DA Carson on What Destroys the Church

This is from Carson’s book The Cross and the Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians.

The ways of destroying the church are many and colorful. Raw factionalism will do it. Rank heresy will do it. Taking your eyes off the cross and letter other, more peripheral matters dominate the agenda will do it–admittedly more slowly than frank heresy, but just as effectively on the long haul. Building the church with superficial ‘conversions’ and wonderful programs that rarely bring people into a deepening knowledge of the living God will do it. Entertaining people to death but never fostering the beauty of holiness or the centrality of self-crucifying love will build an assembly of religious people, but it will destroy the church of the living God. Gossip, prayerlessness, bitterness, sustained biblical illiteracy, self-promotion, materialism–all of these things, and many more, can destroy a church. And to do so is dangerous: ‘If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple’ (1 Cor. 3:17). It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (83-84

Well said.

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  1. “Taking your eyes off the cross ” and Paul said to know nothing BUT the gospel

  2. Hey Jerry,

    But what of the fact that God’s church cannot and will not be destroyed? The Church is Christ’s body. We tried to destroy it once and it only lasted 3 days.

    Is Carson speaking only of an individual church that has to close its doors because it is no longer functional? If so, then I would agree with him. But knowing Carson such small fish wouldn’t fly in his radar.

    • Chad,

      I’m certain that Carson here is speaking only of individual congregations. I think you agree with Carson. I have read the book this quote is from and there’s no doubt he is not referring to the Church but to individual manifestations of it, that is, the local bodies.

      Thanks for stopping by.
      jerry




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