A man was once asked, “what do you call a group of crows? A group of eagles? A group of wrens?” The man quickly answered, “a murder. A convocation. A herd.” The man smiled and then asked, “what do you call a group of people with tattoos, cigarettes, tobacco, earbuds (blaring rock music), and other drugs?” The other man thought.
He could give a whole bunch of answers but finally the answer came to him. “A church!” The other man nodded. The man was right!
Unfortunately, the above allegory does depict the modern church. And, the above picture (literally, the picture) does give you a view of the man who battled such “Christianity” mightily. In case you can’t tell by the picture, the man is William Wilberforce. Yes, the one who abolished the slave trade.
Wilberforce is my personal hero, inflated, of course, by the movie, Amazing Grace. Never have I heard of a man more dedicated to God. I believe Wilberforce even rivals Paul. And you just might agree with me if you read his book, Real Christianity. There may be a day when I review Real Christianity but, for now, I’ll say this: I believe it is the best non-canonical book in the world!
But, I’m going down a slight bunny trail. See, throughout his life, Wilberforce fought for the freedom of slaves. He found the slave trade repulsive and he spoke against it for over fifty years. But, he didn’t just speak, he moved. For fifty+ years Wilberforce tried to end slavery. Without getting to deeply into that discussion, I will say that he won the battle and slaves were freed.
It so happens, while advocating for the freedom of these slaves, Wilberforce spent his spare time working against what is commonly, and quite appropriately, called “cultural Christianity”.
We find some striking similarities between slavery and this cultural Christianity. First off, cultural Christianity is not Christian. The name is given to focus people’s attention on the fact that these Christians are only calling themselves Christians but they are living according to this world (hence the “cultural” part).
Today, many so-called Christians have the idea that the sin they “were” slaves to isn’t all that bad. They also think that they need to be “accepted” into the world in order to preach Christ. Unfortunately, although they may be casting pearls before swine, they are also wallowing in the same mud as the swine. Anybody see a pig with a pearl necklace?
However, these Christians do not always have the “witnessing” motivation in mind. No, too many are simply wallowing in the mud because it is satisfying to the flesh. They then become so dirty that they are nearly impossible to pick out from the other swine. The only difference is that the “Christian” pig snorts differently then the rest of them.
See, Wilberforce worked so hard against the slavery of Africans only to find that his fellow “brothers and sisters in Christ” were still slaves to sin. They were not slaves to righteousness . . . they never were. They chose unrighteousness over righteousness. This fact really hit home for Wilberforce when he had a golden opportunity to overthrow the slave trade.
This opportunity came long before the abolition actually went through. Wilberforce had the right people on his side and, when they went to the House, he would finally be able to abolish the slave trade. But, when he got there, those men who were on his side did not show up. Some went on vacation. Others stayed home to enjoy the day. And still others went out for a bit of entertainment. If those who were gone had been there doing the right thing that day, the slave trade would have been abolished years before and the lives of thousands would have been spared. That story makes me sick to the stomach every time I hear it. However, it illustrates cultural Christianity so deeply that I must share it.