Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Critique of the Church of Christ

Here's one perception/critique of the Church of Christ. About half way down in this blog post, Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, Fr Stephen Freeman describes what he calls Christian Atheism.

Surprisingly, I would place some forms of Christian fundamentalism within this category (as I have defined it). I recall a group affiliated with some particular Church of Christ, who regularly evangelized our apartment complex when I lived in Columbia, S.C. They were also a constant presence on the campus of the local university. They were absolute inerrantists on the subject of the Holy Scriptures. They were equally adamant that all miracles had ceased with the completion of the canon of the New Testament. Christians today only relate to God through the Bible.

Such a group can be called “Biblicists,” or something, but, in the terminology I am using here, I would describe them as “practical atheists.” Though they had great, even absolutist, faith in the Holy Scriptures, they had no relationship with a God who is living and active and directly involved in their world. Had their notion of a God died, and left somebody else in charge of His heaven, it would not have made much difference so long as the rules did not change.

I realize that this is strong criticism, but it is important for us to understand what is at stake. The more the secular world is exalted as secular, that is, having an existence somehow independent of God, the more we will live as practical atheists - perhaps practical atheists who pray (but for what do we pray?). I would also suggest that the more secular the world becomes for Christians, the more political Christians will become. We will necessarily resort to the same tools and weapons as those who do not believe.

That's a little harsh maybe but he gives a basis for an observation I've made. From my experience in the past, I think it has been easier for disenchanted ex-church-of-christers to go the way of the skepticism or atheism than perhaps those of other christian groups.


Jeff_R said...

Steve - This is a great observation - spot on, IMHO! Thanks for sharing!

Jeff_R said...

Steve - How'd you come across Fr. Freeman? I grabbed that entire post (14 printed pages with 0.8" margins and 10-point font!!) for reading. Looks fascinating!

SteveA said...

A guy named Kirk responded to my Dec 2 post with a link to Freeman. He is an Orthodox priest who, though I'd never heard of him before, is a comparative neighbor in next door Oak Ridge. He writes so much I cannot keep up with numerous lengthy posts. It is amazing how different his Chrisitianity is from what I've been exposed to and experienced.

Kirk came to my blog from noting some of my comments at Experimental Theology.

Anonymous said...

I was born and raised in the Church of Christ--attended Harding and ACU--and came to discover Orthodox Christianity about four years ago while I was doing research about worship in the first century. I was astounded by the length and depth and breadth of the wisdom and theological riches I've found within the Orthodox Church. It is like the hidden treasure spoken of in Matt. 13:44-45.

SteveA said...

Kirk, thanks for enriching this blog.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Stephen has strong words to say about Scripture and the Church--

excerpt: "For Martin Luther or the early Reformers (particularly the successors of Luther, Calvin and Swingli), the Bible became the only authority (sola Scriptura) and it was through the Bible that the Church was to be judged, corrected and reformed. ... One of the results was to create something of a Christian parallel to the Koran. Christianity, at the hands of well-intentioned reformers became a “people of the book.” A single Christian, with a copy of the Scriptures, somehow became a sufficient example of Christianity. Of course this phenomenon was itself a contradiction of the Scriptures."

SteveA said...


I was out last night at my Automation Society meeting. This morning skimmed over Fr Stephen's post and a few of the 49 comments. Noted some more Church of Christer's commenting and discussing conversion to Orthodoxy. Very Interesting. Got to go to work now. Thanks

Blog Archive