Churches Gone Dog Wild

You can always tell when the Christian faith starts going downhill big time: it starts going to the dogs – literally. A recent headline to this effect caught my attention, and it is as staggering as it is indicative of a church which has really lost its way.

The news item was short, but offered enough information to confirm that some of our denominations have so totally and comprehensively lost the plot, that it probably is time to put some of these groups out of their misery. Here is how the story of one Melbourne Uniting Church was covered:

“Melbourne’s mutts, get ready to put on your Sunday-best behaviour. A church service will be held next month – complete with reworked hymns – in praise of the humble hound. ‘It is all part of our appreciation for what our dogs do for us,’ organiser Margaret Howse said. Scores of dogs are expected to attend as more people take the attitude that owning a pooch is not just caring for a pet, but opening the door to a new member of their family.”

We are also informed that a “music group will lead the singalong service to honour all dogs”. Also, “Money raised through the collection will benefit the Lort Smith Animal Hospital.”

Now don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against dogs. I even have one, and quite enjoy her company – for the most part. And I have two cats, which also can be fun to have around. And there certainly are plenty of dog lovers in this nation. And other pets too would be a source of joy, comfort and companionship.

But let me point out just a few obvious facts. Every day around the world thousands of people are dying and heading to a lost eternity. All around us people are living broken, needy and sin-addicted lives. Society is going down the tubes with massive assaults on faith, family and life.

Yet it seems the best this particular church can do is spend an entire day getting worked up about dogs. What is wrong with this picture? Why has a Christian denomination come to such a place, where its priorities have gotten so horrendously askew?

The truth is, whenever a church or a denomination abandons the basic and essential aspects of the gospel, then it inevitably will head in such a direction as this. And the Uniting Church in Australia has sadly been on this suicidal path for some decades now.

It has long ago renounced the core teachings of Scripture. Indeed, it has long ago ceased to regard the Bible as inerrant, authoritative, and reliable. Thus it has jettisoned key Christian teachings such as the vital importance of the saving work of Christ.

The need to tell lost sinners that they are heading to hell, unless they repent and receive the atoning work of Christ on their behalf has been replaced by a trendy social gospel which any secular leftist would be quite proud of. Indeed, whenever we read of some radical social engineering being advocated in Australia, you can almost be certain to find some Uniting Church minister or leader happily endorsing it.

When you abandon historical biblical Christianity and replace it with a hodgepodge of trendy social issues, leftist politics, and humanistic platitudes, then you are clearly outside of the faith once delivered by the fathers. You have now become just another trendy social club, tickling the ears of those who want everything but a risen Christ who died for our sins.

Nearly 60 years ago H. Richard Niebuhr warned about such downward directions. He said this in his 1953 volume, The Kingdom of God in America: “The liberal gospel consists of a God without wrath bringing people without sin into a kingdom without judgment through a Christ without a cross.”

That is a pretty good description of where the Uniting Church is today. Abandoning clear biblical teachings in an effort to be “relevant” and up with the times, it has become forever out of date. It is just another predictable social group which is indistinguishable from any other secular social club.

Of course given all that, it is not at all surprising that an entire Sunday service will be spent on celebrating canines. And why not? That is just as good and vital as anything else. Indeed, we can expect that in future weeks all sorts of other key themes will be celebrated.

Perhaps they will have a celebrate stamp collecting day sometime soon. After all, a lot of people are comforted and relaxed by such activities. Or maybe they can devote an entire Sunday to the joys of gardening. Or maybe have a celebratory service on wine tasting. All worthy candidates for a whole Sunday morning I would think.

In fact, even I could get into a celebrating donuts day. They could not only sing about these delightful objects, and preach a great sermon about them, but they could provide the congregation with plenty of free Krispy Kreme donuts, and maybe even use them in place of the communion wafers.

After all, I just heard a tragic news item today that Krispy Kreme is in financial difficulty and may not have a viable economic future. Now that would be a worthy social justice project to embark upon. It would be right up the alley for the UCA. One could soothe one’s social justice conscience, and have a great feed along the way.

Really, the possibilities are endless. Once we have chucked out the core biblical gospel, we can replace it with just about anything. The UCA has proven that this is more than possible. So for those of you tired of hearing about Jesus dying for your sins, don’t despair. You can establish your own church, and celebrate whatever enters your mind – anything that tickles your fancy. If the UCA can get away with it, why not any of us?

