In New York, they preach about virtually everything; only one thing is not addressed, or is addressed so rarely that I have as yet been unable to hear it, namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ…. So what stands in place of the Christian message? An ethical and social idealism borne by a faith in progress that – who knows how? – claims the right to call itself ‘Christian’. And in the place of the church as the congregation of believers in Christ there stands the church as a social corporation. Anyone who has seen the weekly program of one of the large New York churches, with their daily, indeed almost hourly events, teas, lectures, concerts, charity events, opportunities for sports, games, bowling, dancing for every age group, anyone who has become acquainted with the embarrassing nervousness with which the pastor lobbies for membership – that person can well assess the character of such a church…. In order to balance out the feeling of inner emptiness that arises now and then (and partly also to refill the church’s treasury), some congregations will if possible engage an evangelist for a ‘revival’ once a year. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer (c. late 1930’s)
“Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent and often vocal sanction of things as they are…. be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. I am meeting young people every day whose disappointment with the church has risen to outright disgust.” – from Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 1963
Who then is the prophet of our generation calling the Church back to Christ and away from nationalism, pride, war, high society and political intervention?