Here are some quotes I found online of authors discussing the present condition of the traditional religious structure of Christianity --- so-called:
“How did the lessons of history vanish so quickly? When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire , the bishop moved his seat from among the people to the altar. It became the place of honor, power … and later the throne. Then gradually the clergy even removed worship from the people and kept it for themselves … while the people watch. Later, the Reformation merely exchanged the priest for a minister and put a sermon in the place of communion. Then, the rest of history simply supported these distortions. The Enlightenment turned preaching into worship, and modern management turned preachers into executives. Today, too many priests of Christendom wear Brooks Brother’s suits.” Thomas Hohstadt from “Dying to Live – The 21st Century Church.”
“As the Church Fathers attempted to cope with the various pagan philosophies that threatened the church from without and the heresies that were popping up with within, they resorted to establishing a hierarchical structure as their solution. “Hierarchy” comes from two Greek words meaning, “rule by priest.” Thus, in doing this, Church Fathers neatly and permanently divided God’s people into two castes: laity and clergy. We have lived with this caste system ever since, even though the Bible teaches otherwise.” Jim Petersen from “Church Without Walls.”
“Twentieth century Christians must re-learn the language of Scripture with respect to church. For the original meaning of countless Biblical terms like “church, “minister,” “pastor,” “house of God,” “ ministry,” and “fellowship” have been largely lost, thus eroding the landscape of the New Testament assembly. What is more, these words have been invested with institutional power – a power that was foreign to those who originally penned them in the Bible. Consequently, a pressing need in the church today is the rediscovery of Biblical language.” Frank A. Viola from “Rethinking the Wineskin.”
“Events in the history of the churches in the time of the Apostles have been selected and recorded in the Book of Acts in such a way to provide a permanent pattern for the churches. Departure from this pattern has had disastrous consequences, and all revival and restoration have been due to some return to the pattern and principles contained in the Scriptures.” E. H. Broadbent from “The Pilgrim Church .”
“Church history is rife with examples demonstrating how virtually every past renewal has been hampered because the new wine has been routinely repackaged into old wineskins. By the old wineskin, I mean those traditional church practices that are patterned after the old Judaic religious system that separated God’s people into two separate classes, required the presence of human mediators, and laid stress on outward form and ritual. The facets of the old wineskin are many: the clergy/laity distinction, the spectator-performer styled church meeting, the singe-pastor system, the program-driven worship service, the passive priesthood, the edifice-complex, etc.” Frank A. Viola from “Rethinking the Wineskin.”
“Lewis Black: ‘You know, you go into a church, where it’s like a vacuum. Where’s the place were you can’t possibly find Him? It would be in a church, apparently. It’s like they’ve done everything they can to create a space where you have no sense of Him being around.”
“Interviewer: ‘So, the church has blocked God out?’
“Lewis Black: ‘The church has created a space for itself like and area that’s a vacuum where God can’t enter because nothing there is really supporting His existence. That’s the way I’ve always felt when I’ve ended up in a temple or a church. Except for in Italy where you kind of go, ‘Oh, boy, they’ve really put a lot of money into this.’” From “The Door – July/August 1999”
“Where in the New Testament do you find a man – the same man – who (1) preaches every Sunday, (2) marries people, (3) brings a message over a corpse, (4) then buries it with a prayer, (5) visits old ladies, (6) says prayers over football games, (7) CEO’s a church, (8) presides over elders and deacons, (9) is virtually always in a dress suit, (10) speaks strangely and prays funny, (11) baptizes new converts, (12) and whose office and all the above practices are supposed to be based solidly on the Word of god and found in Scripture.” Gene Edwards in “Beyond Radical.”
“Unfortunately, in most church services the leadership will create something every meeting. In our culture this is one of the things we pay leadership to do. With or without God, we will have our meeting. If we consider all the fundamental, Spirit-filled, evangelical, historical, and catholic churches in our country alone, do you know how many services there are on any given Sunday? Maybe millions. How many do you think God attends? What is your criteria for evaluating? They preach, pray, take communion, and do good works. That is good, but we can do all that without God. Millions and millions do.” David Fitzpatrick from “Let My People Go.”
“The church has been brought into the same value system as the world: fame, success, materialism, and celebrity. We watch the leading churches and the leading Christians for our cues. We want to emulate the best-known preachers with the biggest sanctuaries and the grandest edifices. Preoccupation with these values has perverted the church’s message.” Chuck Colson from “Loving God.”