I close on a more serious note. There are of course plenty of UCA folks who are quite fed up with the direction this denomination has been travelling in lately. Thus a number of breakaway groups have already been established. They take seriously their Bibles and the Christian gospel. More power to them. And some other concerned members are staying within the UCA, hoping to bring it back to where it should be.

Whether they will be successful in such an endeavour remains to be seen. Sometimes a church or denomination goes so far off the rails, that rehabilitation and restoration may well be impossible. But I leave it for those in this denomination to ascertain what the best option is: fight or flight.


33 Replies to “Churches Gone Dog Wild”

  1. I will tell 2 quick stories about my dealings with the UCA – first I had the privilege of meeting Fred Nile on several occasions and have found him very amiable, caring and funny – he used to be in the UCA, but his synod turned on him when he publicly opposed homosexuality – the man has been and still is genuinely persecuted – I have seen TV news show him being pelted with urine filled condoms and saying that he got his just deserts. I have talked to non-Christians who use Nile as an example of intolerance and was surprised at how hated he was – a genuine loathing! But he will be rewarded in eternity. Two of Niles sons are NSW Policeman and they have really struggled with the disgusting treatment of him by the UCA and the media and society. The 2nd story is a reading program founded by a well known ‘liberal’ UCA minister – It was for troubled teens and I was to observe how this reading program that is the beneficiary of millions on Government monies was operating. What I saw shocked me, as a kid would tell an older woman to f-off and threaten her with physical harm – how did this great program deal with unruly teens? Easy and this is the truth, they ignored the behaviour and if it got too bad then they would offer a reward of toys or sweets to the kid next door and then when the recalcitrant complained, he would be rewarded with toys or junk food!?!
    Neil Innes

  2. A couple of months ago, whilst reading up on this exact topic I stumbled across St Michael’s Uniting Church. The reality is some of these churches like St Michael’s are more in-line with ‘The Secret’ than they are with actual Christianity. The scary thing is there is elements within the Baptist and Church of Christ who are also heading down this path. People, pastors and whole congregations who inadvertently place the social justice issues above God.

    To me, one of the biggest indicators of this is the stance on homosexuality. While absolute compassion is needed for all sinners, we should never go so far as to justify the sin because the world tells us it is acceptable. Neither should we distort the word of God because it makes us uncomfortable and it might offend some people.

    Nathan Wahl

  3. Bill, I agree with you that many churches are failing to teach correct doctrine. However, Melbourne’s Mutts day Sunday service at UCA can be also looked upon in a positive manner. For instance, introducing a pooch Sunday service can appeal to a variety of people, even to the most curious ones, particularly to those who have never stepped into a church before.

    As long as God is the primary focus for this event, then creative thinking can very well bridge the gap between the church and the community as a means to bring the masses in to hear the word of God …. hopefully!

    Panage Kontos

  4. These people cannot be seriously saved or reading their bibles….this is nuts. I have to say many believers get all worked up about the charismatic/pentecostal & the world thinking they have gone crazy when they see them as believers. If I rocked up to a dog worshiping church and wasn’t saved and this was happening I’d be recommending strong doses of prozac. When I went to a pentecostal church before saved that was trying to do the Word – I heard Jesus saves. So prozac for the dog worshipers not the charismatic – a lot of what they do is on the word and in the bible.

    The bible clearly says don’t worship the creation rather the creator. Christians who do these crazy things get me so mad, I need a bullwhip…how dare they do this to “God’s church” A lot has to be said for accountability – churches that are not on the Word or doing the word are shaming the name of Christ. This is just insane.

    The world looks at institutions like the Uniting Church and puts them in the same basket as Christians. Maybe that’s why Jesus was so in the face of Pharisees who were the religious of his day. People knew what Jesus thought cause he was public about it – so there was no confusing people who really knew God and people who were playing church. Call for what it is – a club that worships dogs in this case. The world needs Jesus not warm fuzzy places that make you feel good and feed our flesh.

