Friday, September 5, 2014

The fall of the churches of Christ

I've got it now, I feel it in my bones. I understand where the churches of christ went wrong.
But first, a story told in parts. 
2 Chronicles 18:1 "Jehoshaphat had riches and honor in abundance; and by marriage he allied himself with Ahab."

2 Chron 21:1, 5-6, 19 "Now Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. And Jehoram his son reigned in his stead... Jehoram was thirty and two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem.And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab had done, for he had the daughter of Ahab [Athaliah] as a wife; and he did evil in the sight of the LORD... And it came to pass, that in process of time, after the end of two years, his bowels fell out by reason of his sickness: so he died of sore diseases."

2 Chron 22:1 - "And the inhabitants of Jerusalem made Ahaziah his youngest son king in his stead.

2 Kings 8:26 - Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Athaliah, the daughter of Omri king of Israel.

2 Kings 11:1 - And when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal seed.
So let's recap shall we? There was a King named Jehoshaphat who was clearly good, but very softheaded, for he gave his son in marriage to Athaliah, daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. (I mean, honestly, it's not like he couldn't figure out that Jezebel and Ahab of all people were evil.) That son Jehoram was not good, and he strayed from the Lord. After his death his wife Athaliah killed the rest of the sons of David.

That's the story of the Churches of Christ.
If you go in to those churches today you will still see the Jehoshaphats, the 70 and 80 year olds who are loving, committed, faithful, and almost gone. They're fairly hardline usually, they'll tell you that if you don't go to their church you'll go to hell, but they do care deeply for people, even if their doctrines are off-kilter. These saints are beloved, and when they die they are mourned.
You'll also see the 50 and 60 year old Jehorams. They are more numerous, often cruel, legalistic, and show little of the good humor of their parents. Their doctrines are skewed like their parents, but they don't seem to have the humility to accept it.
You will not see the grandchildren. They are dead now.

The church of Christ has always been wed to the spirit of the age, going all the way back to Campbell and Stone. That wasn't much of a problem when America was full of pioneers and independent families and generally everyone was Christian, but it did become a problem when the culture really moved, some time around the 1970s. That time when the culture moved and the church moved with her it would be fatal. Sadly, the Jehoshaphats, since they had grown up with the idea of being married to the culture didn't think anything of consigning their children to it either. They didn't see the fundamental change this one represented, so they gave their sons in marriage to Athaliah, spirit of the age. They put away their hymns and began singing Gather songs. Out went talking about the attributes of God, in went how God makes me feel and what I promise to do. They had knowledge of the old ways and doctrines, but they failed to pass it down to their own children, whose loyalties switched from their parents to their wives. Christianity isn't like brown eyes where you automatically get it from your parents. If it's not properly translated that's the end.

And that's where it went. That's how it happened. Jehoram grew up cruel and legalistic, in a time of selfishness taking the form of his wife. She, the spirit of the age put an end to his progeny. There would be no more children, those my age. That missing and barren generation is gone and the churches of Christ have reached the end, failing to pass on the gospel to their youth.

Because they wanted to be relevant and cool and in touch with their feelings. The lesson here is timeless.

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