About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Government – Big Church
September 27, 1983, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation interviewed
Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and other conservative politicians in the
1980's, were avid supporters of political and economic conservatism.
From my perspective, their leadership boosted the spirits of
those in the western world. There
were sufficient difficulties throughout the 1970's that dampened our
spirits. The decade began
with high inflation and rising unemployment.
It was hard finding a job for us young people in 1971.
The Oil Crisis of the mid 1970's sent energy prices
sky-rocketing. While in
Bible college at the time, we were told to take quick showers and only
wash the vital parts of our bodies to save on energy costs.
If I would have had the courage, I should have asked, "What
vital parts are you specifically speaking of?"
The Vietnam War dragged everyone down.
I became friends with two young men who had their legs blown off
in battle. Richard Nixon,
or, "tricky Dick" as he came to be known, disgraced
its very nature, government is socialistic to one degree or another.
That's just the way it is. Even
Margaret Thatcher admitted that. How
socialistic government should actually be is the debatable question.
politically and economically conservative with a mild touch of what I
call "soft socialism." I
am also ecclesiastically conservative.
I believe the more you demand from government, the more
government will demand from you. The
one who provides for you is the one to whom you are in debt, and no one
likes being in debt, especially to the government.
the 1980's, Christian Conservatism, or, the "Christian Conservative
Right," as it was known, emerged as a force to be reckoned with in
American politics. Pat
Robertson (Christian Broadcasting Network) entered the race for
president in the 1988 election. The
movement soon spread to Canada
and elsewhere. Those in the
movement were conservative politically, economically, and socially, but
surprisingly, they weren't conservative ecclesiastically.
Christian Conservatives, especially in the United States, didn't want, and still don't want, big government, but they didn't
mind, and still don't mind, big church. As
a matter of fact, big church appears to be what they want.
In my opinion, big church is ecclesiastical socialism.
That is to say, "I hand personal responsibility over to big
church so I can sit at ease in the pew."
Conservative Christian Right in America
in the 1980's was led by Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and others.
While these men were promoting political, social, and fiscal
conservatism, many of them were growing their mega-churches.
Big government was not acceptable to them, but big church was. If
you don't see a problem with this, as many don't, I suggest that you
fail to understand New Testament thinking concerning church.
Christian roots sprouted from a small Evangelical congregation planted
in the early 1950's. Even
back then the seeds of big church were being planted.
Ironically, and he probably didn't realize it, President John F.
Kennedy made a statement that denotes the Christian's relationship to
church. On January 20th,
1961, he exhorted Americans by saying, "Ask not what your country
can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country." Back
in 1961 church leaders should have been exhorting Christians by saying,
"Ask not what the church can do for you, but ask what you can do
for the church." I'm
not sure they were making such an exhortation.
For the most part, they were planting the seeds of big church
that have grown into the present day mega-church, or, want-to-be
mega-church. Big church
relieves the individual from his Biblically mandated personal
responsibilities just like big government relieves the individual of his
responsibilities, and in the long run, relieves him of his freedom as
well. Of course, just like
big government, the highly financed big church can do it all for us.
That's what we want and that's why we shop around for the church
of our choice, the church that best benefits us.
1980's movie entitled "Field Of Dreams" might have coined the
phrase "build it and they will come," but Evangelicals
preached and practiced this long before the 1980's.
In 1971 I heard the same words spoken in one local congregation.
So they built. Everyone
else built, and we're still building, hoping and prayer that they will
and songwriter Emmy Lou Harris once said, "In the making of
records, we've lost the living room experience in our music." The
commercialization and big business of music has stolen the hearts and
souls from those who once enjoyed playing music in their living rooms
and kitchens. In like
fashion, the commercialization and growing of big church has stolen the
hearts and souls from those who once enjoyed the experience of personal
fellowship and responsibility in church.
church is meant to be a living room type of experience, although not
necessarily in a living room. Each
and every individual in the living room, or, in the church, has his own
personal responsibilities, just as each and every individual musician
has his part to play in making music with his friends in the kitchen.
What Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan preached about big
government, and what Kennedy said on January 20, 1961, applies to the
church. If we hand our
personal responsibilities over to big church, we lose the purpose for
its existence. Why
conservative Christians don't want big government but do want big church
is hard for me to figure out. I
think it comes down to two things. One
is a lack of Biblical understanding.
The other is our ever-present fallen nature that prefers to defer
responsibility to someone else.
Margaret Thatcher said, "If the government does everything for you, it will take everything from you." I say, "If the church does everything for you, it will take everything from you." I believe church history demonstrates that to be true.