In one of my New Testament lectures yesterday the professor made an interesting and enlightening remark. At first I was in total disagreement with it, but the more I’ve thought about it the more I’m realizing that he might not be so far off base after all. So I thought I’d collect y’all’s thoughts on the statement. Here’s what he said:
“If you were to take the Holy Spirit out of most churches in America today, the loss would never be known.”
What a harsh, blanket statement, but perhaps his view of the modern day church is more realistic than mine seems to be. His basis for the statement is that American churches are filled with superficial, Sunday morning Christians who rely on an entertainment venue rather than on the Bible, church doctrine, church discipline, and genuine leadership as evidenced and encouraged in the New Testament.
Most church programs are more like a show – and a darned good one at that. The primary focus of the message and songs is one that is emotional and attempts to make people feel good about themselves, or at the basest level are a well concerted effort to simply keep people entertained for an hour (and coming back from week to week) rather than focusing on the Word and Truths of God. He believes that there is very little going on in most of the church services today that could be attributed solely to the work of the Holy Spirit in that service – that few things, if nothing at all, would have changed in our service if we acknowledged the absence of the Holy Spirit.
He even went so far as to compare the modern day church with the church in Corinth. And he believes that if churches were really being moved by the Holy Spirit they would be moved to Christ centered action as the first church was and not to mere programs and productions. He believes that churches would be more concerned with the message of truth rather than the message of tolerance and open mindedness. He believes church discipline would not be a dirty word but an embraced truth and practice. That people who attend would be moved to stay in God’s word and to get involved in the Lord’s work, not just be content to drop their kids off at Sunday school and enjoy the hour of free babysitting time. He believes that if churches were truly under the influence of the Holy Spirit communities would be changed, families would be changed, lives would be changed…and it wouldn’t be all about budgets and buildings and jumbo-trons. Therefore, the natural conclusion he draws is that the Holy Spirit is sadly absent from the modern day church.
So what are your thoughts on this statement? Do you see this as a realistic truth, or just an overblown blanket statement that negatively impacts the church as a whole?