Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February, 2010

Raging against “Churchanity

Churchanity: the cult like practice of attending “church” three times a week merely to sing six congregational songs, give a laundry list of wants, needs, whinings and problems to God, hear two “special” songs, take up an offering, and sit through three sermons (spoon-fed to the congregation so no-one has to think)… and feel like we have been good “Christians” and worshipped because of it. Yeah buddy, we do God such a favor don’t we? Ummm-hum, that will cause people to grow won’t it? Grrrrrr!

It grieves my very soul to think that this milk toast, anemic, anorexic practice we call “Church” has anything to do with Jesus Christ. Where did we come up with this idea that every service has to be a lecture? Does anyone study his or her Bible? In the Synagogue we see Jesus and Paul, the Scripture was read and then it was discussed… The modern abomination is for the hired gun to mount the pulpit and lecture to everyone for 30-45 minutes and get out in time to be first in line at the restaurant. Sometimes a passage of Scripture is read, and then never referenced again in the lecture. Many times Scripture or a passage is merely used as proof text to under gird the point the “professional” is trying to make from the pulpit. (taking text out of context)

Then there is the idea that there is a difference in “Preaching” and “Teaching” as if there is an either/or aspect to them. This idea that Preaching is for the pulpit and teaching is for the Sunday school room is pure bunk! Most preaching is the hired gun spoon-feeding (or bottle feeding) the flock. There is no opportunity to discuss the “message” or sermon. It is accepted that the hired gun is on a higher spiritual level and a better “Christian” so he is above questioning and his word is “directly from the throne of God.”

Additionally there is the, “all we need to know is right here in our 1611 King James Bible! The 1611 was good enough for Saint Paul…it’s good enough for me.” (I have actually heard that statement “preached” by some Independent, Fundamental, Baptist preacher on a local “christian” radio show.) Then scripture is interpreted in light of 2009 instead of the century in which it was written.

In conclusion, if that is all there is to Churchanity, and we are not growing, and being educated in the Church about church history (good and bad) about doctrinal soundness and the differences between essential and non-essential issues… then we deserve to be ridiculed as cult members following a myth religion.

So what do we do? How do we make the change? How do we touch a world that sees these issues in us (who claim to be Christians) better than we do ourselves? How do we make a difference? How do we break away from “Churchanity” and show the world around us the Jesus Christ who is revealed in Scripture? How do we throw off the traditionalism of Churchanity and be true followers of Jesus Christ?   I don’t want mediocre churchanity any longer, I want a radical world changing fellowship with fellow believers in Christ who are living Philippians 1:27-28, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.”

It is a sad commentary that we look on the pews of our modern day churches as a “mission field”, which speaks volumes to our misconception of the Biblical Church mandate. We have watered down the Gospel to the point our churches are filled with lost people… who think they are saved… only to occasionally find out they aren’t. Modern Evangelistic methods have us inviting the lost to come to church where they will get under the sound of the hired gun [i.e. Professional Preacher] and get saved. We present such a weak anemic, anorexic version of the Gospel that everybody is saved… just ask him or her. That begs another question,  “Why do we think we have to make the gospel presentation so over simplified?”  Jesus never made it easy… look at how he addressed Nicodemus, or the rich young ruler. So the result is our churches are full of posers and wanna-be’s that are living a lie… I know I was one.
So where did we get this idea that three sermons or lectures a week constitutes going to “Church?
I may offend everyone but this idea that Church is just a lecture series doesn’t add up. More and more it seems that the lectures are the requirement for giving the pastor a paycheck. Or the other side of that coin, we are paying the pastor to preach and we expect him to preach… we want the three sermons we are paying him for. How much learning takes place in a lecture? Facts can be given and ideas communicated, and truth can be told… but it is limited one-way conversation! How does a pastor feed the flock and take care of it if all there is… is a lecture? If the pastor cannot have conversation with the congregation and answer the “Why” questions to at least the second degree… How can the average pew sitter learn to give an answer for the hope that is in them?

