If holiness is beautiful, dare churches be drab?

The question before us, as I understand it, might be put like this: “What about splashy churches?” That is to say, ought the Christian church to pour enormous amounts of cash into erecting tremendous edifices to house its activities?

The question is not a new one. And before one has got through trying to arrange the issues that come crowding along the minute the question is asked, he has discovered that it opens out onto gigantic imponderables.

On the surface, the answer is clear. Indeed, it would hardly seem to admit of any discussion at all. Shall we build splashy churches? Of course not. Who do we think we are? Whom do we follow anyway? The pioneer of our faith never set about to upstage Nebuchadnezzar and Caesar. He never built so much as a lean-to for his followers, nor left any blueprint for such a structure. Let the pomps of Babylon and Rome memorialize themselves with golden images and arches of triumph, for they are all, precisely, Babylon and Rome. The pomps and triumphs of the kingdom of heaven are of such unlikely and unimpressive kinds as a girdle of camel’s hair and a colt, the foal of an ass. Fasting in the desert. No gold, nor silver, nor scrip, neither two coats, nor shoes, nor staves. A borrowed room upstairs; a borrowed grave. Come—why waste time even raising the question?

It seems to me that arguments against the proposal that we build big churches group themselves under at least four headings, although there are, no doubt, more than that. And underlying all of the four would be the whole prophetic biblical picture that would seem to rule out the enterprise to begin with. The headings under which we may group some of the arguments against our building huge ...

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