Troubles With Church In Canada: Part 1

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Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who turn darkness to light and light to darkness, who replace bitter with sweet and sweet with bitter. (Isa 5:20)

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Canada certainly has a checkered heritage when it comes to the sociology and history of our religious development, and culture. But that is not all bad.

Of course, statistics about this can be manipulated to a degree, but there are some disturbing elements that we just can’t fudge on. Prejudice, or bias is something unseemly, that can fester just under the surface of almost everything, including ‘religion;” and is one of the darkest clouds hanging over the church in Canada, and their utter failure with our First Nations people, and others.

We live in times where Big Media brings the circus right to the doors of our homes, and into those little screens so many have their noses glued to these days. The sordid, stark realization of how very competitive the biases and prejudices of “religion” can get are grossly apparent in almost everything we do. The dark, secret clouds of the “Christian” Churches in Canada, are still used as a weapon against people who are totally innocent of the prejudice and racism that some people do harbor, while having the audacity to call it “God’s work.”

Canadians are not alone in this. We all usually like to keep our racism kind of tucked under the rug, and to give it credible labels like “witnessing,” or “missionary work,” or “God’s work.” We usually manage to keep all that buried, just out of sight, and out of reach of the general public; comforting ourselves with the platitudes like “the truth will set you free.” Some of us even have the nerve to call our racism and class prejudices something that “other people do.” I mean, who among us wants to just “call sin by it’s right name?”

Almost no one is willing to do that! The reasons for that are even scarier. Perhaps, I can illustrate with a personal experience.

As a young man in Canada, during the eighties, I recall a number of times having no bones about critisizing our then Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney. After a couple of beers, he suddenly would become Brian Bullroney. AND that very kind of thing has been normalized by certain elements of Big Media, and even some in the church. Thats not a part of my religious or sociological heritage I am proud of, but I brought this up for a specific reason. I would venture to guess that there are very few people who could say they don’t have such things hidden away inside them, shadows of hatred and gossip that cloudy numerous carricatures of “truth” find confluence in by many religious, and non-religious entities.

The thing here is; if its not a couple of beers that unmasks and loosens what we are hiding inside; it may be something else such as modernity’s technological advancements which can reveal things we always thought no one could or would, ever hear. There are a number of ways such things can pop out of us all of a sudden. Generally, if one is human, and last time I checked, I still qualified, it can be thought of as a physical law, if you will, that whatever you are holding inside, will eventually come out. No one is immune to this “law.”

Sometimes, it can just be the little things that uncover some kind of dirt we are clinging to in our minds. Sometimes, it is a better story than that.

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There is a verse that puts it like this:

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb 4:12, KJV)

Obviously, it would be a better story line if God’s Word transforms us, changes our thinking and our attitudes, and after a testimony (1 John 1:1-3), about THAT kind of change; (2 Cor 5:17), then I am sure that people would be running over each other to be the first one in the church doors on Saturday, or Sunday mornings.

Case in point: a short while ago, I was out for a walk with my camera, and I happened to find one of those free book boxes that some communities have in small town central Alberta; and being a sucker for free books, I started to fish through them to see what I could find. I happened to find a huge book, looks like its almost four inches thick, and it was the official Memoir book that Brian Mulroney himself wrote! Surprise of surprises! (some 40 years after my initial criticisms).

When I got home, I started leafing through this huge book, and one chapter heading really caught my eye; and my imagination. It was called simply: “The Battle For Canada’s Soul,” (pgs 836-852). I was quite shocked at what I read, and immediately felt guilty for the thinking I had harbored about this man all of these years. I have to wonder now, how much of all that “Bull” was actually just me!

Brian Mulroney was actually a remarkable man, and an amazingly competent politician. But what struck me even more than all of that history was his detailed account of the early adult-hood days and how he carried his dying father, in his arms, downstairs to the living room every morning so that he could enjoy looking out the window, and being around everyone in the household more.

I was quite surprised by what I have been finding out about Mulroney, and, sadly, what I was beginning to learn about myself, personally, and some of the rot I had festering inside of me. I do like to think that God’s Word, through The Holy Spirit, has been convicting me and transforming me, as it has revealed those usually, well-hidden “thoughts AND intents of the heart.” (Heb 4:12).

