|The Nones and a clean heart after God|
I stepped into a large church, the largest in the world. It had many places of worship with a full frame of the paintings of the saints where the pilgrims would bow down to worship. There was a certain sense of emptiness. Where was the Holy Spirit? at the gate of the church, not coming in.
During this Halloween, the Protestant church is becoming increasingly haunted by the "nones" a grouping of ex-mainline and evangelical christians who has become unaffliated.
The few "nones" I met are gay christians who have left the mega churches, yet unsatisfied with the more progresive/liberal churches.
The Pew Forum released data to show that for the first time in US modern history, that the Protestants fell as the majority of the population at 48%. This coincided with the rise of a grouping without any religious affliations, also called "the nones" or the unaffliated at 20%.
Progressive Christians such as Brian McLaren's who wrote a "New Kind of Christianity" said that how we treat the other with hostility instead of being inclusive is the cause of the fall particularly amongst the young evangelicals. The exclusive nature of evangelical christianity as the only way to God and their anti-gay aggenda was to be blamed.
McLaren's insight is profound for certainly many young evangelicals are getting dismayed at how the church has been exclusive and anti-gay in an increasingly liberal trend of the younger generation. For many in the "Y" and "Z" generation, the reason for leaving the evangelical church was due to the anti-gay perception of the church.
The attempted generalisation by McLaren to link the treatment of gays with that of other faiths is not sensible. For the evangelical church has insisted on limiting any gay rights, whilst peoples of other faiths are free to marry and to practise their faith on an equal footing with Christianity.
In fact, the non Protestants ie the Mormons (at 2%), the Catholics (at 22%) are no less anti-gay than the evangelical churches and could even be more exclusive. Why are the Prostestants falling below being the majority?
It should be noted that being inclusive and accepting of other faiths and practising a new kind of Christianity in the way championed by McLaren has not been a saving grace for the liberal protestant wing of Christianity. Whilst Protestants overall are stagnant, the more liberal Episcopals, and UCC at 1.5% is close to a total demise.
Dr R Robert Albert Mohler, the conservative Christian stalward and President of the Southern Baptist theological seminary, blamed the liberals/progressive for perpetuating a cultural and fuzzy christianity which is devoid in the identification of Christ as Lord and Saviour.
No tangible solution was given by Mohler apart from asserting that this "should awaken America’s Christians and our churches to the reality of the challenge we now face and the mission field we now serve.".
Rev Jim Wallis in his editorial article "Young Evangelicals and the 'Nones" in Sojourners sees it as an opportunity for the "... [nones] still find Jesus fascinating — especially when following Jesus is applied to serving the common good". Is Jesus a good teacher of good works only!
The irony of it all is that as Progressive/liberal theology is being embraced by the more evangelical churches, the young Protestants didn't shift their allegiance to the liberal churches but instead became "the nones". The liberal churches should have been rising exponentially instead of the "nones" phenomena.
The Nones is a backlash against the Protestant church who has talked too much, acted without grace, and are under judgement for their sins of false witness and denial of rights against gays thus negating the presence of the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is leaving us yet we know it not!
The church is under scrutiny for using the name of God in vain in our condemnation of others. Bearing the name of Christ demands that the church be holy and blameless.
The Jews for example were judged each time they departed from God to worship other gods, because they represented God as the people of God and called out by God. As Christians, we come in the name of God, representing Christ the Messiah.
When we spin half truths about gays and condemned them as sinners by our false witness, we are effectively closing the door of heaven and of God to this innocent tribe. As God's representative, we hold the gate to the heavens.
The christian churches have gone outside the walls of the church to insist that gays be denied of all civil rights, to be put in jail, and to be barred from relationships. Therefore, the church must likewise go out to the world, to right the damage done.
We have not given the gay tribe a reasonable doubt. When we use and act in the name of God with such strict judgment and persecutions, there is no room for error. The bible is a 2,000 years old document written in a straight patriachal context with the story line concerning the coming Messiah and the Holiness code to prevent the Jews from straying from the One God of Israel in the midst of pagan worshipping people of faith.
