Reading about J.R.R. Tolkien on Wikepedia one finds that his mother, a widow, receiving money from her Baptist relatives lost all aid from them when she became a Roman Catholic in 1900. Likewise, his wife Edith was kicked out of her boarding house when she became a Roman Catholic in order to marry him. This may appear to be anti-Catholicism, but instead is something else. Baptists and most Protestants in England at the beginning of the 20th century believed that the Roman Catholic church was fatefully flawed and that anyone leaving a protestant denomination for the Catholic church would be condemning themselves to eternal damnation. These actions then, were not to punish people for decisions, but made in hopes of bringing them back to the true faith. This was an age when people took their faith seriously, and we know that Mabel must have taken her faith seriously to lose her family’s help.
Today, many churches are dropping the denominational name. Apparently this turns church shoppers off. Trinity Episcopal Church in the Woodlands, is now Trinity Church. Denomination is not cool. Those who specialise in church growth state that the most important part of the church in attracting church shoppers is the…nursery! The nursery? Not the chancel, not the choir, not the sermon, not the denomination, but the nursery.
Both Mable and Edith Tolkien recognised something that people today do not. Our decisions about church must be based on doctrine, not the nursery. This should be the first priority when church shopping. Do they preach the Bible?
Many emails and articles today start out, “Islam is not a religion, it is a way of life.” There is something fundamentally flawed in this statement. Is not Christianity a way of life? Are Christians, whether Roman Catholic, Protestant, Anglican or Orthodox supposed to uphold a behaviour, a style of living that sets them apart from the world around them?
The church today is in serious trouble because many Christians have forgotten that Christianity is a way of life. Protestant girls should be chaste, and not having more kids out of wedlock than the general population. Catholic girls too shouldn’t be showing off their fatherless children. Jesus Christ died to save sinners. Christians are saved from sin to do good works. As St. James says, “Faith without works is truly dead,” (Chapter 3).
The church today has forgotten this, as have Christians. Christians are to be salt to the world, not to be salted by the world. True Christians should not be joining a church. True Christians should be going to a congregation where they learn to be the church. Prayer, fasting, study, evangelism, holiness should be part of the life of every Christian. In the 1st through 3rd centuries this was true, and the church grew incredible because new converts were exactly that, they were not looking for fire insurance, but for a Lord who would give them power to conquer sin and death.
Do you know the risen saviour? Is your church helping you to become a true member of the body of Christ? If not, it is time to find a new place to worship.