When did “Church” become this one-way conversation?
Someone asked me about 1 Timothy 5:18 stating it is proof for freeing the pastor from “from worldly labor, that he may focus on his teaching ministry.” Paul went to great lengths to support himself in the ministry, so I’m not sure he was advocating for the paid “Professional” preacher. Especially in the IFB and IFBx movements there has been too much abuse of the paid Professional position. This creates a slippery slope that becomes a vocation. And when you have a small church what does the “Pastor” do with all that extra time on his hands???
But I digress…
… where do we get the idea from, that attending three sermons a week (the lecture series) constitutes feeding the flock (or going to Church)? How can there be learning and growth in one-way only conversation? Don’t get me wrong, I have not arrived, I do not know it all and I appreciate good expositional preaching (hard to find in the rusted buckle of the Bible Belt) and I appreciate godly men who are apt to preach/teach. I am just fed up with what passes for “church” these days. Where is the, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” That takes a hands-on approach and may include lecture… but is not left exclusively to lecture.

I’m still wrestling with this issue and I cannot reconcile what passes for modern day church and modern day Christianity with what I find in the Bible. And I realize it starts with me… I’m having a Jacob moment here wrestling with what is and what ought to be.

Read Full Post »

I link to this article , “Welcome To The Church Barbeque” and I am reminded of the past 38 years I have spent in the IFB movement.  I firmly believe that the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement has done more harm in the past 100 years than it has good.  It is exponentially greater in error and legalist traditionalism than Galatia ever approached.  The clergy/laity approach to the way church is performed is unbiblical and creates the passive pew-Christian that is unable to exercise the Gifts God has given regarding the preisthood of every believer.  The local Pope attitude of the hired professional, full-time, “man of God” has created a cult practice that has more to do with the personality of the man behind the pulpit than it does with God and His word.   Churches define themselves not by the Word of God, and the Biblical mandates found in Scripture but by the personality, and the dictates of the “self-anointedman of God who tells the passive pew dwellers what to think, how to think, and is considered a good preacher if he can stir their emotions and make them feel something, or manufacture the presence of God so they have an experience to get them to the next meeting.  Just like junkies in search of their next fix the IFB crowd is in serach of their next “sweet spirit” experience, looking for the ultimate religious high, the Revival!

In the article Bruce states, “In Independent Baptist Churches the pastor is god. He is the law. What he says goes. The Church CAN fire him but it often very hard to do.  After all, in many cases the pastor started the Church. He often has a following no matter what he says or does.

When the pastor stands up and preaches whatever he says he taken to be the gospel. A good Church member hates what the pastor hates and loves what the pastor loves. To go against the pastor usually meant you were looking for another Church to attend.”

I can say that (3) three of the (4) four “pastors” I have sat under the past 38 years are defined by that statement. And they had egos to to match their delusions of godhood.  At the very least they considered themselves to be no less than the Pope. If you did not agree with them then you were ran off in suble ways (multiple messages preached explicitly at you, just like Bruce’s examples) and sometimes not so subltle outright public confrontations where the Pope-ette’s word was final.  Even to manipulating and entire congregation to support the “man of god” and publically declare their love and support for him, even when he knows that he has committed a crime and is facing conviction.  In this case “the man of god” manipulated the entire local IFB area-wide system of  “pastors” and churches to come together in support of this poor martyr and show the local authorities how much he was loved and supported.  (I have no doubt this influenced a plea deal that kept him out of jail at that time.)