The context was not homosexuality and gays although not openly accepted were considered as natural Eunuchs born as such from their mother's womb as compared to those who were castrated as slaves or for their religious faiths, for pagan priests routinely castrate themselves as Paul noted to exchange their nature from men to women to play their religious role.
The abomination of anal sex was used in pagan faith worship to join oneself with the demons unnaturally is itself a very strong basis of doubt that the bible was not talking about same sex attraction but about religious faith practices and the abomination of worshipping other deities.
The lies and spinning of truths that the evangelical church has spoken against the gay community and the action against them to limit their rights is limiting the presence of the Holy Spirit.
King David was so adamant for God not to take away the presence of the Holy Spirit because there was a tangible connection to God beyond the written word. Faith therefore transcends our mind, to our spirit and to our experiences with God.
When the Holy Spirit is slowly taken away from the church, what is left is our head knowledge and our human attempt to keep the faith and all its religious laws. The spiritual manna is taken from us even as we seek it by reading the bible and praying zealously.
It is the Holy Spirit of God who works in our hearts, in the young evangelical Chrisitans to build up their faith and connection to Jesus Christ so that they would declare their affliations to the church.
When the Holy Spirit is pulled away from the churches, they become stagnant living on their past annointings and revelations from God. Many of the young christians became the "nones", their faith no longer grounded by that firm and unshakable spiritual connection with Christ.
The christian church is facing a crisis not because they treat the other badly in a general sense but because there is grave sin of injustice against the gay tribe, until we even shut the doors of heaven against them. We can't praise and pray the sin away, because their blood calls out to God for justice.
As we close the gate of heaven to the gay tribe, we are closing the same gate of heaven to the Holy Spirit to minister to us. Without the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the young christians will be scattered in the desert becoming to the "nones".
The "nones" are now ten times bigger than the size of the progressive/liberal churches. Like the living dead, they walk aimlessly to haunt the Protestant church. The likes of Albert Mohler will blame it on the cultural/fuzzy christianity of the progressive/liberals, and the likes of Brian McLaren on the church needing to be more inclusive and accepting and even droping the assertion that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life to God.
It seems that the Holy Spirit is gently and quietly moving away, slowly, hesistantly but surely. They could only see the nones roaming aimelessly looking outside from the church windows from the church buildings that are now securely locked to prevent anymore attrition.
Parts of the Protestant church remains vibrant with strong growth such as the Charismatic evangelicals, but the rise of the nones will one day reach their hallowed halls.
The time and season for the Protestant church to be inclusive of the Gay community has effectively passed. With society changing and gay rights coming soon, the church will one day catch up with society. It doesn't matter any more, the churches objections to gays.
This is a spiritual and moral void due to the blood of the innocent being spilled in the name of God and Jesus Christ. The work of unrighteousness in the name of Jesus requires the forgiveness of those who were harmed. There can be no forgiveness without recompense and grace.
Being inclusive alone is no longer enough, for unless the church steps out of her walls and venture into the gay community and brings along physical, emotional, and spiritual salvation and healing through redemptive works within the Gay community, the emptiness remains.
Where there is hunger and despair by the gay street kids kicked out by their parents, the church is responsible to feed, cloth and shelter. Where there is sickness, the church is responsible for all the medical costs. Where there is loneliness due to the church insistence that gays be denied of relationships, the church has to provide comfort and friendship.
When the sword is taken out from the sheath to kill the innocent, there can be no redemption until grace is given. Because gays have been so delibrately harmed by the church, the healing and redemption for the church starts within this community which often lies in the center of our cities waiting to be reached for Christ.
O Lord, create in us a clean heart. Forgive us when we cause harm, kill, and steal from the weak of their lives and dignity. Teach us in Your grace, the path to redemption, for grave is our sins, but greater is Your love, grace and mercy.
Create in me a clean heart, oh God
And renew a right spirit within me
Create in me a clean heart, oh God
And renew a right spirit within me
Cast me not away from Thy presence, oh Lord
And take not Thy holy spirit from me
Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation
And renew a right spirit within me