    Kathy Ewers

  5. Thanks Panage

    Sorry but I am nowhere near as optimistic and idealistic as you are on this. The truth is, the UCA has long ago abandoned the gospel. So just what gospel will they give the dog lovers on the Sunday? One can always be hopeful, but in this case I think there is little justification for such hope. Christians also need to be realistic.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  6. Thanks Bill,
    “Churches” such as the Uniting (amongst a host of others) remind me of the “dorky” kid at school who was always trying to fit in with the popular crowd. He lost respect from all parties and even self-respect went out the window. The anti-God leftists may use the “useful idiots” of these organizations to further their foolish and harmful agenda, but they don’t respect them.
    If the leaders of an organization meant to promote Christ and His kingdom don’t believe the founder’s words any longer, they should leave and find a real job and cease being a stumbling block in the way of biblically defined Christians.
    Glenn Christopherson

  7. I think we’re witnessing what happens when Jesus spits a church out of his mouth.
    Marcus Anderson

  8. I was surprised one commentor suggested it was a good idea, to appeal to a certain group of people. Jesus said to GO and tell the gospel. If we want to reach dog lovers we should get a dog and GO …join a training club and tell them about Jesus. Jesus didn’t say wait till people rock up to church to tell them Jesus (of course there is a place for that). But I wonder whether people who make these comments are reading there bibles – Jesus went to people, Paul & Barnabas were sent. Everywhere it says preach on the doorsteps from the roof tops. It would be lovely if we could all just sit and wait for the lost to wander in. Cause I know it does happen but its a rarity.

    Having days like Mutts Day does take the focus off Jesus – its about the dogs – and if the church has any doctrine it a short gospel message. This is completely contrary to scripture. Jesus is the end, beginning and centre of all things. Singing praise songs to dogs? The bible says to worship the creator. I would like to see if anyone has been saved or come to Christ through one of these services. Lord knows I’d like to see any dog I have owned give an altar call. The gospel is the power to salvation – the bible says it, I believe it – God is not a liar.

    Kathy Ewers

  9. Yes Glenn that’s pretty much it. IMO they harm the cause of Christ and this foolishness is not what Paul was talking about being a ‘fool for Christ’. Fools for increasing the attendance of the church maybe.

    Seeker-sensitive approaches are aimed at getting people through the doors of a church – this does not necessarily equate with seeing souls brought to Christ. Having been involved in many such activities over my lifetime in churches, I have found that it falls in the basket of us resorting to methods that were never represented in Acts as being spreading the Gospel, because invariably the ‘gospel’ preached is watered down and no longer contains any power to save.

    I believe that the more a church feels it needs to resort to such methods, and the further afar from the central tenets of what we see in Acts as the operation of the church, the more that congregation/denomination has abdicated the role for which it was formed.

    Summed up in the great quote from H. Richard Niebuhr: “The liberal gospel consists of a God without wrath bringing people without sin into a kingdom without judgment through a Christ without a cross.” This is represented in these types of churches.

    Garth Penglase

  10. Bill

    Have you written anything about “Quiverfull”? Was quite disturbed by a current affairs segment last night.

    Interested to know your take.

    David Williams

  11. Thanks David

    No I had not been aware of it until you mentioned it. A very quick google search reveals it may be a legit Christian issue being strongly attacked by the secular left. But I would need to look at it much more closely to make any real assessments and evaluations.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  12. I’m the most optimistic proponent of Christian ecumenism I know but like Bill M., cannot see much usefulness for the Uniting Church in my generation.

    I would go further and say that those that fall outside mainstream orthodoxy like Mormons are of more value to social conservatism than believers like UCA that affirm the culture of the world and bring salvation to so few.

    Bill Riz

  13. It’s frustrates me no end when people proclaim faith in Jesus but don’t hold to his teachings. They are willing to love the sinner all the way to hell, not once telling them the only way to God is through Christ.

    Some don’t want to hear the truth, and some will be hurt by it, and some will embrace it. We are not called to change the message – perhaps we need to change our manner if we are being offensive, but if the message offends it is doing it’s job. Those who are meant to hear will hear and those who turn their back on God deserve his wrath.

    Kylie Anderson

  14. owning a pooch is not just caring for a pet, but opening the door to a new member of their family. Pity people don’t feel the same way about getting pregnant. Worship dogs, kill babies. How perverted can we get?
    Kylie Anderson

  15. David W and Bill.

    Quiverfull is at and says this:
    “Whether your quiver is large or small, you are welcome.”