“One reason there are so few shepherd elders or good church elderships is that, generally speaking, men are spiritually lazy. Spiritual laziness is an enormous problem in the Christian community. Spiritual laziness is a major reason why most churches never establish Biblical eldership. Men are more than willing to let someone else fulfill their spiritual responsibilities, whether it be their wives, the clergy, or church professionals.” Alexander Strauch from “Biblical Eldership.”
“The early church possessed no buildings and carried on its work for a great many years without erecting any. This fact has something significant to teach us concerning the character of the church.” Ernest Loosley from “When the Church Was Very Young.”
“We evangelicals today make the money changers (in the Gospels) look like bungling amateurs the way we have turned faith into products to be sold in the marketplace. The use of television marketing styles and so on is incredibly uncritical and profoundly worldly.” Os Guiness from “Eternity.”
“This is not church (referring to the Sunday morning meeting where he was speaking). Church is a 24 hour/7 day thing. We should be able to prophesy just as good Tuesday afternoon as on Sunday morning. We should be sensitive to the Holy Spirit at all times during the week. It is abiding in the Lord…” Rick Joyner from “Tape of the Month Message for May, 1997.”
“We can plan a new wineskin, but if we still intend to control the people, we will face great conflict. God is interested in new wineskins, but He is also breaking the control spirit. I believe the Lord is saying, ‘Let my people go,’ not just for ‘one day or two days’ like Pharaoh did – a little release, a little expression, but ultimately still under his control – but let them go to be obedient to God, to do all that God has prepared for them to do and to bless them as they go.” David Fitzpatrick from “Let My People God.”
“The hallmark of authentic evangelicalism is not the uncritical repetition of old traditions, but the willingness to submit every tradition, however ancient, to fresh Biblical scrutiny and, if necessary, reform.” John Stott
“The congregational church can be defined as plot plus building plus priest plus salary plus programs.” Wolfgang Simson from “Houses that Change the World.”
“I never cease to marvel at the surprise expressed by many church people upon learning that every congregation in the New Testament was a house church!” Del Birkey from “The House Church .”
“Once the prophetic was discredited, Christ came to be regarded as far away, and the clergy were conceived of as having His affairs in their hands, and doing His work on earth though the Sacraments. This led to the exaltation of the ministers of the Church.” A. M. Renwick from “The Story of the Church.”
“Although men played the dominant role in ancient societies, Paul’s approach to authority was flexible enough to allow women to share in the oversight of the churches in their homes. ( Rom. 16:3-16; Phil. 1-2)” Robert and Julia Banks from “The Church Come Home.”
“It is a sad plight today that many, many times God’s people are ‘gathered together’ as a lot of material and ‘spiritual stones’ but never assembled or ‘build together’ as a house for the Lord, a habitation for His glory.” Kevin Connor from “The Church in the New Testament.”
“May He deliver us from our American corporation mentality which has turned local churches into hierarchical machines, power structures, and passive priesthoods, all supporting the unbiblical notion of a clergy-laity class system.” Frank Viola from “Rethinking the Wineskin.”
“Nothing has turned off this generation more than people who use Christianity to play political power games for the exaltation of their own ego and charge the poor for it.” Wayne Jacobsen from “The Naked Church.”
Friday, October 15, 2010
Here are some quotes I found online of authors discussing the present condition of the traditional religious structure of Christianity --- so-called:
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
The Lord gave me a revelation about the growing "acceptance" of homosexuals by Christianity and this controversy in light of what the scriptures teach. If we based our "acceptance" on logic, the mind/soul "flesh" basis which stems from insight derived from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, that Mankind loves to feast upon -- then it is actually quite nice and fair to accept homosexuals as they are and let them be as they want to be. We must not judge them for what sexuality their souls hold. We must not reject them on this basis alone. We are to love them as they are -- in spite of it being an odd thing to most of us.
However -- and this is a BIG however -- As believers, we no longer operate in the realm of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We no longer follow logic-based, soul-based or intellect-based systems of analysis. We are not even to throw forth as a reasoning point, a law-based or legalism-based view that honors "the fleshly" walk. We are to honor and walk by the Tree of Life which is Christ, which is by the Spirit.
When I purely rest my life in the mind of Christ and listen to the Spirit -- it is HE and not I, not the law, not even only a chosen set of scriptures that speaks the entire Truth to we that walk by the Spirit. And He says to me, to say, "Homosexuality is not of my kingdom and is not to be part of my ekklesia." We are not to condone what the Spirit rejects. It is just that simple. Christ says, "No." to something and I must agree.
Homosexuals walk by "the flesh" and those that say homosexuality is okay with God, also walk by "the flesh". Flesh and blood will not inherit the Kingdom of God. We must follow the Spirit alone, no matter how "politically incorrect" or backward it may be to the world and fellow Christians.
