You know the quote… “It it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” Although the equivalent is the contraposive (“If you must fix it, it’s broke”), the inverse is important as well. “IF IT’S BROKE, FIX IT!”
I believe that there is an aspect of Christianity that is definitely broke, but it is not its essence. The essence is solid… even divine. I am reminded of the quote by G. K. Chesterton:
“Christianity has not been tried and
found wanting; it has been found
difficult and not tried.”
Chesterton points out the key point. There is a marked difference between Christianity in its ESSENCE and Christianity in its APPLICATION.
Part of the problem is that Christianity is difficult. Christianity seeks, as its goal, Christ-likeness. Anyone who studied Jesus as He is portrayed in Scripture would see that this is a monumentally difficult thing. Many would argue that short of the work of the Holy Spirit, the quest is hopeless.
The answer over the centuries to work around this has been commonly to produce a Quasi-Christianity. This is done in at least one of three ways (there are, of course, more):
A. Lower Christ. This can be done through taking one aspect of Jesus and defining the standard by this lessened Christ.
-Jesus is (only) a teacher
-Jesus is (only) a good person
-Jesus is (only) the sacrificial lamb/ source of forgiveness
-Jesus is (only) a prophet
-Jesus is (only) a transcendent being
-Jesus is (only) a mystic
B. Replace Christ with an Abstraction. This is similar to the first. Here, Jesus ceases to be a person, but becomes a symbol of a abstract trait.
-We are Christlike if we are loving (regardless of truth, morality, and justice)
-We are Christlike when we adhere to propositional truth (regardless of the rest)
-We are Christlike when we seek moral purity (regardless of the rest)
-We are Christlike when we seek justice (regardless of the rest)
C. We replace Christ as our standard with something or someone else. These could be:
-Christians seek to achieve virtues of surrounding society
-Christians seek to achieve virtues/standards of church/denomination
-Christians seek to model of saints or spiritual heroes
I think most of us would agree that none of these other standards work very well. We must seek Christ as our standard… as He is, not as we make Him. Much of the world sees Christianity as broke (at least in its application). It’s not surprising that people can’t see the essence if the application is so flawed. Therefore, if it is broke… FIX IT!!