We've considered the idea of "the Church in Ruin". We haven't examined it fully, of course. We've mainly been looking to understand the basic idea. The whole idea of "the Church in Ruin" is based on two postulates:
- the Church was infiltrated by apostates early in its history: before the Apostles had died out
- this will continue until the Lord Jesus comes back to judge: the damage is irreparable
I have very deliberately only looked at Scripture to this point. I've been careful not to appeal to empirical evidence in the Church around us.
There's a lot more to write about. We've not even really addressed Revelation 2–3, which are very important chapters in understanding the dispensational responsibility of the Church. And we haven't talked at all about the post-captivity books in the Old Testament, which have some bearing on the issue. But right at the moment I want to address some more practical concerns.
I'm going to come right out and say this: many "brethren" groups have found in this doctrine an excuse for their own fleshly actions. The flesh is really, really good at taking the truth of God and turning it into an excuse. Liberty can become a cloak for malice (1 Peter 2:16). Grace can become an excuse to sin (Romans 6:15).
I believe the Church is in ruin. I don't believe that because of what I see around me: I believe that because I think that's what Scripture teaches. That doesn't mean I'm allowed to have a heart that's cold towards God's children. It doesn't mean I can arrogantly claim the Lord's presence and accuse others of sitting at the table of demons. It doesn't mean I can see myself as separate from the Ruin. Truth is a poor excuse for sin.