Impassioned but incomplete argument for dismantling the institutionalized church as we know it.
Smith, a missionary’s son, former Baptist minister and former Marine, issues a call for Christians to leave the organized church. The author argues that the institutionalized church perverts the freedoms Christ provided for his believers, and that it is an institution created and perpetuated by power-hungry clergy who have fooled Christians into believing that a clergy class is both biblically mandated and necessary. Smith contends that one of the problems is that today’s Christians have taken up â€œchurchianity,” an adherence to religion over faith. His solution is to rediscover the Christian â€œassembly” described in the Book of Acts, a community of Christians without structure that is led by wise elder members. These groups would not meet in particular places or at particular times and would live only under the rule of love. While Smith raises several salient points about problems inherent in American Christianity–no doubt many readers may share his disdain for religious services turned into entertainment, million-dollar buildings used twice per week, etc.–his viewpoint is exceedingly narrow and focuses on large, likely urban/suburban Protestant congregations, i.e., well-to-do clergy in well-to-do churches, while ignoring the fact that many congregations do not enjoy such luxuries. Despite his parents’ missionary past, he all but overlooks the role of the institutionalized church outside of the United States. Readers may also sense that Smith is carrying around a full set of emotional baggage, displayed in admissions such as â€œthe gospel as I came to know it growing up had to do with hellfire and brimstone.” As such, the author may speak to the disgruntled and disillusioned, but the average Christian will remain unconvinced.
Good points but unlikely to spark a new Reformation.