Institutional Christianity Is Dying

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With the news of one of the most popular Christian artists claiming he was “reconstructing” his faith after questioning everything he believed, few can doubt there is a seismic shift going on in Christianity today. Lecrae, an outspoken Christian rapper who isn’t afraid to speak on today’s issues, had an exclusive interview with NGEN Radio where he commented on some of the things that caused him to question his faith.

Of the many things Lecrae said were giving him a struggle over his beliefs was the “Christian Culture of America.” Now, what Lecrae means is not “Christians in America,” which is quite different, but, more specifically, a subgroup of Christianity within America’s churches that censors, kicks out, attacks, and seals itself off from anyone who does not act, dress, and speak the same exact way they do.

As Lecrae puts it, “The Christian culture in America, specifically, will kind of force itself on you, and say, ‘Well, you have to talk like this, and you have to dress like this.’ … If you don’t assimilate and kind of move this way, then people going to side-eye you. … I’ve just been really comfortable in my skin… There’s no way you can say I’m not a follower of Christ. But I don’t fit certain molds…”

This culture he labels as being “churchy,” to which he says he is not. “When I say ‘churchy’ [that doesn’t mean] I don’t like fellowshipping with believers. But when I say ‘churchy,’ it means there’s certain … cultures in churches that I just don’t really fall in line with. … There’s certain things that are done that it’s not my thing, and that’s OK, as long as you follow Christ.”

Christians With A Biblical Worldview At All-Time Low

But it isn’t just Lecrae who has noticed a seismic shift in Christian beliefs. Barna Group has reported that the number of Christians who hold to a Biblical worldview is at an all-time low. Further, they report that, in the last quarter century, the amount of Americans with a biblical worldview has declined by 50%.

But another shocking reveal from the study by Barna found that just 9% of all Christians are engaged in their government. Meaning the overwhelming majority of Christians do not get involved in trying to elect Christian leaders who will lead Biblically. Even of this active group of Christians, just 44% have a Biblical worldview, meaning the majority of even the activist Christians, the ones who fight for a better, more just society, reportedly do not hold to a Christian worldview.

Coupled with a fresh analysis of Christian beliefs today, one can see where the issues arise.

An Insider’s Look At Christianity At America’s Institutions

Others in Christian rap, such as Christian rapper Flame, who was one of the early members of the 116 Clique, point to the same problem in current “Institutional Christianity,” or “churchy-ness,” as Lecrae calls it. When Christian rapper Flame didn’t want to sign with a couple record labels, they blackballed him from the Christian Music industry and tried to shut him down. But things really got personal for him when his church reportedly told him not to talk about black persecution at the hands of police in America, saying such things are not “biblical” topics of discussion.

Since then, Flame has become an outspoken critic of Institutional Christianity because he believes many institutional Christian organizations are forgetting that Christians are called to do more than focus on personal piety and ignore the social issues of the day. He says they are really just nationalists masquerading as Christians.

In his song, Set My Sails, Flame speaks of the current church as living on an island rather than being an embassy. How the church had a chance to step up during the police brutality and rampant government overreach of the last few years and, instead, told him he was out of line for wanting justice for all lives.

This problem was a long time coming. Back in 2015, Flame noted that Christians began to withdraw from the culture and were relying too much on the cultural push for Christianity that took hold during the Bush Administration in the early 00s. He warned Christians that, if they do not begin to take a more active role in everyday life and push for the kingdom, that the freedoms, values, and Constitution that we all enjoy would be decimated and an atheistic, government-centered culture would take over.

In 2020, this opinion was generally realized with the lockdowns and the election of many anti-Christian activists to positions of power. The fact most churches shuttered their doors in direct opposition to Hebrews 20:25, which specifically calls on Christians to meet together for service, and they lambasted John MacArthur for staying open, when he wrote that Christ, not Caesar is Lord of the church shows how Institutional Christianity could use a wake-up call.

How Institutional Christianity Has Failed Christians

According to a 2021 study from Barna Group, 71% of Christians do not look to the Bible as their main source for moral guidance. Instead they ask their friends and family what to do or they consult their feelings. In contrast, the Bible calls on Christians to consult Scripture and learn to follow it and study it to know what it is saying. 2 Timothy 3:16 says the Word of God is profitable for teaching, preaching, and training up in righteousness.

However, even among Christians who say they are born again, 69% said that feelings are their most important source of moral guidance. Further, 65% of this group believe there is “no absolute moral truth.” In all, only 48% of professing Christians believe the Bible is inerrant and infallible.

This shows the root of the problem in America’s Christians today. Many Christians do not consult Scripture for their beliefs. They instead listen to their friends and their feelings instead of God’s inerrant Word. The result of such behavior is exactly what is seen in America today, a culture that follows leaders and movements rather than stands strong for Christ. They see problems in society and, rather than consult Scripture and obey it and do what The Bible calls for, they ask their friends and family, who tell them to just go to church more and stop dressing weird.

