Is Your Denomination A Sinking Titanic?
by Roger Oakland
The Titanic was one of the greatest ships that
has ever sailed the seas. When built it was considered unsinkable. Today, when
the name Titanic is mentioned, we think of one thing Ė the boat that was, is no
more. Itís at the bottom of the sea. What a legacy!
The name ďTitanicĒ has become synonymous with the idea that a disaster can be avoided. You see, the sinking of the Titanic provides an analogy of what can happen to human aspirations when humbled by circumstances. A great ship that was deemed to be unsinkable Ė sank because it hit an iceberg. The disaster did not have to happen if proper precautions had been taken.
The Process of Sinking the Titanic
In the case of the Titanic, human pride and accomplishment came to a tragic end in a moment. The Titanic was on its maiden voyage. The captain was sailing in dangerous waters. Although he had been warned to be careful, the boat was thought to be invincible. But of course we know now, this was not the case.
Nature and its forces intervened to show mankind is subservient. Of course, the Titanic provides an excellent spiritual lesson for those who study the Bible. Great things, great countries, and great leaders can come to and end when a sovereign God pulls the plug.
The history of Christianity shows that the sinking of the Titanic can help us to understand what often happens to denominations and organizations. There comes a time when an organization that was sailing successfully, hits an iceberg and then takes on water.
In the case of the Titanic, the circumstances that brought about the sinking of the ship could have been avoided. Perhaps the captain got a bit too confident. Or maybe the crew was giving him faulty information.
Maybe some of the crew wanted the captain to make a mistake. Maybe some of the crew wanted to be captain when the captain retired or died. Whatever the case, the dangerous waters could have been avoided. If only a watchman would have sounded the alarm. Of course the captain would have had to listen and act accordingly.
But as we know, if there was a watchman who warned the captain, the captain did not listen. The mighty ship hit an iceberg that knocked a hole in the wall of the ship. Some felt the bump but there were those who did not. Soon the boat began to take on water. Then the boat began to list. At first the party continued until it became apparent there was a serious problem.
Eventually concern turned into panic. There was a mad scramble for the lifeboats. As the boat went into its final dive, many had to jump off in desperation. Some were saved but many were not. The ship went down to the bottom of the Atlantic. The greatest ship that had ever been built did not make it to America. How tragic! How sad!
The Process of Sinking a Denomination
Now, think for a moment. Could a Christian denomination go the way of the Titanic? Could the process of sinking be avoided? Is it possible that the captain could foresee the inevitable but do nothing to prevent it?
Over the years of history, many denominations and movements that were once sailing ďsmoothlyĒ went down just like the Titanic. Apparently, given time, this is what happens, and it just cannot be avoided.
Why is this so? The answer is simple. Christians are humans and human behavior can be predicted.
It is at this point in the analogy that I want to point out a difference. The similarity of using the captain of a ship in comparison with the leader of a denomination may not be appropriate. Denominations, while they may have a moderator or a president, also have others who are striving for position.
The Roman Catholic Church would be a good example. The pope is the top guy. However, next in line are the cardinals. Following this are the bishops, the priests and finally the people.
There comes a time when the pope gets old and weak. Common sense says there must be a new pope in the making. The new pope is always chosen from the cardinals. While I have never been in a meeting where the next pope was about to be chosen, I am sure there is a lot of political lobbying.
Of course, in order to take over as pope, it is advantageous to be well known. Most cardinals start out as ordinary sheep. First they have to become a priest. A bishop is the next step up the ladder before taking over as cardinal. Cardinals wear different hats and different robes and are noticeably different looking than a bishop. You can pick a cardinal out in a crowd. Besides they always get to speak at the important conferences.
You see, denominations that have hierarchies like the Roman Catholic system are looking for trouble. Without knowing it, there is a tendency to get oneís eyes off Jesus and on to a human system. Rather than focusing on being a servant and reaching people, there is a possibility to seek after success for the cause of developing personal kingdoms.
When denominations take on the essence of secular corporations, the Spirit of God departs. When this happens, it is very difficult to recover. Further, the love that once was abundant in this fellowship goes south.
The cardinals in the organization who are seeking after position put the pope between them and Jesus. Sometimes, the cardinals are better known than the pope. They can even veto the pope and do their own thing if they choose.
This pattern that develops is also quite contagious. The pope model of leadership actually gets cloned and passed down. Churches within the denomination play a game similar to follow the leader. Staff members and assistant pastors at these churches follow the law of the corporation. This means one hundred percent loyalty to man is required. When one is not one hundred percent loyal, you are shown the door. Too bad if you were attempting to serve Jesus!
When carnal people are driven to be loyal to a man rather than to Jesus, there is a potential to even perform illegal acts. However, while this is happening, those who are being loyal donít realize that anything is wrong. They are still Godís men. They are just doing what they believe to be right.
At first, the common people canít see there is a problem. However, there are signs indicating that something is wrong. Some begin to warn others. When they warn, they are told they are traitors. They are told if they donít like what they see they should find another boat. However, they donít want to find another boat. They liked the boat the way it was before it became a submarine.
Eventually, the secular media reports there are problems that should have been addressed. Dirty laundry is placed in public view. Why didnít someone wash these dirty clothes before?
Finally, the passengers start to panic. ďWhy didnít the captain tell us sooner?Ē they shout as they scramble to save themselves from drowning. The only option they have is to get off the ship and find a lifeboat.
Learning from the Titanic
All is not lost. There is good news even though a movement or a denomination sinks.
Christian history reveals there is always a remnant that survives when the ship goes down. There are many sincere Bible-believing pastors who want to do what is right. They love Godís Word. They know that its not about property, possession and power. They want to feed the sheep and reach the lost. Isnít that the way the denomination started in the first place?
God is sovereign, you see. Jesus said, ďUpon this rock, I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.Ē While Satan has his plan, God has the right plan. All those who trust in Jesus alone will spend eternity with Him.
This is what keeps me going!
We are in the last days. Many churches that once were giving their all to be biblical are now gone off track. The Scriptures state we should not be surprised. Satan is out to take down every Christian organization that once stood for truth.
Are you going to let him take you down?
This is a time to get serious about truth. Pastors of churches that proclaim the truth will be like lighthouses that shine bright into the darkness in the future. The darker that it gets, the brighter their lights will shine.
If you know a church, a fellowship, or a movement that is like the Titanic, PRAY. Pray the captain will warn the people that which is underway. Let the light of Godís Word shine into darkness and reveal Satanís plans.
Pray that the things that have been hidden in darkness will be brought into the light. God cannot use an organization that allows darkness to exist alongside it. In these days, judgment must begin in the house of the Lord. God is a righteous God. He hates darkness. God would not be God if this were not the case.
I am excited what God is going to do. Arenít you?
Remember Ė the Titanic!
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
Matthew 7: 24-27