Paul's Passing Thoughts

Why Home Fellowships Can Help Abused Women and the Institutional Church Cannot

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 15, 2017

HF Potters House (2)

Originally published March 31, 2015

In our vision for a return to the way Judeo-Christian assemblies were done for about the first 300 years, let’s look at why home fellowships can help abused women and the institutional church cannot.

I would like to use this article as a catalyst for argumentation. The article was posted (author is not clearly stated) by Anna Wood who co-authored a book with Jeff Crippen, a Reformed pastor. The book can be found here.

The post is titled, What domestic abuse victims need from the church. My contention is that abused women cannot get what they need from “the church” as demonstrated over and over and over again. In fact, clearly, as also demonstrated over and over and over again as well, the institutional church adds to the abuse and becomes a co-abuser.

Why is this? The article offers a perspective from which to answer. This issue also speaks to the differences between home fellowships and the institutional church, hereafter “the church.” In an institution, it is easy to sign on the dotted line, give at the office, and pretend. Pastors can bark from Calvin’s Geneva pulpit all they want to; all folks have to say is, “Hey, I am a member in good standing, and as often heard, humble and incompetent—it’s not my gift and I am not qualified.” Likewise, in said article, the author’s call to “get involved” is going nowhere in the church in case anyone hasn’t noticed.

To the contrary, home fellowships are comprised of people who are sick of playing church, are weary of being mere spectators, and are not looking to walk into an arena with hungry lions, but know it could lead to that. They are also confident in the Spirit-filled laity and recognize where 500 years of academic popeism has brought us. In addition, they have a literal view of reality versus the functional dualism that drives orthodoxy. What am I saying? I am saying that home fellowships have a radically different worldview than orthodoxy and this will lead to aggressive participation in all kinds of needs.

Let me further this point by using the article at hand:

Statistics say that one out of four women in the United States experience domestic abuse of some form in their lifetime. Men can also be victims of domestic abuse. When those who have suffered are members of the Lord’s church, the faithful among them have an obligation to help them. And, if we know of someone in the community who is being abused, I also believe we have an obligation to help if we can. When, for whatever reason, we shy away from this obligation, either through ignorance or willful refusal to get involved, we lay waste to the Gospel we claim to believe. Christians are called to defend the oppressed yet when it comes to domestic violence, so few do.

What abuse victims need from their fellow Christians is pretty simple and straightforward. We need you to be Jesus to us. Do what He would do, say what He would say, were He the One ministering to us. Isn’t that what we all need from each other, anyway? Christians are called to stand in the place of Christ here on the earth and be His representative and do the works He would do. To fail in this is to fail in serving Christ.

Whoa, what a minute here! This is entirely unrealistic because of the message constantly drilled into the heads of Protestants. We are “all just sinners saved by grace.” We are, according to one prominent evangelical, “enemies of God.” According to yet another, “we hate God.” On the one hand, it is constantly drilled into the heads of those in the church that “when you are dead, you can do nothing,” but on the other hand we really think that parishioners shouldn’t think twice about getting involved in a domestic abuse situation?

First of all, getting involved in domestic violence is not “pretty simple.” Actually, it can get you killed by someone who doesn’t much appreciate your intervention. Moreover, getting the facts and evaluating the situation biblically is far from simple. Now couple that with the constant total depravity of the saints mantra heard in the church and it is little wonder that few will get involved in domestic abuse needs. The completely upside down worldview of the church makes laity involvement in domestic abuse nothing more than a pipe dream.

And, “Christians are called to defend the oppressed yet when it comes to domestic violence, so few do.” This complaint is not only a mere symptom, but is not even a symptom of the real problem. Congregants not only fail to defend the oppressed, they either turn a blind eye or defend the defender of the abusers—the church. Ever heard of SGM? Ever heard of ABWE? Ever heard of the SBC? In case you haven’t noticed, they are not only still in business, but business is booming! Why? Because regardless of what happens in the church, it is the only ticket to heaven. “What? so billions of people should go to hell because some bad things happen in the church that is made up of sinners? Well, get a grip—where there are people, there is sin!” That is in quotations because this is exactly what we hear in response to a “cry for justice.”

So far, if you are keeping notes, we have two reasons the church cannot help abused women: 1. The total depravity of the saints resulting in a few “experts” attempting to minister to a massive throng 2. Salvation is found in the institution, and therefore the institution will be defended at all cost. Better that a few suffer by themselves rather than all of humanity being sent to hell.

