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Pastor refutes Newsweek article on Christianity

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Posted: Saturday, April 14, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 9:41 am, Tue Aug 27, 2013.

The cover article of the April 9 edition of Newsweek is entitled "Christianity in Crisis." In the article, author Andrew Sullivan makes it clear that he dislikes the church and says, in a nutshell, that people should forget church and just follow Jesus.

Sullivan's definition of following Jesus, however, is his distorted view of who Jesus is and what he taught. He would like to follow only the parts of the Bible he likes and ignore the rest. This is a seriously flawed understanding of the Bible.

Remember, the church is Jesus' idea, and is called His bride. To say "I love Jesus but hate the church" is like telling your best friend, "I like you but hate your wife," which would certainly offend him. It's the same with Jesus and the church.

Sullivan wants everyone to leave church because, in essence, it is full of hypocrites. Are there hypocrites in the church? Sure there are, just like there are hypocrites in every workplace, school, family and social club.

What those outside the church fail to recognize is that the church is made up of sinners saved by grace. No one is perfect. No one has "arrived."

Even though Christians are saved, we still do dumb things that are contrary to God's holy standards. Sure, its convenient to call this hypocrisy, but for most Christians it's not (yes, there are some glaring exceptions). Furthermore, it's not hypocritical for an imperfect follower of Jesus to say what the Bible teaches on theological and moral issues.

Contrary to Mr. Sullivan, I don't believe that hypocrisy is the church's main problem. I believe it's a lack of the knowledge of biblical theology and the practical application of it to everyday life. Hypocrisy, lukewarmness, worldly lifestyles and secular worldviews are just symptoms of this lack.

Is Christianity in trouble? Yes, we've gotten away from our main focus — Jesus. But the trouble we find ourselves in can be turned into transformation when we fall on our faces, repent of our sin and earnestly seek God for revival. Will you join me in this?

Pastor Frank Nolton

New Hope Community Church

Lodi

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Welcome to the discussion.

2 comments:

  • Rick Houdack posted at 6:51 am on Sat, May 12, 2012.

    Rick Houdack Posts: 177

    Jesus Christ is no more involved in Nolton's church than is Zeus or Apollo. The church exists only for the purpose of con men extracting gold from the pockets of the gullible dupes seated in the pews.

     
  • Doug Cornwell posted at 11:17 pm on Sun, May 6, 2012.

    D E Cornwell Posts: 2

    After reading this letter, I went to Newsweek and read the article Mr Nolton referred to. Here is the letter I sent to him:
    My Dear Mr. Nolton,

    I read your letter printed today with interest. Your defense of the institution called "the church" has been a subject that I have watched for some time now. You see, I am one of those called "the unchurched". One that left "the church" for many reasons. None of those reasons had anything to do with my relationship with my Heavenly Father and my salvation by Yahushua other than no longer being able to put up with the lies being told about them by those in leadership positions in "the church".

    Your letter today prompted me to obtain the article you cited in Newsweek written by Andrew Sullivan. I have read the article and reread your letter as published in the newspaper. Mr. Nolton, did you really read his article? Did you understand what he was saying? Mr. Sullivan discussed Thomas Jefferson and how he tried to remove all the opinions of men and get to the heart of what "Jesus" had to say. Mr. Jefferson was having a hard time with "the church" of his day also and was trying to get to the heart of the matter by seeing, for himself, what the Master had to say. Not what the clerics of his day were saying about anything, but what was proceeding "from the mouth of God". I quote Mr. Sullivan:

    "What does it matter how strictly you proclaim your belief in various doctrines if you do not live as these doctrines demand? What is politics if not a dangerous temptation toward controlling others rather than reforming oneself? If we return to what Jesus actually asked us to do and be-rather than the unknowable intricacies of what we believe he was-he actually emerges more powerfully and more purely."

    It would seem to me that Mr. Sullivan is calling for us to be like what Jesus called us to do and be. He isn't attacking "the church" but rather Mr. Sullivan is doing what "the church" should be doing. That is, asking what would Jesus have us do in any situation. Isn't that what you should be doing as "pastor" of a flock of "the church"? Calling people to be doing what Jesus taught us to be doing?

    That said however, I disagree with Mr. Sullivan in some of his underlying agenda. I do not agree with him as he discloses his "progressive" leanings mentioning homosexuality, abortion and other left-leaning positions that the liberal side of politics seems to always try to put on Christians and those of the Judeo-Christian beliefs. I also do not agree with the obvious "Catholic" references he has included. However, he closes his article with the line "Something inside us is telling us we need radical spiritual change". Mr. Nolton, what is your argument with a statement like that?

    Here is where my separation with "the church" comes into the discussion. You see, Mr. Nolton, I cannot find in my Bible where your position is defined. As I read the descriptions of spiritual giftings and positions, I cannot find a position like what you occupy described anywhere. Can you show me where a group of believers, meeting together, is supposed to pay someone with a pastor's gift? Can you show me where that same person is supposed to do all the teaching to the whole group without that group being allowed to discuss his teachings while he is delivering them? Can you show me where a group of believers meeting together was supposed to lease a building, incur debts, hire administrative staff, delegate spiritual leadership and place themselves "under" anyone claiming to have spiritual "headship" for covering them? The letter of Jude was written to a group of "The Way" followers living in Jerusalem between 60 and 75 AD. Jude was one of Jesus's brothers. He actually walked with The Master. He sat with Him. Jude listened to Him as He taught the words recorded in the Bible. You remember, the words Thomas Jefferson wanted to isolate and follow? Jude wrote in verses 3 and 4 of his letter:

    "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ."

    Jude records in his letter that the Faith that was to be defended had been delivered to the followers of the Jewish Messiah prior to the authorship of his letter between 60 and 75 AD. Taking the words of the Bible as they are written, any changes to "the Faith" delivered by Jesus are the works of "certain men" who are trying to "pervert" what was taught by Him. Where do you stand with these "certain men"? Are you guilty of teaching doctrines introduced after Jesus was here and "delivered" the faith? Are you guilty of teaching the "traditions of men" rather than what is set out in the Holy Word of God? From where I stand, you have elevated "the church" above where Jesus set out "His Assembly" to be. You are guilty of following what is being taught in the seminaries of the western world rather than what the Bible teaches. Mr. Nolton, it is you who needs to repent! It is you who needs to return to the Bible and seek after the Holy One of Israel.

     

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