Paul's Passing Thoughts

Why Are You “Dissing” the Church?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on April 16, 2015

andy-profile-1Leaving the institutional church has been one of the best decisions our family has made. Granted, there are the social aspects that we miss (my wife especially, she’s a people person), but it doesn’t take much searching to admit that real friendships have to be based on more than just a weekly formal gathering. Want to know who your real friends are? Just try leaving your church for whatever reason. See how many of them still keep in contact with you. In fact, it was a comment very similar to that which I posted on Facebook a few weeks ago, which prompted quite a debate.

There is a young man with whom I am friends, let’s call him “Trevor”. I have personally known Trevor for many years. Trevor has come to me with many questions about some of the things I post on Facebook, and we have had some very edifying discussions. We’ve talked at length about the differences between Justification and Sanctification. He is genuinely seeking answers, and I am grateful for the opportunities to help disciple him.

But a few weeks ago, Trevor sent me the following private message on Facebook:

 “Hey Andy I keep seeing you dissing on churches and even though you are probably right why not use your intelligence and abilities on helping teach people about God. There are a lot of people who need God that I’m sure are reading that and when people see hostility amongst Christians towards other Christians it turns them off to it completely and isn’t that contradictory to what we want for people”

I understand the motivation behind his response, and I don’t hold it against him. It is typical from anyone who sits under the orthodoxy of the institutional church. Trevor has probably even spoken with his pastor about some of these issues I’ve brought up, and maybe this response comes after the result of one of those conversations. Either way, his tone of concern is well noted and appreciated. So below you will find my response to Trevor. I apologize that it is rather lengthy, but I hope that it will be edifying.

 Dear Trevor,

 I’m sure you will agree that it is hard to give a full-orbed treatise within the confines of a simple Facebook status message. It doesn’t lend itself well for going into details. So the goal is to try and make your point in the most direct and concise manner possible. For that reason, a simple matter-of-fact statement may come across as curt and abrasive. That is unavoidable. Nevertheless, statements such as these should prompt people to think. But often times, rather than think, people respond defensively because they automatically assume I am attacking them. I am not attacking people, I am challenging ideas. But most people are too lazy to differentiate the two because they have too much ego invested in their ideas, and therefore take any attack on an idea as a personal attack. This is true of both Christians and non-Christians alike. And actually I have found that those who call themselves “Christian” have an even greater tendency toward ego investment, and there is a very good explanation for that, which leads me to the next point.

 When you challenge what a “Christian” has traditionally been taught, you are indeed challenging their very salvation. And this is a frightening prospect for them. But it is for this very reason that these notions need to be challenged, because what it boils down to is that their faith is in a “belief system” rather than belief in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. That which passes for “the church” is the very embodiment of this belief system. Is it any wonder then that people have such a knee jerk reaction? For someone to even raise the question that what they have been taught might be wrong scares the crap out of them!

 This is why I criticize the institutional church, because it embodies this system that has kept people in the spiritual dark ages for centuries! The institutional church is based on “authority”, and the system is needed to maintain the authority. But this is so contrary to scripture. There is to be no authority among the brethren of Christ. Christ is the authority! And he is the only mediator between God and man. Now that is not to say that there is not leadership, but leadership is not the same as authority. Authority implies “power”, while leadership implies “example”. But the emphasis within the traditional “church” model is predicated on power and authority, and everything that happens within the confines of these institutions is designed to maintain that power structure. It has been that way since the very early beginnings of the Roman Catholic church in the 4th century. And Protestantism is no different.

 I see many good genuine Christian people languishing away within the walls of the institutional church, and it grieves me deeply, for there are eternal consequences at stake. Not as far as salvation goes, but with regard to eternal rewards. You have spiritually illiterate Christians looking to some authority to tell them what to believe, who have never been equipped to carry out the task that was given to them from the first day they were born again- to go out and make disciples. They are not exercising their gifts. Instead they hide their talent in the ground, waiting for the Master to return and say, “here Lord, here’s what you gave me.” And there will be no eternal reward for them. And the church is purposefully keeping them in this state of immaturity. How I long for believers to realize their full potential as Children of God! But that will never happen in the “church”. The church serves itself.

 So, even having said all of that, I still haven’t fully been able to explain the depth of this all. But your concern is how this arguing among believers will turn off others. I contend that what turns of the unsaved is not the fact that they see Christians argue, but rather that Christians don’t even know what they believe.   Furthermore, what they do claim to believe is not even rational. Christianity for the past 1500 years has simply failed to produce a fully rational explanation for why someone should believe in Jesus. There must be more to it that just, “well you just have to have faith.” Faith must be grounded in reality. So we don’t simply lay aside arguments regarding contending for truth just for the sake of presenting the illusion of a unified front to the world.