I will say here now, without waffling, that sin is sin. As Christians we are to recognize sin and acknowledge it as such -- but first we are to LOVE -- as Christ loves people through us. We do not reject a person or "cast off" a group because of sin. Spiritual darkness is a reality. We as believers are to be light. We are to speak Truth and offer the Way, and the Life -- that is Jesus Christ.
Not being involved anymore in organized religion -- I see that the tradition-bound religious systems are struggling with offering "membership" and religious "roles of responsibility" to practicing homosexuals. It has evolved into a real mess in many religious groups -- especially without the Spirit leading those who must make hard decisions. What is needed is less pointless debate and more time being spent on one's knees humbly before the Lord of the Universe. He will guide us and He will show us the Way.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
Lately, the Lord has been showing me that the truth the ekklesia is to manifest is simply Christ and His love to one another. It's always been and will always be Jesus in me reaching out to the hand of Jesus in you. And together, "with nothing between ourselves and Christ, and nothing between one another but the love of Christ" we are being the "church" or properly called, the ekklesia, the called out ones. And via this unity in Him, "church" life happens everywhere, anytime, anyway imaginable -- via a phone call, a two-person chat on a bus, in a meeting place, in praying for one another, in studying the word together, at a meal with saints, during laughter, tears, coming alongside our brother and sister to help them, the ekklesia are being and doing and living "church". Now that Jesus has come, died, rose again, and sent His Spirit within and among His people, we need no place, no way, no system, no agreed structure to function as the ekklesia. We are the place, the household of God.
God is doing a new thing in these last days.
I am beginning to think that even those hallowed, 1st-century, New Testament "meetings" were just fine for them, back then, as God spoke in their ancient now. Paul discussed ideas of their way of meeting so as to function as best as possible for them, back then. Of course, Christ is to be Head and the ekklesia is to function as His body. This will never change. But other specific details of their meeting together possibly related more to their day and that culture's needs. We need to discern these things by the Spirit as to what matters to Him today and what doesn't anymore. Too rigid an adherence to things done 2,000 years ago is legalism and dead tradition masquerading as godliness. Form has no power. Only the Spirit of Christ uninhibited brings life. A simple test: if it brings death, strife, and chaos -- it is the law and the flesh operating. It is not of Christ.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, and He will lead us out into the spirit of truth in our worship and coming together as one people where ever we are. God is about the now, and not about any cookie-cutter way of His life functioning among His people. What works for one small group of His ekklesia in Ghana may not be His way for North Carolina, and may not be His way for a gathering in India or for His people in California.
As a local body of believers come together under the Headship of Christ alone, the Spirit will guide them, not ritual, not patterns, not tradition, not even our cherished 1st-century New Testament, ancient culture of house church meetings.
We have to get this.
It must be life, His life that happens, not our agreed upon religious mind-sets so ruined by millennia of dead traditions.
Friday, July 23, 2010
As I was considering the concept of beauty and the nature of music, a revelation came to me.
Why do we find something to be beautiful anyway? What purpose does beauty serve? What good is it? How does one's visual appreciation of a sunset or the way a tree sways in the breeze moving us to emotion have any benefit to our existence?
And what of music? We create it, listen to it, dance to it, cry to it, mark Time with it, and even worship God with it. And we say a piece of music, a chord, a melody, even one note on a violin or of a soprano's voice -- 'tis such a beautiful sound.
Why is this so?
Scientist and reductionist might try and explain our sense of beauty or love for music as some inherited trait, something that helped us win the dance contest of macro-evolution madness. But this is indeed madness to even consider such mental constructs seriously.
By faith we believe . . .
Man is made in the image of God. God is the Source of every good gift. In His very essence was ultimate, unspoiled, limitless Beauty and matchless Music was the voice of endless Worship streaming forth in the presence of Elohim in Eternity Past -- before Time began.
By faith we believe . . .
Soon comes forth the New Jerusalem to a rescued Earth and we read of the redeemed ones singing a new song before the Throne of God. Beauty uninhibited will reign supreme and the first Music from before Time's birth will continue long after Elohim's eternity engulfs all of Time.
And the revelation?
Our inherent and mysterious love of beauty and music are both of God's creative nature, existing long before Creation. They are a blessed gift He gave to mankind, made in His image -- that we might acknowledge Him in His glorious Creation and sing to Him our praises of adoration.
May we remember our heavenly Father with every beauty we see that reflects His Glory. May we lift our voice and make a joyful noise to Him!
As a medical research photographer, graphic artist, singer, and musician -- I many times dwell deeply in His gifts to us and I see His work of complex yet simple beauty in even the tiniest of unseen things of His Creation. So much is yet to be revealed!
