Well known author and pastor Dr Tim Keller thinks there are idols in the Western Church.
He thinks that our experiences, our doctrine and our consumerism are well entrenched in our churches, so much so that they have become idols. Here is what he says:
Instead of looking to the Word of God to be their norm and their guide, people tend to look to their own experience, feelings, intuitions, and impressions to be their guide.
Emotion and expression are very good, but when you make it more important than the Word of God, or put it higher than the Word of God, it becomes an idol.
I do think some people make an idol out of doctrine.
If you have your doctrine right, they say, then you are part of the solution, not the problem: you’re not heretical like everyone else.
There is a pride and a smugness about having good doctrine that, to me, almost puts it into the place of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
Instead of looking to the church to give themselves into community, people look to the church to get the services they want. They have emotional, vocational, and relational needs and they go to a church because it is a good place to network.
People see the church as a mall, rather than a family that they give themselves to.
Consumerism becomes the idol that is, my felt needs become an idol; they are more important than being apart of a community.
I don’t disagree with Dr Keller, but I would like to add some contributing factors to Keller’s ideas on idols.
The lack of humility and a pride of knowledge that permeates American Christianity. This probably can tie into the experience and doctrine issues that Dr Keller mentions, because most Christian leaders today are not teachable, and their agenda for ministry is determined with little to no acknowledgement of God. I know this sounds harsh, but I know too many people who talk the language of faith, but still think that the kingdom is built by their giftedness and hard work.
The lack of honest and truthful ministries. U2 Bono nailed Christian music recently when he said that Christian music isn’t honest. When U2 musician Bono reads the Psalms, a book of the Bible filled with ancient hymns, he sees the full range of human emotions: anger, irritation, sadness, bliss. While the Psalms have been a source of spiritual inspiration for him throughout his life, Bono has much harsher words for contemporary Christian music.
Modern Christian worship music has often been critiqued for its mediocrity — the repetition of the same four chords, the same set of reliably inspirational words, and theological jargon that leaves outsiders bewildered. Bono says, “The psalmist is brutally honest about the explosive joy that he’s feeling and the deep sorrow or confusion, and I often think, ‘Gosh, well, why isn’t church music more like that?”
Christians are some of the phoniest people on earth; they are fickle, backbiting, jealous, hateful, vindictive people that are often disloyal and immoral people. These are people who claim the promises of the Bible and give Jesus praise. Again, this ties in to Dr Keller’s idea on consumerism in the church, because consumers are all about themselves. Now, I get it, we are all sinners and have a fallen nature, but as believers we should be gaining more control over how we love God, and treat people. In fact if you think I am hard on believers, the Apostle Paul was even harsher. When you read 2 Timothy 3, you discover that the latter days will not only affect the world, it will also affect the church. Paul even says that there will be people who are religious, but don’t know the Lord. 2 Timothy 3:5 “having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”
I think it is time we take a long hard look at what we believe, and how serious we are about wanting His kingdom to come.
Lack of Knowledge and Discernment in the Church. The lack of a standard for discernment makes it easy for the counterfeit to become incorporated into the church culture. The pulpits have become so enamored with being relevant they forgot how to be spiritual. They have failed their calling by ignoring elements of the scriptures that are informative about how evil is preparing this world through the indoctrination of social thinking and setting the stage for corporate control by a world leader. If you surveyed 7 out of 10 Christians about the importance of Israel in the last days, they would have little to no knowledge of Biblical prophecy concerning the Jews prior to the coming of Christ. In fact many Christian millennials believe the Palestinians are the rightful owners of the land occupied by the State of Israel. This is as un-Biblical as it gets, yet no one in their Christian circles ever correct this mistake. There are more rabbit trails today in the church than ever before, because the counterfeit church is gaining more power over the truth of the scripture. We have spiritual Pharisee’s who want people to read the Bible, but they won’t teach you about Jesus. They will teach you about social justice, keeping the law, and building doctrines about their understanding of God rather than teaching the truth.
Let’s be honest, the world isn’t the only entity that is out of control, much too often the Church is too. Dr Keller has raised some interesting points, so what do we do about it? How do we pray? Who do we talk to and how can we affect change in my church? As Jesus said, “These come out only by fasting and prayer!”
Keeping it honest and truthful….K