The church down the street proclaims, "The issue is not abortion or gay rights. The issue is Jesus Christ!" This church refuses to get bogged down in secondary issues and will not preach on any controversial political or social issues because it could alienate visitors who need to hear the pure, undiluted gospel. "The only way to change the world is to win people to Christ and, by washing them in the transforming power of the Word, they will then change the world."
To see how this strategy would play out I will put this church in another environment where there was just one overpowering, divisive social/political issue. We are going take it to the antebellum South where you could do anything you wanted to your slave. In addition to forcing slaves to work incredible hours under inhumane conditions, you could beat or even kill one as a warning to others.
We will call this church, appropriately, "The Church of the South." Recognizing its sheer divisiveness, the Church of the South gives slavery no pulpit time and takes no position on it lest they offended slave owners and turn them off to the church's message of salvation.
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And lo, the approach works. Some slave owners attend, give their hearts to the Lord and become members. Yes!
However, as a new convert considers his enslavement of blacks, he searches the Scriptures and finds slavery embedded in the Bible. The New Testament does not mention any disapproval of slavery, while there are only obscure and outdated references in the Old that would seem to place any limits on it. Using reasoning some would consider circular he concludes that blacks must be inferior to whites because they are enslaved. If they were equal to whites, we would not enslave them nor would we be able to do so. As inferior beings their treatment is no more unjust than forcing a horse to work.
But perhaps the deciding factor is that he finds more mature Christians and elders in his church not making an issue of slavery. If they do not condemn it, why should he? So he becomes comfortable and joins the choir and a home fellowship group.
He considers treating his slaves more humanely but hears that slaves given more freedom have used it to plot escapes. Not only does a slave rob his master of his property by escaping, but escapes threaten the established system.
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Other slave owners and their supporters join the welcoming Church of the South. The church's neutral stance facilitates evangelism and revival occurs! But the pastor is troubled by the way owners force their slaves to provide sexual favors. He ponders preaching against this but decides against it. Doing so would challenge an owner's right to do whatever he wants to with his slave. Such a sermon might have adverse consequences, and there are so many other worthy topics to preach on.
A will bequeathing a slave on the church causes considerable consternation for the board. What should they do about it? Some of the earlier board members favor freeing the slave, but the newer members point out that this was intended to be a generous gift to the church. Were they to free the slave they would display contempt for the gift and cause a lot of fallout. Would not slave-owning members see this as a condemnation of their property rights? They did not choose to challenge the status quo, so the organ and the choir loft were refurbished with the proceeds of the sale.
As time passes, old-time members of the Church of the South find to their dismay that by not taking a stand against slavery, the church evolved into embracing it.
While the Church of the South did grow and prosper, it did not attract any slaves. They saw it as peddling a useless, feel-good religion that did not change anyone's actions.
Are you attending a Church of the South?