But I must add that the U.S. government must not, as by this order, undertake to run the churches. When an individual, in a church or out of it, becomes dangerous to the public interest, he must be checked; but let the churches, as such take care of themselves. It will not do for the U.S. to appoint Trustees, Supervisors, or other agents for the churches.
What James Madison and the other men of his generation had in mind when they wrote the First Amendment was that there should be no official relationship of any character between government and any church or many churches, and no levying of taxes for the support of any church, or many churches, or all churches, or any institution conducted by any of them.
One my favorite things is to go to the provinces of Russia and see the 18th century wood churches with the onion dome architecture. These humble wonders of incredible imagination of architects that were obviously not living in places like Paris or London, but they've created these amazing churches.
Andre Leon Talley
The closing period of the fifteenth century witnessed the slow but sure increase of the churches of the Brethren. Although far from being unmolested, they yet enjoyed comparative rest. At the commencement of the sixteenth century their churches numbered two hundred in Bohemia and Moravia.
Ezra Hall Gillett
Many churches of all persuasions are hiring research agencies to poll neighborhoods, asking what kind of church they prefer. Then the local churches design themselves to fit the desires of the people. True faith in God that demands selflessness is being replaced by trendy religion that serves the selfish.
But I hope that by the decision and authority of wise princes that sometime devout and learned men from the churches of other nations and of ours may be summoned together to deliberate about all the controversies and that there be handed down to posterity one harmonious, true, and clear form of doctrine, without any ambiguity. Meanwhile, as far as possible, let us encourage the union of our churches with measured advice.
Now listen. Faith is like oxygen. It keeps you afloat at all times. Sometimes you need it. Sometimes you don't. but when you do need it you better be practiced at having faith, otherwise it won't work. That's why the missionaries built all the churches. Before we got those churches we weren't practicing enough. That's what prayers are for-practice, children. Practice.
There could be no more powerful argument against mixing religion and government than the success of independent African American churches in placing racial segregation and discrimination on a reluctant nation's social agenda. Would black churches have been able to take the lead in the struggle had they been dependent on funds doled out for 'faith-based initiatives' . . . ?
The Bible says that in the last days, there will be people in our churches who are not true believers, among other things. Because of watered-down messages and compromise, people will feel comfortable in certain churches because they are never confronted with their sin. I believe my job as a pastor is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.
There is nothing better than to have a highly motivated team of leaders focused on than reaching those far from Christ. And yet statistics and our experience reveal that evangelism entropy can creep deep inside a new church within months of its first public service. The longer we are around new churches the more amazed we are at how quickly these mission-focused, vibrant new churches become old.
There was the strangest combination of church influence against me. Baker is a Campbellite; and therefore, as I suppose with few exceptions, got all of that Church. My wife had some relations in the Presbyterian churches, and some in the Episcopal churches; and therefore, wherever it would tell, I was set down as either one or the other, while it was everywhere contended that no Christian ought to vote for me because I belonged to no Church, and was suspected of being a Deist and had talked of fighting a duel.
Contemporary American churches in particular do not require following Christ in his example, spirit, and teachings as a condition of membership-either of entering into or continuing in fellowship of a denomination or a local church.... Most problems in contemporary churches can be explained by the fact that members have not yet decided to follow Christ.
In addition to the transience of their members, churches themselves face a crisis of hypermobility. Many churches have put down only shallow roots in their neighborhood, or no roots at all. We've all heard the question, 'If our church suddenly moved to a new location fifteen miles away, would anyone in our neighborhood notice we were gone?' But what if we asked ourselves this question: 'If our church was magically lifted off the ground and moved to a location fifteen miles away, would we notice the difference?' Western churches have become so disentangled from their own places that this question could be a cold, hard look in the mirror for many faith communities.
C. Christopher Smith
Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient Churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it not be necessary, in that case, to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the Churches?
Irenaeus of Lyons
The higher Christian churches... come at God with an unwarranted air of professionalism, with authority and pomp, as though they knew what they were doing, as though people in themselves were an appropriate set of creatures to have dealings with God... if God were to blast such a congregation to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it any minute.
If outside forces and culture were the reasons behind declining and non-influential churches, we would likely have no churches today. The greatest periods of growth, particularly the first-century growth, took place in adversarial cultures. We are not hindered by external forces; we are hindered by our own lack of commitment and selflessness.
Thom S. Rainer
After the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, there were only two churches upon the earth. They were known respectively as the Church of the Lamb of God and Babylon. The various organizations which are called churches throughout Christendom, though differing in their creeds and organizations, have one common origin. They all belong to Babylon
George Q. Cannon
"Religion" can no more be equated with what goes on in churches than "education" can be reduced to what happens in schools or "health care" restricted to what doctors do to patients in clinics. The vast majority of healing and learning goes on among parents and children and families and friends, far from the portals of any school or hospital. The same is true for religion. It is going on around us all the time. Religion is larger and more pervasive than churches.
Churches are the primary partners that work with Habitat in an almost infinite variety of creative overlapping circles. We cherish these partnerships with churches... I have always seen Habitat for Humanity as a servant of the church and as a vehicle through which the church and its people can express their love, faith, and servanthood to people in need in a very tangible and concrete (literally!) way.
