The Church Police

Salvation Fuzz (The Dead Bishop) may be my favorite Monty Python sketch, in all of its various versions.

Faced with the dilemma of having (another) dead bishop on the landing, a family wonders if they should call the Church or the police. They decide to call the Church Police.

Together now: “THE CHURCH POLICE!”

And are immediately rewarded by the arrival of a vicar-sergeant. Ooops, no; a detective-parson.

It was hilarious to me years ago. Nowadays, it’s somehow not quite as funny.

You see, there really are Church Police: the self-appointed folks who feel compelled by some kind of spirit to criticize, write up, and sometimes condemn to hell their brothers and sisters in Christ who have purposely violated these saints’ dearest-held beliefs about matters that often aren’t remotely dealt with in the Bible.

And however much one may admire their zeal for the scripture, their commitment to being watchtowermen, and their dedication to seeking the old paths – the plain fact is not all of their motives and tactics and results are admirable.

If you say much of anything beyond the fact that they exist and they are not going away any time soon (barring, of course, an eschatological event that would take us all away) is to invite the accusation that you are judging people – perhaps being more judgmental than these good brethren.

I don’t know if any of these folks have ever gone directly to the person(s) they name and have something against in order to set the relationship right again, but I can tell you that I’ve never seen such an encounter recounted in any of their publications.

I don’t know if these folks regularly pray for the inspiration of the Spirit to make clear to them the difficulties presented in scripture – or if they regularly pray for the targets of their critiques – but I have never seen that mentioned in their works either.

I don’t know if God has incontrovertibly called them to pursue this priority in their walk with Him – over other priorities such as helping the poor, seeking unity of the brethren, persuading those who do not know Jesus that He is the living Son of God – but I rarely if ever see those concepts within their diatribes as well. – Though I have seen criticism of doing good for the deserving when done in cooperation with people whose church sign reads differently.

My previous preaching minister and friend Mike Cope took a little grief for mentioning these Church Police in a humorous way at his blog a few days ago. Frankly, if any of the folks who felt compelled to correct him for this had any clue how very much grief he has endured in his life and how much of it has come from critical personal attacks on his service to God, they might have softened their criticism a bit.

Okay, having said that I’ll wrap this up.

I believe in a judgment day to come. I believe I will answer for this post. I believe the Church Police will answer for their diatribes as well. I do not believe I will be held responsible for the wrong things they did, nor vice-versa.

For I really have to restrain myself not to become as critical of them as they are of others. I truly have to watch my step so that I don’t fall into the sewer of personal attack, innuendo and strife. I am a basically loving person, but I genuinely have a deep problem loving people who are self-righteously antagonistic toward others who struggle, and who confront and condemn in the name of the Lord while claiming that they are only judging actions and not people. I know how very close to that edge I am right now, while writing this.

So I am begging your help. Pray for me and with me in this, and I will commit to praying for others who (I feel) have neglected the weightier matters; have taken it upon themselves to insist on justice over mercy when God calls for both; have ignored the clear instruction of Matthew 18 and so many other important calls for humility, unity, self-judgment and purity of motive.


8 thoughts on “The Church Police

  1. you are right…it is tempting to act as ugly to them as they act to everyone else…I will pray for you as I pray for myself.

  2. I call them “the Doctrine Police”, but same difference.Yeah, at times I believe I need to work on my attitude towards them…..and then I remember Jesus’s words to folks with that kind of mindset. Of course I am not Jesus….duh. But, I do believe his example is worth considering……ALL THE TIME.DU

  3. hurting:I put together the bulletin at the church I attend and am still having conscience pangs over one of those articles I let pass recently. I should have said something before publishing it. It wasn’t written in the best of spirits. I’ve resolved to try to not let that happen again.david u:I know what you mean. Jesus was bold when standing up to Pharisees who legislated the life out of the law. But He was Jesus, and I am not. And sometimes I wonder how I am supposed to live up to that part of His lifelong example.djg:Thanks … I cherish your prayers, especially the ones I read at your blog.

  4. Keith, I want to nominate you for Pope. Your previous post on the alternate versions of scriptures was really funny and thought provoking at the same time.My favorite verse that isn’t even a verse has become “It’s better to be kind than to be right”. I think that’s a pretty good paraphrase of 1 Cor. 13 in ten words or less. And it certainly doesn’t fit the creed of those who write the diatribes you are addressing in this current post.If not Pope, maybe you could just write his speeches?

  5. don,Don’t do it. My head is already too big to fit my dad’s hats, and I wouldn’t want it to get any bigger by serving as pope. Or writing his speeches. Besides, I don’t speak Italian.

  6. I’ve recently been dealing with a spat of sorts on my blog, too. I’ve done my best to avoid responding in kind, but it sure is difficult. Thanks for your kind spirit and gentle example.

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