Please feel free to sample some newer music of mine. The piece is called "Face of the Deep" because I think of the Spirit brooding over the waters of the Earth from Genesis 1.
Click to listen and stream this "musical cry to the heavens":
"Face of the Deep"
God bless you my friends!
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
The biggest danger in how we Christians read the bible is that most of us have already been taught what to believe about what it is saying to us -- before the Spirit of God has a chance to speak His truth to us in the word!
We sadly, subconsciously merely read the text for multiple confirmations of what parents, friends, spouses, teachers, preachers, books, professors, TV shows, etc have previously affirmed to us about Christ, salvation, faith, the Christian life, the nature of Man, the Church, history, God, heaven, prophecy, the Holy Spirit and such.
It is way past time, we each humbly pray, before we read the bible, asking God the Spirit to be our Teacher, Guide and ultimate Giver of His revelation.
"But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him."
~ I John 2:27 (KJV)
"And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."
~ Jeremiah 31:34 (KJV)
For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."
~ 1 Corinthians 1:19 (NIV)
Friday, July 16, 2010
~ John W. Patterson
Billions upon billions of souls milled about in a great vastness,
As a sea of diamonds, a field of amber jewels – they stood quiet,
Waiting, knowing, muted by awe . . .
This was not as any had imagined nor as many had written of,
Writs, tomes, and diatribe could never have revealed this,
The humanity, the ageless eons, now come together . . .
Waves of sorrow, tides of joy, streams of bliss, echoes of fear passing by,
Each of them transparent, open books, unsung songs of many journeys,
No tears, no laughter, the young with the old and the in-between,
Waiting, knowing, paralyzed by the weight of Time ceased.
And one man walked forward, slowly, carefully, silently gliding,
Caressing some, smiling at others, passing through the midst,
Standing upon a small knoll, in view of all, he whispered a shout,
“Friends, your eternities are new!”
And ancient stars moved aside to let them each pass.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Interesting quotes chronicling the early Christian assemblies way of meeting, showing how it was done before millennia of organized religious traditions corrupted the purity of corporate worship among believers:
Dr Colin J Hemer, “A Lion Handbook - The History of Christianity”, Section on Beginnings and the article entitled, Archaeological Light On Earliest Christianity, on page 58. Published by Lion, 1988 edition.
“The earliest Christians had no special buildings, but met in private houses, as mentioned in several places in the New Testament.”
Dr Henry R Sefton, “A Lion Handbook - The History of Christianity”, Section on Acceptance and Conquest, and the article entitled, Building for Worship, on page 151. Published by Lion, 1988 edition.
“Worship in the house-church had been of an intimate kind in which all present had taken an active part...(this) changed from being ‘a corporate action of the whole church’ into ‘a service said by the clergy to which the laity listened.’”
Dr John Drane, “Introducing the New Testament“, Chapter 22, section on Worship on page 402 .Published by Lion. Revised 1999 Edition.
"In the earliest days...their worship was spontaneous. This seems to have been regarded as the ideal, for when Paul describes how a church meeting should proceed he depicts a Spirit-led participation by many, if not all...There was the fact that anyone had the freedom to participate in such worship. In the ideal situation, when everyone was inspired by the Holy Spirit, this was the perfect expression of Christian freedom."
A M Renwick, "The Story of the Church", Chapter on The Apostolic Age on page 22-23. Published by Inter-Varsity Press, 1959 Reprint:
"The very essence of church organisation and Christian life and worship...was simplicity...Their worship was free and spontaneous under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and had not yet become inflexible through the use of manuals of devotion." (i.e. liturgy and ‘services’ led from the front)
Donald Guthrie, “The Lion Handbook of the Bible“, 2nd Revised Edition, 1978. Section on I Corinthians 11v17-34 on page 594:
“In the early days the Lord’s Supper took place in the course of a communal meal. All brought what food they could and it was shared together.”
Dr John Drane, “The New Lion Encyclopaedia“, Section on the Lord’s Supper on page 173:
“Jesus instituted this common meal at Passover time, at the last supper shared with His disciples before His death...the Lord’s Supper looks back to the death of Jesus, and it looks forward to the time when He will come back again. Throughout the New Testament period the Lord’s Supper was an actual meal shared in the homes of Christians. It was only much later that the Lord’s Supper was moved to a special building and Christian prayers and praises that had developed from the synagogue services and other sources were added to create a grand ceremony.”
Canon Leon Morris, Commentary on 1 Corinthians for the Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, published by Inter-Varsity Press, 1976.
