Posted by: stpowen | June 4, 2013

The Failure of Christendom (1)

2 Chronicles 7:19-22. ‘But if you turn away and forsake my statutes and My commandments which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods, and worship them, then I will uproot them from My land which I have given them; and this house which I have sanctified for My name I will cast out of My sight, and will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And as for this house, which is exalted, everyone who passes by will be astonished and say, “Why has the LORD done this to this land and this house?”
Then they will answer, “Because they forsook the LORD God of their fathers…..and embraced other gods, and worshipped them; therefore He has brought all this calamity upon them.”’

Matthew 5:13. ‘You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavour, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.’

If any of my readers bought the Daily Mail last Thursday (May30th) they may have seen an interesting article by someone called Guy Walters entitled, “One country, two Religions.” In it, Walters describes two Anglican churches in East London, St. Mary’s, Cable Street and St. George-in-the-East in Cannon Street, and contrasts them with the local mosque in nearby Brune Street.

The two churches, each built to hold a thousand worshippers, today muster congregations of just twenty and twelve respectively. By contrast, the Mosque now far exceeds its capacity of around 100 and four or five times that number spill out onto the street during Friday prayers.

I think it is fair to say that the situation is not yet as bad as the article seeks to portray. Not far away, across the river at Elephant and Castle, is the Metropolitan Tabernacle, which attracts a congregation of over 700 each Lord’s day morning drawn from a great variety of different races, whilst in the City, just a few hundred yards from Cable Street (though a hundred miles away in culture), St. Helens, Bishopsgate has a tremendous ministry among the bankers and financial workers, producing many wonderful conversions and changed lives.

However, we cannot deny that the condition of the Christian religion in Britain is as bad now as it has ever been. The situation in East London is replicated in towns and cities all over the country, with many churches either closing, and being turned into pubs or mosques, or struggling on with just a handful of people and just a few flourishing. By contrast, Islam seems to be making great strides with new mosques being opened in many areas, including my home city of Exeter which is not known for having a large immigrant community.

I can see no other reason for all this but that the salt has lost its savour. I do not know for certain whether it is the case at St. Mary’s or St. George’s, but in huge numbers of churches the Gospel is not preached- indeed, I doubt if many ministers know what the Gospel is- and there is no confidence shown from the pulpit in the word of God. Not unreasonably, the congregations are deciding that if the minister doesn’t believe the Gospel, there is no point in them being there and are leaving church in ever-greater numbers to spend their Sunday mornings washing the car or shopping at Tesco.

By the time I get around to posting this, we shall know the result of the vote on same-sex ‘marriage’ in the House of Lords. I was pleased to see that the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke against it yesterday, but he does not seem to have thought of quoting the Bible in his speech. Indeed, he stated that “It is not at heart a faith issue,” and that he could not support the Bill “As it stands,” implying that if only the Bill could be adjusted in some small way he would be in favour. But if homosexual ‘marriage,’ on which the Bible is so clear right from Genesis 1, is not a faith issue, what is? On what question would the Archbishop ever reach for his Bible and speak from it before the nation? And if he will not, who will? I cannot think of any Bill that has ever come before Parliament which is so clearly in denial of God’s laws. Yet many of the Bishops have deliberately stayed away because the Government had bullied them by telling them that it would be seen as an ‘abuse of privilege’ if they all attended.

The appeal of Islam and particularly the more extreme varieties of it, is particularly to those who are seeking moral certainties and not finding them in the Christian faith as it is found in most churches in Britain. It is easy for Islamic preachers to portray Britain as utterly morally bankrupt- and indeed, they’re not wrong- and to say that the Church (for they do not distinguish between Roman Catholic, liberal and evangelical) is equally mired in sin, and to point to Islam and its supposed moral certainties. In fact of course, the Moslem religion has no answer whatsoever, and most Islamic countries are utterly corrupt with various forms of immorality running riot.

So here is the problem as I see it. The Holy Spirit has clearly departed from many of the churches in this land, and God has given us over to our sins as he did the Roman Empire (Rom. 1:18ff). So what are Christians to do? I will write again in a few days after I have seen the result of the vote on same-sex ‘marriage.’

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Responses

  1. Ironically, the Russian govt has at least limited the distribution of pro-gay advertisement.….


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