which will take place during the End Times.

The Three Angels

Rev 14:6 Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. 7 He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

Rev 14:8 A second angel followed and said, “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.”

Rev 14:9 A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, 10 he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.” 12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.

Rev 14:13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”

In the midst of all that, there are two parts we need to look at here.

12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.

Among other things, this tells us that patience is required to realize and understand that the true church is not dead.  Maybe the organized church is so far from recognizable that it may as well be dead.  But the true church – those who remain faithful to Jesus – are very much alive.

Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.

Yes – believers will die.  Their life on this earth will end.  But eternity with Jesus is still theirs in the life to come.  Once again, this tells us that the true church is not dead.  

No matter how hard people may try to kill of the church – the true church – it will not happen.  It can not happen.  Because God won’t let it.

Oddly enough – and sadly enough – the question asked in the original article about whether or not liberal Christianity is signing its own death warrant – that answer is probably not.  Whether it be liberal Christianity – or some religion that has nothing to do with Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of the world – some form of “church” will remain.  They will be the ones who worship the beast.  The ones who kill the true church – those who follow Jesus.

 

Some of these questions that come up often seem like more of a distraction.  Don’t get me wrong – they are distractions.  But they become so much of a distraction that we are in dangers of drawing ourselves, and others, away from Jesus.  Our of the true church.  

I recently read an article on the pagan origins of the word Easter, and whether or not it should be used in reference to the day on which we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.  Nothing was decided.  The claims were all over the map.  Unfortunately one thing was obvious.  These so-called Christians were acting most un-Christ-like in their comments directed at each other.  

We need to remember to keep the main thing the main thing.  And the main thing is Jesus.  Not the version / denomination of our religion – but Jesus.

Footnotes[+]

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