THE ONE TRUE CHURCH
The Pope of the Catholic Church has reaffirmed that the church of which he is the head is the only real church. He reportedly stated that Christ did not create churches but only one. Shortly after I came to Christ some forty years ago I recall reading that the Roman church had always very carefully kept one foot planted in this world and one foot in the next. For some reason I have never forgotten that statement.
Near the beginning of the decade of the ‘90s I began to write a book which I intended to title The Medieval Church of the Twentieth Century. Before I finished the book I wrote an article entitled An Indictment. Finally An Indictment became the epilogue for the book as well as the book’s title and the original title became the subtitle. The article, An Indictment, was published in The Berean Voice, a periodical published by the Nazarene evangelist, Daniel Stafford. However before Bro. Stafford published it I had submitted it to a holiness college hoping they would run it in their monthly periodical. They never as much as acknowledged that they had received it but they did call me and asked if I would have a quartet of singers from their music department perform in the church I was pastoring. I invited them to come and they did a good job as always. I have always wondered if the article I submitted to them caused some conviction among them and they asked to send the students to sing as a way of smoothing things over. I’ll let you decide. Here follows:
The ministry of Jesus Christ was so potentially disruptive to the society of His day that the Jewish leaders were persuaded that if they didn’t do something about Him that the Romans would come and take away their place and their nation. Their solution to the problem was to have Him executed as a malefactor.
When Paul and Silas came to Philippi to preach the Gospel, they were troubled by a woman possessed with a spirit of divination who made her employers much money by soothsaying. Paul cast the spirit out of her, whereupon he and Silas were taken before the magistrates. The charge was that “these men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.” The real reason for their arrest however was that they had disrupted the economy of the woman’s bosses.
While Paul was at Ephesus the whole city came to “confusion” and an “uproar” due to his ministry for he had preached that there are no gods made with men’s hands. The craftsmen who made their wealth by making silver shrines to Diana charged that “not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.”
Has the offense of the cross ceased?
James in his New Testament epistle takes the people to task for showing favoritism to the wealthy that come into their church assemblies. He asked, “Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith,” and “do not rich men oppress you and draw you before the judgment seats?”
Nothing has changed. Human nature is still the same. The love of money is yet the root of all evil. People still do not want the boat rocked, especially if it is going to effect their financial well being. The temptation to favor those with the biggest pocketbooks is yet a great problem today. And the Old Testament proverb that says, “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” is true yet today also.
“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace but a sword.” Are these words of Jesus any less true today? If not, then why does the preaching we hear today in America cause no stir? Is not the preaching mundane because you cannot fulfill your calling to disrupt the world when it holds you in its debt? Let’s face it, the boss (the lender) won’t put up with it. He will come and take away your place and nation(?) And your grand, mortgaged church building and parsonage and your car and refrigerator and television set and all the rest of your installment plan purchases.
Jesus and Paul and Silas were guilty of nothing, they had broken no real laws, yet they were arrested. Again things are not one whit different today. The Psalmist spoke of those “which frameth mischief by a law.” Rosemary Furman, a legal secretary from Jacksonville, Florida who had worked 22 years as a court stenographer, started a business in which she charged clients $50 to type legal forms for such simple proceedings as uncontested divorces, adoptions and name changes – services for which lawyers often charge $350 to $1500. She was hauled into court and sentenced to jail. The charge? Practicing law without a licence. The real reason. If she was allowed to continue a lot of attorneys’ rich life-styles would have come to an end.
But why must I go to the secular world to find an example of one who is persecuted by those who frame mischief by a law? Is it not because a church that has mortgaged its soul to the rich and the moneylenders cannot preach the whole counsel of God that would disrupt this very world which is controlled by these same rich money-lenders?
Paul came to Thessalonica preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This time his adversaries’ charge was that “these that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.” And now we know the reason why the church in America is not having this charge leveled against it, don’t we?!? Yes indeed, the love of money is the root of all evil.
No doubt but that most that read this will have no trouble believing that the Pope is wrong when he says his church is the one true church. In fact you are probably convinced that the Catholic Church is far from being the true church. But is your church and denomination any better? I have been around a great number of church denominations for decades now and I have found that they all very carefully endeavor “to keep one foot planted in this world and one foot in the next.” Since I wrote the above article I have come to realize that things are much worse than I even imagined then. Here follows two incidents that transpired since I wrote An Indictment.
The senior pastor of a church invited a friend of his who was pastor of a much smaller church to come and be his associate. He accepted the invitation, resigned his church and accepted the new position. He lasted less than a year and the two preachers could not by any means be considered friends today. The associate claimed that he was never paid what he was promised but received at least $200 less a week than he was told he would. The church never picked up the cost of his cell phone as he claims he was told they would. And then finally he was told by the pastor he would have to pay rent on the home he was furnished and was given a bill for $1000 which included back rent.
