Has the Church Improved Since the NT?


Are Christian churches more enlightened now than at the time of the Apostles?

Galatians 1:6-9
6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 
7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 
9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any [man] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

My Reply:
Van Gogh, the artist of this painting, is said to have once been a preacher for the Lord.  But after being persecuted for his style of ministry and dress, was pushed out of service.  In his spiritual healing afterwards, he painted this picture, "Starry Skies".  If you'll notice, the skies are full of maginificant lights, all creations of God, which with all their might, shine God's Glory!  But the city below, doesn't.  In fact, in the original of this painting (and in this one), you'll notice that he made it a point to show that the lights in the Church were completely out.  This communicates his views of the church in his day (fake copies of the painting miss this).

So has the Church improved any since the Early Church of the New Testament?  That's a good question.
I know that churches today often look to the early Church as models of how to be the Church today.  I also know that much of what the Apostles wrote about in their letters, the churches of today are also facing and suffering from.  Many of these issues include:

  • Divorce among believers
  • Domestic violence / dysfunctional "Christian" families
  • Working outside the box and considering it as worship
  • Politics
  • Stewardship issues (tithes / giving)
  • Relational commitments (lack of)
  • Lack of discipleship
  • Lack of alignment between vision and implementation
  • Confusion of the mission
  • Youth ministry/nurturing (lack of: often seen as church on the backburners...adults ministry often seen as more important, or first in line)
  • Lack of Evangelism
  • Sexual Ethics
  • Addictions
  • Counseling / Depression
  • Burn-out / Sabbath time
  • Intentional Communication
  • Cliques
  • Gender Roles
  • Improper use of spiritual gifts
  • Prosperity Gospel
  • Gospel of Cheap Grace
  • "Worship Wars"
  • Biblical illiteracy
  • Universalism
  • Divisions
  • Immoralities
  • Persecution within the walls of the church
  • World's culture taking over Church's culture
  • Status-seekers
  • Spiritual deadness
  • Manipulators
  • Philosophical theories preached from the pulpit instead of Biblical Truth
  • Tradition getting in the way of worship
  • A focus on happiness instead of holiness...

Honestly, after doing this for over 2000 years, and also when you look at the training of God's people since the giving of the Law of Moses, you'd think we'd have things in better shape today than they did in the early church, especially since we have the Scriptures, the Apostles letters, explanations from popular Christian leaders, etc. to look back on. But since we continue to make the same mistakes, I have to wonder.

So to answer your question, I'm going to say, "no", I don't believe the Church today has improved any more than the Church of the New Testament.
---Pastor Andy