Here’s a scary quote from Richard Lovelace. You’ll find it somewhere in his book on spiritual renewal ‘The Dynamics of Spiritual Life’:
‘Where there is dead orthodoxy . . . the ‘ultimate concern’ of most church members is not the worship and service of Christ in evangelistic mission and social compassion, but rather survival and success in their secular vocation. The church is a spoke on the wheel of life . . . but it is not the organizing centre of all other activity.
‘Church members who have been conditioned all their lives to devote themselves to the building of their own kingdom . . . find it hard to invest much energy in the kingdom of God. They go to church once or twice a week and punch the clock . . . sometimes they can be maneuvered into some active role in the church’s program, like a trained seal in a circus act, but their hearts are not fully in it.
‘Since their understanding of justification is marginal or unreal – anchored not to Christ, but to some conversion experience in the past – they know little of the dynamic of justification . . . Their understanding of sin focuses on behavioural externals which they can eliminate from their lives with a little will power and ignores the great submerged continents of pride, covetousness and hostility beneath the surface.
‘Their religious lives however do not satisfy their consciences at the deepest level, and so there is a powerful underlying insecurity in their lives. Consciously they defend themselves as dedicated Christians . . . but underneath . . . there is deep despair and self-rejection. Above the surface this often manifests itself in a compulsive floating hostility which focuses upon others in critical judgment. Thus a congregation who are insecure in their relationships to Christ can be a thorn bush of criticism, rejection, estrangement and party spirit. Unsure in the depths of their hearts what God thinks of them, church members will fanatically affirm their own gifts and take fierce offence when anyone sleights them, or else they will fuss endlessly with a self-centred inventory of their own inferiority in an inverted pride.
‘They will also become entrenched in their own enculturation and set up mortars with which to shell those in other cultural moulds. Alienation from other races, political persuasions and kids with their long hair will be badges of honour for them. They will take good principles and sound doctrine and affirm them in a way which attacks and hurts others unnecessarily. Confronted with a change in the church’s program, their response will be a frantic clinging to past precedents . . . their ability to follow Christ into constructive change is severely limited by their bondage to cultural supports.’