In the early 1980s the president of the United Church of Christ (UCC), clearly one of the most liberal of all Protestant denominations in America, suggested candidly that the real problem in their ranks was their "theological deficit." In 1980 Time magazine did a study on what congregations wanted in their pastor. The article concluded that people wanted "a pallid but personable faith." The word pallid is a synonym for the word pale. To be pale or pallid is to be dim, faithless or colorless. It also means to lack in texture because one is exhausted. I cannot think of a better way to describe the current state of things in the church.
This statement sums up things today much as it did in 1980. Can anyone honestly believe that things have dramatically improved in the mainline since 1980? What about the evangelicals? I am convinced that on the whole there is an obvious "theological deficit" in almost every corner of the church in America. The problem is not our methods. The problems is not in our programs. The problem is theology. We have drifted, as the Barmen Declaration put it in Germany in the 1930s, toward "the spirit of the age." The answer these courageous Christians offered to Germany, through the Barmen Declaration, was a strong, clear witness to "one Word, Jesus Christ."
My good friend David Bryant calls this our "Crisis in Christology." He is right. Christ is not supreme in our lives or in our churches. Listen to our conversations, listen to our music, read your bulletins and look over your worship. Where is Christ? Do we talk about him, love him, advance his name and his cause? Until we correct this theological deficit we will continue to produce wan, pallid and pale faith in our churches.