One can simply observe those megachurches that look like strip malls and shopping malls, which stand in stark contrast to cruciform cathedrals. But how effective has the movement been in engaging human suffering, including race and class divisions in the church and society? Perhaps the absence of the altar or table at the front of many of these churches is also revealing, especially since it has given way to a coffee bar at the back. That’s because the coffee bar and the Lord’s table are symbolic: both are symbols that communicate powerfully their use of “sacred” space. The coffee bar connotes pleasure and leisure (good things in their own right), whereas the Lord’s table always connotes joy through suffering: the bloody grapes of wrath have become a river of life.
“…would I overstate the case if I said the majority of those who confess their faith in Christ and enter into association with the community of believers have little joy in their hearts, no peace in their minds, and from all external appearances are no better morally than the ordinary educated citizen who takes no interest whatever in religion and, of course, makes no profession of Christianity. Why is this? I believe it is the result of an inadequate concept of Christianity and an imperfect understanding of the revolutionary character of Christian discipleship.”
A.W. Tozer: Man: The Dwelling Place of God
The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure, only now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor.
The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into public interest by showing that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level.
The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner anal jollier way of living and saves his self-respect.
The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere but its sincerity does not save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross. The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said good-by to his friends. He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended.
…my fear is that the modern conception of faith is not the Biblical one; that when the teachers of our day use the word they do not mean what Bible writers meant when they used it. The causes of my uneasiness are these: 1. The lack of spiritual fruit in the lives of so many who claim to have faith. 2. The rarity of a radical change in the conduct and general outlook of persons professing their new faith in Christ as their personal Saviour. 3. The failure of our teachers to define or even describe the thing to which the word faith is supposed to refer. 4. The heartbreaking failure of multitudes of seekers, be they ever so earnest, to make anything out of the doctrine or to receive any satisfying experience through it. 5. The real danger that a doctrine that is parroted so widely and received so uncritically by so many is false as understood by them. 6. I have seen faith put forward as a substitute for obedience, an escape from reality, a refuge from the necessity of hard thinking, a hiding place for weak character. I have known people to miscall by the name of faith high animal spirits, natural optimism, emotional thrills and nervous tics. 7. Plain horse sense ought to tell us that anything that makes no change in the man who professes it makes no difference to God either, and it is an easily observable fact that for countless numbers of persons the change from no-faith to faith makes no actual difference in the life.