Sickness in the Church!
What’s the remedy?1
This article was mailed to CMI-UK/Europe subscribers as an insert to Creation magazine in September 2008. It has been posted as a web article in response to many requests from those who received it to have it more widely available.
Allow me to share a short story with parallels to the Church in our Western nations today. A young woman went to her doctor because she had not been ‘feeling 100 per cent’ for some time. ‘I know something’s wrong’, she explained, ‘I’ve always looked after myself, kept fit and watched my diet but, for a while now, I haven’t been myself. I break out into sweats, get breathless and feel nauseous for no obvious reason. I seem to get very hungry but friends tell me I’m losing weight.’
The doctor listened intently to his patient and explained that he would need to get blood tests done to help him arrive at a diagnosis.2 At her next visit to the surgery, the woman listened intently as her doctor explained gravely the nature of her condition. Her blood test had confirmed his initial fears—she had the symptoms of a serious illness. However, while her diagnosis was life threatening, there was some good news; if they acted now, the prognosis3 was favourable. The doctor advised her that the treatment regime would be challenging and would involve radical lifestyle changes. However, he assured her that, if she was prepared to make these adjustments and take the prescribed medicine, the disease could be cured. ‘Do this,’ he said, ‘and you’ll enjoy a totally new lease of life!’
Now to the meaning of this modern-day parable: God is the physician and the sick lady represents those within the Church (His Body) who have compromised with evolutionary philosophy. Many Christians realise that something is tragically wrong as they survey our increasingly depraved society, the abandonment of moral values and outright rejection of our once-Christian heritage. By and large, Gospel preaching does not reap the harvest of souls that it once did in Western nations. Why is it, they wonder, that God’s people seem to be fighting a losing battle against such issues as abortion, euthanasia, pornography, homosexuality, drug abuse, youth suicide, insubordination to parents and so on? Why do Church leaders increasingly admit to their doubts about fundamental Christian doctrines, like Jesus’ virgin birth, His earthly miracles, His bodily resurrection and His second coming?
In fact, these are just the symptoms of a far more fundamental problem, the undermining of the foundations of God’s Word in the book of Genesis. The Church can watch its diet and exercise all it likes but the sickness will simply fester and worsen unless the root problem is treated. That requires a paradigm4 shift, an acceptance of God’s diagnosis, a total rethink about what the Bible really teaches about our origins, what God (not fallible man) says about the origin of all things—including sin and death. Only an outright rejection of evolution—and the allied secular/humanistic philosophy that invariably accompanies it—will guarantee our Christian heritage. The challenge for the Body of Christ is to rise up strongly and to make a lasting impact on society.
Getting back to our patient for a moment, you might think she would have happily accepted her doctor’s diagnosis. After all, her illness was terminal and the reward of acting on her doctor’s advice was a much healthier life than before. Sadly, she was somewhat in denial of the diagnosis—and what her physician required of her seemed too radical. Ignoring his advice, she experimented with over-the-counter medicine to ease the symptoms. For a while this seemed to work reasonably well, but it was not long before she visited the doctor again, complaining that she felt worse than ever. In spite of her unwillingness to accept his diagnosis and the necessary remedy, it grieved the doctor to see her suffering so unnecessarily. He gently rebuked her, reminding her of his initial advice and urging her to rethink. ‘I have to say that your prognosis is now worse than it was at your first visit, but it’s not too late—as long as you’re prepared to take on board what I’ve told you.’ Furthermore, he assured her that she must contact him at any time she needed help. He would see to it personally that, if there was anything she didn’t understand, he would be on hand.
While we should not read too much into a man-made parable or analogy,5 I believe that God grieves over His Church that has refused to accept the straightforward teaching of His Word (John 5:39–40). It is no use trying to treat the symptoms without also facing up to the far deeper problem—that of a rejection of the authority of the Bible, especially in the foundational book of Genesis. Be an activist about the other issues by all means, but it is my conviction that the moral decline will continue inexorably until Christians accept God’s diagnosis. We serve a loving God who hates to see His Church deluded by the lie of evolution.6 But unless the Church returns to an acceptance of the plain teaching of Scripture in Genesis, the prognosis will deteriorate, as surely as that of the lady in our story. God will not tolerate compromise even if our works are seen to be good. Jesus complimented the Church of Pergamos (Revelation 3:12–13) for their allegiance to His Name even in the face of great opposition, yet he declared his hatred of false doctrines that some of their number had embraced (Revelation 3:14–15). He exhorted the Church as a whole to repent or He would personally deal decisively with the individuals concerned (verse 16)!
Moving into action
We live in days of increasing hostility to the Christian message. The freedoms of Christians in European countries are being eroded at an alarming rate, year on year. This is certainly not the time for dilly-dallying on God’s Word, watering down the message or for getting side-tracked, yet this is precisely what we see happening in many of today’s churches, all too often. Perhaps you will agree that the condition of the Church is serious. Mercifully, our God is very patient and He longs to gather His people together (see Luke 13:34), united by our faithfulness to His Word, from the very first verse. Accepting the diagnosis is just the first step, but how can you and I help the Church to wake up from its stupor? As you read this, if you’ve never hosted a CMI speaker in your fellowship, consider doing just that—with ‘Darwin Year’ in 2009, what a great opportunity to challenge folk to think! Perhaps show your minister this letter and encourage him to contact us, or contact us yourself.
Finally, thank you for your prayers and support, without which, we simply could not operate as a ministry.
- Adapted from an article by the author, published in Our Inheritance magazine, Autumn, 2003. Return to text.
- In medical terminology, diagnosis means to determine the nature and cause of a disease or illness. Return to text.
- A patient’s prognosis is a prediction of the likely course and outcome of their disease—what his/her chances of survival are. Return to text.
- A paradigm is basically a prevailing idea or way of thinking. Return to text.
- They do not provide a perfect description of the character and nature of God, for example. Return to text.
- How can we know that evolution really is a lie? For one thing, Scripture teaches that “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Ultimately, evolution is a process that relies on the death of the unfit—if there have been millions of years before people, God must have condoned, even used death, to create mankind. Yet, death is our enemy, to be destroyed by the Lord Jesus Himself one day (1 Corinthians 15:26). Return to text.