Wednesday, 16 May 2007
I think I'm probably not all that unusual among ex-WCG members in having a hard time reconnecting to the idea of "church." In fact, truth to tell, I find the whole idea of driving off to a weekly service quite stressful, and nothing fires my indignation more than some smug, self-satisfied, Bible-toting pastor who passes judgement on non-attenders as lazy or uncommitted. Here's a recent example from the normally urbane bloggin' Baptist pastor Jim West:
Everyone who attends church has heard, and maybe even used, some excuse as to why worship couldn’t be attended. From the mysterious illness that strikes at 10 on Sunday morning but which clears up by noon so that the mall can be visited, to the sudden visitor who just dropped in as they were “leaving”; to the tiredness from a late Saturday night out; to simple laziness. And anything and everything in between, including, but not limited to, bad preaching, boring sunday school lessons, and too many other things to do.
But the real reason, the 100% always accurate reason, the authentic truth of the matter is that people stay home from worship because they don’t want to have to mend their ways or change their lives. They know, after all, that if they KNOW what God wants them to do, they will have no excuse for not doing it. So, they stay home on Sunday or they trot home after sunday school so that they can avoid the inevitable claim of God on their lives.
They don’t stay home because something more important has come up- because there is nothing more important than God. They stay home because they are afraid that God may want something of them. Namely, them. (Source)
Given that level of rhetoric it's not surprising that disaffected Christians might embrace the individualism of the Internet and a "church experience" without a church. Enter former WCG luminary Greg Albrecht and his Plain Truth Ministries. I'm not sure how Greg ended up with The Plain Truth, but it seems to be his personal play-pen these days, and he has taken it in directions antithetical not only to WCG but most other churches. Greg is now High Priest of stay-at-home Churchianity parading as liberation from religion.
I suppose I should be sympathetic, but tune in to Greg's "Christianity Without the Religion" (CWR) and you'll discover just how parasitic Albrechtism really is. Schmalzy music, online communion (BYO of course!) and bucketfuls of preacher Greg's platitudinous pontifications. This, if Greg is to be believed, is the wave of the future: Christianity minus community or commitment (but they'll take your money.) And this bloodless waffle, Greg assures us, is religion-free!
There's certainly a case for a radical rethink of the way Christians "do" church. But Albrecht's ministry is far from radical: an unappealing mix of evangelical glibness and sectarian self-absorption. Greg may extoll "Christ-centered" faith, but it seems far more Greg-centered to me.
Of course, that's just my opinion. But I'd pay good money to be see Greg lock horns with Jim West on this issue. Praise the Lord and pass the squishy tomatoes!
Addendum: How about a caption for that photo?
"Hey, check out my threads..."
"No sorry, I'd love to contribute but I left my wallet at home..."
"Hey, c'mon guys, gimme back my clerical collar..."
There's got to be better ones than those ;-)