I live in a small city. If you take a drive with me, around the town, you will notice a plethora of “churches.” On one side of town, we will pass a Catholic Church. If we cross the river, we pass another Catholic Church. As we drive around, we begin to pass various other churches. These are the Episcopal, Presbyterian, Southern Baptist, Assemblies of God, Salvation Army, American Baptist, Methodist, and Congregational churches. The only exclamation, one can say concerning this is, “What the heck?”
The journey, for me, through Churchianity has been interesting. I was born a catholic, born again in 1976, started church attendance once more, in the Episcopal Church, and switched to the Restoration Movement. After this, became a Restoration Movement minister. Traveling on, into Churchianity, I moved over to the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and received a second ordination. Without giving too much detail concerning my travels in Churchianity, I continued in visiting and attending many of the different churches. I do not know if it was me or them but fitting in became a difficult and sometimes impossible situation. Today, we sit church-less and outside of the Churchianity movement. However, this may sound like an oxymoron, although I am without a church, I am still in the church.
Let me make three observations concerning Churchianity. Firstly, most denominations and non-denominations proclaim, they are the only ones who know the truth and are the genuine church. They all try to prove this with a statement of faith. How funny this is to me. Most of these statements are identical, except for some small nuance of theology. These differences range from disagreements in baptism to end-time eschatology. The Lord Jesus said, “He will build His church.” My question is, which of the various Churchianity churches is His church.
The second observation concerns, the distrust, suspicion and arrogant pride of Churchianity people. One denomination distrusts the other. With prideful arrogance, they exalt their nuance theology over each other. Jesus said, “He will build His church.” I still am wondering what church this is. Recently, we experienced the distrust, suspicion and downright arrogance of a nuance theological belief. A certain woman from a differing denomination, looking for a small congregation to worship in, started attending a Restoration Movement church. My wife and I had traveled four hundred miles, to preach in our home church, came across a precarious and unsettling moment for them. This church has some nuance doctrinal beliefs, which are contrary to other denomination’s theological beliefs. I was proud of my home church in this situation. They, not believing as the other denomination woman believes, opened their hearts to her, allowing for grace between the nuances of belief. This Sunday, they allowed the other denomination lady to give communion meditation (no small thing for them to do). The meditation became a dress down of the differing theological beliefs. Let me tell you, this was quite uncomfortable. This diatribe ruined communion with Christ, producing a schism in the body. The nuance centered on her belief in, “Once saved always saved.” She dressed down the Restoration Movement belief in the possibility of a believer losing their salvation. A meeting took place after church. Both sides were armed with Scripture proving their beliefs. One side was open to allowing the grace of differences, the other, was not. Nuance theology rears its ugly head in Churchianity again. What can you say but, “What the heck?”
The third observation, I ascertained, is the outright blasphemous rejection of the inspired word of God and the rejection of the Apostle’s doctrine. Unfortunately, many Churchianity denominations have become a cloak of darkness, being conformed to the lusts and desires of the world. I don’t think I need to spell it all out here. The discerning person will know what I mean.
The concluding thought about these observations, gives us the empirical evidence of Christianity on the decline. The great outcry we hear is, “We are living in a post Christian world.” However, Jesus said,
“I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18
The truth is, we are living in a post-Churchianity world. A Churchianity world which Jesus said,
“I will vomit you out of My mouth.” Revelation 3:16
What we are experiencing today is the vomiting of Christ, throwing-up the Churchianity of today. He is sick of this and out of His guts, He is spitting it out. Nevertheless, His church, He is building, is not in a post-Christian era. The church Jesus is building is prevailing. From the first church to today, hell has been trying to infiltrate and destroy Christianity. Thankfully, no persecution or subversion of the true church has prevailed; Christ’s church, still stands.
The New Testament record is clear, Churchianity has been with us from the beginning. Jesus warned, His apostles, this would be a problem in the Parable of the Wheat and Tares.
“Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field;but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared.” Matthew 13:24-27
Jesus, told Peter and the listening apostles “He would build His church, and hell would not prevail against it.” In the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, Jesus warns His apostles (and us), although the gates of hell will not prevail against the church, hell will be able to grow inside the church. Sorry to say, obnoxious weeds will bring Churchianity to the church.
In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus gives the Great Commission to the apostles. The commission is to go evangelize and disciple the world to Christ. The Apostles started the great commission on the day of Pentecost, and the church was birthed. This beginning church starts out well. The apostles began the labor of discipling the first believers, so they all could fulfill the Great Commission.
