The man who is outside all organized Christianity may have, and often does have, a certain reverence for God, and a certain genuine respect for Jesus Christ (though he has probably rarely considered Him and His claims with his adult mind). But what sticks in his throat about Christianity of the Churches is not merely their differences in denominations, but the spirit of “churchiness” which seems to pervade them all. They seem to him to have captured and tamed and trained to their own liking Something that is really far too big ever to be forced into little man-made boxes with neat labels upon them. He may never think of putting it into words, but this is what he think and feels.
“If” the Churches appear to be saying to him, “you will jump through our particular hoop or sign on our particular dotted line then we will introduce you to God. But if not, then there’s no God for you.” This seems to him to be nonsense, and nasty arrogant nonsense at that. “If there’s a God at all,” he feels rather angrily, “then He’s here in the home and in the street, here in the pub and in the workshop. And if it’s true that He’s interested in me and wants me to love and serve Him, then He’s available for me and every other Tom, Dick, or Harry, who wants Him, without interference from the professionals. If God is God, He’s big, and generous and magnificent, and I can’t see that anybody can say they’ve made a ‘corner’ in God, or shut Him up in their particular box.”
Of course, it is easy to leap to the defense of the Churches, and point out that every cause must be organized if it is to be effective, that every society must have its rules, that Christ Himself found a Church, and so on. But if the Churches give the outsider the impression that God works almost exclusively through the machinery they have erected and, what is worse, damns all other machinery which does not bear their label, then they cannot be surprised if he finds their version of God cramped and inadequate and refuses to “join their union.”
- J.B. Phillips [Your God is too Small] 1961