Monday, April 02, 2007

What Is At the Center?

I read this morning about a Methodist church in northern England which is about to be converted into a mosque. It is a startling example of the decline of mainline Christianity in Europe and America, coupled with the rise of Islam in Western nations (whether by immigration or conversion). Why are mainline churches mostly empty, while mosques are full? The answer has to do with what is at the center of a person's life.

Islam, which means "submission," is at the center of a moslem's existence. It is like the hub of a wheel. All other aspects of one's life radiate from that hub, like spokes. Everything in one's life is affected by Islam, governed by its dogmas and rituals, and hence it offers the moslem a coherent worldview.

In contrast, mainline or liberal Christianity is merely a spoke on the wheel of life. In other words, religion becomes just one aspect of life, and not the center. What is enthroned at the center of liberal Christianity is not Christ or his commands, but rather the individual. The self stands in judgment over Scripture, over doctrine, over morality. Making matters worse, this self at the center of life has made countless accommodations to secular values and morality. It is hard sometimes to discern the difference between the church and the world.

What are we offering our people? Are we offering a coherent and consistent worldview? Are we saying to our people, "You are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3), or "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:2o)? The apostle Paul put Christ at the center of his existence, and expected every other Christian to do the same. That we have not, has led to declining membership and churches now turned into mosques.

{picture: Hagia Sophia in Istanbul - once a church, now a mosque}


Blogger homo unius libri said...

Another excellent insight.

9:22 AM  

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