Drifting in calm waters


Our nature lies in movement; complete calm is death.

Blaise Pascal

I caught up with an old friend a few years ago over coffee. He confided in me that he wasn’t sure if he believed in hell any more. He was a church leader with an evangelical background. He didn’t seem concerned. After all, he told me, it could have been worse—he knew a church leader who wasn't sure if he believed in heaven any more.

Over time, movements tend to plateau, institutionalize and decline. At the heart of their demise is often a drift to a more secular faith that is led by religious professionals.

By "secularized" I mean that this life becomes more important than the world to come. Conceptions of God become vague and distant. Moral restrictions on members are relaxed and, the exclusive claim to truth is surrendered (see Stark and Finke).

It strikes me as curious that we would take upon ourselves the right to exchange biblical beliefs that no longer suit us. As though we had the power in ourselves to determine what is true and what is right.

At a whim we abolish heaven and hell. We recast the image of God in our own likeness. We sit in judgement on scripture rather than let it judge us. We redefine sin and remove the need for the Cross.

Worst of all, is the harmony carefully preserved within Christian movements as they calmly drift from the gospel.