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Churchianity in the 19th Century.

August 11, 2014

And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:1-2)

Churchianity or Churchian are terms that have been thrown around on this site and others for quite a while. As made clear on this blog (and I’m sure some others), Churchianity exists when the main function is worship of the church organizations or denominations and not of Christ.

History of the patriarchy.

History of the patriarchy.

This word substitution to denote this difference is not something me, Michael Spencer, or anyone else blogging today has invented. In Google books, they have an interesting little toy they call the “Ngram Viewer”, where you can search a word and get a listing of the books they’ve scanned into their system. The interesting part comes where you can track the history of the use of a word. For instance, you can put in the term “patriarchy” and get more ammunition for the contention that using the term actually puts you in the feminist frame. Searching churchianity nets this:


The term has been used a lot longer than there has been blogs. The interesting part in studying, is that these problems discussed on the blog have occurred a lot longer than just the times we know (a good argument can be made that Phariseeism is in truth Churchianity). In fact, one can compare and contrast and see the same thing.

Another immediate effect of a reference to the Bible is, that it entirely alterns the nature and ground of the controversy. There is no longer a question of churchianity, but of Christianity. We are in the presence of the cardinal truth, that “in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision, availeth anything, nor uncircumcision–neither Anglicanism nor Romanism–“but faith, which worketh by love.” Gal v. 6: That is to say, nothing but personal religion, independently of all churches and all church relations. With the Bible alone before us, the parties whom we address are no longer perplexed by antagonistic persuasions — “Belong to this church,” or “Adhere to that;” the pleadings all go in a different, in a common direction–“Be ye reconciled to God.” There is no longer an interested aspect in our appeal, as while one is endeavoring to gain a proselyte, and another afraid of losing one; our entreaty becomes undeniably generous and influential–“We care not whom you follow, so as you will save your own soul.” There is no longer an assumption, or an appearance of assumption, of authority by man over his fellow; the voice of man is hushed, and the teacher professes nothing but to commend to his hearers the word of God — “Judge ye what I say.” [he then quotes Psalm 19:7-9]
– The Substance of a Sermon by Newman Hall, 1850, page 27-28

A second:

Let us now examine the religion of the Priest, whose language is, ‘Look to me; to me, in some of my formulas, to me in some of my developments,’ if I may use a favourite expression, ‘and be ye saved.’ In one of these he bids you to look to the Church; she, he alleges, is the directress to heaven, the sure way to eternal joy. ‘Hear the Church,’ he cries, and be happy.

Such religion is Churchianity; it is not Christianity. Christianity means the religion where Christ is all; Churchianity, the religion where the Church is all. But what is this Church? let me ask. It is the company of believers, if it be the true Church; the company of the baptized, if it be the visible Church, made up of good and bad, of tares and wheat. But the whole Bible tells us that a church without Christ is a body without a head; a robe, whithout the Divine wearer; the richly-chased cup, but without the wine.

I cannot see that there is any more chance of being saved by a Church, than there is of being saved by a College, or by a Royal Exchange. There is no more connexion in the way of merit between the one and salvation, than there is between the other and salvation.
– The Three Forms of Religion by Dr. Cummings, 1850

And a third:

Thus religion is transformed from a principle into an institution. What should be inward feeling and motive runs outward and freezes into mere profession. Christianity is a business. The divine element evaporates. God is Deus ex machina. The ministry ceases to be a calling and becomes a profession. Men are preferred to this and that sacred office. The clergy are in form servants of heaven, in fact officials of the State. Handling money, controlling patronage, dealing in sacred things for secular purposes, Christianity is hocus-pocused into Churchianity.

In this country we have no State Church. Nevertheless Churchianity is a naturalized resident. Because Churchianity is more than a system–it is a state of mind. Wherever form is put for substance, whenever the medium is regarded as the essence, Christianity crystalizes into Churchianity. We have the religious establishment, but no longer religion. We look for Christ and find–a church. We ask for bread and are given–a stone.

- Churchianity vs. Christianity by Carlos Martyn, The Arena 1890 page 149.

There is truly nothing new under the sun.

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