Thursday, March 20, 2014

What Is Churchianity?

If you hang out on the kind of blogs and forums I do, you'll often hear the term "Churchianity". Even the atheists, like Aurini, use it.

I thought it would be helpful to contribute a definition to the discussion. Churchianity, as I define it, is when the traditions and cliches of the church become the object of worship. This is also considered idolatry.

I've seen many examples of this. At a Baptist church I went to in New Jersey, the leadership was discussing the possibility of changing the name of the church from Baptist to something a little more pleasing to the surrounding community. For some reason, in that part of New Jersey, the word "Baptist" had some really negative connotations, and was keeping people away.

This was brought up in a church business meeting, and all hell broke loose. One old guy got up and said "The word Baptist appears 57 times in the Bible! That has to stay the name of the church!" (Eric's note, I've read the Bible many times. The word "Baptist" only appears in reference to "John the Baptist", which appears 14 times in the King James. He was probably thinking of "baptize".)

The pastor then brought up some new people who were attending the church, but were not members. He let them speak to the fact that they drove by the church many times, but were intimidated by the name on the sign. A woman got up, chewed the pastor out for letting non-members speak in a business meeting, and said "If they didn't like the sign, they should have kept driving!"

Holy crap.

So this is an example of Churchianity, when the name on the freaking sign means more to some people than Christ or any of his teachings. The name "Baptist" was an idol for them.

As a sidenote, somebody later confided in me that after they tabled the name change out of respect for a tiny percentage of membership (more than 80%, including me, approved of the idea to change the name; what's the big deal?), they'd hoped the minority would be forgiving. Nope, that small minority was pissed off that the idea ever came up in the first place. Even though the idea was "democratically" approved by a LARGE majority in accordance with the church business rules, they shut it down for a couple of people.

I also once attended a "Church of Christ" which is like a non-demoninational denomination. There are many in that movement who believe if you attend a church with anything other than "Church of Christ" on the marquee, you cannot be "saved". They also believe you can't use instruments in worship, and if you do you cannot be "saved". Also, they're restoring the "First Century Church". Again, that is Churchianity. Not all in that movement believe that; some just like the teachings and worship style. But seriously, there are people I once went to church with who now believe I am "lost" because I no longer attend a Church of Christ, and go to churches that use guitars and stuff in worship.

Or at least did. I'm in a phase where church service bores the heck out of me. I'm tired of singing the same 5 songs every week, tired of hearing people pray publicly for their sports teams, and tired of cliched sermons.

Hope that definition I contributed helps the discussion.
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