Doctrinal Laxity and the
"Community Church" Movement

by Tim Haile

June 16, 2000

     There was a time when the religious world was filled with men of courage and conviction. They would rise up to challenge those who opposed their doctrines and practices. Good and profitable debates, both written and oral, have been conducted by men who could not sit idly by while their views were attacked. I have always respected this kind of conviction, even among those with whom I differ. I greatly appreciate the courage and commitment that will drive one to do their best to defend what they believe to be right. Where are these people today? Are we no longer bound to "earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints" (Jude 3)? Are we no longer obligated to "give an answer to those who ask questions regarding our faith" (1 Pet. 3:15)? Shouldn't we continue to follow Paul's example in being "set for the defense of the gospel" (Phil. 1:17)? Since God's word has not changed (1 Pet. 1:25), then we must look elsewhere to solve the problem of doctrinal laxity.

Attitudes towards the Bible Have Changed

     Some people just do not believe in the supremacy and impeccability of God's word. They do not respect the Bible for what it is and they feel no compulsion to do what the Bible says on the issues that it addresses. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that the inspired scriptures serve as our guide in all matters of faith and practice. It is useful for the purposes of providing "doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness." This means it teaches us, convicts us of wrongdoing, restores us to an upright condition, and cultivates within us good minds and morals.

     This passage sets forth both the inspiration and the all-sufficiency of the scriptures. They are a complete guide of faith and practice. In fact, God's word is so perfect and complete that He has established it as the standard by which we will be judged (Jn. 12:48). We are to consider God's word in connection with every moral, ethical, spiritual and religious decision that we make. We are told, "whatever you do, whether in word or in deed, do everything in the name of (by the authority of, th) our Lord Jesus Christ" (Col. 3:17). Failure to speak according to God's word will result in eternal damnation (Gal. 1:8-9; Isa. 8:20). Failure to act according to God's word will also result in eternal damnation (Matt. 7:21-23). There needs to be resurgence of interest in what God wills us to know. This information is not acquired from science and philosophy, creeds and opinions; it comes from God's word.

     King David was "a man after God's own heart" (Acts 13:22). He viewed God's word as being indispensable to his salvation. He used terms like "precious," "pure," and "sweet" to describe God's law. He said it was of greater value to him than thousands of pieces of gold and silver (Ps. 119:72). Do you value God's word as much? I hope so, for if you do not have God's word hidden in your heart you will not be able to avoid sin (Ps. 119:11). Sin condemns the soul (Rom. 6:23), and separates men from God (Isa. 59:1-2). Your eternal destiny hinges upon your attitude towards the word of God.

     This culture's indifference with regard to the Bible is difficult for me to understand, especially considering society's intense fascination with communication. This is the "information age" yet people pay no attention to the book containing God's information for man! What greater, nobler, and more profitable form of communication is there than the revelation of the mind of Christ in Bible (1 Cor. 2:16)? Yet many people, including even religious people, feel no obligation to consult with God's word before attempting to worship, serve or represent Him. As a result, their sermons are filled with human philosophy, empty sayings and speculations, their lives are hypocritical, and their churches are nothing more than glorified country clubs. They have forgotten their obligation to "find out what pleases the Lord" (Eph. 5:10).

     God's word is the line between truth and error (1 Jn. 4:6). We must use this word to "test the spirits, whether they be of God" (1 Jn. 4:1). We must follow Paul's example in "opening the scriptures" and "proving" right from wrong (Acts 17:2-3). After testing all things by God's divine standard, let us then hold only to those things that pass that test (1 Thess. 5:21).

The Community Church Movement

     Perhaps the greatest evidence of doctrinal laxity is this movement. Increasingly, churches are popping up around the countryside, which subscribe to no set of established principles of faith and practice. "Truth" to them is not the same "truth" spoken of by Jesus. He said God's word was truth (Jn. 17:17). They say things like, "my truth may be different than your truth," and "truth for you may not be truth for me." They have rejected the notion that the Bible constitutes an absolute and ascertainable volume of truth. Their truth is less rigid and more compromising. The expression "buy the truth and sell it not" (Prov. 23:23) is meaningless to them, for they have no conviction when it comes to truth, only their understanding.

     The members of this new movement refer to themselves locally as community churches. Their only designation is a geographical one. They claim no exclusive affiliation with existing religious organizations, not because they are non-denominational (that would be great), but because they are multi-denominational. This allows them the privilege of accepting, as members, those who hold opposing and conflicting doctrinal views. Are they concerned that such a melting pot of beliefs might cause division and trouble? Not at all! They aren't concerned because their compromising views regarding matters of doctrine allow a spirit of tolerance to prevail. Though such differences do exist, the members of these progressive churches simply ignore them, decreeing them to be unimportant.

     This raises an important question. Since when is doctrine "unimportant?" The apostle John wrote that one loses his fellowship with the Father and the Son if he refuses to "abide in the doctrine of Christ." Furthermore, he went on to say that one loses his fellowship with God if he assists those who teach things contrary to the doctrine of Christ (2 Jn. 9-11). In view of this passage, how can one say doctrine is unimportant!

The "Clown" Ministry

     I saw a recent TV advertisement in which one of these churches (Hillvue Heights in Bowling Green, KY) was offering classes for clowning, puppetry, drama and dance (for a fee of $25.00). Vendors would be set up on the grounds to sell the various materials and equipment necessary to perform in your area of interest and training. They were encouraging the members of other churches to come and take part in these training events, hoping they might possibly incorporate them into the "ministries" of their respective congregations. About the time you think you have seen everything, something like this comes along! I am amazed at how low some religious people will stoop in their efforts to attract visitors to their churches. These are nothing more than carnal enticements. They have no connection with the church for which Jesus died, and they are not approved by the "doctrine which is according to godliness." I challenge anyone to find biblical authority for a church to teach clowning, puppetry, drama or dancing! In fact, most dancing is condemned in the Bible. The only God-approved dancing one can find in the Bible was Old Testament religious dancing, and in those dances, men and women did not dance together.

     It is our sincere hope and prayer that men and women return to the teaching of Christ in their religious endeavors. Once churches begin adopting practices like the above, all sense of restraint is gone. At such a point, churches will then do almost anything and claim to be doing it in the "name of the Lord." Let us guard ourselves against such a terrible misuse and misapplication of the Lord's holy name.

Tim Haile
7693 Russellville Rd.
Bowling Green, KY 42101

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