Initially, we probably don't recognize remarkable similarities between Harold Camping, founder and president of Family Radio Network, and George Barna, founder and president of Barna Research Group. But they both have been in the news recently for similar reasons. Both believe that the visible, institutional church has failed miserably in our day and both suggest that their own organizations may be alternative means through which God may work. Commenting on a recent Christianity Today cover story on his efforts, Barna adds,
There are a number of high profile pastors who have been saying that the local church is the only hope for the future. As emotionally comforting as that may feel, it's just wrong. Jesus Christ is the only hope for the future; the local church is a human institution that God may or may not work through. In the near future we will inevitably see new models of the local church that don't look or behave at all like the congregational church we have historically fostered.Barna offers his daylong seminars, his mentoring programs for "emerging players" in "industries of influence," and other high-energy schemes as necessary substitutes for the institutional church. As the Christianity Today article reported, Barna targets "sources of significant influence," which means "movies, television, the Internet, books, music, public policy and law, and family." The Barna Research Group response to Christianity Today's article adds, "The Christian church, his research shows, is not among the top dozen influences these days."
Michael Horton is the J. Gresham Machen professor of apologetics and systematic theology at Westminster Seminary California (Escondido, California), host of the White Horse Inn, national radio broadcast, and editor-in-chief of Modern Reformation magazine. He is author of many books, including The Gospel-Driven Life, Christless Christianity, People and Place, Putting Amazing Back Into Grace, The Christian Faith, and For Calvinism.
Issue: "We Believe in One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church" March/April 2003 Vol. 12 No. 2 Page number(s): 25-38
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