Before we move on to the next points, a little more clarification: why does the church defend abusers? It starts with its worldview. Without going into a lot of detail, we must first recognize that Calvin and Luther are the church’s heroes, and then recognize what their “theology of the cross” was all about. This is a philosophy that interprets all reality via the suffering of the cross. As Luther stated, “all wisdom is hidden in suffering.” Luther, as well as Calvin, split reality into two epistemologies: the cross story and the glory story. Only preordained leaders can lead the great unwashed masses in the cross story—only the preordained can save humanity from the story of man, or the glory story. As Al Mohler once said, “pastors are preordained to save God’s people from ignorance.”

fake-church-sign-first-baptistHowever, theologians of the cross and the spiritual peasantry have something in common: we are all just sinners saved by grace. So, everything going on in the material realm is fairly insignificant—it’s just the same old sin and dance anyway. But by the same token, theologians of the cross are preordained of God and invaluable. And besides, many are icons of the institution that keep the money rolling in. Sure, you can reject this theory and opt for another one, but in the process you will drive yourself nuts trying to figure out why ABWE defended and protected Donn Ketcham until the bitter end.

Need another example among myriads? What about Jack Hyles? The guy was a mafia don dressed in Bible verses and is still a spiritual hero among many Baptists. David Hyles, Jack’s son, was also a well-respected pastor in the church who had affairs with at least 19 women and is a suspect in an unsolved murder. Yet, to the best of my knowledge to date, David Hyles is still invited to speak at Baptist conferences/churches and receives robust ovations. Jack Hyles remained in the pulpit until his death in 2001 and was succeeded by his son in law Jack Schaap who is presently in prison for statutory rape. Jack Hyles is notorious for his quip, “If you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen” and is still revered among many Baptists as the best preacher since the apostle Paul.

The article continues with its list of things abuse victims need from “the church.” But the thesis of this article is that the church is not only unable to supply these things, but becomes a co-abuser. In contrast, the original Christian model for fellowship is well able to help and more likely to do just that.

First on the list is “The Pure Gospel.”

The church long ago got away from the pure gospel. We water it down, mix it up and serve it with a side of fun. No wonder it doesn’t save. It can’t save. It’s poison. We need preachers dedicated to the truth of God’s Word who are willing to stand up and preach that truth without changing it one iota. We need Christians who long after righteousness. When we have that–the pure Gospel preached and lived–we’ll see more Christians helping abuse victims and we’ll see less abusers masquerading as Christians.

Uh, ok, not sure how to add to this. It’s a stunning admission while calling on the same church to do something about the problem it has created. We don’t need “preachers” to do anything. Preachers have been preaching long and hard for thousands of years and the results are evident. We need God’s people to stand up and get back to the first works of home fellowship. The laity waiting on the experts is long traveled and worthless. More of what is beginning to happen needs to happen more and more. Ordinary Spirit-filled Christians are meeting together around the word and fellowship, and seeking God’s face in this whole matter about how church is traditionally practiced. And the fact that the church is grounded in a false gospel is something I addressed in another article posted today and Friday.

Without addressing every single point in the article other than those mentioned already, let me move on to this one:

Someone to care for their needs

Do you know what keeps a lot of abused women and children with their abusers? The lack of money to leave. If a woman is trying to get herself and her children to safety, don’t spend time telling her why she’s wrong, what you think about her decision or trying to talk her out of it. She knows what it’s like to live in abuse and you don’t. Even if she stays, chances are great that she and her children need something or maybe a lot of things. Financial abuse often accompanies other types of abuse. Instead of lecturing, get busy serving and help them.

According to the first-century model, a home fellowship network would be several small groups meeting in several homes in the same geographical area. And because of freedom from massive infrastructure cost and “tithing” versus New Testament giving based on NEED only funds and resources to help the abused would be ample. In fact, I could share an example from our very own home fellowship. We have a young lady living with us, and other people connected to our fellowship contribute financially to her needs. She is fully supported independently from anybody who might be a problem in her life. And when people live with you, trust me, you know the facts and you do a lot of listening. She will be completely self-reliant this month after living with us for about two years.

In regard to a different kind of abuse, a home fellowship network that I know of in Africa operates in the following way: the network assimilates street orphans from Nairobi into their fellowships. There is a leader from the network, equipped with the latest information about funds and availability that goes into Nairobi searching for orphans, and upon finding some, brings them back to the fellowship network where they will have a home, food, protection, and education. Let’s say that our home fellowships are connected with theirs; many of these children could be brought stateside and assimilated into fellowship here as well.

