Going through my old mail (this article was first run in 2011) I came across a copy of one of the hardest letters I have ever come to write. I have edited the particulars and specifics but featured the letter in it’s entirety. I have featured it not to cause any malice but to perhaps help somebody who may be in a similar situation. When breaking fellowship with a church that is digressing from orthodoxy, it is never easy especially after you have been a devout member. I thank God for the journey I have come through, without which I would not have known his providence and grace.
Dear Pastor XX,
Warmest summer greetings to you and your family. The last six or seven months have been a period of soul searching and re-evaluation of our own lives, our family and church visions in light of the Gospel.
As a young Christian family, we have always wanted to be used by God and be involved in the body of Christ to the best that we can. Over the last five years we have drifted gradually from the truths and ideals that we once held so dearly. These last couple of months have been a time of learning and re-evaluation at different levels.
By the time we got married, I and XXX (my Wife) had been brought up in the now popular church growth model (Willow Creek model) or seeker friendly model that attracts droves of the un-churched. This model of church life influenced the way we looked at life and set our family goals and vision. But as you may well know the strength of this model of church growth is that it makes church life more attractive by eliminating preaching on doctrinal essentials of Christianity like God’s Sovereignty, sin, righteousness and judgement while focusing on life enhancement, self esteem and the “felt” needs of the congregation.
Since our foundations were not grounded in sound doctrine, we soon embraced Word of Faith and Prosperity theology. The emphasis in Word-of-Faith doctrine is all on success, prosperity, advancement, gain, health and strength. There is usually little compassion for those who fail to come up to these exacting standards. Gradually we were finding ourselves reading less of the bible or dying to self and following Christ. We were Christians in word but not deed.
Finally we found it difficult to explain to our impressionable children from scripture the justification of esoteric experiences we so easily affirmed like the being “slain in the spirit” phenomenon. We realised that our justification of these signs and wonders could not stand the test of scriptural scrutiny seeing that similar occurrences could be sited in New Age, Hindu and pagan hypnotic trances. Besides these occurrences do not authenticate and don’t always mean that Jesus is the power behind them, this left us with little doubt that we as Christians were inadvertently neglecting basic biblical exegesis and hermeneutics.
Over the last couple of months we have been prayerfully asking God to take us back to the place where he was precious to us more than anything in our lives. Back to the place where we began our walk with repentance and faith in Christ alone. This has been an eye opener. If we do not preach about sin and God’s judgment on it, we cannot present Christ as Saviour from sin and the wrath of God. And if we are silent about these things, and preach a Christ who saves only from self and the sorrows of this world, we are not preaching the Christ of the Bible. Such preaching may soothe some, but it will help nobody; for a Christ who is not seen and sought as a Saviour from sin will not be found to save from self or from anything else.
We believe in the absolute necessity of regeneration by the Holy Spirit for salvation because of the exceeding sinfulness of the human nature, and that all are justified on the single ground of faith in the shed blood of Christ, and that only by God’s grace through faith alone are we saved.
While the last couple of weeks have been a period of transition (for us as a family) we began to look for a more conservative Evangelical church fellowship. Despite the decisions we have made I would like to let you know that XX Fellowship Church has a special place in our hearts and always will.
As a family we decided we would look for and attend a local Church that:
- Believes that salvation is wholly of God by grace on the basis of the redemption of Jesus Christ, the merit of His shed blood, and not on the basis of human merit or works.
- Believes the Bible is the very Word of the Living God to man, and understanding the priority of knowing and obeying its truths, the church has to be committed to teaching Scripture with diligence and authority.
- Believes that the cross is the central focus of the church and the purpose of the church is to glorify God.
- Upholds The Doctrines of Grace- Reformed Theology.
We do hope this letter finds you in good health. Warmest regards from XXX (my kids).
Grace be to you,
Michael and XXX ( my wife).
This letter sums up my spiritual journey but is not an end in itself. I know there is never “the perfect church”. My hope and prayer is that in heaven we shall have perfect fellowship with many that we may disagree with on the less fundamental tenants of Christian faith. But I do believe there are some tenants of orthodoxy that should never be handled lightly.
Like Martin Luther we should be ready to live and fight for these truths and be able to say:
“Unless I am convinced by Scripture and by plain reason … my conscience is captive to the word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. “