The truths of the Bible, treasured in the heart and mind and obeyed in the life, convince and convert the soul, transform the character, and comfort and uplift the heart. . . . The Word makes the proud humble, the perverse meek and contrite, the disobedient obedient. The sinful habits natural to man are interwoven with the daily practice. But the Word cuts away the fleshly lusts. It is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the mind. It divides the joints and marrow, cutting away the lusts of the flesh, making men willing to suffer for their Lord. {OFC 129.4}

If this kind of “transformation” had been happening with our Canadian churches, then why are they all shrinking, and closing the doors on what was once anticipated as continuing growth and a flourishing, integral part of Canadian society? It seems as though the evangelistic competition has literally “drawn and quartered” the church at large, inflicted irreparable harm to countless cultures & peoples. It really just seems now like the “church” we have created is literally a target on our foreheads, and, providing very little real help or “truth” to those in need. Vying for top spot in attaining unto “cultural relevance” is NOT going to cut it this time. Not in Canada, or anywhere! Yes, there are some good stories amongst the declining church memberships; but first, lets take a quick peek at some census statistics from the StatCan web site, as stated in the following:

[If we] compare the results of the 1961 Census on the religious composition of Canada with data from the most recent equivalent, the 2011 National Household Survey (tables I.1 and I.2). Christians still dominate the religious composition of Canada (67%), but that is down significantly from the approximately 96% of Canadians who identified as various kinds of Christians Christians in 1961.4 Moreover, according to the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS), some 7.8 million Canadians, almost 25% of the total population compared to less than 1% in 1961, identified themselves as having No Religion. Another notable trend is the growth of global religions other than Christianity. Adherents of Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism made up just over 8% of the national population in 2011, with Muslims alone at 3.2%. This is undoubtedly a major trend, and one that reflects a profound change in Canada as it becomes a truly multicultural and religiously diverse society, but the increase of those with No Religion is even more dramatic: this group now represents the second largest “religion” in Canada. ((Clarke, Brian P.. Leaving Christianity: Changing Allegiances in Canada since 1945 (Advancing Studies in Religion) (p. 6). MQUP. Kindle Edition).

THIS should be a monumental wake-up call to every church in Canada!

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BUT, is it?

It is being said by historians, politicians, and scholars that agreement perpetuated, is, in effect, still agreement. And there is still wide consensus by “the church,” that we MUST “evangelize,” because “the Bible says.” The claimed “magnetism” of our church ancestors and “revivalists” is still floated as the way to do the gospel, and that means minds are closed to seeing this from other, needed contexts.

I don’t recall right now where I saw the quote, but it is in one of my electronic books. It goes like this:

“Hitler’s magnetism held the thousands, as one.”

I wonder just how close that statement is to what “the church” has done to our First Nations people, and other marginalized cultures?

Apparently, the brutal drive to nix the “competition” with the same things, derived from our past “missionary work” of years ago, and that gave rise to the current plight of the First Nations People of Canada, and others, is increasingly complicit; even today, in the terrorizing and ruining of innocent people, throughout Canada, people who would prefer to just live in peace, and to have the same “freedoms” that we church people keep claiming for ourselves, and asserting how that no one else can have THAT kind of ” freedom” unless they are “one of us.”

I have sometimes felt that I was quite literally ordered to PERFORM for the church. I can certainly recall “the good old days” when I would get into major trouble with other “Leaders,” here in Canada, and with a couple from the US, during the evangelism ministries to which I was assigned, because I rarely sought to get the people I worked with into the baptismal tank. And for me and my situation back then; that was a major point of attack on my character and reputation. It was brutal, and it hurt, not just me, but my family.

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I certainly wasn’t one of the pastors overheard in the shadowy back offices of the church, arguing about who would do certain baptisms. And then there was little old me, thinking that I didnt want people deciding that they HAD to become an Adventist BEFORE they could know and love our Lord.

I can already hear the cat-calling with Mat 10:34

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.”

All I know now is this:

The love of God will never lead to the belittling of sin; it will never cover or excuse an unconfessed wrong. Achan learned too late that God’s law, like its Author, is unchanging. It has to do with all our acts and thoughts and feelings. It follows us, and reaches every secret spring of action. By indulgence in sin, men are led to lightly regard the law of God. Many conceal their transgressions from their fellow men, and flatter themselves that God will not be strict to mark iniquity. But His law is the great standard of right, and with it every act of life must be compared in that day when God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or evil. Purity of heart will lead to purity of life. All excuses for sin are vain. Who can plead for the sinner when God testifies against him? (ST April 21, 1881). {2BC 996.7}

The World’s Greatest Need.–The greatest want of the world is the want of men,–men who will not be bought or sold; men who in their inmost souls are true and honest; men who do not fear to call sin by its right name; men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole; men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.–Education, p. 57. (1903) {CM 54.4}And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me. Joshua 7:19. {SD 214.1} The history of Achan teaches the solemn lesson that for one man’s sin the displeasure of God will rest upon a people or a nation till the transgression is searched out and punished. Sin is corrupting in its nature. One person infected with its deadly leprosy may communicate the taint to thousands. . .Many dare not condemn iniquity, lest they shall thereby sacrifice position or popularity. And by some it is considered uncharitable to rebuke sin. The servant of God . . . is under the most solemn obligation to present the Word of God, without fear or favor. They must call sin by its right name. . .{SD 214.2}

It certainly is not just Abel’s blood that is crying from the ground. (Luke 11:51).

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