In addition to being freed from the bondage of infrastructure expense, the authority of the church’s clergy is suffocating. Clergy, more times than not, are control freaks obsessed with keeping the herd calm. They are spiritual cowboys constantly concerned with the herd being spooked. This speaks to the rest of the concerns in the post being considered here. More times than not, the laity are kept in the dark concerning the needs of those abused. There is a wall of confidentiality between the church’s “trained” counselors and the parishioners who fund the whole mess. When red flags are raised in regard to how certain situations are handled, we are told that “we should trust the elders who are closest to the situation and know all of the details.” This continually proves to be a recipe for disaster, and elders are granted NO such authority via the Scriptures.

Small groups in private homes offer intimate support and confidentiality from the other home fellowships. It is a perfect balance of intimate care and financial support if needed. All of the different gifts and experiences of Christ’s body are brought to bear on the situation.

Also, we must remember that the home fellowship movement is comprised of people from all walks of life: policemen, mental health professionals, etc., etc. These people or their areas of expertise are not separated from any situation by the professional clergy for inappropriate reasons.

paul

Why Going to Church is Disobedience Against God

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 13, 2016

eec5c9fa7c36e18aa5f7da878d739c1bGoing to church violates a plethora of biblical commandments, but this post will focus on a particular three: Philippians 4:8, 1 Corinthians 13:6, and Hebrews 10:24, 25.

Granted, the point being made by this post was arguable twenty years ago when Protestants were confused for the better, but since the Neo-Protestant resurgence is in full swing and has taken over the vast majority of evangelical churches in our day the point is now valid.

The displayed image with this post illustrates the crux of authentic Protestant sanctification. Notice that the focus is our sin, and the idea that we are a bottomless resource of unexposed sin. The downward trajectory is the focus in order to glorify God (the upward trajectory) and “make much of the gospel” (the bigger cross).

Problem is, the apostle Paul instructed us to “dwell” on what is honorable and good, not evil; ie., sin. See Philippians 4:8. Furthermore, and this addition is for free, Romans 6:6 states that in the saved person the body of sin has been brought to nothing. If that’s true, how is an application of the bottom downward trajectory even possible?

Secondly, Protestant worship at church is predicated on the official Reformation doctrine of mortification and vivification. As we repent in lieu of the sin-sniffing required at church (mortification), we once again rejoice in the saving mercy of Christ (vivification). This is facilitated by the praise and worship music presently popular in contemporary churches. In fact, the praise and worship construct of today’s evangelical churches is specifically geared towards vivification. In other words, the popularity of praise and worship music in our day didn’t just happen for any reason; it came into vogue as a result of the Neo-Protestant resurgence. This is how one John MacArthur Jr. colleague explains it:

“Progressive sanctification has two parts: mortification and vivification, ‘both of which happen to us by participation in Christ,’ as Calvin notes….Subjectively experiencing this definitive reality signified and sealed to us in our baptism requires a daily dying and rising. That is what the Reformers meant by sanctification as a living out of our baptism….and this conversion yields lifelong mortification and vivification ‘again and again.’ Yet it is critical to remind ourselves that in this daily human act of turning, we are always turning not only from sin but toward Christ rather than toward our own experience or piety” (Michael Horton: The Christian Faith; mortification and vivification, pp. 661-663 [Calvin Inst. 3.3.2-9]).

And,

“God gathers his people together in a covenantal event to judge and to justify, to kill and to make alive. The emphasis is on God’s work for us – the Father’s gracious plan, the Son’s saving life, death, and resurrection, and the Spirit’s work of bringing life to the valley of dry bones through the proclamation of Christ. The preaching focuses on God’s work in the history of redemption from Genesis through Revelation, and sinners are swept into this unfolding drama” (Christless Christianity p. 189).

So, Sunday “worship” is a “dying and raising.” We die to self via sin-sniffing resulting in the exaltation of vivification facilitated by gospel praise and worship music. We go in lowly and humble resulting in a resurrection of rejoicing.

What scripture does this violate? 1 Corinthians 13:6 which informs us that love does not rejoice in evil. In contrast, the Protestant doctrine of mortification and vivification results in a joyful resurrection from dwelling on sin.

And lastly, going to church for this reason, is in contrast to the biblical purpose for gathering together as stated by Hebrews 10:24, 25—to encourage each other unto good works.

