By Dickson Igwe, Contributor
The Modern Christian Church is suffering the severe trauma of having to accept the ‘vices’ of a new western culture of liberality and tolerance.
The traditional church is turning away from a conservative theology that adheres to a strict interpretation of the Gospels as narrated for over two millennia by theologians and clergymen, to a new theology.
There is today, in a large segment of the western church, greater toleration of what was once ‘taboo’.
There is acceptance of liberal ideas and views. There is acceptance of ordination of practicing gays in the clergy, the legitimization of gay marriage, and relaxation of rules of abortion.
The preceding are the great issues of the day in terms of liberal causes.
Church attendance despite this new culture of inclusion is falling. The church in the west is increasingly secular and humanistic.
In Europe, atheism and agnosticism are the norm.
However, this new epoch in the church remains the purview of churches in North America and Western Europe.
The wider global church is far from accepting a new theology of tolerance and compromise.
The Church in Africa and Latin America, including the Orthodox churches of Russia, Eastern Europe, the Levant, and North and North Eastern Africa, remain supremely traditional.
This is a culture of orthodoxy and strict adherence to the literal interpretation of Scripture that is not going to change anytime soon, despite what happens in the US and Western Europe.
Former US President Barack Obama lives a very uncompromising family life in terms of filial loyalty: Obama is the poster boy of the faithful husband and loving father, very much unlike his successor, and champion of the Christian Right, President Donald Trump.
Paradoxically Obama was champion of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual – LGBT – agenda. This Old Boy understands where Obama is coming from. Obama is not a hypocrite on the matter.
The former president sees separation of church and state as sacrosanct.
Obama is Caesar. He sees his role as Caesar as separated from his personal beliefs. Fully understandable! Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s after all!
But is Caesar not encroaching on church turf these days? Is the secular world not aggressively knocking on the church door and demanding that the church accept its ways? Let me explain.
The Church of England is a fore runner of the modern evangelical church. It is the close twin of the Anglican Church.
Modern evangelical Christianity, including Methodism, Baptists, Pentecostals, and Seven Day Adventists, and so on, and so forth, all evolved Post the Lutheran Reformation of the 1400s, from the Church of England, and the Anglicans.
It is therefore important to look at the events and developments in the Church of England as having impact on the worldwide church, even on the Roman Catholics, who remain more traditional and uncompromising in their theology but who have evangelical links.
The church is becoming increasingly secular. Anyone with any understanding of things religious knows this.
The Church of England has stated that people will leave the church owing to its inability to give a straight line answer to its stand on same sex relationships.
In the church, gay and lesbian clergy are not permitted to be in same sex relationships.
The relationships of gays and lesbians must remain celibate. This is unacceptable to a large number of clergymen and women. It is also unacceptable to a great number of parishioners.
So, there is a war going on in the evangelical community. There is a dividing line. And it is epitomized by what is happening in the Anglican Church.
The conflict is very real. It is between the modernizers who see the acceptance of what was once ‘unheard of’’ as moving with the times, and the traditionalists, who are unwilling to water down the ‘core principles’ as stated in the Gospels.
The traditionalists view the Man Christ as the fulfillment of the Law as written in stone in the Ten Commandments, and the various narratives contained in Scripture. The war is between the compromisers the uncompromising.
On the side of the Traditionalists, the group Christian Concern’s Chief Executive Andrea Williams has said that ‘the church needs to affirm as clearly as she can her commitment to’ biblically defined historical marriage.
The church cannot be held to ransom by emotive influence. Self interest, political pressure, lobby groups, cannot be allowed to force the church into devising doctrine based on present and passing fads.
On the side of the ‘change advocates’ Lucy Gorman of York told the Church Synod that: “Outside the church walls, the refusal to change shows the church as lacking love. Consequently fewer young people are coming to a church that appears homophobic.’’
In response, Andrea Williams of Chichester has said: “All sexual expression outside a lifelong permanent union of one man and one woman is sinful.”
Williams has emphasized that sexuality is a first order issue on which salvation depends.
It is critical to speak clearly on sexual sin. There is no room for compromise here.
The Leader of the Church of England Archbishop Justin Welby is consequently in a bind. He cannot bring the two sides together.
His answer: “The church needs not to be careless in theology. But at the same time it cannot be ignorant of the changing world.’’
Now religion is a very personal affair. It is not easy to change hearts and minds.
It is impossible for the LGBT Community and liberals to expect to change religious beliefs that lie embedded in the hearts and minds of men and women, and that have been cemented into the mindset for hundreds of years.
Secular humanistic societies appear to want to have their cake and eat it as well. Consequently the ‘push’ into the sanctum that is the church.
However theology is very clear.
Even hardened sinners accept church theology on what is right and what is wrong.
Most ‘sinners’ who feel they are on the ‘road to hell’ will tell you that the fault is with their own hearts and minds, and not church doctrine.
They do not expect the church to accommodate them in their sin. Why: because that would be accommodating a lie.
Consequently, the choice is there for everyone. Live the life of Caesar and enjoy the moral compromises that are on offer.
On the other hand, live the life of Christ, and accept the guidance and doctrine of the Church.
The church teaches that the Holy Spirit and the Holy Bible enable and empower the believer to live the life of faith.
Outside of extant theology as explained in scripture, it is impossible to lead the Christian life. It is a bitter truth.
The problem is that the liberal ideology of tolerance, and the consequent accommodation of ‘lifestyles’ that have long been antithetical to the Christian faith is marching through the modern church.
The church can either roll over, and become even more irrelevant, or stand its ground holding firmly to the sword of scriptural theology that has stood the test of time.
There is no meeting of minds in this war. There are no compromises.
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