The Church’s hole in the heart

An expanded version of an article in Prayer News, CMI-UK/Europe, July–Sept 2023.


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Unless you have been living in isolation in recent years, you will know that prominent church leaders in the West have been increasingly questioning foundational Christian doctrines. “Why can’t we replace ‘Our Father’ with ‘Our Mother’? Why not replace God’s preferred personal pronoun ‘Him’ with ‘They’?” Why shouldn’t churches bless same-sex unions? Why still insist on male and female, so ‘ostracising’ transgender people? Why are sections of the Church resisting the move towards being more woke1 and progressive?

In response to such trends, and with specific reference to the established church in the UK, a British author and journalist made the following comments in February 2023 (emphasis mine):

I can readily appreciate the appeal of binary certainty that the Church historically provided: Heaven and Hell, sin and virtue, Adam and Eve, etc. I say “provided”, because it increasingly appears scriptural adherence is off the menu at the Church of England. One has to ask, when redemptive certainty is the Church’s chief commodity, why is it so desirous of shooting itself in the sandaled foot, and questioning its very foundation?

We acknowledge that these issues apply to many in the non-conformist church denominations too, and across the world generally. What is more, speakers and writers promoting biblical creation have been emphasising the foundational nature of the problem for a long time (Psalm 11:3). The journalist went on to say:

[There is] the clarity of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I recall that God made man in his own image—and (in short), that Jesus was a man while the Virgin Mary was a woman.

Indeed, the biblical teaching about human sexuality is certainly binary: “God created man in His own image … male and female” (Genesis 1:27). As our writer points out, this goes right back to the creation of man in Genesis, but he observes that the compromise of modern ‘churchians’ is not working:

With 2,000 churches closing in a decade, there is clearly a hole in the heart where Christianity used to beat, exacerbated by a Church which no longer knows what it stands for. … If you stand for everything, you stand for nothing.2

Supporters of ministries like CMI can agree wholeheartedly with this writer’s analysis. He is Frank Haviland, a self-confessed ‘devout atheist’ who lives and works in South Korea and is the author of Banalysis: The lie destroying the West (2019). However, it is surely a damning indictment of the Church in the West when professed unbelievers have a stronger grasp on the teachings of the Bible and Christianity than some of its leaders.

Thank God that many Christian leaders are still standing their ground at a time when compromise and apostasy are increasing in the Church. Far too often, however, the supposedly Christian spokespersons consulted by the media are no different from the disobedient, rebellious leaders and lying prophets we read about in the Old Testament. God’s severe warnings of those times (see Jeremiah 23:1–2) undoubtedly apply to our present situation, when appointed leaders are sowing confusion in the minds of ordinary people about the true defining characteristics of Christianity. They are propagating evil things as good (Isaiah 5:2), thus neglecting and scattering the sheep.

Diagnosing the heart problem

There is indeed a massive heart problem in the contemporary Church. It is a radical departure from the authority of the Word of God. As atheists like Frank Haviland can clearly discern, the problem is at the foundational level—it is a rejection of the Creator God and His creation of men and women.3

Christianity, like a healthy human body, needs a healthy beating heart. However, a problem occasionally occurs in a small baby, resulting in a hole in the heart. Nevertheless, the design of the heart is perfect, but problems do occur in our fallen world (Genesis 3); for a fuller description, see Fantastic voyage from the womb. If such a congenital heart defect is left untreated, it may result in a range of health problems: shortness of breath (especially during strenuous exercise), an irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and blood vessel damage.

Just as a hole in the heart is very debilitating to a person’s health, a hole in the Church’s heart is a serious impairment, drastically diminishing her strength and her ability to function as God intends.

The Church’s mission impaired

The Church belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:18). In fulfilment of His Great Commission, Christians are to reach out to a spiritually lost world and make disciples of Christ (Matthew 28:19–20). Healthy churches are to be places where God is worshipped in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23), where the fellowship of believers is strengthened, the Word of God is faithfully taught, and God’s people are exhorted to gladly serve their Lord (Eph. 2:10), heart and soul. However, a church with a heart problem is a church in serious jeopardy. We can survive the loss of certain body parts (e.g. an eye, an arm, a foot, the gall bladder, a kidney, and more) but not the heart! A serious heart condition is life threatening, and so it is for the Church.

We often use the heart as a metaphor for the seat of our emotions, the centre of our being, our minds, our understanding. Likewise, the Bible has much to say about matters of the heart, our innermost being, and we may apply what it teaches concerning the individual Christian to the Church as a whole. For instance, we are exhorted, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Scripture emphasises the need for our hearts to be pure and clean, honest, upright, compassionate, loving, generous, cheerful, understanding, courageous, faithful, strong (but not hardened), inclined toward God. Likewise, this applies to the corporate body of believers.

The psalmist David wrote, “Examine me, O Lord, and prove [test] me; try my mind and my heart” (Psalm 26:2, NKJV). What is God’s assessment of your own heart, and of today’s Church as a whole? What about your own assessment? Is Frank Haviland’s diagnosis close to the mark, that there is “a hole in the heart where Christianity used to beat”? Praise God, there are many exceptions to the downward slide. Christ is still building His church and there are faithful churches busy strengthening the believers, actively evangelising their neighbourhoods, and doing it all for the glory of God. However, there is a deeper problem that needs addressing.

What more can we do?

Our atheist writer also observed that the Church is “questioning its very foundation”, specifically mentioning the creation of Adam and Eve, and that man was made in the image of God. He was baffled as he looked at “a Church which no longer knows what it stands for”. Churches are to be commended in doing all they can to resist the downward moral slide—such efforts bring a lot of opposition. It is also to a church’s credit when its members stand against false teaching, seeking to uphold truths that are unpalatable in society as a whole. Nevertheless, we should examine ourselves honestly and ask: Are we fully taking our stand upon the authority of the Word of God in Genesis, the account of Creation and of the Fall?

Those, and those only, who take a stand upon that firm biblical foundation can provide a logical, robust defence of the sanctity of human life, of Christian marriage, the doctrine of sin, and so much more. Regrettably, far too many good churches are squeamish about standing up for a literal Creation account. At best, they try to remain neutral and noncommittal, but even non-believers increasingly realise that many churches are evading inconvenient Bible teaching, that Christians are guilty of questioning their own foundation.

Active evangelical believer and contemporary Christian singer Alisa Childers lost her way when she joined a progressive church. Seduced by what it seemed to offer, its teaching deconstructed and rocked her faith. Happily, this is not where her story ended:

“She went back to the foundations, and set out to study the claims of the progressives against Scripture. She came to believe that ‘the gospel can only be fully known if the Bible actually is the inerrant and inspired Word of God’. She now believes that: ‘… progressive Christianity offers … a hundred denials with nothing concrete to affirm.’”4

Christians should pray and act to encourage the true churches of Jesus Christ to repair and restore the foundations where necessary (Isaiah 58:12). Creation Ministries International is here to help, through our public talks, literature, and website.

Published: 6 February 2024

References and notes 

  1. In the US especially, ‘woke’ has come to mean being awake to the issues of racism, sexism, transgenderism, and other social inequalities. Return to text.
  2. This and the previous three extracts are from: Haviland, F., They/Them who art in heaven, europeanconservative.com, 12 Feb 2023; accessed 18 Jan 2024. Return to text.
  3. See also: Sibley, A., Is human sexuality binary? A well-known atheist agrees with the Bible, creation.com, 2 May 2023. Return to text.
  4. James, S., The Lies we are Told, The Truth we Must Hold: Worldviews and their consequences, Christian Focus Publications, Ross-Shire, UK, p. 181, 2022. Return to text.

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