Churches in the News

The news this month has contained several articles to do with established churches trying to keep up with the times. Firstly, we heard that the Pope was offering time-off in Purgatory for people who followed his Twitter account:

“The church’s granted indulgences reduce the time Catholics believe they will have to spend in purgatory after they have confessed and been absolved of their sins. The remissions got a bad name in the Middle Ages because unscrupulous churchmen sold them for large sums of money. But now indulgences are being applied to the 21st century. But a senior Vatican official warned web-surfing Catholics that indulgences still required a dose of old-fashioned faith, and that paradise was not just a few mouse clicks away. “You can’t obtain indulgences like getting a coffee from a vending machine,” Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, head of the pontifical council for social communication, told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.” (from the Guardian. See here for a better explanation of what happens at death according to the Bible.)

120px-Pope_Francis_in_March_2013_(cropped)

Then the Church of England has been forced to admit they invested funds in controversial money lending site Wonga (here) and are looking into lending money themselves, as the Archbishop of Canterbury said, to “compete [Wonga] out of business.” The quote from Boris Johnson was “[The archbishop] is not turning over the tables of the money lenders, he’s bringing in his own money lending tables.”

These are both classic examples of established churches trying to remain relevant for the 21st century and adapting to the social and cultural needs of the day, with little emphasis on the reading and teaching of the Bible. In fact, the Bible says that it is relevant for all time and there is no need to add or change anything to what it already says. The simple way Jesus teaches his followers to live their lives can apply to any age or place, and this has helped it to survive unaltered for two thousand years and more. The Pope is certainly unable to influence what will happen on the day of judgement, as the Bible says it will be the Lord Jesus Christ who will have this authority (Matthew 25v31) – see this post.

The Lord God does not change: “I am the Lord, I change not” (Malachi 3v6), and nor does Jesus His Son: “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13v8). The Bible is no different: “The Word of the Lord endures for ever” (1 Peter 1v25), and if we find ourselves having to adapt it to suit our own ends, then there is something wrong with our own perspective. We should be striving to live by its teaching, and not adapt its teaching to our generation.

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