I have been doing some thinking about my previous post about the bride of Christ.
After some thought and reading more on the postmodern trend toward not liking the church, I have seen many people who really think it is fine if you say bad things about the church: "the church has a history of treating people badly...", "What, we can't examine our past beliefs and practices?", etc.
I want to add more to my previous idea that I don't see a problem with reevaluating past mistakes and looking for new ways to improve. Sometimes reevaluation means that we have to say something negative.
It is when we say things like "the church will never work", "the church is the problem with our country", "radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America" that I am completely offended and want to take a stand for Jesus' bride.
We can have doubts. We can have input. Don't knock her down though. Doubting is a normal part of life and faith. Doubting says nothing bad about our faith, but it gives us a chance to grow and develop. But we do eventually have to find faith. As the writer of Hebrews says,
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. -- Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)
Faith has to come with conviction. We have to at some point stop doubting and have faith. Our salvation is by faith through grace, not by works, so that no one may boast and it is especially not by doubt.
If we don't like something in the church, it should be our responsibility to help it change and to give new ideas for what we would be willing to bring in for our neighbors and friends. If we have no ideas or aren't willing to be in on creating and participating in the solution, then maybe it isn't our place to say negative things. When I hear a bunch of people say things that aren't true or have no solutions, I call it "pooled ignorance."
Let us be careful about what we call Christ's bride and lift up and encourage people to join us in being the church.