General Editor: R V G Tasker. On page 158:
Ch 11 "...reveals that at Corinth the Holy Communion was not simply a token meal as with us, but an actual meal. Moreover it seems clear that it was a meal to which each of the participants brought food."
I Howard Marshall, “Christian Beliefs“, Chapter 6 - The Christian Community, on page 80. Published by Inter Varsity Press, 2nd Edition, 1972:
“(The Lord’s Supper)...was observed by His disciples, at first as part of a communal meal, Sunday by Sunday.”
Donald Guthrie, “The Lion Handbook of the Bible“, 2nd Revised Edition, 1978. Section on 1 Timothy 3 on page 620
“It was Paul’s practice to appoint several elders (the same thing as bishops) to take charge of each church.”
Donald Guthrie, “New Testament Theology”, Chapter 7: The Church – The Early Community. Inter-Varsity Press.
“The churches were living organisms rather than organizations…When decisions were made, they were made by the whole company of believers, not simple the officials.”
A M Renwick, “The Story of the Church”. Chapter on The Apostolic Age on page 20-21)
"When we come to consider the permanent officers of the Church we find that in the days of the Apostles elders and deacons were appointed and their duties defined. The office of elder is variously described in the New Testament as bishop, pastor, teacher, preacher, minister and steward. The various terms mentioned referred to the same officer, but each presented a different aspect of their work. Thus 'pastor' indicated their duty to 'shepherd the flock' of Christ. Bishop, a word used to translate the Greek 'episkopos', indicated that as 'overseers' they had to 'feed the Church of God' (Acts 20) That the 'presbuteros' and 'episkopos' (elder and bishop) were the same is shown by many facts...Furthermore, the qualifications for bishop and elder were the same. Scarcely any scholar today would dispute the words of the late Dr J. B. Lightfoot, Bishop of Durham, and an undoubted authority: 'It is a fact now generally recognised by theologians of all shades of opinion, that in the language of the New Testament the same Officer in the Church is called indifferently bishop, and elder or presbyter.'" (Lightfoot’s commentary on Philippians, page 93)
Dr John Drane, “Introducing the New Testament“. Chapter 22 and the section on The Institutional Church on page 397 Published by Lion. Revised 1999 Edition:
"Instead of the community of the Spirit that it had originally been, the Church came to be seen as a vast organisation. Instead of relying on the Spirit's direct guidance it was controlled by an hierarchy or ordained men, following strict rules and regulations which covered every conceivable aspect of belief and behaviour and when the Spirit featured in this scheme it was taken for granted that what the leaders decided was what the Spirit was saying. By the middle of the 2nd Century the change was complete. At the beginning the only qualification for membership of the Church had been a life changed by the Holy Spirit. Indeed, at the start there had been no concept of church 'membership' at all...But by the end of the 1st Century things were rather different. Now the key to membership of the Church not found in inspiration by the Spirit, but in acceptance of ecclesiastical dogma and discipline. And to make sure that all new members had a good grasp of what that meant, baptism itself was no longer the spontaneous expression faith in Jesus as it had originally been. Now it was the culmination of a more or less extended period of formal instruction and teaching about the Christian faith. And in all this we can see how the life of the Spirit was gradually squeezed out of the Body of Christ, to be replaced as the church's driving force by the more predictable if less exciting movement of organised ecclesiastical machinery."
and on page 403:
"It is important to realise that the movement towards a more authoritarian church hierarchy originated in the fight against unacceptable beliefs. At a time when Gnostics were claiming a special authority because of their alleged endowment with the Spirit it was important for the mainstream church to have it's own clear source of power. It was of little practical use for the church's leaders to claim - even if it may have been true - that they, rather than their opponents were truly inspired by the Spirit. They needed something more than that, and they found it in the apostles. In the earliest period supreme authority had rested with them. So, they reasoned, anyone with recognised authority in the church must be succeeding to the position held by the apostles. They were the Apostle's successors, and could trace their office back in a clear line of descent from the very earliest times. They stood in an apostolic succession."
W E Vine, “Expository Dictionary of Bible Words” One Volume Edition first published 181. 1985 reprint. Published by Marshall, Morgan and Scott. Under heading for Priest, Section 1 (c).):
"The New Testament knows nothing of a sacerdotal (priestly) class in contrast to the laity."
Under heading for “Bishop (Overseer):”
“Lit: an overseer...” Note: Presbuteros, an elder, is another term for the same person as bishop or overseer.”
Under heading for “Pastor”:
“...this was the service committed to elders (overseers or bishops)...”
