The passive church redux

churchLeon J. Podles holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia and  is the author of The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity and the forthcoming License to Sin.

In his just released article “Unhappy fault: on the integration of anger into the virtous life”, which appeared in Touchstone Magazine, Dr. Podles writes a rather stunning analysis of the contemporary Christian church and its failure (or fear) to properly employ Godly anger to effect change. In particular, on destructive moral issues of sexual immorality and sexual crimes by clergy, Dr. Podles says the church is bound by “emotional deformation”.

If you have ever asked yourself what in God’s name is wrong with today’s church with so much shocking open sin, blasphemy, heresy and likes going virtually unchallenged, this will answer why.

Laurie Higgins of the Illnois Family Institute said the article is of “critical and urgent importance to both the life of the church and Amercan society.” I agree.

Writes Dr. Podles:

Any institution tends to preserve itself by avoiding conflict, whether external or internal. In addition to this universal tendency, many Christians have a false understanding of the nature and role of anger. It is seen as something negative, something that a Christian should not feel.

In the sexual abuse cases in the Catholic Church, those who dealt with the bishops have consistently remarked that the bishops never expressed outrage or righteous anger, even at the most horrendous cases of abuse and sacrilege. Bishops seem to think that anger at sin is un-Christian. Gilbert Kilman, a child psychiatrist, commented, “What amazes me is the lack of outrage the church feels when its good work is being harmed. So, if there is anything the church needs to know, it needs to know how to be outraged.”

Cowards in the army of the Lord?

Some today believe secret prayer is a panacea for all of the church’s problems. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with prayer, there is something wrong with using prayer as an cloak for fearful inaction. Certainly, God has not given us the spirit of fear.  Taking the path of least resistance  in order to avoid confronting aggressive attacks on our faith is nothing short of cowardly.

Higgins’ commentary looked at the passive stance of the German Evangelical Church in Germany as Adolf Hitler began gaining power and the parallels are eye opening. She noted:

The German Evangelical Church acted in ways virtually all Christians now view as ignoble, selfish, and cowardly:

  • Pastors resigned from the resistance out of fear that they might lose their positions in the church.
  • Frightened by the boldness of the resistance movement, church leaders issued public statements of support for Hitler and the Third Reich.
  • Some pastors believed that a “‘more reasonable tone would be more honoring to those with different views.'” One bishop told Martin Niemoller that those pastors who refused to join the resistance were “‘trying to bring peace to the church'” rather than “‘seem like . . . troublemakers.'” In response, Niemoller asked “‘What does it matter how we look in Germany compared with how we look in Heaven?'” The bishop responded, “‘We cannot pronounce judgment on all the ills of society. Most especially we ought not single out the one issue that the government is so sensitive about.'”

Most alarming she said about the two seasons of crisis is “its similarity to the ongoing disheartening story of the contemporary American church’s failure to respond appropriately to the spread of radical, heretical, destructive views of homosexuality.”

Since July 2007, we have painstakingly documented some of the most egregious examples of blasphemy and heresy occurring in the Christian context today. That’s not to mention the epidemic of sexual misconduct among black clergy. Yet, it has barely elicited a yawn from those in leadership. As Dr. Podles notes, the church’s sleepy-eyed attitude seems to say “let’s just all get along and be happy”. Its really a desire to protect what they have sold themselves to gain: money, positions, influence and prestige. This is what really controls them rather than any concern for what has already breached the doors of the church. Dr. Podles says we should emulate Jesus and allow righteous anger to move us into righteous action.

“The emotions that are now suppressed are hatred and anger. Christians think that they ought not to feel these emotions, that it is un-Christian to feel them. They secretly suspect that Jesus was being un-Christian in his attitude to the scribes and Pharisees when he was angry at them, that he was un-Christian when he drove the moneychangers out of the temple or declared that millstones (not vacations in treatment centers) were the way to treat child abusers.”

Make no mistake, we are not talking about bombing abortion clinics, killing abortion doctors or committing acts of violence against homosexuals. That is demonic.  But there is a doable balance where a combination of open resistance and denunciation of wicked legislation, educating those in our circles of influence and demanding that our leaders publicly take a biblical stand. Or else.

In doing so we should never stray from the inspiration example of Moses, a man noted for his meekness.

“Meekness, which is the virtue that moderates anger, is misunderstood as passivity. Moses angrily confronting Pharaoh was the meekest of men, because he moderated the plagues to allow Pharaoh time to repent. Meekness moderates anger so that it is in accord with reason. Since most people suffer from an excess of anger, the virtue that increases anger in those who are deficient in it so that it is in accord with reason does not have a name, but it needs one.”