 In addition, the traditional excuse for evangelism is simply nothing more than who has the better sales pitch for getting someone to attend their church versus another. This ties in directly with the notion of salvation being in the church. Christians are more interested in getting people into their church than they are with teaching people about the gospel of the Kingdom. By definition, the church cannot be comprised of unbelievers. The body of Christ, the “assembly”, is only made up of believers. The purpose of believers assembling is for edification, and that happens by four functions: instruction in the word, fellowship, sharing meals (including the Lord’s table), and praying together. (Acts 2:42). How can an unbeliever possibly be any part of that? He shares nothing in common. He is not a part of the Body. 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 says, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” Unbelievers have no part in the fellowship of God’s people.

 Now the excuse has been that we need to bring unsaved to church so that they can get saved. But that is simply a lazy excuse for evangelism. It is not what Christ’s instructions were. Believers gather in fellowship to be edified. Having then been properly equipped, WE can go OUT into the world to take the gospel TO the lost so that they can HEAR it from US. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. How then shall they believe in whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they be SENT? (Romans 10:14-15, 17) Every believer is a preacher- and ambassador from God’s heavenly Kingdom – sent forth with the message of reconciliation to the world. It is our mandate as individuals, NOT the function of an institution!

 And so seeing how the “church” has utterly failed in every way in all of these areas, I hope you can better understand now why I have such disdain for it and am so critical of it. But the answer is not reform. It doesn’t need to be reformed, it needs to be defeated because it is not what God intended for His people. The answer is, to come out from among them and be separate. And that is what I have done, and that is what I want to encourage all believers to do. Come out from this institution and join in genuine fellowship with other like-minded believers and start exercising your gifts. There is no horizontal authority between men among believers. All authority is in Christ.

 Andy

 

 

 

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26 Responses

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  1. A Mom said, on April 21, 2015 at 5:09 PM

    Andy? You mean John, right? If so:

    John, I am concerned that you aren’t feeling the best. Let us know if there’s anything you need. Praying you are better soon.

    Like

  2. johnimmel said, on April 21, 2015 at 9:14 PM

    A Mom… thanks for asking after me. I’m feeling alright. Been working hard on my physical fitness as a matter of fact although I’m still carrying too much weight. But I will admit that I’m in the middle of a very large life shift. The company I worked for shut down their Midwest operations so my time is taken up with addressing the challenge. That plus in my spare time I am studying for the 2015 TANK conference. I am about 90% sure I will be addressing the history of Determinism. (as per my last conversation with Paul) And that has dominated most of my intellectual energy.

    Anyway, give me a minute to think about your question. I’m a little stumped by the reference to goats and juvy? While I ponder maybe you could expand your question?

    LOL

    John

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  3. johnimmel said, on April 21, 2015 at 9:22 PM

    A Mom,

    Ok… I think I get it… actually I wasn’t being juvenile I was trying to highlight a sense of moral proportion: We would morally condemn bestiality without the slightest hesitation.

    My point was that Trevor’s fundamental attitude is in fact a greater moral bankruptcy. The fact that he can advocate subordinating truth to propaganda (for the image of the church) should be morally condemned with the same (or greater) impunity not excused in the name of brotherly love and the pitfalls of youth. My comment goes to our commitment to value truth and the method of my comment goes to creating a contrast.

    Do we value the truth or do we value image?

    Like

  4. johnimmel said, on April 21, 2015 at 10:15 PM

    What are my thoughts on the subject . . . (assuming I understood what you were asking me to comment on?)

    First, doctrinally . . . I have always objected to speaking of “biblical models.” This presumes that individual authors intended what he was writing must find social expression. For the most part this is an interpretive anachronism (with the exception of Paul who expected everyone to do what he said).

    The fact is that Christian practice from the 1st century to the 5th century varied dramatically–so dramatic that it is impossible to see any continuity in the practice from BEFORE cannon formation TO cannon formation (circa 250 AD)

    In the late 1st century Christianity was practiced by specifically seeking out martyrdom. And they made a claim to the biblical model.

    In the 2nd or 3rd century Christians were called something like “Those who hide in shadows.” This was taken from the fact that Christians were a highly secretive group of monotheists who met in secret places. And they made a claim to the biblical model.

    How would we put that into practice today?

    And certainly the most long standing “biblical model” is the day of divine service.

    Why does everyone go to church on Sunday?

