Let me tell a brief story:
Smalltown, USA has three churches, which we will call Church A, Church B, and Church C. The Smiths are your average Christian family today; that is, Mr. Smith is hopelessly Beta and emasculated, Mrs. Smith is frigid and controlling, and the children are inundated with general American cultures. In other words, completely feminized without even realizing it.
Our story begins with the Smiths attending Church A, where they regularly tithe and Mrs. Smith contributes time at various Ministries. However, one day the pastor of Church A reads from Ephesians 5, and mentions how wives should be subject to their husbands. This naturally doesn’t sit well with Mrs. Smith, who complains about this and demands to her husband that they switch churches. Mr. Smith, being either thoroughly feminized or afraid of upsetting his wife, agrees, and they begin to attend services at Church B. There are other families like the Smiths at Church A, and they too switch over to Church B. Church A loses a lot of members, and a lot of money, and becomes a shell of what it once was.
The pastor at Church B is initially pleased by all of the new members at his Church, as they fill both the pews and collection plates alike. His pleasure is short lived, however, when he realizes the reasons why all of these new members have begun to attend his Church. He comes to understand that if the subject of Ephesians 5 and wifely submission, or something like it, comes up in church he will be forced to either support the biblical command and risk losing membership, or toss out parts of scripture in order to keep his pews and coffers full. Not wanting to lose members, but also not wanting to jettison scripture, he decides to play the role of King Solomon and split the baby by simply ignoring the parts of scripture which his members oppose. This works, for a while. But eventually the subject comes up at a bible study group, and the issue begins to percolate through Church B. The pastor of Church B is forced to address the issue, and after hemming and hawing for a bit, comes out supporting the scriptural command. The Smiths are incensed, and promptly leave for Church C. Others join them in the exodus, and just like Church A before it, Church B finds itself smaller and poorer.
Over at Church C the pastor is ecstatic, his pews don’t have room for all of the people, but fortunately the collection plates provide money enough for growth. So Church C begins a massive expansion project to accommodate all of the new members. The pastor at Church C is no one’s fool, he knows why this sudden influx has occurred. He knows what happened at Church A and Church B, and understands that if he preaches scripture truthfully that he will lose all of these new members, and some of the older members as well. On the other hand, if he rejects scripture completely, then he risks losing some old members who see Church C as a “biblically oriented church.” So he too plays the role of King Solomon, and splits the baby by reinterpreting scripture, replacing wifely submission with “mutual submission.” To the pleasure of the pastor at Church C, this seems to work; the new members are content with the message and because it appears to be wrapped in biblical piety the old members of Church C don’t leave. Whenever a difficult issue that might cause a split in the church emerges, the pastor at Church simply reinterpreted scripture to make it more comfortable to the members of his church. Before long Church C was hugely successful, easily the largest and wealthiest church in town, and perhaps even the region. Plans were soon made for an expansion church in a nearby town.
The moral of the story
The story above was an example of Church Shopping, wherein people will shop around for a church that they feel comfortable at. In this day and age, one where feminism is largely running rampant even among “conservatives,” biblical commands tend to make most people uncomfortable. Most Christians are no longer “in the world”, but instead are “of the world.” The end result is much like the story above. So what is the moral of the story? Simple: the ability of “Christians” to church shop creates a natural pressure amongst churches to race to the bottom, to the lowest common denominator, and adopt beliefs which don’t conflict with the worldly views of members or potential members. This pressure is always present, because membership means prestige, power and money. If one church doesn’t adapt, then another will, and will benefit from it, while the other suffers. In order to compete, in order to survive long term, a church must adapt. Of course, adapt in this case means to try and ditch as many of those pesky scriptural commands as possible.
There are really two related but different lessons to be learned here:
1) First, those churches out there right now which are the most successful, that is, have the most members and the most money, are almost certainly those churches which have catered to the worldly whims of their members. They have adapted to an environment where everyone, Christian or otherwise, has been feminized. So naturally the biggest churches will be the most feminized, because their success largely is owed to their ability to cater to their potential audience.
2) Second, the current rise of “Churchianity” is the inevitable result of the fracturing of the Church. Christianity involves hard truths and difficult messages, the kind of truths that people don’t want to hear and don’t like hearing. Our natural human tendency is to take the easiest path, not the hardest one. So if people are given a choice between a church that preaches hard and difficult truths, and one that soft-balls the message and tries to make people comfortable, it is the latter church that most people will choose to attend. This pressure has always been present in Christianity, but its effects are the strongest now that the Church has splintered among so many different factions, and because we have advanced transportation and telecommunication technology. It is hardly a challenge to find a comfortable church, and traveling 30 miles to one that you like isn’t a burden nowadays. So it should come as no surprise that we are seeing “Churchianity” develop before us; the impulse was always there but it can manifest more easily now.
This post is not meant to create a inter-denominational fight. Rather, it is meant to point out that Christian disunity is dangerous, and weakens the whole of the Church far more than people realize. “Churchianity” is not merely some modern contrivance that resulted from the emergence of feminism. Instead, Churchianity is a natural and logical outgrowth of Christianity when there is no longer a single scriptural authority for the Church.
Update: In the comments A Northern Observer reminds us that Paul warned about this tendency long ago:
This is an ongoing problem since Christ’s time – as the letter to Timothy attests:
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Ti 4:2–5
Update 2: Also somewhat relevant is this post by Novaseeker back in February.