You Have to Step Outside the Church Forest
to See the Trees for What They Really Are
By Stuart DiNenno
It is very difficult to recognize pseudo-Christianity in a culture where it is ubiquitous to the point that it is all everyone has ever known and where it is manifested in a multitude of organizations that, on the surface, look quite different from one another.
It is like having lived in a forest all your life that consists of many different species of trees but all of them are diseased and stunted, and they had been so for multiple generations. If you had never been outside of that forest, and everyone around you also had been surrounded by the same trees all their lives, and the forest had been in its degenerated condition for so long that there was no longer any memory of what a healthy forest should be, then you would not know that a healthy tree does not look like the ones in your forest and you would not see them as the sickly organisms that they really are.
This is the case with modern American Christianity. Very few recognize the degeneracy of it because they have been surrounded by it all their lives, every professing Christian they know has likewise always been immersed in it, and all the churches are practicing the same diseased and stunted form of Christianity regardless of their differences in form and profession. Thus, many Christians erroneously see today’s powerless, worldly, compromising religion as genuine Christianity because it is all they have ever known across all the various denominations.
Moreover, most Christians unwisely make relative judgments based on the limitations of their experience. If they see a denomination that is professing to adhere to more orthodox theology than others, or one that is not quite as compromised with the zeitgeist, then they judge it to be faithful, not recognizing that it bears the same underlying characteristics as the others and is essentially the same defective religion only with more appealing superficial attributes. It is like seeing a tree in your sickly forest and calling it strong and sound because the bark looks better, and it is not quite as twisted and spindly as the others, when it is actually very far from what a healthy tree should be. No matter how unhealthy a forest becomes overall, there will always be some trees that are much worse than others, and so to judge by comparing one to another will always result in a downgraded and inaccurate measurement of their strength, and the same is true of churches in an age of widespread apostasy.
In order to be able to gauge the true condition of today’s churches, Christians must learn to step outside of the forest and judge the trees according to fixed biblical standards and by the example of faithful churches of past ages. If they do not, then their judgment will always be compromised by the very low standards of this age.