Critique of THE PROTESTANT'S DILEMMA by Devin Rose

Chapter 29 - The Disintegration of Mainline Protestantism

Page 187: On a recent trip to the grocery store, I saw two bumper stickers for churches: the Powerhouse Church and the Cactus Cowboy Church. I have a friend who goes to a very hip, artsy Protestant church called Mosaic, which denies that it is a “church” in the standard sense. Neither of these churches falls into traditional categories, nor are they affiliated with a standard denomination. The mainline Protestant denominations are shrinking rapidly, leading some to predict a coming collapse of Evangelicalism, so it is not surprising to see the rise of such “niche” churches. We are all looking for community, and more than ever Protestants are choosing one-off congregations that most “fit” them and their personal preferences.
Note: Pope Leo X nearly destroyed the Catholic Church through sinful living.
When he became pope, Leo X is reported to have said to his brother Giuliano: "Since God has given us the Papacy, let us enjoy it." And enjoy he did, traveling around Rome at the head of a lavish parade featuring panthers, jesters, and Hanno, a white elephant. Under his pontificate, Latin Christianity assumed a pagan, Greco-Roman character, which, passing from art into manners, gives to this epoch a strange complexion. Crimes for the moment disappeared, to give place to vices; but to charming vices, vices in good taste, such as those indulged in by Alcibiades and sung by Catullus. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
Note: Sinful practices will destroy any church, as God is not mocked.

Page 188: Ask a young adult who goes to a denominational church how he would describe himself and you will likely hear, “I am a Christian; I go to this church because they teach soundly from the Bible.” He would not label himself a “Baptist” or a “Methodist.” Denominational loyalty doesn’t bind him as it did his parents, back when families often formed religiously homogenous communities. Irish theologian Alister McGrath talks about this fading denominational loyalty within Protestantism: “Even as late as 1960, most Americans had serious misgivings about worshiping at Protestant denominations other than their own, feeling this compromised their religious identities. Their loyalty was primarily – and in many cases exclusively – to the specific beliefs, structure, and life of a particular denomination.
Note: From the beginning, Christians worshiped with their neighbors.
Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Romans 16:3-5.
Note: Christians worshipping in homes instead of cathedrals is not wrong.

Page 188: If what really matters is believing in Jesus and following him, not where you go to church, then people will choose a church based on where they feel “fed” and able to contribute their own gifts. Of course a cowboy is going to love it at the Cowboy Church, where there’s a barbecue after every Sunday service and the elder rides a horse.
Note: Should not the author be rejoicing instead of mocking these Christians?
What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice. Philippians 1:18.

Page 188: Just as I have my unique taste in coffee – mint mocha latte, decaf, whip – if I can have a church that fits my exact tastes, that’s where I’m going. If I don’t fit into the categories of Anglican or Churches of Christ or Pentecostal, I can go instead to where I have found a community that relates to my personal journey with Jesus.
Note: Should not the author be rejoicing instead of mocking these Christians?
Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ. Greet Mary, who labored much for us. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Romans 16:5-7.

Page 188-189: This mentality fits into our Western culture’s consumeristic idea that we should have multiple choices for everything. Why should I go to a church that “I don’t get anything out of?” I don’t willingly subject myself to inconvenience and pain in other areas of my life, so why do it on Sundays? I want a church that fits my tastes, plays worship music I like, has people of the same age and demographic as me, provides activities that I find meaningful, and teaches articles of faith and morals that make me feel good about what I already believe and do.
Note: Catholic monasteries have for centuries preached structure.
It was St. Pachomios who developed the idea of having monks live together and worship together under the same roof (Coenobitic Monasticism). Some attribute his mode of communal living to the barracks of the Roman Army in which Pachomios served as a young man.
Note: Jesus Christ commanded Christians to go out into the world.

Page 189: At the heart of Protestantism’s ecclesial consumerism is an assumption that there is no one true, visible Church that we all need to reunite with; instead, all churches are small parts of the invisible Church, each offering something unique. So choosing one over the other is like choosing a different dish at a restaurant.
Note: Catholic orders are each unique in authority, focus, and clothing.
A religious order is characterized by an authority structure where a superior general has jurisdiction over the order's dependent communities. An exception is the Order of St Benedict which is not a religious order in this technical sense, because it has a system of "independent houses", meaning that each abbey is autonomous. However, the Constitutions governing the order's global "independent houses" and its distinct "congregations" (of which there are twenty) were approved by the pope. Likewise, according to rank and authority, the abbot primate's "position with regard to the other abbots [throughout the world] is to be understood rather from the analogy of a primate in a hierarchy than from that of the general of an order like the Dominicans and Jesuits." Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Page 189: The Catholic understanding is the opposite. There is a visible Church that Christ established, but Protestant communities have broken off in schism from it. Choosing a church is therefore nothing like choosing a kitchen appliance or an espresso, and the focus should never be on what works for “me.” Instead we try to conform ourselves to what God has ordained.
Note: God has ordained that Christians be witnesses for Jesus Christ not a church.
Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” Luke 24:46-49.
Note: Are you a witness for Jesus Christ or a church based in Rome?

Pages 189-190: And so our search should not be for the church that fits our personal preferences but for the Church that Christ built and to which he appointed rightful authorities, the Church that he promised to protect from error and lead into all truth, the Church that the gates of hell cannot prevail against. Certainly, within that Church will be people grouped by different interests and callings – there is legitimate diversity within the unity of the truth (1 Cor. 12:12-27). But on Sundays, we should all kneel united before the cross of Christ, recite the one creed, and offer the same sacrifice. Christ called us to unity (John 17:21), so he must desire it and make it possible for all types of people to achieve.
Note: There are many churches that are comprised of individual Christians.
“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’” Revelation 3:14-22.
Note: Sinful practices will destroy any church, as God is not mocked.

Page 190: If Protestantism is true, then no one Church has the fullness of the true; rather, all churches teach a mixture of true and false doctrine. So it makes sense to find one that agrees on enough of the truth that you deem essential and also that appeals to your tastes and preferences. In addition, as your tastes change and your church feels less relevant, it’s your right to find a different church that meets your needs. In the end, this makes being a follower of Christ more about us than about him.
Note: All the churches (plural) in the book of Revelation had problems.
“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”’ Revelation 2:12-17.
Note: Sinful practices will destroy any church, as God is not mocked.