A great read...
If you love the Lord Jesus Christ and are terminally committed to His Bride, the Church, may I suggest you go out and buy a copy of Soren Kierkegaard's Attack upon Christendom?
Not looking to him as a philosopher, but to his understanding of how Official Christianity--what he calls "Christendom"--is the lethal enemy of true Christian faith, I have taken many hours of comfort and delight from this masterpiece. Although the Christendom he himself fought against was the state church of his native Denmark, his parables work almost seamlessly in our own context; particularly my own heritage, the Wheaton/Colorado Springs evangelical "church."
As there are some conferences where enrollment is limited to men who are elders, pastors, or aspiring to church office, maybe this book ought only to be read by church officers; and not just any church officers, but only those who believe discernment is still a gift given to the church for her edification, and who ask the Holy Spirit for that gift.
Attack upon Christendom is not for those who think it's a sin to examine their own hearts, or the hearts of their sheep, for hypocrisy. It's not for those who believe that the New Testament church and the Reformers had to go through conflict and say some harsh things so that we could escape such conflict and limit our own rhetoric to healing, uplifting, graceful, peaceful, "look to your baptism" words...
It's not for those who believe Jesus never mocked anyone, and that the Apostle Paul was only playacting when he and the Apostle Peter had it out in front of the flock in Galatia over who was sitting with whom. It's not for those who think the Apostle Paul's comment "I wish they'd mutilate themselves" was a late textual emendation by a celibacy-weary scribe. It's not for those who fantasize about being paid to show up at a church on Sunday morning and do their thing with not one soul present--those who would be pleased to have what Kierkegaard calls "the living" without the sheep.
But of course, no one here thinks any of those things, right? So as I said, get a copy of Attack upon Christendom and read it. It'll cut to your heart and throw you back on the mercy of Jesus Christ as you recognize how pathetic we are, but how wise and loving and bold and true and faithful He is.
And now, a teaser...
We all know what it is to play warfare in mock battle, that it means to imitate everything just as it is in war. The troops are drawn up, they march into the field, seriousness is evident in every eye, but also courage and enthusiasm, the orderlies rush back and forth intrepidly, the commander’s voice is heard, the signals, the battle cry, the volley of musketry, the thunder of cannon—everything exactly as it is in war, lacking only one thing...the danger.
So also it is with playing Christianity, that is, imitating Christian preaching in such a way that everything, absolutely everything is included in as deceptive a form as possible—only one thing is lacking...the danger. (Kierkegaard, Attack upon Christendom)