"As an individual believer is the result of a begetting, a conception, a formation, a birth and a likeness, so, in the New Testament, is a true local church. It is a reproduction of Christ by the Holy Spirit. Man cannot make, form, produce or, 'establish' this. Neither can anyone 'join' or 'enroll', or make himself or herself a member of this organism. First it is an embryo, and then a 'formation' after Christ. So, all talk about 'forming New Testament churches' is nonsense. The beginning is in a seeing of Christ, and when two or three in one place have seen Him by the Holy Spirit, and have been "begotten again by the word of God", there is the germ of a church. That, then, is the starting-point. But, how drastic that is, in the matter of reconsideration and recovery."
~ T. Austin-Sparks
More info on the noted scholars quoted above:
A.M. Renwick: Professor of Church History at the Free Church College in Edinburgh. In 1958 he wrote, 'The Story of the Church', an undisputed classic of its kind.
William Edwy Vine: author of the classic work, “Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Bible Words”
Dr Colin J Hemer: Tyndale House man, Cambridge.
Dr John Drane: lecturer in practical theology at Aberdeen University, adjunct Professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary, California, and a visiting Professor at Morling College, Sydney.
Dr Henry R Sefton: Lecturer in Church History at the University of Aberdeen.
Canon Leon Morris: Principal of Ridley College, Melbourne.
I Howard Marshall: Professor of New Testament Exegesis, University of Aberdeen.
Donald Guthrie: Vice-Principal of London Bible College.
A huge thanks to:
for all this info gathering!
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
I come from a Southern Baptist background, have served as a Christian schoolteacher, and also worked with the staff of an independent, fundamentalist, Baptist "church" organization. In 1982 - '84 the Holy Spirit revealed to me things I cannot ever forget. Though, for my children's sakes I recently joined a local Baptist church, I can never be 100% comfortable as a member of any organized religion or denomination. And now, the idea of being "ordained" into any church office or position for any purpose, with or without official labels, cuts across all the life the Spirit has revealed in my spirit. He is grieved when I ignore what I have been shown. And what is this tip of the iceberg of revelation that further fuels my resignation?
Religion, as humanity trying to put the Creator God in their box of philosophical traditions is a “dead-end,” as we humans are limited. One critical truth remains evident however. According to my own limited, subjective, and very personal experience -- the Creator God chooses to release us from this dead-end via what I call direct revelation. God chooses to reveal the very nature of the Savior-Creator God, Jesus, via the Person of the Spirit. As triune beings, humanity is 1) flesh: (body parts, matter, chemicals, and ultimately organized energies on the atomic levels), 2) soul: (mind, emotion, will, self-consciousness, passion/reason/personality, etc) and 3) spirit: (this highly disputed part of our nature presents the most controversy, as it is eternal, a higher level of our being, supernatural, metaphysical, extra-physical in its ultimate source and destiny. It is also, as I believe, and have experienced many times in subtle and very powerful ways, a specially designed vehicle/residence for the Creator God’s Spirit to infuse awareness, communication, influence, transformation/re-birth and ultimately full revelation of the great I AM THAT I AM, the Elohim.) This being said, humanity’s feeble attempts at religion, so-called, are closed off by the very unenlightened and limited-ness of tradition and millennia of cleverly crafted nice ideas that may help conform society into order but leave us out in the cold spiritually.
One thing that always bothered me about certain preachers and leaders is that they said the Bible could never be added to, the revelation of God was within it and complete and all we needed to do was follow the letter of the written law. I see the Hebrew / Christian Bible; Genesis through Revelation, as a vital, historically accurate, springboard for illumination -- a record of humanity interacting with the Creator God in all manifestations of the eternal Elohim. But beyond archival documents and tattered writs is eternal Spirit, the vitally real and unseen living Word, the Logos, that writes itself into our very nature. This ongoing presence of God as a teacher, helper, healer, friend, guide, and comforter means something can happen that troubles some religious leaders.
It is this . . .
Every person alive, can have direct access to all the wisdom and revelation of God’s truth apart from any seminary grad, any pew, and yes, even without a Bible.
Jesus of Nazareth said, “The Kingdom of God is within you, among you.” when he was asked of its whereabouts. This means that God seeks to dwell as a loving leader, protector, provider, guide, and savior in the spirits of all people. In an ideal manifestation, we are all little gods, with God within, ruling, guiding, and filling us with the Spirit. The Bible states we are all to become a sanctified kingdom of priests. We are to be overcoming saints by the blood of the Lamb -- and where does that leave man's religion?
