Saturday, September 26, 2009


On my way home this evening, I passed by the local evangelical megachurch where, on its marquee, there was displayed this phrase: CHURCH--REDEFINED. All I could think to myself, "I hope not."

This marquee has lots of these little tidbits which emphasize just how much in theologically poverty this particular church is, especially if they have to revert to "catch-phrase" theology, exemplified by other mantras such as "WWJD" and "I'm saved", etc.. Now, I'm sure I know what they mean by it: that they are a church which is contemporary and doesn't hold to certain dogmas beyond those of a political nature (anti-abortion, anti-homosexual marriage, pro-prayer in schools, etc.). In other words, it's all about Jesus...whatever that means to them.

We are in a crisis as a society. We are constantly redefining ourselves, our words, our phrases, our everything to the point that what we no longer mean what we say. We've been in this schizophrenia for awhile now. I don't know when it began, but I think a major benchmark was when President Clinton gave the country a run for its money when the word "is" was subject to extreme legal, lexical and colloquial scrutiny. But, there are a great many churches that are redefining themselves to the point that they cannot be called churches anymore.

If we look at the term ecclesia, which is the Greek (and later adopted by Latin) for church, as St. Paul used it, we will note that the church is comprised of those who are "called out." The Church is one body comprised of those who are "called out" from the world. As the Gospel frequently reminds us as does St. Paul, we are to be in the world but not of it (cf. John 15:19; Romans 12:2). We are to leave the world behind us, we are to be transformed as members of the Body of Christ, we are to be changed, no longer living in our world of sin, but living in the Kingdom of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Whatever ceremonies a church adopts, whatever Liturgy it serves (if any), whatever sacraments are observed, if church is redfined so that it is no longer comprised of those whom Christ has called out of sin with his precious blood, then there is indeed no church for Christ is no longer the center.

I'm not advocating for dropping the Liturgy (those of you who know me, know that I will NEVER call for that) or anything else in the life of the Church, but for these "catch-phrase" evangelical churches and even for mainstream churches as well, if redefined means (and I'm not saying it means this for the particular church I drove by today) that Christians are not called out by Christ, then the only alternative is egoism. Church has not been redefined, it has been utterly destroyed.

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