Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Church Autonomy: A Good Thing?

I was looking through the most recent issue of Christianity Today and saw a full-page ad for an organization called Speak Up. It read:

The doors of the church are being bound. The growing intrusion of government into the affairs of the church poses a profound threat to church autonomy and even to our most basic religious liberties -- freedom of speech, freedom to exercise religious beliefs, and freedom of access. Pastors must be willing to speak up to reclaim and secure the right of the Church to be the Church.

It then gave its website link for people to visit.

I'm not sure what to make if this. I am a pastor, so they are speaking to me. They say I "must" speak up to secure the Church's rights. And yet my first thought on reading this was, "The Church's autonomy is being threatened? Should I care about this?"

It's not that I don't care at all, but I am much more concerned about the Church's purity and witness than I am about it's autonomy. And I could certainly be wrong, but it seems to me that the Church in America might not be so impotent and conformed to this world if its autonomy was threatened even more. I don't see government being the biggest threat to the Church; I think nominalism is by far the greater danger.

The more the Church is oppressed and hindered by the government, the more nominal, unregenerate Christians will be compelled to leave the Church, and thus the Church will be a more pure witness to our Savior and King, Jesus Christ.

But those are just my first thoughts. Leave a comment and help me to think it through some more...


  1. Religious freedom is a right under the Constitution and if we allow those rights to be trampled upon, then we lose our religious liberty. America is one of those unique countries in which religious liberty is a protected right. Many countries around the world claim they have religious liberty, but it is not enshrined within their constitutions. Their governments can take away that right at any time without warning.

    With that being said, people DO have a hard time allowing others religious freedom. We tend to think that our way is the right way and every one else is wrong. This can only lead to persecutions, especially when we employ the agency of government to promote our particular religious agendas. Nominal Christians feel secure when the government backs up their religion, but fall away from the faith when their religion comes under attack. Strong Christians will uphold their values even in the face of opposition.

    It's funny how we cry foul when we are attacked as Christians, but we feel no compunction when we attack others who do not believe as we do. Religious freedom works both way folks! You cannot expect people to respect our religious freedom when we do not respect theirs, even if we do not agree with them. So stop crying and wringing your hands when you are attacked. If you attack someone be sure they will attack you back. No one is going to be attacked and take it lying down. With that being said, even if you do not attack people and just attack sin, people will personalize your attack on sin.

    Christianity is definitely not for the weak-hearted. Being a Christian means standing for Truth and at the same time respecting others who hold to a different 'truth' than ours. We got to show by our example and lead the way in this. Too many of us are willing to show a support for truth, without showing a willingness to accept that others may not believe as we do. JMHO.