    Their basic stance is to welcome children as God gives them to us, rather than see them as a hindrance to one’s lifestyle – as the secular press and intellectual chatterers do.

    They are part of the movement against the Paul Ehrlich “Population Bomb” heresy.

    John Angelico

  16. ” …clear biblical teachings in an effort to be “relevant””. If I had to guess Satan’s favourite word, I’d say “relevant”.
    John Thomas, UK

  17. Hi Bill and Others, we are what would be called a Quiverfull family. What was showed on the Sunday night program, Is a total load of rubbish and not anything close to journalism. It was a witch hunt based on one woman’s opinion, (given that Vycke was in an abusive relationship, which is not what the Campbell’s suggest or recommend) the presenter (not Journalist) didn’t present any others that support her opinion, and didn’t objectively cover the other side. He referred to Quiverful as being a cult, and a new religious sect, When it is actually a lifestyle choice that crosses many denominations. It’s a lifestyle where couples choose to let God be in control of the number of children that they are blessed with. Blessing being the word, the mind set is that children are a blessings. Many couples come to this decision through a number of ways, one being that they are against abortion and there for any forms that they may come in, including the pill. It’s not about producing as many children as you can, but being happy with what you are given. The Campbell’s were attacked, saying that they where the leaders of this cult, which is rubbish also, They are Pastors of their church in Tennessee, and Editors for a magazine called Above Rubies, which they produce to help, encourage and support families, in their calling to raise Godly Families. They encourage families to do things like sit at the family meal table and enjoy time talking, Praising and building each other up and reading the Word of God. They encourage women to love their role as mother, and that our roles as mother’s and Wives are very important ones, a mother is not just someone that sits at home with the children, but a ceo of her family, caring for all aspects, health, education, nutrition, community service and list goes on and on. There is heaps more that could be said, but this is meant to be a comment and not an article, (sorry!) Just very frustrated with the Show, and how wrong that got everything, saying families like ours where a part of a cult which is so untrue, and it frustrates me no end that they will get away with saying things like this and the average person sitting at home watching it and will believe everything that they watched and heard without question or even a google search.
    Christina Mathewson

  18. Fair enough, if you’re happy you’re happy; I wont argue.

    I angers me though when men quote Eph 5:22 24 – “Wives be subject to your husbands…” – as an excuse to lord it over her and their families, while ignoring verses 25-33 about what is required of husbands in return. Three general verses for wives. Nine quite specific ones for husbands.

    I particularly like verse 28; “love your wife as your own body”. If men had to go through pregnancy and childbirth themselves they might not be as eager to want their wives to spend 20 years of their lives pregnant.

    Bill M – Have you written anything on this particular topic. Can you point me to it? or if not maybe you could consider it. What does being the “head” of the relationship mean? Does the husband have the authority to be unilaterally right on everything and anything regardless? Does it preclude negotiated outcomes on issues. I certainly find that works best in my relationship, if only for the reason that I’m happiest when my partner is happy about what course we’re taking.

    After all, like they say, “When mama aint happy, aint no one happy”.

    Cheers and keep up the good work.

    David Williams

  19. Yes John, I’ve heard all sorts of things presented by churches and individuals as being ‘relevant’. Funny I thought that the church’s relevance is through the unadulterated Gospel, for only that has the power to save. Everything else, the world has already got.
    Garth Penglase

  20. Thanks David

    I have not written much on the issue of the role of men and women, both in and out of the church. May do so some time. It is a complex and highly debated issue, involving a number of related topics.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  21. For those interested… few links with various viewpoints on Quiverfull.

    There’s a lot to be said for a return to biblical values in regards to the roles that men and women play, and a reversal of the humanist feminism that has overtaken our western world. Having said that it would seem that there is a reasonable case for alarm over the fringe elements & fringe aspects of this patriarchy movement which have been addressed in this book.

    Kathryn Joyce did not consider it to be a cult…
    “Still, Quiverfull is not a cult, but a conviction that many women do choose willingly — however constrained their choices later become”
    … so the TV interviewers were attributing something that was beyond what she was putting forward in this book, and it is wise to remember that she *is* writing from an ungodly woman’s perspective, but from the reviews I’ve seen she seems to have been largely quoting verbatim the main parties involved in the movement and handled the reporting pretty fairly.

