Werner Schreiber lives in Timaru, New Zealand with his wife Heidi. They have two children - Joshua (22) and Danielle (20). Werner is an ordained minister and holds a Bachelor Degree in Theological Studies, Greek and Hebrew from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa and a Post-Graduate Diploma from The University of Otago, New Zealand. Werner teaches weekly through the Living Word Study Groups, speaks regularly around New Zealand and lectures at the Capernwray New Zealand Bible School.  

A personal note from Werner...

When people hear that I am originally from South Africa, they seem to automatically assume that I am a Calvinist and they immediately want to engage me in lengthy doctrinal arguments... My response is always the same - no, I am not a Calvinist or an Armininianist or any kind of 'ist', I am actually a Christian - the definition of which is not 'knowing' certain doctrines off by heart or just 'believing' certain statements. There is only one definition of Christianity and that is 'Christ-in-you'. A 'Christian' is a person in whom the Living God has made His home and the only way to establish whether a person is in fact a Christian or not, is to observe what comes out of that person when they are under pressure - what will come out is what is inside...

I grew up in a culture where religion was high on the agenda and going to church was the norm rather than the exception. As a result the majority of people called themselves 'Christian' but it was clear that their association with the church, their membership of the organisation, their confirming of certain church doctrines and their financial support of the church, qualified them as 'Christian' in their minds. It was in this environment where my first disquiet about what I call 'religious christianity' began. On the one hand I saw people who were very religious in their attendance of church services (never missing one!), very assertive in defence of their (Reformed) doctrines, pontifical in the enforcing of their church disciplines but on the other hand I had a unique perspective on their actual lives behind the scenes - lives that were awash with secret sexual sin, greed, alcohol abuse, domestic violence, outbursts of anger and racism. Despite these, come Sunday, everyone would don their 'Sunday best' and solemly sit in church listening to the minister and if confronted with what was going on in their lives in secret, they simply played a 'Christ-is-my-righteousness' indemnity card... Things just did not add up and in the end I abandoned this so-called 'christianity' for it lacked any integrity and it certainly did not change anyone, myself included.

Christianity is not, and never was meant to be, a religion. No person, no matter how pious, how religious, how dedicated, can ever attempt to emulate the works of Christ as described in Scripture. It simply does not work. Attempting such a thing only leads to pretence and a falseness which people can easily spot. Rather, these works, by their very nature, are simply the fruit of Him living in us. This is the point that Jesus Himself makes clear in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5.

However, in many parts of the world 'christian' churches seem to have come to a tacit agreement regarding what 'christians' are supposed to look like, and what they are supposed to do. So congregants are instructed to go and be like that, and do those things. The utter impossibility of always being so, and doing so, inevitably leads to 'christians' leading a double life. On the one hand there is the pretence of being a 'good' christian person publicly, but back in the home or in the workplace the true person is revealed - often when life's pressures are brought to bear.

I certainly cannot blame the many who dismiss the 'christian' church and religion as impotent; it is the only logical conclusion. Why on earth would anyone want to be part of an organisation which demands so much of your time and energy (and money), and quite obviously makes no difference to the kind of person you are or what is in your heart? The church merely becomes a social-services organisation through which people have the opportunity to do 'good deeds' in their communities, and by such doing or belonging they are then defined as 'christian'. This is a far cry from what God had in mind as the purpose of the church and will prove a false hope for many. 

For those who have become disillusioned by the 'christian' church I say: There is something that is real; something that truly transforms a person from the inside out and causes them to be the same privately and publicly. Yes, there is a new heart to be received; It is real and possible today. It is the presence and power of a living Christ living in you. This is what true Christianity is, and what it has always been about - Christ who, with the Father, makes His home in our hearts by His Spirit. Only then can we bring forth those works that define us as Christian. Only then is there an ever-present joy and peace regardless of our circumstances. And only then is there a true, radical and lasting change to our behaviour.

To correspond with Werner, email him here.