J. Gresham Machen is an important figure in the history of Protestantism. Justin Holcomb provides a helpful look at his ultimate conclusions.
The problem that Machen saw within the visible church of his day was that both Christians and liberals were joined in a false unity. The church of his day allowed those who did not truly hold to a confession of faith to remain as full members. Not only were orthodox Christians and modern liberals considered members of the same church, but it was considered narrow-minded to try to divide the two camps. Those who held to central biblical doctrines like the cross of Christ and substitutionary atonement were viewed as conservatives fussing about unimportant doctrinal matters. The church climate of the time believed that liberals and conservatives should live together in unity and get on with Christian service.
If we really love our fellow-men we shall never be content with binding up their wounds or pouring on oil and wine or rendering them any such lesser service. We shall indeed do such things for them. But the main business of our lives will be to bring them to the Savior of their souls. (p. 158)
Machen shows that to continue on in this kind of false unity is the height of dishonesty. The narrow person is the one "who rejects the other man's convictions without first endeavoring to understand them" (p. 160). When New Testament Christians and modernist liberals understand one another, they will see that their beliefs are entirely different--one views the death of Christ as an unimportant doctrinal point, while the other believes it is the very heart of Christianity.
This kind of unity is dishonest, Machen argued, because many ministers in the church of his time were claiming to agree with confessions of faith that they in fact manifestly disagreed with. It is a bold-faced lie, Machen insisted, to be a minister of the church, which by its very nature is devoted to spreading the gospel message, and then oppose the very message one is committed to hold. Machen writes, "Nothing engenders strife so much as a forced unity, within the same organization, of those who disagree fundamentally in aim" (p. 141).
PLEASE stop saying that being a pastor is a miserable job and pastors are unhappy all the time. We've already done a crazy thing-- we asked them-- and most pastors love the role God has given then. And, even Forbes see that:
1. Clergy: The least worldly are reported to be the happiest of all
2. Firefighters: Eighty percent of firefighters are "very satisfied" with their jobs, which involve helping people.
3. Physical therapists: Social interaction and helping people apparently make this job one of the happiest.
4. Authors: For most authors, the pay is ridiculously low or non-existent, but the autonomy of writing down the contents of your own mind apparently leads to happiness.
5. Special education teachers: If you don't care about money, a job as special education teacher might be a happy profession. The annual salary averages just under $50,000.
6. Teachers: Teachers in general report being happy with their jobs, despite the current issues with education funding and classroom conditions. The profession continues to attract young idealists, although fifty percent of new teachers are gone within five years.
7. Artists: Sculptors and painters report high job satisfaction, despite the great difficulty in making a living from it.
8. Psychologists: Psychologists may or may not be able to solve other people's problems, but it seems that they have managed to solve their own.
9. Financial services sales agents: Sixty-five percent of financial services sales agents are reported to be happy with their jobs. That could be because some of them are clearing more than $90,000 dollars a year on average for a 40-hour work week in a comfortable office environment.
10. Operating engineers: Playing with giant toys like bulldozers, front-end loaders, backhoes, scrapers, motor graders, shovels, derricks, large pumps, and air compressors can be fun. With more jobs for operating engineers than qualified applicants, operating engineers report being happy.
I confess that I did not watch a single episode of the show, but I found this a helpful analysis never-the-less:
Bachelorette Emily Maynard chose her man in last night's finale of the popular reality television show. Millions of viewers wanting a beautiful love story watched the season in which 25 eligible men wined, dined, and romanced Maynard who, interestingly, seemed religious.
Though she never referred to herself as a Christian on the show, she wore a cross bracelet, bought a crucifix off the street on a date, frequently claimed to be "blessed," and is planning a missions trip to Africa. Though she was not married when she conceived her daughter, she has said she won't live with anyone before getting married, won't have steamy hot tub scenes, and prayed before agreeing to be The Bachelorette.
Maynard is not the first Christian to appear on the show. In 2010, Methodist Jake Pavelka was nominated by his fellow church members sick of the drinking and sex of previous seasons.
On the first night, contestants were asked, "Do you believe in premarital sex?" and, "What is the most important thing in your life?" Jake answered, "God," and when asked for his definition of love, he quoted Scripture.
But even if contestants indicate faith on the show, it seems to get lost amid all the hair extensions, plastic surgery, and candlelight. Or, perhaps the show itself subtly reveals an alternative faith altogether.
Brett Eastman continues to provide some helpful resources on caring for one another in church-- and living life of life.
If you want to create a church community that really cares for one another, the best way to do it is through small groups. When small groups become the vehicle for care-giving, the whole church gets involved in sharing one another's burdens--a much more personal approach than relegating the task to
The whole congregation should be making hospital visits, taking meals to people when they're sick or something's happened, doing childcare when someone's in crisis and giving money when somebody's lost a job.
The best way to make this happen is to get everyone in groups where they love and care about each other. Then just as it is with family, members do these kinds of things naturally. This is really just another example of how small groups become like extended family. And as many of us live far away from our blood relatives in this day and age, we really need that kind of connection with people.
However, for this kind of caring church to be created, it's got to start with the pastor. He's got to cast the vision. He's got to encourage the congregation to get into small groups so they can learn to care for each other. And the best way to do this is for him to be in a small group himself. The church needs to see that he, along with the rest of the church's leadership, values the model.