The record is clear, the initial believers where people from all parts of the Roman Empire.
“And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, ‘Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs.’” Acts 2:5-11 NKJV
Many of these believed the message of Christ. The church was instantly filled with people who could return to their part of the world and preach Christ. Nevertheless, Churchianity began and the church became a food bank. The primary mission of Christians, to evangelize, became secondary. The food bank was hindering the apostles from their original commission.
“Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, ‘It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:1-4 NKJV
The first church huddled together and became a Churchianity congregation. They became focused on their needs. Since they did this, jealousy and arguments arose. However, after the martyrdom of Stephen, Jesus addressed this situation.
“At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.”Acts 8:1 NKJV
The result of the Lord’s persecution spanking was stunning.
“Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” Acts 8:4 NIV
Food banks are great works Christians should be doing, but the primary function of the church is the Great Commission. When confusion of Church or Churchianity arises, Christ will correct it.
As the gospel spread and churches came into being, many tares threatened to destroy them. The problem of Churchianity spread throughout many of the fledgling churches. Perhaps a Scriptural look at the errors of these churches, falling into Churchianity, will teach us what Christianity is not. Hopefully, it will enable us to correct modern-day churches away from Churchianity back to Christianity.
1.) The church at Antioch, where believers were first called Christians, struggled with returning to the law of Moses. The Apostle Paul had to rebuke the Apostle Peter, who led the charge into legalism. Judaizers, came from Jerusalem, and the fear of the circumcision Jews split the church. Churchianity rears its ugly head. The fate of salvation by faith in Christ was at stake. If the tares win this debate, the Law of Moses will supersede the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote about this problem in Galatians 2:14. (You should read the whole chapter.)
“When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, ‘You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?’” NIV
2.) The problem of legalism turning a church into Churchianity, reared its ugly head in the churches of Galatia. These churches, established by Paul, were leaving Christ and turning to Churchianity. Paul called this, a turn to “Another Gospel.”
“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-8 NKJV
3.) The church at Corinth, when the Apostle Paul was there, thrived in the Gospel. Unfortunately, after Paul’s departure, they fell into Churchianity. The tares arose in the congregation, and divisions followed. Contentions arose concerning which group of believers were superior to the other.
“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not carnal?” 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 NKJV
The Great Commission witness for Christ by the Corinthians, deteriorated and was destroyed. A thorough reading of 1Corinthians describes the full aspects of Churchianity. Instead of love and unity in Christ, strife, lawsuits, gluttony, incest, immorality, drunkenness, pride, and self-seeking reigned supreme. Paul had to send Titus to Corinth to clean up the mess. (See 2 Corinthians 12:18)
4.) In the Book of Revelation, Jesus comes to correct Churchianity in many churches in Asia. To Ephesus He says,
“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Revelation 2:1
To Pergamos He says,
“But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel,to eat things sacrificed to idols,and to commit sexual immorality.” Revelation 2:14
To Thyatira He says,
“Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess,to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.” Revelation 2:20
To Sardius He says,
“These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: ‘I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.’” Revelation 3:1
To Laodicea He says,
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.Because you say,‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” Revelation 3: 15-17 (NKJV)
Jesus spoke to seven congregations, five congregations where Churchianity Christians. Only, two churches were Christianity Churches. Five of the Asia churches had the hell inside them. Two of the Asia churches had heaven in them. Christ, who builds the church spoke to the five Churchianity congregations. He told them, basically, “I will not tolerate evil in any church. I will purge the bad out of you or close you down. I will not permit the gates of hell to prevail against my work.” As we have learned, from Acts to Revelation, the early church had fallen into sin. The fall was varied in nature, from legalism to sexual perversion. These churches allowed hell in them. This hell produced Churchianity and the end of the Great Commission. The only exclamation, one can say concerning this is, “What the heck?”
The point of this small writing is to make the church aware of the dangers of falling into Churchianity. Upon reading the failures of the early church, we can deduce, Christians today, in various aspects, are falling into the same failures. Many are not a church of Christianity anymore. Although, it seems many denominations are Churchianity congregations, there are many who walk in truth and are the Church Jesus is building. Jesus will not allow the gates of hell to prevail against His building work. We need to examine ourselves to make sure we are in the faith. To those who choose Churchianity, all I can say is, “What the heck?” To the true church, I say, “Continue in the Grace of God!”
Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-9 NKJV
© Guy Calandra Author of The Inside Word