A Biblical Response To America’s Problems

Few Christians would argue Martin Luther King was right to fight to end Jim Crow and the KKK. Further, few Christians would condemn Bonhoeffer for opposing Hitler and the Nazis. And many Christians would contend that the American Revolution was justified and that the government of the United States should preserve the rights outlined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights and spurn totalitarian, Big Brother-esque policies that threaten people’s lives and health.

However, if most Christians believe this, where are the activists knocking on doors for Christian candidates or organizations? Where are the Christian protesters who work to end abortion? Where are the Christian soup kitchens, Christian legal firms, Christian homeless shelters, and Christian neighbors who share the gospel with their friends and families, engage in political conversations, fight oppression, demand justice, and run for public office?

Yes, there are SOME organizations doing these things, but, by and large, 91% of Christians are not involved. Barna Group has proven this. These last few years have been unprecedented moments in history, particularly for Christians:

When the government locked down the entire country for no real reason, Christians complied.

When Biden demanded mandatory mask wearing, which is terrible for your health, Christians stayed silent.

When black men, white men, Asian men, and Hispanic men were shot, beaten, and abused by police, Christians weren’t outraged. In fact, many Christians thought it wasn’t even happening. They called it a “conspiracy theory.”

When the election was certified without due diligence, despite hundreds of witnesses claiming they watched voter fraud happen before their eyes and others documenting machine glitches and connections to China to the people on the state level certifying the elections, Christians were divided on whether elections should be something that is investigated.

When 50+ courts blocked evidentiary hearings on voter fraud, Christians wanted to move on.

And as local governments around the country steal billions of dollars a year through Civil Asset Forfeiture, Christians ignore the issue.

Right now, our society and way of life is at a pivotal moment. If we, as Christians, continue to stand by and do nothing, then we may one day find ourselves in North Korea. But if we decide to stand up for our Constitution, for the Bible, for the way of life that has made America great, then we will wake up to find ourselves in a free land where Christ is the center of all we do.

There’s some key Scriptures that speak to this issue. For one, a Christian is called to defend the oppressed in court. By “oppressed,” I do not mean a racial minority. I mean anyone who is being taken advantage of, by a government, a business, an abusive person, a political group, a smear campaign, etc. etc. No matter the skin color, financial or social standing, political ideology, oppressed people deserve a voice.

Proverbs 31:9 (NASB) says “Open your mouth, judge righteously, And defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

The Bible calls on Christians to become the judges in the court system. We are called to judge rightly and give justice and rescue the weak and needy from those who oppress them. It doesn’t matter whom it is. It doesn’t matter what race, political ideology, or organization is oppressed or doing the oppressing, Christians stand up for the rights of the persecuted as the judges of the land.

However, the life of a Christian is more than a judge. He is also a lawyer who argues for the case of the oppressed in court. Proverbs 31:8 tells Christians: “Open your mouth for the mute, For the rights of all the unfortunate.” (NASB). Yes, it is our job as Christians to speak up, to defend the oppressed, to seek justice in the courts. But it is also our job out of the courts.

In Isaiah 1, God starts by telling Israel they have strayed from following Him. He tells them they have forgotten to avoid sin, to keep corruption out of the land, and to do right by their neighbors. Then he provides the solution. Part of that solution is to seek justice, correct oppression, and bring justice to the fatherless and plead the widow’s cause.

As it says in Isaiah 1:16-17 (ESV) “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”

In everyday life, in addition to in the judicial system, we Christians are called to stop evil and oppression, to defend the defenseless and seek justice. So a Christian’s sphere of influence so far is as a lawyer, a judge, and a neighbor and public servant. However, Christians are also called into politics to establish just laws.

In Proverbs 31:23, it says that the husband of a virtuous woman sits in the leadership of the land. He is in a position of power and is well-respected in the city gates. This means a Christian’s job is also to politics, to become the politician who enacts the just laws that seek justice and end oppression.

However, a Christian is also for welfare. By “welfare,” I do not mean government assistance. That is unbiblical. Rather, a Christian gives his neighbor housing and a job to help that Christian support himself. Paul says in 2nd Thessalonians “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” (ESV).

The Biblical idea of charity is to give your neighbor a job, not a handout. It is to help him find gainful employment, not a welfare check. It is to invite him into your home and have him work to earn his keep, with the ultimate goal of him leaving and finding a place for himself and his family after he has landed a new job that you helped him find. This is biblical welfare, and this is what Christians should be doing to help their neighbors.

So a Christian is a judge, a lawyer, a politician, a supporter of justice, and charitable toward their neighbors. This is how a Christian engages in his world. This is a biblical worldview.

Standing Up For Oppression Does Not Mean Embracing Socialism Or Communism

Do not take this to mean a Christian is socialist or communist. Communism and socialism are rooted in theft and atheism, two beliefs and actions that are completely anti-biblical in nature. Oppression is not a socialist issue. They have hijacked the cause of oppression to sow discord, hate, and increased oppression at the hands of their government.

Oppression happens in all societies except a Christian one. This is a plain fact, because Christians end oppression, they don’t sit on the sidelines watching it unfold.

Anonymous Contributor – Christian News Journal

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