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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

02 November 2005

Dead Churches

Q: Is there such a thing as a dead Church?

Dead ChurchA: It seems an oxymoron, but it is possible. This doesn’t mean that the whole Christian Church could die — for Christ says that the gates of hell cannot prevail against her. However, congregations can “die.” They may have the outward trappings of Christianity, but their hearts are not turned toward God and they neither trust in Christ nor look to Him for aid. In the letters to the seven churches in Revelation, Jesus summarizes much of what would continue in the Church throughout time. Among these congregations, Sardis is singled out (3:1-2) by the Lord: “I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die....” As a group, He saw them as dead, yet among some few individuals, at least a flicker of life remained.

This “death” happens as churches and Christians abandon the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins in favor of human philosophies, forsake Scripture for manmade schemes, and otherwise deny, add to, or subtract from the pure Word of God.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.


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