Reflections on American Christianity and
"Without Flesh" by Rev. Jonathan Fisk

June 7, 2024

By Joseph D. Klotz

without flesh book cover

Christian churches are retreating from American culture. Churches in every major US city are closing, or on the brink of closure. Many of these same groups are spending large amounts of money to figure out how to make their congregations viable. The vast majority of the time, congregations opt for some spurious programs to save them and abandon sound doctrine.

Rev. Jonathan Fisk points out that the first Christians were fearless in the midst of a hostile culture. They were not trying to win the culture. They weren't searching for relevance or meaning. They had an important message to proclaim: the resurrection of Jesus (Fisk, 2020).

Most people who heard the Gospel message of the Apostles and evangelists did not believe it. This did not deter them. They continued to proclaim the Gospel as Christ commanded and trusted in God to do the work of conversion as He willed. They did not try to come up with inventive and culturally acceptable ways to convice the pagans that the dead Jew Jesus had risen from the dead (Fisk, 2020).

Rev. Fisk says that the early Christians never won over the culture (Fisk, 2020). This was certainly true of the first generation of Christians, and those subsequently persecuted by the pagan Roman emperors. In the long-term, however, Christianity came to define the culture in the Roman, and post-Roman west. This happened in spite of the fact that the goal of the early Christians was not to win the culture or control the government, but simply to proclaim the Gospel fearlessly.

Rev. Fisk describes American Christians as comfortable and afraid. We seem to be willing to Abandon scripture if we think there is the slightest chance our changes will help our congregations prosper materially. If this is the current reality, do we really expect our churches to retain the pure preaching of the Gospel in the face of real persecution, financial loss, and the suffering and death of ourselves and our families?

All of the changing Christianity has done to win the culture, and to make itself relevant has failed. It has, and continues, to make Christianity weaker. Yet, we continue to try and reinvent ourselves. We continue to look for a way to preach the gospel in a way that won't offend the pagans. This is evidence of our insecurity, and demonstrates the level of our cultural irrelevance.

How does Christianity fix it's problems of insecurity and cultural irrelevance? The only remedy is to go back to the sources: Jesus and His words (Fisk, 2020). It also means potentially abandoning anything that gets in the way of the pure proclaimation of the Gospel.


Fisk, Rev. Jonathan. 2020. "Without Flesh: Why the church is dying even though Jesus is still alive. The Problem of Not Doing." St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

Return to THL BBS Website