Jesus himself warned the indifferent church Laodiciea unless they changed their position he would violently reject them.  Is he saying the same to us today?  The world and those who hate the church should hear very clearly from us:

1. Our meekness is not synonymous with weakness.

2. Jesus said he was the door, not the doormat.

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26 thoughts on “The passive church redux

  1. This is an EXCELLENT and accurate article for the present day! One scripture it reminds me of concerns God Himself looking for the church to be either hot or cold, not lukewarm, lest they be spat out of His mouth.

    It makes me angry, personally, that the church has become SOOOOO passive on so many different things, unless the money tills have run dry or someone is saying something about passah.

    Ironically enough, I’m scheduled to visit a friend in MD in a few weeks. In the course of an FB conversation last night, I explained to her in part why I left the apostate church system behind. Articles such as this will help me articulate the point that we as individuals need to take much more initiative to learn the Word for ourselves independent of any congregational entity.

    “Group think,” as I saw on another blog, has no place among the evil we are facing now. Brave people need to be forthright in speaking the Word. Keep in mind what God has already said about the fate of the fearful: But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. Revelation 21:8

  2. Much agreement from me Ncatina!

    We have to learn the art of confronting others with explicit truth in love. Trying to maintain false peace because of the fear of confrontation only further cripples our ability to save this generation.

    Im angry. And until I see our leaders take a stand for righteousness –and not out of convenience–, I will continue to speak out forcefully against them without respect of persons.

  3. i agree totally with this article!! and i really dont like when people try to say that christians cant get angry. the lord said we can get angry but to sin not!! and people seem to have overlooked that. being angry is not a sin, but if you allow your anger to govern you then you may end up sinning. as i have said before, i really thank GOD for this website! keep doin the greater works

  4. royal boy, you’re absolutely right. What really gripes my nerves now is the use of “just pray” being used to squelch critical analysis rather than using it as a means to really resolving pressing issues. Much has happened inside and outside of the church for people to “just pray” and expect for everything to just miraculously fall into place. This only plays more into the passitivity of the modern-day Laodicean “church”‘ an activity that is costing the fate of immortal souls DAILY.

  5. If there was such a thing as one turning over in his grave, Paul, John, James and millions of others would. The state of the church is embrassing to say the least-judgement has already begun~

  6. and N’Catina i will have to agree with you too. i personally love to pray and feel like god does hear our prayers but too often people just put the spiritual “bandage” of saying just pray about it on some major issues that the church should radical about!! but we shouldnt be too surprised, with the number of eyes that are already blinded in the nation and the church especially we can see why people are not interested in being radical.

    im not sure if you are familiar with G. Craige Lewis, but this is his latest blog. he has the delaration that oBAMANATION wrote out on glbt month. he clearly states all of the so called barriers against gays that he will break down. im so thankful that the lord open my eyes to all of the foolishness that is going on. I didnt vote for the devil!

  7. royal I read G Craige’s blog this morning. Blistering. And sooo true.

    Really Obama –the fake savior– isnt the problem, he is a symptom of the problem in the church which has in essence rejected Christ as our head. Oh yeah we have kept using his name, but reject his authority as our head.

    That’s the only way you can lust after someone like Obama who espouses many things OUR true head gave his life to free us from.

    Antichrist acceptance practice if you ask me. And Im glad my hands are clean and conscience clear. I didnt cast a vote for him either.

  8. so pastor foster,

    you feel like oBAMANATION is the prelude to the antichrist? i wonder if he’s not the actual one then who could it be!!! every since he came on to the scene i just felt like it was him

  9. Obama is a type, a sign, a foreshadow if you will but not the AC. The bible cautions us not to try to pin “somebody” as the one nor should we try to pinpoint “the day” of Christ’s return, but to be aware as we see the spiritual signs and seasons, to be ready to meet him.

    To believers this “sign” lets us know our redemption draweth nigh.

    amen.

  10. royal boy, “stunned” is not the word. I just finished reading the post. I agree with GCMW, it was a very hard hitting, but poignant article; extremely important for all to read. As I read it, it made me think back to the long and frenzied campaign period when I could not turn to any form of media w/o encountering some form of Obama worship. It brought to mind the legions of Black people, in particular, that only gave unintelligible answers concerning their support for this man; ignoring all of the warning signs surrounding the causes this man chose to support using the presidential office. Combine that w/an increasingly apostate church w/scores of biblically ignorant people and we’re in a WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOLE lot of trouble.

  11. Good piece but the only problem is that he believes that the Roman Caatholic church has anything to do with Christianity, but in reality christianity is exorteric.

  12. Wow—this is truly an example of an apostate church, in this BBC clip! They’re openly & blatantly determined to reject God’s Word. How sad. The protester inspires…that’s what true Christianity is: contending for & defending the faith! Hallelujah!!!

