I got an email from someone that objects to my describing “the fall of the church.”
At least, I think that’s what his email was about. Sometimes it’s hard to tell. What I do know is that he offered several definitions of “the church” and he took guesses at what I meant by “the church.”
Anyway, this was my reply to that person:
You’ll see that my “Fall of the Church” posts are all stories.
Here’s the path:
- 2nd century: awesome testimonies of righteousness and endurance in persecution.
- 3rd century: More organization and hierarchy, more unrighteousness, less focus, more ritual, persecution produces a greater number of lapsed Christians.
- 4th century: The churches, almost across the board, forget that they are supposed to be composed of disciples. The public flocks into the church, and the church is violent, worldly, and nothing at all like the pre-Constantinian churches. Influential church leadership positions are often appointed by the emperor or some government official, and corruption and intrigue are common. Monasteries form–in my opinion because committed Christians, with exceptions of course, find it impossible to be a part of the travesty that is called the church/churches.
That’s what I mean by the fall of the church. There are indeed true believers/sheep after that, even, in my opinion, true churches. I’m not trying to define the church in “fall of the church” but to tell the story that I roughly outline above.
I don’t understand why you say that Jesus said the organization would be identified by sheep and wolves together. That’s crazy. He talk about tares, but tares look like wheat. Wolves look like wolves, despite the Aesop’s fable about wolves in sheep’s clothing. Wolves should be driven away; that is the job of shepherds.
In fact, all the wicked should be put away so that we are a pure loaf. That is the command of the apostle Paul (1 Cor. 5).
Tares will slip through our imperfect discernment and our imperfect obedience to the apostle’s command, but if a church is noted for sheep and wolves together, it is a disobedient church that has probably already been spewed out of Jesus’ mouth (Rev. 3:16). Thus, in my opinion, it is no longer a church.
The issue is not definitions. It is actions and goals. Wasting one’s time with a group of people that are primarily nominal Christians is exactly that: a waste of time. No, worse, it is a testimony to the world that Jesus is meaningless and powerless. All disciples should leave such a church, and they should join with one another, not with those who have not even the intention of attempting to deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow Jesus.