From “How to Become a Christian”: Chapter 4 – How the church got into its current condition
That vagueness was not unique to me. It is the position of most Catholics. But, I must emphasise, it is by no means confined only to the Catholic church. It is widespread in the modern Western church, throughout the denominations. Much of the Church of England is also deeply confused and mixed up. The same applies to the Methodist church, the Baptist church, the Lutheran church and so on.
It alarms me to see how many people, even in what used to be solid, Bible-believing, evangelical churches, are drifting along with no clear faith or repentance. I fear that millions of people, even in Reformed Protestant and nonconformist denominations, may be unsaved, due to the shallow and compromised teaching they are receiving. A lot of what goes on in all kinds of churches is just dead tradition and things being done by rote, without sincerity or passion. Isaiah spoke of this condition long ago, but it still applies:
Then the Lord said,Isaiah 29:13 (NASB)
“Because this people draw near with their words
And honour Me with their lip service,
But they remove their hearts far from Me,
And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,
So, I was an unsaved, unrepentant “churchgoer” in the Catholic Church, together with countless others. But there are also millions of unsaved churchgoers in other denominations too. We each need to ask ourselves whether that applies to us personally.
Having said that, I should also add, for the sake of accuracy and balance, that there are also, within such denominations, some people who are saved and who are genuine believers. People are at all sorts of different levels and stages. That means we can’t make blanket statements about them as groups. Each person’s circumstances are unique to them. The key point, though, is that we also cannot assume that people are saved or that they are real Christians, just because they go to church. That is the case whatever denomination they belong to.
In case anyone imagines that I am picking on the Catholic Church, I should emphasise again and more clearly, that even within what are known as the ‘Protestant’ denominations, such as the Lutheran Church or the Church of England, and also in the nonconformist denominations such as the Baptists, Methodists and Pentecostals, there is today a large and growing amount of error, ignorance, deception and apostasy. ‘Apostasy’ is where someone has known the truth but they subsequently turn away from it.