Hard Talk

Theoretical Christianity

I came across the term “Theoretical Christianity” a couple of weeks ago, used by a missionary of a past generation to describe much of the church in her time and experience. Significantly, I believe, she was extraordinarily used by God in the renewal of the Church in her adopted homeland the results of which are still reverberating throughout China today.

Let me preface what I am about to say so as to avoid any misunderstanding.

I was brought up within the circles of what we call the Evangelical Church. I came to faith in Jesus Christ as a child – I can still remember the moment. My spiritual heritage on my mother’s side was Presbyterian – and on my father’s an independent Evangelical Church group. Over my life I have attended and been involved with churches of every shade and opinion – well almost! In every one of these – from the most narrow to the most extreme – I have been privileged to meet and know true men, women and children of God – people who have radiated the  heart and love of The Father. However – I would still be forced to agree today with the Missionary I have quoted – many if not most churches are populated predominantly by “Theoretical Christians” – people who owe allegiance to the denomination, tradition and structure above anything else. Many times, had I not known differently, such people would have sickened me of Christianity and I would have concluded it was all a sham.

I could share many experiences to illustrate this – some very sad, some extremely hurtful and some laughable. On the funny side I remember, some years ago now, meeting a minister at an inter church event here on Skye who came and introduced himself and shook my hand. The inevitable first question was asked – “And what Church do you go to?”. When I replied he turned  and walked away without saying a word. I was not of his variety – so he did not want to know me.  Incidentally this  humorous incident belies a massive problem in the Church today – if you do not belong to my circle I have no interest in you. How unlike Jesus we have become!

However I write – not for any malevolent purpose – but to encourage those who may be where I might have been and to say – the true God lives far outside and apart from this kind of religion! Don’t be put off God by the hypocrisy of some of those who claim to represent him! Despite the behaviour of many of those who call themselvs Christians [and all of us fail in this regard] – God is real – He loves you – He gave his all for you! And he longs to know you – to share His Life with you. Look for Him [not religion] – seek Him [not the religious] – in simplicity and honesty – and he will reveal himself to you. He is, thankfully, and without any doubt more than a theory!

“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”

Jeremiah 29:13 (NLT)

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  • Reply
    Richard Sellick
    September 29, 2016 at 5:45 am

    Thanks for that Steve. I woke very early while it was still dark. …. wondering at the point of much of my life. Your words have set my feet back on the rock.

  • Reply
    September 30, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    Hi Richard – Glad to hear this was of encouragement to you. Will be in touch soon …

  • Reply
    Brian D.
    April 12, 2019 at 10:27 pm

    This thought just occurred to me also. I searched and this beautiful essay came up. The church where I live is convinced, that what the sea lost souls that surrounds them really needs, in order to come to Christ, is to ‘only to have the message told to them in a slightly more clever way’. Believers need only one more class with 7 easy steps to talk friends, family, and neighbors into the kingdom. After 20 years, I’m weary. Especially weary of words. So I pondered why? And I reason, that for decades we’ve tried to reach lost with convincing talk, and we now have grown a church body of Theoretical Christians. They have complex spiritual language, but words don’t signify faithfulness, or piety, or sincerity. I am convinced that one life lived in honest faith following after Jesus, is better able to influence the lost in their world than an entire class-full of Christians with the latest Evangelistic techniques.
    My lost friends don’t want to know how spiritual law works, or that should get off the losing side or else. They want to see: Does this God thing _practically_ work for my friend, Brian? Are _his_ heart & mind actually as transformed as those words say they could be ? That is attractive. That is the smell of fresh baked bread to a starving soul, the sound of clean running water to the thirsty, the vision of a comfortable place to rest, to the hard working, summer laborer.

    • Reply
      April 23, 2019 at 8:58 am

      Thank you Brian …

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