Five Deadly Sins of the Modern Church

Satan_before_the_LordPope Francis had harsh words for the Roman Catholic Church’s top leaders.  He named five deadly sins afflicting today’s leaders like a plague.

  • Spiritual Alzheimer’s
  • Feeling immortal or immune
  • Existential schizophrenia
  • Spiritual and mental hardness
  • Terrorism of gossip

People in power are often the last to recognize these symptoms. The symptoms are comforting to those with a sense of entitlement. That’s the devil’s way. He does his best work with a pat on the back. This diagnosis is coming from someone elected to the job of shepherding. The message just might get through—to Roman Catholic leaders and maybe, just maybe, to their Protestant counterparts.

Redeemer ran into every one of these symptoms in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. We encountered church leaders so confident in their pursuit of our land and money that walked into our church and forgot why they were supposed to be there—to help. Spiritual Alzheimer’s.

They pursued us in court with the sure and certain knowledge that they are immune to laws—and the laity aren’t.

For five years Lutheran leaders went from the altar to the courtroom with a total disconnect with their mission. There would be no discussion with us. There would be no attempt to work things out in any biblical prescribed way or even with common sense. Lutheran leaders displayed hearts of granite. The basic message of the Church—God is love—is lost.

Bad as these symptoms were and are, the most pervasive—the hardest to fend off is the terrorism of gossip.

The gossip against our congregation grew unchecked for years. Clergy says to clergy — did you hear . . . . ? By the time the gossip gets to lay ears, it is unshakable even if there is nothing to it.  We continue to hear ridiculous untruths about our congregation bandied about the church circles with no one daring to ask for supporting information. (This will be the topic of a separate post.) The last eight years of ugliness would not have happened had leaders in the church not felt so secure in starting and spreading rumors that had only one purpose—to justify theft.

Lutherans are at heart good people. Lutherans want to care about one another. All Christians fight an uphill battle when we are asked to subscribe to a culture that follows without question. That, after all, is very un-Lutheran. And it will always lead to St. Francis’s Five Deadly Sins of Church Leadership.

Do we have leaders who can right our course as Pope Francis is determined to do in the Roman Catholic Church? If so, now might be good time to speak up! Pope Francis has opened the door for some real soul-searching.