  13. Regarding G. Craige Lewis’ blog, black folk (professed Christians included) continue to “rebuke” me/loose me for sending out articles on the anti-Christian policies of this administration. I better understand the Bible verses which state that mother will go against son…households WILL be at odds from within. The true believers are going to be forced to stand up because that’s exactly what God appears to be doing. The piece above, on the German church’s abdication of their charge, in the face of Hitler’s demonic control, is a stark reminder of why we need to STAND!

  14. Well, I am guilty for voting for this obvious wolf in sheep’s clothing. I am grateful for God and many other Christian soldiers for this info. Without knowledge we perish. I am kind of shock at G. Craig’s Lewis statement that black people are the most immoral people in this country. I never thought of it as that but maybe we are.

  15. That Isn’t Going to Help Save Anyone

    I’m beginning to think this phrase is a stealth tactic of the enemy. It seems whenever someone speaks out boldly on truth to an unbelieving world, this is the response.

    You know what? The gospel is offensive. It is hard to hear and accept. It is humbling. But we should never be ashamed.

    We don’t know what will get people to start thinking, we can’t be sure what will light that flame in an individual. But isn’t the truth a good starting place?

    But using statements such as this, when something true is said, is a silencer, and I think being silent isn’t going to help save anyone.

  16. Great article…and as soon as I finishing posting this I am going to check out what Mr. Lewis’ blog stated. Sounded interesting…just a general question to anyone that wants to answer..I am just curious…did former president George W. Bush move this country in the right direction as a leader?

  17. I think all of that is debateable about what a president did and did not do politically and whether he set us on the “right” direction. To me, there is no right direction apart from God’s plan. I dont think a political leader will do that.

    The passive church in the face of leaders who are being inserted between us and God is where the real issue lies as noted in the article.

    I dont know any other president that has received the religious adulation that Obama has. Bush was for the most part hated and despised by the (liberal and black) church no matter what he did. Obama freely uses scripture to justify his political agenda, again unlike any other president in recent history. There is little comparison in my mind of the two.

    Although politically I am an independent conservative, it has little to do with opposing Obama’s “savior of the united states (SOTUS) status conferred upon him by the idolatrous reaction of the church.

    That’s my major problem and that’s why I said in the big picture Obama is but another sign that the church has lurched off its intended path, thus setting the stage for either righteous judgment from God, of the entrance of the antichrist, the great deceiver.

  18. Pastor Foster thank you for posting this article! After reading it, a certain scripture in the book of Daniel came to my mind. (NIV) Daniel 12:6-8 One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long will it be before these astonishing things are fufilled?” The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, “It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.”

    After reading this scripture years ago and placing it in my important file cabinet in my mind, whenever I read of articles such as this one and visit sites like yours and Pastor G. Craig Lewis, I am constantly reminded of this scripture.

    I would like to hear your thoughts on this particular portion of scripture… I look at this scripture and where the state of the Church is right now and I cant help but to realize that we are truly in the Last Days…

  19. KCA, Daniel is one of my favorite books to explore. Its so rich and challenging to the mind. Given that Daniel was a man said to have an “excellent spirit”, his writing of the book makes it even the more intriguing…and insightful as we attempt to interpret other areas of scripture.

    The question asked sounds just like one I would ask today: Lord when will these things come to pass? I think its our human nature to want to know and there’s nothing wrong with that if we are seeking God to know. We know he will not manipulate us or give us answers with wrong ulterior motives.

    The two men in white linen standing by are angels talking to each other. Daniel says he hears it but doesnt understand so he rephrases and asks the question again. Its my understanding (and maybe Job can help us on this)

    One angel responds with the same phrase used in Daniel 7:25 and Revelation 12:14, which means the timeframe cited is: one year times: two years half a time: ½ year. This equals 3 ½ years. This corresponds to the second half of the tribulation period, 42 months or 1260 days. The man is telling the two angels, at the conclusion of the 3 ½ years, when Israel’s power is completely shattered prophecy will be accomplished. In other words, when the antichrist completely breaks Isreal’s defenses and abilities down to nothing, then the all will be finished.

    Its implication for the contemporary church is this. Watch Isreal and what happens to her. The time clock of the world is based on events related to Isreal. That’s why its alarming almost to see our government (the most powerful in the world) make demands on Isreal which compromise their sovereignty, thus conditioning them for the a/c.

    I dont think Dan 12:6-8 has any explicit bear on the church today other than it gives us by implication of world events how close we are drawing to the return of the Lord Jesus. Certainly, it could be said that the church (in this time) mirrors Isreal in a sense and thus what happens to us is a shadowing of what will happen to them.

    In each case it will end with a dramatic rescue by Christ of his own. We eagerly await that day!

  20. I also read Min Craige’s blog and forwarded it to many in my address book and many of them love Obama. I know I will received backlash from some angry folks, but I don’t care. I’m not devoted to Obama. I’m devoted to Jesus Christ, and I believe this article will cause them to question who they are devoted to.

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