Why and what is this thing called the clergy and laity? What is this travesty of the Pope and priests and then lastly the people? As Baptists we supposedly came out from among such things yet why do we submit ourselves to this not so subtle hierarchal division of preacher / leader, ministerial staff, various committees, trustees, deacons, and then the laity? We more progressive thinking Baptists hope to re-energize our tired deacons' ministries by finally honoring the "gifts of the Spirit" in the body. We amazingly so, find it a wonderfully unique and fresh concept to "empower the laity". Look how far we have wandered from the Spirit's first plan! We like to say as Baptists that there is no final earthly authority in the local church but the Lord. We claim to trust the Spirit to lead us but then we use Robert's Rules of Order and democratic majority vote to "hear" the Lord's will in the life of the local church?! This well-worn, tried and true, earthly process grieves my spirit to no end. Many Baptist congregations would rather have committees and the paid staff to handle all major "spiritual" decisions in the life of the church and not bother with it until it effects their pocket books.
Why is this so?
It is because most people are spiritual paupers, lazy of soul, incorrectly taught and raised, in the traditions of man, amidst religiosity, that falls far short of God’s idea of true religion. Humanity’s religious "revelation" leads to comfortable error. God’s Spirit among those that know the love of the Jesus brings about a revelation of peace and not strife. When church members let personalities, egos, long-range edicts, and committee rule lead them, you will inevitably reap strife, division, wherein the kingdom of God suffers loss communally and personally. You then will have a better chance of meeting with and thereby worshiping the God of which I speak in the quiet of your own living room. Ask, seek, and knock and it, (the kingdom of God), will be given, found, and opened unto and within you. It’s what happened to me in 1974. I know this to be so -- I was there. Thank goodness for the Spirit's revelation of love and light!
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PS: About 7 years after this letter being sent, the Lord made it very clear to my wife and I that we finally leave all religious systems and come out unto Him to meet others who have heard the same call.
God bless you my brother and sister.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Drummer Buddy Miles sang, back in the day of Jimi and the Band of Gypsies,
"Well my mind keeps goin' through them changes, I think I'm goin' outta my mind"
and lately, (over the past year), such has been so of my own life. More on that later . . .
I believe that every saint, (redeemed believer in Jesus), needs to experience continued growth into always walking in the mind of Christ, seeing spiritual changes into maturity, and also having a steady seeking of renewal of the one's mind by faith, fellowship, and obedience to the Living Word of God as the Spirit reveals Him, (Jesus), to the individual and within the corporate Body of Christ.
Long sentence, I know.
It is not normal for a Christian to "stay the same" day to day or year to year -- something is wrong, stagnation exists. Even John the Baptist got it, saying "He must increase and I must decrease." Paul spoke of a rooting, a building, a renewal, a reckoning, and a putting off -- fight the fight, run the race -- and all that. What race are we running? What fight are we fighting? Jesus said we were to lay down our lives, to daily take up our personal yet God-designed cross, and he also spoke of us being active about losing our own life. Hunh?
These phrases are circulated via writings, street corner shouts, and pitched from pulpits -- but few Christians neither actually understand the lingo nor is a continued reality in their lives. Most of us struggle with just getting through the daily grind of life with work, bills, relationships, and getting a grip on our own busied psyches. So how do we even begin to "take up our cross"?
We must have a revelation from the Lord of these things. His Spirit must first call us to the path and point the way. He will create in us a hunger for more, for something beyond the pale norm of life. He will even cause us to see another land, a Canaan, a place we are called to find. It's on this journey we accept by following after Jesus that "dem changes" will happen to us. We don't simply decide one day to "get right", to "rededicate our life", and "turn over a new leaf" for God. That is our old Nature, our pride, our religious inner man rising up to chase after a God of our own mind, springing usually from a legalistic, rules-driven understanding of being a "good Christian". Any of us honest with ourselves, having tried to do this many times, know or should know by now -- that we cannot succeed in this manner. There is nothing in our souls or of our own grit and resolve that the Lord accepts. This was the problem with Cain's sacrifice and God rejected it.
We all must begin by faith in Jesus. We are then to walk, (live), by the imparted faith and resurrection life of Jesus, residing within us. This too is how we "die to ourselves" and how we "decrease" and how He can increase. And by this same simple faith and belief in the Lord Jesus, we will one day see Him, face to face. The glory of God within us will pour forth and we will then know Him as He is -- the Ancient of Days, the Alpha and Omega, the Lord of Glory. What wee glimpse of this glory is revealed to us day by day, changes us, calls us deeper into Him and His will for us. We then partner with the Lord, seeking His righteousness and His kingdom. Our obedience to His Spirit changes us. We mature. We begin to understand and realize that we are given the mind of Christ as we humble ourselves as He did when He walked among us as the Son of Man.
All that being said, I will address my own life since Summer of 09 up to this Summer of 2010.
