An article appeared a few weeks ago in the evangelical section of Patheos that really irked me. It has the rather nasty title: ‘I Love Jesus But Not the Church’ Just Means You Don’t Love Jesus. The article was written by a well-meaning evangelical student at Moody Bible Institute who does not fail to supply us with ample proof from Scripture to show that not loving the Church basically means you’re lost. Well, that hurts. And that is probably the intention too. Critics must be made to look like spiritual fools and theological renegades in order to shore up the defense of the Church. I’m quite sure I do not belong to the intended audience but I still want to make a few observations on how absurd the claim is that people who don’t love the Church don’t love Jesus.
First of all the title is dismissive of people who struggle with the Church. It doesn’t take their judgment of the Church seriously. It betrays a self-serving defensive posture that is not open to correction and simply assumes that because the Church is the body of Christ it automatically is impervious to criticism. That is sad because in the name of authoritarian religion so much harm has been done to people, so much abuse has been going on, so many people have been damaged precisely by the community that needed to provide shelter and comfort to those who struggled.
It is also mean. Apparently, “protecting” the Church is so important that it justifies brushing people off and making them look silly. Or, is the author serious about his own claim that those people who say they don’t love the Church anymore don’t, in actual fact, love Jesus? That’s even meaner and outrageously preposterous! Is the author able to look into these people’s hearts? Given the theological framework of the writer, he is basically suggesting that those who turn their back on the Church are on their way to hell. Way to go, brother!
Furthermore, saying that such people don’t love Jesus tramples on such people with the very same trampling that has led them to say they want Jesus but not the Church. Doesn’t it in fact, validate the criticism of the Church that these people issue? It betrays the lack of love you should not find in people who claim to be followers of Christ. It…