None of the promises made to the associate were in writing and it came down to one preacher’s word against the other. The senior pastor said he didn’t recall making the promises that the associate claimed. The associate pastor declared flatly that the senior pastor was lying. One member came to me to inform me of a meeting that was to take place among the membership concerning the state of things. This member was saddened and disgusted saying, “
Our two preachers won’t even talk to each other.” The associate and I walked into the church one evening after having done some calling and there was a meeting going on with the senior pastor and some of the membership. I asked the associate what the meeting was. He responded that it was a meeting of the pastor and the worship committee planning the worship for the following month. I asked, “Why aren’t you there?” He said he wasn’t invited. I couldn’t believe my ears but it was obviously so. There is more but this should show just how bad the situation was.
The District Superintendent, with the advice of his district leaders came up with a solution. The associate was to immediately resign. He would continue to be paid by the local church for the next couple of months and was moved to an unused parsonage on the district until such a time as another church was found for him. (As it turned out he found another church on his own in another district.) Later he was told that his pay would be withheld until he paid the back rent. The senior pastor continued in his position.
Wonderful! The senior pastor is a liar or the associate is making a false charge against him. At least one of them is very, very wrong. This is a church denomination which has for its cardinal doctrine, Christian perfection; holiness. So do they make any attempt to see just who is wrong (sinning!) here? No they just sweep it under the rug and keep on professing to believe that regenerated men can live without sinning. Just how are they any different from the Roman Catholic Church or the liberal protestant denominations they disown?
The second incident is one in the life and ministry of “yours truly.” I was contacted by my District Superintendent and was to meet him at the place appointed in the town where I lived and pastored. I did so. When we met he said that he supposed that I knew what this was all about. I had and idea but I let him tell me. It seems that it had got to him that the IRS was not altogether happy with me. I asked, “How did you know about that?” He said, “It is all over the district.” I set there in disbelief. I pastored a small church which was one of over one hundred churches on the district which covered about half the state. I probably didn’t know more than a tenth of the preachers on the district and yet they are talking about me across half the state. Didn’t they have anything better to do? I thought we didn’t believe in spreading gossip or listening to it.
The issue was to be taken up with the proper district board and the District Superintendent. In the meantime I was to take a vote of the church of which I was pastor to see what they thought concerning the situation. I took a vote by secret ballot of the membership and another secret ballot vote of those who attended regularly but were not members. Much to my surprise both votes were unanimous that I remain as pastor. This information was passed on to the District Superintendent. The district board was to decide my fate and I asked to meet with the board when they met. The District Superintendent said he would get back to me on that. When he did he told me he would handle it. The results of the meeting of this board was that I was to resign. I did as I was instructed.
About a quarter of a century prior to this an older pastor that I was very close to told me that, “people will never tell you what is really bothering them.” I have found this to be very true; people will complain about this or that but never mention the real problem.
A few years after my resignation I was attending another church on the district of which the pastor was a close friend of mine. I taught the adult Sunday school class. The former District Superintendent had retired by now and the new DS came to pay his yearly visit. Some time after this my friend, the pastor told me of a conversation with the DS during his visit that involved me. The DS inquired about me and reportedly said, “I understand that the IRS can’t touch him.” I found this to be almost unbelievable. Me, little insignificant Jim Caniff is too powerful for the IRS. Wow! I never knew I was so powerful. If the IRS couldn’t touch me it was only because God, who rules in the affairs of men, wouldn’t let them. It certainly wasn’t because of anything I could do. My pastor said the DS also inquired about my teaching concerning the Jews. He said he understood I was down on the Jews or some such nonsense. My pastor said he told him, “Jim has been teaching my adult Sunday school class for 2 1/2 years and the issue has never come up.’
I was then reminded of being told that people would never tell you what is really bothering them. I was told I was being removed from the pastorate because I wasn’t properly cooperating with the federal tax collectors but when the truth finally comes out I was fired because the district leaders, who professed to be entirely sanctified, had listened to a lot of malicious gossip concerning me.
I have been a Christian for over forty years now. And for forty years whenever someone has inquired of me as to where they should go to church, I have wished I could point to a particular church and recommend it without reservation. That has just never been the case. I could spend a lot of time, and ink, lambasting modern day churches, but to what end. It would accomplish nothing that I can see. No, rather I ache for people I find who are hungering for the truth but instead are fed – and what should I say? garbage, false doctrine, off the wall theologies, just plain old false teachings? – I don’t know; you fill in the blank.
I recently attended church with some friends of mine in another town. It was a nondenominational church in the country with a nice young pastor. I was happy for my friends. They had been looking for a good place to worship and I thought perhaps they had found it until I was confronted with this young pastor’s doctrine, and then his book, on the preadamic race. I didn’t know whether to scream or cry. God help us!
Our pulpits in America are spewing forth any, and everything. If it is not some eschatology that belongs in a comic book then it is some other corrupted doctrine designed by Satan to lead men astray. The way of truth is not complicated. Jesus said practice the Golden Rule, “on which hangs all the law and the prophets.” Paul said all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this, love your neighbor as yourself. If you don’t have the spiritual power to do this then seek God until you find Him and know that your sins are forgiven and that His Spirit indwells you, leads you, and purifies your heart and enables you to love everybody, all the time, in any situation.
“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good: and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”
The one, true church is made up of those that are and so do. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”