Is Christianity A Company Store Or A Franchise?
Bishop Fulton Sheen explained it this way:
“For the new atheism is not like the old, theoretical atheism, which prided itself on being intellectually compounded of a little science, anthropology, and comparative religion. The new atheism is not of the intellect, but of the will; it is an act of free and eager rejection of morality and its demands. It starts with the affirmation of self and the denial of the moral law.”
Today we will take a much deeper look at Christianity and the Church itself.
About half of all 2.2 Billion Christians live in just 10 countries. In 2010, the top three populations were the United States, Brazil, and Mexico:
United States: 246,780,000 (78% of the Population in 2010).
Brazil: 175,770,000 (90% of the Population in 2010).
Mexico: 107,780,000 (95% of the Population in 2010).
With this background behind what is ahead of us?
The Center For The Study Of Christianity (Feb. 27, 2021) published these facts:
There more than 1200 Christian denominations in the USA
There are more than 45,000 Christian denominations worldwide
Now, the question- Did Jesus Establish The Church or Did He Establish Many Churches?
Bishop Fulton Sheen explained that many people who do not like the Church really do not know about the Church, “There are not over a 100 people in the U.S. that hate the Catholic Church, there are millions however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church”
This question can be easily answered with some comments that St. Paul wrote to Timothy in 1st Timothy 6: 3-6:
Whoever teaches something different and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the religious teaching is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid disposition for arguments and verbal disputes. From these come envy, rivalry, insults, evil suspicions, and mutual friction among people with corrupted minds, who are deprived of the truth, supposing religion to be a means of gain. Indeed, religion with contentment is a great gain.
There are four major points to reflect upon in this passage.
First, Paul points out that people who do not agree with the sound words of Lord Jesus Christ and the religious teaching. This would include such things as the Bible and the Nicene Creed
I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
The belief in the Bible would include all of the Bible not just parts and include such important books at the books of the Maccabees. If you do not believe in these would you also be going against this passage correct?
Second, many people start a Church for the wrong reasons. Take for example people now days think that they can attend Church online. You can watch Church online, but you should be participating in Church, not watching it. God did not make you to ride the bench of life. You need to participate in the Sacraments- you can not get these by watching. If you could, remember if you watch your best friend get married in a Church does not make you either married to their spouse or even married in general.
Third, if you are looking for the perfect Church before you go, you will never find it. Churches are full of sinners just like hospitals are full of people who have been or are sick. Would we stay away from the Hospital simply because we are afraid of catching a sickness if we were in a life and death episode that needed medical attention. I say we would not give it a second chance.
Fourth, religion is for the soul. It should be uplifting. It is not perfect neither are we. At least we are not perfect when we are here on earth. Here, let us look at a minister, Jim Bakker. He was the leading Television Minister of the early 1980's. His Heritage USA amusement park was the third leading attraction in the entire country during this time. His PTL Club's fundraising activities between 1984 and 1987 were reported by The Charlotte Observer eventually leading to criminal charges against Bakker. He and his PTL associates sold $1,000 "lifetime memberships", entitling buyers to an annual three-night stay at a luxury hotel at Heritage USA, during that period. According to the prosecution at Bakker's fraud trial, tens of thousands of memberships were sold but only one 500-room hotel was ever finished. He sold "exclusive partnerships" which exceeded capacity, raising more than twice the money needed to build the hotel. Much of the money paid Heritage USA's operating expenses, and Bakker kept $3.4 million. After a 16-month federal grand-jury probe, Bakker was indicted in 1988 on eight counts of mail fraud, 15 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. In 1989, after a five-week trial which began on August 28 in Charlotte, North Carolina, a jury found him guilty on all 24 counts. Judge Robert Daniel Potter sentenced Bakker to 45 years in federal prison and imposed a $500,000 fine. Is this what Paul was talking about when he wrote mutual friction among people with corrupted minds, who are deprived of the truth, supposing religion to be a means of gain?
I began by asking you the question is Christianity a company store or a franchise and I will end by asking you the same question. Is it? You you get to pick and choose what you want to believe or do you believe in what God taught us? Do you argue with God or do you listen to him? Do you go to Church or do you not go? This is what today's passage is all about, it is about an age old problem. The problem is. who is in charge - God or man? If you believe man is in charge, then it is easy to follow the wrong things. If you believe God is in charge, ask yourself this question: Is God the God of Confusion or the God Of Unity and Order? God is not confused and neither should you.