Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Religion is Dead?

By Larry Beane

This postcard just arrived from Impact Church. On the back it says:

"At Impact Church, we don't want to add religious duty to your 'list' of stuff that occupies your time. In fact, we dislike religion as much as you do."  Yes, indeed, it is trendy to bash "religion" these days.  It's good marketing in the current cultural paradigm.  It's the narrative.

But what does Scripture say about religion?

"Religion (θρησκεία) that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world (James 1:27 ESV)."

Indeed, visiting people in their need is something that the sinful flesh dislikes, even as we like gimmicky "churches" that brag about "fun games, cool music, exciting Bible Lessons & More!" as this postcard shamelessly says.

The postcard also says a lot by what is not said.

There is nothing about sin, grace, forgiveness, or redemption. And the only cross to be seen is in the mockery of the traditional church, in the stained glass above the forlorn altar. And indeed, that is often the way Christ and His Bride are depicted by false, fly-by-night "churches" and entertainment hucksters.

Oh, and something else is missing. Or should I say someone. The name Jesus and the title Christ are nowhere mentioned, or even hinted at, on this postcard.  Can there be anything more scandalous and more damning than for a group claiming to be a church to completely ignore the Lord Jesus Christ?

If you want Starbucks coffee, rock music, dancing girls, and other forms of entertainment, you can find them in lots of places.  But if you yearn for depth and meaning, for transcendence and truth, for God's Word, dignified worship of the Most Holy Trinity, the theology of the cross, and "religion that is pure and undefiled" in the confession of Jesus Christ unto forgiveness, life, and salvation - you can find them at faithful traditional Evangelical Catholic churches that aren't sending out flashy postcards that mock and belittle the Bride while ignoring the Bridegroom.  We are not formed by the latest Barna poll or shaped by focus groups, but rather we are called by means of Holy Baptism, forgiven by the Word, sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and covered unabashedly by the atoning blood of Christ.

The counterfeit 'impact' of entertainment-worship is clear when contrasted with the Divine Service, in the preaching of Christ crucified, and in the Holy Eucharist. Churches ought not be ashamed of the name "Jesus" nor of the Gospel that He has called us to confess and proclaim.  Moreover, according to James 1:27, part of "pure and undefiled" religion is to "keep oneself unstained from the world."  In other words, pure and undefiled religion is countercultural and cuts across the grain of marketing experts, focus groups, the never-ending quest for hipness, popularity, and what sells.

Gimmick religion is dead. But Christ is risen!


  1. Love this article, Thanks for writing it.

  2. I wish I had that church building with about $2 million to renovate and restore it. Why would you celebrate the perceived "death" of something so beautiful?

  3. Religion…self-centered, ladder-climbing, self-ascendent religion is alive and well. The sectarian groups such as "impact" are living proof.

    They wouldn't know the gospel if it hit them in the face (they reject infant Baptism and the real presence of Christ in the Supper). The whole ball of wax, for them, is a religious betterment project.

    I wish them luck. They will need it.

  4. The latest lunar observations intimate that Time and Newsweek's latest exposures of the Resurrection "cover-up" must be right around the corner. And fittingly, now is the very time when the Impact Church ... true to its name ... takes a contract-hit on the Bride and her adornments. You see, the Bride's dead, too.

    The Liar-Murderer enticed Eve with a ploy that included a promise that she wouldn't die, if she opted to do things her way. And the aping Slitherer, as uncreatively as is his wont, has resorted to the same trick. Impact Church has decided that a cross-less mixture of "fun games, cool music ... & More" will ensure its life.

    And so "the people ... rose up to play." (Ex 32:6; AV). They opted for fun games, cool music, and More (or to be accurate, the less -- in terms of decency, modesty and apparel; cf. Ex 32:25) . Moses, descending from on high after receiving God's Word, heard them sing and described the effect as one, not of a "voice," but that of "noise" (Ex 32:18; AV). Since these things were written for our example and warning, the tempting Impact lattes ... in due season ... run a real risk of becoming a tormenting brew with a distinctively metallic taste (Ex 32:19,20).

    Another thing. Bible Lessons should include more than the encounters with lion dens, which incidents admittedly are exciting. But let's not stop with the milk, when meat's on the Table. And Body, and Blood. More stirring to daily life, especially now that the Coliseum is in ruins, is the fact that the prophet Daniel ... in a time of great personal persecution ... had "religious duty" as part of a "list" of things to occupy his time (Dan 6:10). Like any Evangelical Catholic wishes and endeavors to do, he prayed (on his knees, natch) three times a day "and prayed and gave thanks before his God." The partial content of his prayers included a confession of sin and that of his people Israel ... and a supplication before the LORD his God, for the holy mountain of his God (Dan 9:20). The latter is undoubtedly is a reference to Zion, the gathering place of the Old Testament church.

    We are further breathlessly (or Pneumalessly) advised by the people of Impact church, presumably even in the absence of sodium amytal injections, that they despise "religious duties" as intensely as those lost souls outside the sheep-pen of Christ.

    So what to do?

    The remarkablyprivileged duty of the "priesthood of all believers" is NOT to envy, badger and usurp the responsibilities of those men chosen, authorized and ordained by the hands of Christ. Rather, it is to fervently and directly intercede to God our Father, on the behalf of those who need our prayers for mercy, and indeed for a change of heart towards our Lord. That includes those rascals who see "religious duties" as a waste of time, and who choose to slur Christ's Church.

    We should also entreat our God, like Daniel, that our Church (which claims to hold fast to Lord Christ and to the Book of Concord) will itself not experience a fulfilled temptation; a fulfillment that has made Impact church something of a play-boy Esau with a Nintendo.

    Your (unworthy) servant,
    Herr Doktor


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