    The answer is because way back when Christianity was trying to make itself more palatable to Greek pagans they took over the Day of the Sun (ceremonial day for Zeus) and consecrated Sun Day as the Sabbath (which had been Saturday since time immemorial). The church powers turned the Sabbath into a day of divine service i.e. Christians must service God on Sunday to prove their commitment to the Lord and Savior by bringing their tithes and offerings to the priests and the bishops. This is of course nowhere to be found in cannon. And it is clear that the Sabbath was made for man: it is mandated leisure NOT mandated work. And yet, with all this background, if you ask the average Christian what the “bible” says about going to church they will immediately presume they have to go to a building at 10:30 Sunday morning as a primary practice to illustrate the depth of their spirituality.

    The fact is that Christianity has had a broad body of practice built on traditions that may or may not have any “biblical” backing. Hence, how can we call it a ‘biblical’ model?

    Second, leaving it the institutional church is a big step because people are taught to be dependent. I of course wrote about this in my article Spiritual Crack. The “great doctrines of the church” turn otherwise well meaning, good intentioned people into the spiritual equivalents of crack addicts. They need their pastoral fix. They need some guy behind the pulpit to look deep in their eyes and tell them they belong. They need someone to tell them how to live life. They need someone to affirm their value. So when they leave church they are suddenly put in the position to have to self generate the roots of their self value.

    And if they succeed in finding and developing their identity who wants to go back into an environment that promotes abandoning a hard earned identity?

    The fact is that church is boring and the real meaning of church attendance is doing stuff for free.

    Motivated men soon realize it is all nonsense and they have no business giving away huge sums of their life in service to paying some guy to stand behind a plexiglass podium. As soon as they cast off the stupor that was doctrinally laid over their life they start doing real work for real results the idea of going back to a group of do nothings sounds like a really bad idea. I don’t think there is any way to inspire self motivated men to go back to that life of passive dependence.

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    • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on April 22, 2015 at 7:48 AM

      John,

      “Model” is a thumbnail for “the way Christian fellowship was practiced according to the book of Acts.” Between the book of John specifically, and the other gospels as well, the book of Acts, and what can be cleaned from the other epistles, how Christians fellowshipped for the purpose of accomplishing specific goals is laid out in significant detail. The examples set forth are not biblical imperatives, so, I guess you could say “that’s what they did” instead of just simply saying “model.” The goal of Christianity is imperative, the Bible sets forth what early Christians did to obtain those goals. The logical dilemma follows: history concerning Christ is scarce and ambiguous. The Bible is the only source that delves into the life of Christ in detail. That makes it a historical anomaly. In contrast, historians supplied vast detail about Roman leaders and other people who were contemporaries of Christ. The Bible then connects Christ to the apostles and Paul in a confirming way.

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  5. A Mom said, on April 22, 2015 at 2:00 PM

    John,

    Simply put, I asked because I am concerned, I care. Same goes for the rest of ya. Andy, if you’re not feeling the best, then I hope you feel better soon!

    Juvy in juvy. Juvy is street for juvenile detention. Juvy in juvy is my own speak for when someone is acting like “a juvenile in juvy”. Look… I have to do a lot of thinking around you folks – make sure I understand the idea AND then hold the ideas up to every scrutiny I can think of to see if it makes sense to me. I’m glad you had to think about my phrase. You deserve to think some, too! LOL

    It’s not your point I was calling juvy. I know what you were doing. I was commenting on your choice of words. Instead of saying bestiality, you described it. That is the “juvy in juvy” teenage kind of ornery.

    Thanks for the reply & historic info. Like Pearl, I enjoy your comments. Well, for the most part! 😉

    Like

  6. A Mom said, on April 22, 2015 at 3:37 PM

    John,

    Yes, you correctly understood my question. Thank you for your thoughts. In addition, found the historical information quite helpful. Thank you for that.

    “Second, leaving it the institutional church is a big step because people are taught to be dependent. … As soon as they cast off the stupor that was doctrinally laid over their life … I don’t think there is any way to inspire self motivated men to go back to that life of passive dependence.”

    Yes. If you leave because you see the big picture & how it’s contrary to the belief that we were created with ability, then it’s unlikely you’d think the church machine is necessary.

    This circles back to Andy’s comment about friends outside the institutional church & organized fellowship. How do you see fellowship of believers? Informally only? Or do you see it as not necessary?

    Like

  7. A Mom said, on April 30, 2015 at 1:24 PM

    That’s great. We don’t control. We bring ideas to the table. All you want him to do is think for himself & be logical. I’m glad he is willing to think, ask & debate you. I don’t know how it will go – hopefully lots of future discussions & debates. If he disagrees or looses touch, hopefully he knows he can always contact you. That is just as important. Calvinism usually doesn’t withstand the realities of life. The only way to deal is to disconnect beliefs from actions (loose hope) or look for a belief that makes sense (find hope).

    Like


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