Ask Augustine with Dr. Paul Tambrino
Ask Augustine is a weekly column where professor/author Dr. Paul Tambrino discusses various theological questions with wit, clarity and substance.
Question #49 – Why Do People Join Churches, and in What Way Have Churches Failed to Equip People to Defend the Faith?
The majority of church members today do not know the fundamental tenants of their church, nor do they know why they are members of a particular denomination.
Most cannot give sufficient biblical or theological reasons why they are members of a particular denomination as opposed to being a member of another denomination or even for being a member of a non-denominational church.
There is a great need for church members to know clearly what they believe and why.“The majority of church members today do not know the fundamental tenants of their church, nor do they know why they are members of a particular denomination.”
It is my opinion that when people join churches they are guided by feeling rather than by judgment.
People do not first ascertain the leading principles of the denomination or of an independent church from its acknowledged standards, and then examine these principles in the light of the Word of God.
Most people do not take the time to search for principles and weigh them but rather are influenced in their choice, either by the authority of some great men, or the moral worth of some particular persons, or the piety and eloquence of some local minister, or by how comfortable they are with the order and style of worship.
In an article (on February 16, 2023) in The Christian Post, Bear Grylls notes that Jesus always hung out with those who society shunned, the poor and the sick.“Would it not be better if objections first were raised within the church out of a genuine attempt to resolve perplexing issues and mysteries?”
He cites Matthew 9:10-13: “Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and began dining with Jesus and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, ‘Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?’ But when Jesus heard this, He said, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. Now go and learn what this means: I desire compassion, rather than sacrifice, for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners’” (NASB).
So Grylls says today’s churches are okay as a community of friends gathering honestly in faith and in love.
But today’s churches too often mask their purpose with performances, music and bands.
He interestingly posits that a Church is a place to have doubts and questions since the early church ate, drank, doubted, struggled and argued.
Since the Bible commands us to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you ” (1 Pet. 3:15), I find Grylls proposing sage advice.“I believe it’s time for the church to enable its members to defend the faith, even in the face of its toughest critics.”
Classic objections to Christianity continue to be raised, especially on college campuses. It’s no wonder many of our young are easily turned against the faith when first confronted by anyone who challenges their faith; especially when objections to Christianity are raised in a spirit of prejudice and hostility.
Would it not be better if objections first were raised within the church out of a genuine attempt to resolve perplexing issues and mysteries?
In this way both young and old will have a tested shield of faith with which they will “be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Eph. 6:16).
Having gone through such basic training within the church, where teachings and doctrine are openly struggled with, argued and yes, even doubted, participants would be better equipped with compelling historical and concrete evidence, logical reasoning, and believable answers to counter the objections that academic skeptics raise.“Worship is not for us, but for God.”
I believe it’s time for the church to enable its members to defend the faith, even in the face of its toughest critics.
Unfortunately, for most people today it matters not that within denominations and non-denominational churches there are some that deny the deity of Jesus Christ, His virgin birth, His personal and visible return, the inerrancy of Scripture, etc.
Instead of realizing that there is such a polarization of theological beliefs most people today are attracted to “feel good” worship services.
The sad thing about all this, is that worship is not for us, but for God.
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