    The book:

    Interview with the author:

    a Christian homeschooling mum’s review (not necessarily what you’d think)

    more reviews from both sides of the argument:

    Garth Penglase

  22. No wonder the magazine, News Weekly, some years ago described the Uniting Church as “the fastest dying church in Australia.”

    Sadly, so true.

    Dallas Clarnette

  23. Those of us who stayed out of the UCA in 1977 and continued Presbyterian, Congregational, Methodist or went to another denomination altogether, endured much criticism and scorn, but every passing day justifies our stand. I have discovered that wherever in the world there is a uniting-type ‘church’, there will be a continuing Presbyterian Church and possibly Congregational and Methodist Churches too. God’s truth is too important to be sacrificed on the altar of union.
    Bob Thomas

  24. It’s not just the Uniting Church. Many wayward Anglican churches now hold ‘blessing of the animals’ ceremonies to pull in the punters.

    Mansel Rogerson

  25. This such a pathetic discussion. We have gone from a ‘companion pets’ thanksgiving event to ‘worship of dogs’ in one great whoosh of zealotry. The problem with the entire discussion, out for a hanging, is that it is based on ‘information’ that comes out of the Herald Sun. What do you think is the spin they are going to put on it? Has anyone checked the source, maybe listened to their theology, heard what their existing evangelistic networks are, maybe they believe in the creatures of God all praising him? It’s a bit rich to shout ‘inerrancy’ when this is the approach to people in the present.
    Ian Robinson

  26. Thanks Ian

    But a full half of the Herald Sun article was taken up by direct quotes from those involved in this church. What more do you want? That seems quite sufficient to me.

    And the issue of course is not just about one silly dog service. If that were all there was, this article would not be necessary. But as I made clear in my article, and as other commentators have pointed out here, this is simply yet one more example of a denomination which has long ago tossed out Scripture as the source of authority, and has abandoned the biblical gospel for trendy social causes. That is the real issue here, and that is something every biblical Christian should be quite concerned about. Indeed, it tells us a lot about where you are coming from that such biblical concerns should be dismissed as being merely a “pathetic discussion”.

    And of course you are being quite disingenuous with us by not informing us about your own vested interest in all this: the fact that you are also a leader in the UCA.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  27. As a former minister of the Uniting Church, I can recall the annual Harvest Thanksgiving service. This sometimes expanded into a Field and Factory service where God was thanked for His gifts of creativity. I suppose that thanking God for the animals in His creation can be another expansion.
    However, as Bill and others have pointed out, if these services and others are replacing the clear biblical message of sin, Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection and the need for repentance, then there are serious problems.
    Graham Lawn

  28. The Uniting Church’s liberal theology is pretty well known in my neck of the woods. It empties churches.

    Long before our time, C. H. Spurgeon wrote that “the weed of modern theology is nothing other than unbelief that is too cowardly to own up to its name” (Eta Linnemann’s translation of a German edition).
    Spencer Gear

  29. A good old first class honors to Bill from an ex-Uniting Church minister who convened an Australia wide in-service training programme in opposition to the official inservice training policies of the UCA in conjunction with 3 UCA professors and 11 other people with doctorates. The UCA has long sought to silence dissent and weed out biblical conservatives. I can provide first-hand evidence for all this.
    Stan Fishley

  30. I am surprised that a church would devote a whole service to the the animals, even dogs. I am saddened to think such has taken place in too many areas of the country, let alone other countries as well. I have no objection to the fact that we should THANK the LORD for the animals that He has bestowed upon the earth, for our care, and use there of, and yes for their helpful assistance in many areas. But to have the Gospel neglected and the animals alone focused on, that is a major problem. This is a sign that we have not done our job as Christians, to seek to do His will as it ought to be. They will need much prayer and an opportunity to turn around, or they will indeed one day be judged for their lack of obedience to HIM to preach the Gospel message and know that many lost souls need to come to Him.
    Mrs. James Clemons

  31. Oh !!!!! Yummy – a Church service dedicated to ‘donuts’ – I’ll be there with bells ringing!!!!!!
    Darilyn Adams

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