What is the alternative? Get a Bible and assemble together weekly with like-minded believers for that very purpose, not dwelling on things that have been brought to nothing through Christ’s death on the cross.

paul

How Church Ruins Your Life

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 25, 2015

12088408_1201486316563031_6525778434069415145_nMeme Post #1

“Church” was never meant to be an institution, but rather a family meeting in private homes because that’s what families do. During the soon approaching Thanksgiving Day, extended families will meet together locally. In others words, for example, the Dohse family is a large family with descendants living all over the world, but more than likely, only the descendants living in the Dayton, OH area will gather together in one place. Few families maintain a purpose-built facility for meeting together. In fact, that would be deemed rather strange.

The 1st century assembly of Christ had a family mindset that is hard for us to comprehend. “They had all things in common” is not a socialist statement, it is a statement regarding their family mindset at that time. The “Church” concept did not really get a foothold in Christianity until the 4th century. The word “church” is a replacement word added to Bible translations and goes hand in glove with the institutionalization of Christianity.

One reason this is important is because families operate differently than institutions. In families, order and unity is achieved through what families are supposed to be about – love and respect. Thanksgiving dinner will go well this year because of family cooperation. Yes, there will be organization, but it will be based on many considerations other than authority. Mom and grandma will tell the men to stay out of the kitchen, and they will obey. When mom says its time to eat, everyone will come to the table. Everyone recognizes that the food part is mom’s gift. If some of the men tarry in front of the football game, aunt Beth will enter the room with a pair of scissors and threaten to cut the power cord on the big screen TV, and so it goes.

Much could be discussed here (this is a many-faceted dynamic), but the family concept circumvents cultism. Cults are predicated on authority—always. No authority, no cult; they must have authority. The integration of authority and religion always results in cultism. It starts with an authoritative presupposition resulting in a mind-control mandate. The institutional church was clearly founded on authority supposedly mandated by Christ through what we call apostolic succession. Immediately after the demise of the most prominent apostles, the so-called church fathers began clamoring for a centralized religious authority based in Rome. The home fellowships led by elders vigorously resisted this attempted transition. After a messy power struggle that lasted for more than 200 years, for the most part, home fellowships succumbed to the Roman church’s claim of apostolic succession and divine authority.

This was the beginning of the Roman Catholic Church from which Protestantism came, but the latter claimed no less authority whatsoever. The Reformation created many splinter groups that attempted to revive home fellowships, but were met with equal persecution from both Rome and Geneva. Catholics and Protestants never ceased fighting accept for the purpose of working together unofficially to persecute the various home fellowship movements that emerged. The Catholics nor Protestants had any tolerance for those who would not come under the auspices of their authority. And, if you think the vast majority of wars fought throughout history are the result of differences regarding religious authority—you rightly assess.

The claim of authority has always been, and always will be, twofold: God ordained governments to enforce religious orthodoxy, and the church’s oversight of salvation. One gets saved in the church, and through “faithfulness to the church,” the church, in turn, doles out more and more salvation until the day of judgment.

Let’s look at this in regard to meme #1. Where does God get “full custody” of his children? Look at the picture—it’s the church building. The implication follows: if you are a casual church attender, you only do business with God on the weekends or a mere one hour during Sunday service. The other implication is that you only do business with God at the temple. On the one hand, we are His “children,” but on the other hand, apparently, we only fellowship with Dad at an institution.

The idea is flawed, unnatural in regard to truly being born again into God’s family, but also has unfortunate cause and effect ramifications. If you go to a purpose-building twice on Sunday, once on Wednesday, and for whatever else is going on during the week (e.g., choir practice, visitation, revivals, men’s Bible study, women’s Bible study, youth activities, church softball league, etc., etc., etc.), when does one have any time with their own families? They don’t.

But the following is the kicker, especially in Reformed churches: on the one hand, families have little private time together, but on the other hand, they are spending what little free time they have hearing about how everyone in their family is a “sinner” or totally depraved. Then, when certain family members begin to display an aversion to the results of this construct, the church recommends separation or shunning. This is resulting in the division of families within the institutional church that is even unprecedented in the secular realm.

The institutional church is bad for your family and will destroy your marriage at worst, and will result in mere coexistence at best. Don’t sacrifice your family at the alter of showing faithfulness to God by being present at the purpose-building “every time the doors are opened.”

There should be NO disconnect between your family life and your life with God, that’s why the family of God should fellowship together right where we live, in the home.

paul

Cult Free Zone

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 22, 2015

Cult free zone 2

Purpose

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 22, 2015

HF Potters House (2)

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