The Parable of the ER Ward patient by Peter Corney
An unconscious patient has just been admitted to the ER department at a major metro hospital that specialises in very sick organisations. After being triaged and seen by the ER doctor they are sent off for a series of tests; X-rays, blood tests, an MRI and an ECG.
Tests show the patient is not dead, they have a faint pulse, but are deeply unconscious.
The blood tests reveal a serious theological anaemia and a system compromised by ‘liberal theological reductionism’* and cultural conformity. Provisional diagnosis would indicate the sustained absence of a proper diet of orthodox and intelligent teaching from the organisations primary sources. This has seriously threatened their identity, distinctiveness and understanding of their core purpose.
X-rays and bone density scans show their skeletal structure is affected by osteoporosis and there are a series of fractures in critical areas such as leadership, outreach and evangelism, youth and children’s ministry, discipling, community and worship style. The leadership crisis would seem to be the result of a long term neglect of good recruiting, selection and training and a model of ministry dominated by pastoral maintenance. It would also seem that an out dated and irrelevant model of the local congregation has been pursued for too long.
The ECG indicates heart disease resulting from a lack of emphasis on personal commitment, the Holy Spirit and prayer. This is the reason for the low energy, passion and commitment.
The MRI reveals the presence of a brain tumour. Further test show it is cancerous – a BXY 304 type which affects specific neurological functioning. This results in symptoms of denial and inability to face reality or make serious decisions.
The patients name is Ecclesia. Their only future lies in radical treatment of the underlying pathologies.
(*Footnote: ‘Liberal theological reductionism’ is a theological pathogen that reshapes the Churches faith and practice by reducing and accommodating its beliefs to the current plausibility structure or world view of the time, what people find plausible or easy to believe in the current culture. It usually does this by stealth, by preserving the Christian words and symbols but changing their first order meaning or emptying out their original meaning. For example; currently doctrines like the Atonement, the divinity of Christ, the incarnation, salvation by Christ alone, Biblical authority, sexual ethics, etc., are the subject of major revisionism by Liberal Reductionists. Rather than challenging and critiquing the spirit of the times with the long perspective of the historic faith it does the reverse. In this sense it is intellectually provincial and limited, bound to its culture and controlled by fashion – a kind of Dior theology. It currently goes under the banner of ‘Progressive Christianity.’ It is often embraced by Christians who failed to work through the difficult questions early in their Christian life. They put them on hold only for them to resurface later in life.)