I have this joke, some consider it in poor taste, but as I observe things, it’s an honest reflection of the current state of the Christian religion within the United States.
What do you get when you put two Baptists together?
What do you get when you put three Baptists together?
Such is the state of the American church right now, especially on the Fundamentalist side of things, that as much time spent as is spreading the good word, there is more time spent criticizing fellow believers regarding interpretation of doctrine. I once sat down with some church leaders who were debating whether they should join several local churches in a music festival. The praise bands from each church would get up and perform, invite the community, churched and unchurched alike. A great time of fellowship and outreach. Naturally, all Protestant churches, no cults or Catholics would be allowed. There was serious debate as to whether my church would join in on this ecumenical effort as they did not want to be seen endorsing another church’s doctrinal beliefs. I would like to say this conversation was a one off, but truly, there were similar conversations regarding similar situations many other times. And not just at that church…
I no longer attend that church, for indeed, that church no longer exists. Its building sold, its members either lost to the world, lost in their faith, or attending other local churches. Believe me when I say, some of those other churches ran into similar issues.
The Church of today faces some serious issues. Over the centuries, the backbone of the Faith, the Holy Bible, has been distilled down. The Bible has been dissected across Millennia, ~5 different languages, and dozens of governing bodies. Even the Protestant movement, a reaction to the corruption within the Catholic church, has seen centuries of refining and purification of its dogma. Every syllable of every word of every sentence of the Bible has been analyzed, referenced, cross referenced and interpreted according to a vast network of rules developed by the liturgical elite. This in turn has been fed into the charismatic and evangelical machines popular in the last century or so. Hour long sermons; indeed, entire books have been written regarding interpretations of single sentences found within the Books of the Bible. Interpretation of Scripture is supposedly inspired by the Holy Spirit and understood via study and prayer, but it seems a bit odd that what is claimed as inspiration by some is soundly denounced by others, all of them filled with the Holy Spirit and decades of Biblical knowledge.
The result is a House divided, mostly it would seem, on what prejudices its members wish to hold on to.
Mind you, this is only my observation. I can share personal experiences, my own thoughts, etc. I do not claim expertise in any religious matters. Though I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express, once.