I got really bogged down with reading everything I could on how the "finalized" or I should say "agreed upon version" of the New Testament came into being. I have to say, I had to stop after months of study. This is a fascinating topic for the intellect to feast upon but for one's spiritual nourishment -- such study is huge desert of wanderings. The endless dissecting of ancient copies of ancient texts, mosaics of textural criticism, revisiting 1st-century early religious squabbles and so on -- all serve to enlighten. But of what? It is a dusty trail full of unknowns, maybe, could be, and inevitably faithful and faithless men struggling with reality versus religion. What Jesus did and said "in the flesh", what the Spirit of God did and said via early followers of Jesus -- we by faith believe that some of these many happenings were faithfully recorded in early texts. It is believed that people of faith recorded these events and sayings for other people of faith and/or seekers of truth, passing documents around to faith communities to be read at gatherings. In time these documents were copied so that many communities of faith and more people could share more widely the valued stories of Jesus and his followers. As more copies of letters to faith communities, documents about Jesus' life and words floated around -- there began a collecting together of these copies into groupings of favorite writings. When certain men decided to use these documents for their own purposes -- changes crept into these copies, alterations and additions were made, and disputed writings of new ideas or odd variants of religious ideas were being added into the collections. It is believed by some that an unknown, early accepted grouping or canon of writings was already in circulation in the 1st-century gatherings of Jesus followers. When the variant collections became known to exist; many texts included revealed odd ideas about Jesus and God that contradicted earlier and widely held beliefs -- the reality of heresies and blatant lies being taught was then a certain issue to be dealt with. Some other views hold that the first canons or collections of the 1st-century writings were created by men with their own agenda. Reaction to these men and their agenda was perceived as a threat to earlier revealed truths -- and so only then did the decision to compile an accepted canon or "finalized" collection of writings become an issue.
The battle of these men of faith and their agendas, these groups of early believers and these heretics, (so-called), and between these religious systems was no small thing concerning what writings were accepted and which were not. Even up to this day, the bible the Catholic system uses does not match the Protestant one. The Jehovah Witness bible has been altered to fit their beliefs and The Mormons have extra-biblical sacred texts. You will hear some popular textural critic scholars, (so-called), argue that the Christianity we have today and its bible is simply the group that "won" the canon and doctrinal wars of long ago. There so much more I could say here of what I have come to see about religious systems, the idea of the canon being closed, and doctrines of men being seen as things of God Himself -- but now is not the place.
This dry place of research had left me "emptied" and "tired of spirit" -- I ceased with several books I own sitting unread for now. I couldn't possibly take anymore of the endless info-dump. It makes me so glad to realize that the Spirit of God Himself speaks to each of us that follow after Him, revealing the Living Word of God within us. Jesus Himself dwelling within us is our doctrine, our Truth, our canon, our bible -- a life burning within us reveals Truth. Mere texts alone are not our foundation of faith! Our minds and its citadel of ideas are not God! We need to get a hold on this! God the Spirit sovereignly leads and guides us into all Truth. When we read certain bible texts and the Spirit supernaturally reveals the living reality of Himself as we read -- it is this internal "amen" and light of the eternal God shining within us that is the Word of God alive. It has been revealed to missionaries at times, that certain un-"churched", uneducated and simple believers know more of the person of God and His eternal Living Word than the missionary could ever teach them. The missionary might only share of Jesus from his or her own faith-knowledge of Christ but then the Spirit of God used the uneducated, non-doctrinated simple believer to teach the missionary things they hadn't seen! How can these things be? God, is simply able to do things men cannot accept as possible. He is God.
So, having taken an extended break from studying the history of the canon process, I then was opened up to the fact that God cannot be approached and pleased by our intellect. He doesn't allow us to understand Him with our earthly, carnal ways of wisdom. Our brains are to be submissive to His Spirit. We don't set up constraints, logical paradigms, and conditional reality hoops and mazes for God to so execute the revealing of Himself to us. He is all about our hearts being humbled, our brains kneeling before His wisdom, and our spirit being indwelt by His Spirit of Truth. It is thus that we then have the Mind of Christ. It is then that God progressively reveals Himself to us. A greater Mind, a vastly more holy Heart seeks to have men hold Him as their absolute Guide.
I will write more on this subject later, even though; I have been meditating on these truths for nearly a year. I am just not ready to write it out. God is still revealing things . . .
So, that's about it for now.
Oh, yes, my wife and I finally have left organized religion and all its systems of doing faith. Like many others we wait for the Lord to join us to others on a similar journey in His own time. Like Abraham and Sarah, we have gone out to follow Him, seeking a Canaan . . .
God bless you my brother and sister.