The term “cancel culture” has been a pretty hot topic for some time. In my reading, most references to this point back to a person. When we “cancel” a person, that person’s accomplishments, failures, and even victories are “removed”. While we can remove or “cancel” people from social media, history books, and other records, these people and events cannot be erased from our minds. Positive and negative contributions will be there and can be passed on to another generation if we choose to do so. Eventually, there will be a generation that will bear the effects of certain events and mindsets but will have no history from which to understand why they are the way they are or why their surroundings are the way they are. After seeing a tweet from a pastor I deeply respect, his tweet challenged me to question if the church did not lead the way in this movement.
I will be the first to say that the church does have a few things that should be canceled. If things like hypocrisy, abuse from clergy (sexual, emotional, etc.), hateful protests, and other negative marks like the “good ole boy system” within some denominations could be canceled, that would be great. These things have given the church a horrible reputation. Sadly, many people bear scars and gaping wounds from such behaviors. The effects of these things will affect future generations whether we like it or not. But I want to focus on some things the church canceled in order to be “relevant”.
The church led the way in canceling appearance. While many absolutely adore such things as stained glass windows with depictions of biblical accounts, crosses hanging on walls, and steeples on top of buildings, many church leaders were quick to cancel these things because they did not appeal to unbelievers. Many structures and places of worship now bear no resemblance of anything biblical when you walk in.
The church led the way in canceling form. Many have cherished such things as reciting the Lord’s Prayer or the Apostles’ Creed, singing the Doxology, participating in responsive readings based on Scripture, and other types of meaningful liturgy. Some churches were quick to dismiss all of the above and more because we didn’t want to appear antiquated to those with no church background or desire to be in a church building or service.
The church led the way in canceling a traditional sound. Many churches didn’t want to sound like church did for centuries, so they changed the music. They eliminated preaching against sin, mentions of the cross, and what it truly means to deny yourself, take up the cross, and follow Christ.
I don’t write this to target anyone. While there are things and people I would wish to cancel in my life, these things and people are a part of my story – a story I will share with my children and future generations as long as God allows me. While I do not find every single church tradition I mentioned here as meaningful as some do, I will respect those who do adore them. I will come alongside them and do my best to lead others to Christ as long as we can dwell in harmony (by the way, harmony is much more beautiful than unity/unison – musicians will totally get this).
We should not want to cancel what God cherishes. We should want to cancel what God hates while still teaching the lessons of the pain that comes when we violate God’s directives. My prayer is that the church will come back to a place of wanting to honor God over making a statement. Anyone can make a statement, but no one can produce what the Holy Spirit alone can produce. And Holy Spirit power is something I don’t want to cancel.