I love the church. This would seem to be an obvious statement for anyone who would name the name of Christ. For to love Christ is to love the things that He loves. And there is nothing as dear to Christ in the world than His Church, the Bride for whom He gave His life. Yet amazingly there are those who would seek to draw this dichotomy between Christ and His church, between loving God and loving the church. This is particularly the case among the so-called "intellectual elite" who find themselves pontificating upon the evils and short-coming of a society that has such a religious soul. For them, short-comings and evils that plague our society are the result of the short-sightedness and sociological impotence of the church. This is particularly true of the so-called "black intellectual" who sees and understands the predominantly Black Church in America to be a socio-political institution that once fought for Civil Rights but now fights for prime real estate to build mega-church edifices. Therefore, they level their criticism at the church, while claiming at the same time to have a relationship with God, or as John W. Fountain, former reporter for The Washington post and current journalism professor at University of Illinois at Urbana, claims to be connected to God but disconnected from the church. In his recent article, No Place for Me: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/15/AR2005071502194.html?referrer=emailarticle Fountain suggests that the church is no place for him because it has lost its way. He loathes the modern mega-church preacher (or wannabes) because they are men (and unfortunately women) who are more concerned with filthy lucre than with faith in Christ, and faithful living. His criticism, while at many points is legitimate, comes from an illegitimate position. His is a self-righteous, pietistic arrogance that is as evil, if not worse, than the money-grabbing prophets of today. He knows not, nor loves the true church of God.
Journalist John totally misses God and the reality that is the church. His criticism of these so-called preachers is obviously correct, however, his analysis of the church is as wrong as is his criticism of the preachers right. To say, "I feel connected to God, but not connected to the church" is a self-falsifying statement. But he can not know that, because for him church has been nothing but a heavy dose of emotional stimulation. And when the emotional high has worn off, he begins looking for work to do to make him once again feel significant. Here is a glaring and sad illustration of a man who thinks he experienced God when all he experienced was religious experience itself. Yet, he is smart enough to know that something is missing, he just is not spiritually inclined to know what that something is. He thinks its about him. But as you know, church (biblical Christianity) is not about him. It is obvious, he has no desire, or affection for God. If he loved God, as he claims, he would love the church, because the church is what God loves (His Bride). The author's self-righteous is just as bad if not worse than the self-indulgence that he accuses these pimping-preachers of. (By the way: if he had real courage he would call out Creflo Dollar, TD Jakes, Eddie Long, and his own mega church pastor. But alas, such courage wains when it is really called upon). Speaking of courage....The saddest part is the ending. The way the article ends is in an attempt to gain a sympathetic ear. Yet, for me the very converse is true. I am most disappointed and unimpressed with the cowardice he demonstrates in sending his small daughter to church and not leading her. He is teaching her that there is a relationship with the husband (Jesus Christ) while dismissing the bride (The Church). He is teacher her to be individualistic and that God is pleased not with what God wants, but with however we choose to serve Him. How pathetic it is that he who would bemoan the problem is himself the problem. If he would ever get a vision of the God of heaven and earth, of the God whose purpose is decreed from all eternity, who is not defined by the fluctuations of our emotions, nor the schemes of our social agendas, he would see that the God we worship is a God terrible, fearful, and awesome. He is not dismissed at our whims. He is glorified and is being glorified in the heavens and in His church. Those who know not Him nor His church, can not see it. How would they? These things are spiritually discerned.
Those who would criticize the church, must first love her. He who would level accusations of her unfaithfulness, must first realize and joyfully admit that they could not live without her. He who would love God, and therefore have a zeal of God that consumes him, must do so for those things that God loves, namely His bride, whom He is faithfully bringing to perfection through the cleansing of His word. Sorry John. You can not know God, nor love God, apart from the church. As Augustine so rightly said, "He who would have God as his Father, would also have the Church as his mother."