To square the records, however, it should be said that if the Calvinist does not rise as high, he usually stays up longer. He places more emphasis on the Holy Scriptures which never change, while his opposite number (as the newspapers say) tends to judge his spiritual condition by the state of his feelings, which change constantly. This may be the reason that so many Calvinistic churches remain orthodox for centuries, at least in doctrine, while many churches of the Arminian persuasion often go liberal in one generation.
Aiden Wilson Tozer
It became obvious why Catholics had built such beautiful cathedrals and churches throughout the world. Not as gathering or meeting places for Christians. But as a home for Jesus Himself in the Blessed Sacrament. Cathedrals house Jesus. Christians merely come and visit Him. The cathedrals and churches architecturally prepare our souls for the beauty of the Eucharist.
Allen R. Hunt
Henceforward the Christian Churches having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof, came into the hands of the Encratites: and the Heathens, who in the fourth century came over in great numbers to the Christians, embraced more readily this sort of Christianity, as having a greater affinity with their old superstitions, than that of the sincere Christians; who by the lamps of the seven Churches of Asia, and not by the lamps of the Monasteries, had illuminated the Church Catholic during the three first centuries.
We have often done well knowing the mind of God in our churches today. We have not done as well knowing His heart. We have largely become a church that pursues insights, principles, and theological concepts. No other church in history has had sounder theology or has known as much about God as many of our churches do today. However, we seem to know so little about His heart. Maybe this has troubled you, too. With all our insight, all our knowledge, all our information, and all our depth of theology, we seem to have so much difficulty functioning in the most basic Christian things, like personal holiness and loving people more than things. In our churches we are so easily hurt, and we hold on to those hurts for so long. We easily walk away from one another and quickly leave our churches when we experience disappointments and failures. There is often much judging and little compassion. Too many people remain alone in their pain. God desires to reveal His heart to us and to build His heart into us as we seek His face. Insight alone does not transform us; only the things that flow from the heart of God transform the lives of people. As God opens His heart to be known by us and as He builds His heart into us, His love will flow through us to those who are in desperate need of His forgiveness, His compassion, His healing, and His life.
This worship, given therefore to the Trinity of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, above all accompanies and permeates the celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy. But it must fill our churches also outside the timetable of Masses. Indeed, since the Eucharistic mystery was instituted out of love, and makes Christ sacramentally present, it is worthy of thanksgiving and worship. And this worship must be prominent in all our encounters with the Blessed Sacrament, both when we visit our churches and when the sacred species are taken to the sick and administered to them
Pope John Paul II
Churches are tax exempt because they are supposed to provide a public good. To prove that good to the IRS, churches arent supposed to hoard their money. They are supposed to spend it on goods and services for the faithful. Under this pretense, the church has made massive investments in tax free real estate all over the world. And when it comes to labor costs, they are almost free.
Each of those churches shows certain books, which they call revelation, or the Word of God. The Jews say that their Word of God was given by God to Moses face to face; the Christians say, that their Word of God came by divine inspiration; and the Turks say, that their Word of God (the Koran) was brought by an angel from heaven. Each of those churches accuses the other of unbelief; and, for my own part, I disbelieve them all.
There are congregations on nearly every corner. I'm not sure we need more churches. What we need is a church. I say one church is better than fifty. I have tried to remove the plural form churches from my vocabulary, training myself to think of the church as Christ did, and as the early Christians did. The metaphors for her are always singular - a body, a bride. I heard one gospel preacher say it like this, as he really wound up and broke a sweat: "We've got to unite ourselves as one body. Because Jesus is coming back, and he's coming back for a bride not a harem.
Banks and churches and courtrooms all depend on the appurtenances of theatre. On illusion. Banks, the illusion of stability and honourable dealings to the rot and corruption of capitalist exploitation. Churches the illusion of sacred sanctuary of purposes of pacifying social discontent. Courtrooms of course designed to promote the illusion of solemn justice. If there was true justice why would such trappings be necessary? Wouldn't a table and chairs and an ordinary room serve just as well?
E. L. Doctorow
You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world. I say quite deliberately that the christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principle enemy of moral progress in the world.
The crucified but risen Jesus appears in the believing, assembled community of the church. That this sense of the risen, living Jesus has faded in many [churches] can be basically blamed on the fact that our churches are insufficiently 'communities' of God. Where the church of Jesus Christ lives, and lives a liberating life in the footsteps of Jesus, the resurrection faith undergoes no crisis. On the other hand, it is better not to believe in God than to believe in a God who minimizes human beings, holds them under and oppresses them, with a view to a better world to come.
Mystical experience needs some form of dogma in order not to dissipate into moments of spiritual intensity that are merely personal, and dogma needs regular infusions of unknowingness to keep from calcifying into the predictable, pontificating, and anti-intellectual services so common in mainstream American churches. So what does all this mean practically? It means that congregations must be conscious of the persistent and ineradicable loneliness that makes a person seek communion, with other people and with God, in the first place. It means that conservative churches that are infused with the bouncy brand of American optimism one finds in sales pitches are selling shit. It means that liberal churches that go months without mentioning the name of Jesus, much less the dying Christ, have no more spiritual purpose or significance than a local union hall. It means that we - those of us who call ourselves Christians - need a revolution in the way we worship. This could mean many different things - poetry as liturgy, focused and extended silences, learning from other religious traditions and rituals (this seems crucial), incorporating apophatic language. But one thing it means for sure: we must be conscious of language as language, must call into question every word we use until we refine or remake a language that is fit for our particular religious doubts and despairs - and of course (and most of all!) our joys.