A Secular Church?

Dave Bish posted an interesting link to a lecture by Mark Dever on why Jonathan Edwards got fired. In it he quoted J H Thornwell, a Southern Presbyterian Theologian who wrote in 1832 concerning his denomination:

Our whole system of operations gives an undue influence to money. Where money is the great want [i.e. need], numbers must be sought, and where an ambition for numbers prevails, doctrinal purity must be sacrificed. The root of the evil is in the secular spirit of all our ecclesiastical institutions. What we want is a spiritual body, a church whose power lies in the truth and the presence of the Holy Ghost. To unsecularise the church should be the unceasing aim of all who are anxious that the ways of Zion should flourish.

(quote is 32 minutes into the MP3)

Surprising how relevant it seems to our own day (perhaps the ‘church growth’ movement is not as novel as some think). I also like the way he goes beyond a mere diagnosis of the problem to highlight the need of the church to be one whose power is found in “the truth and the presence of the Holy Ghost”. Or as we might say today – a church of “the Word and the Spirit”.

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