I have watched several generations of young people become disillusioned with “church” and God then completely abandon the church after they get old enough to make their own decisions.  They have seen the shallowness of the religion that the IFB practices.  God may be preached hot and heavy but the hypocracy that is found in the IFB movement is untenable.  The movement has nothing once you get past the facade of “faith.”  The IFB battle cry is, “all you need is faith.”  There is no need to go to school and learn anything more than is necessary to get you to seminary, to the mission field, or to teach in a Christian school.  Seminary is actually frowned on in the IFB circles because no-one wants the preacher to be too smart… if he is then he must not be a good preacher since he is not in the class of Acts 4:13

Yes, faith is the litmus test of the good IFB prosolyte and Anti-intellectualism is considered godly.  If you think too much then you loose your blind faith and that is a mainstay of the IFB movement….blind, unquestioning faith.  The “man of god” requires loyality from his flock and demands it from the pulpit.  To question the “man of god” is to attack, come against the “Lord’s anointed.  (of course this would mean that the “man of God” is either a king of Israel or Christ himself)  Don’t raise your hand against the “lord’s anointed” or you will be cursed…  and yes I have actually heard visiting IFB evangelists refer to the local “pastor” as the Lord’s anointed when they come in to hold “revival” (remember what I said above regarding “revival.”) services and set the congregation straight on who is to be the boss around the church. 

Well I’ll leave off here for now.  Again this is a De-Construction article I am not offering solutions at this point.  I am in the process of de-constructing 38 years of traditionalism that has been paraded as good preaching and ligitimate Christian faith.  It is neither.  I believe there are good well meaning people who sincerely love God in this movement.  I also believe these same people are brainwashed to not think for themselves and blindly follow the leader who himself has been programmed by the movement.  I also believe that the way the system is arranged, the unaccountable, business model way of practicing “church” corrupts even the best of men.   Like I said, I am not offering solutions at this point I am deconstructing all the garbage that has been built up as an edifice to IFB style of churchainty.

Read Full Post »

Here are some links to articles I recently found and some friends have sent to me.

http://www.reveal.org/library/psych/healthy.html

http://www.independentfundamentalbaptistwatchdog.org/purpose.html

http://independentfundamentalbaptistmess.blogspot.com/

As I Look back on my “Christian” life or experience, I am seeing that much of what I practiced was nothing less than a man-centered religion. I found many parallels in my own life to the “un-healthy” found in one of the related articles.  I have blindly followed men in the past that claimed they had authority and anointing from God. I never questioned their claims of having authority over me, I just submitted and gave them unquestioning allegiance.

Now I am questioning!  I questioned the idea whether the “man of God” up on the stage is somehow more saintly, or more spiritually endowed than any other believer. The only answer I find in the Scripture, is that God has gifted some to be able to preach and teach (there is no dichotomy or separation in that gift, he is gifted to proclaim and explain the Word of God) but there is nothing that gives the man on the stage power to speak ‘ex cathedra.’ {ex cathedra: from the seat of authority; with authority: used esp. of those pronouncements of the pope that are considered infallible }

Yet time and time again, we hear from the pulpit, commands that are extra-biblical regarding length of a man’s hair, the requirement for women to wear dresses and not pants, which Bible Version we should use, and a whole litany of rules and regulations that are man made traditions proclaimed as Biblical commands to be kept in order we may please God and be blessed. A scoring system so that we can prove God loves us, if you will. In other words Performance Christianity.

I have had enough of the extra-biblical , toe stomping, performance based junk that is being preached in American Churches, especially in the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement. I have had my fill of topical preaching where the lecturer stands up three times a week and sermonizes on their pet topic. I am tired of sloppy preaching! Taking text out of context in order to preach some pretext that may give a warm fuzzy or step on some toes but is not God honoring and does more harm to the body of believers than it does good.
· Aside: I have to say this and get it off my chest. Recently I heard a sermon where the speaker used Luke chapter 20:9-18 ( I think he stopped reading at vs 16) Now this parable is clearly talking about Israel and how God dealt with his covenant people. The verse about the Landlord sending his son and the covenant people killing him is a direct, imminent prophetic reference to Jesus Christ and what was about to take place. That is straight up interpretation and application… Yet the message preached was “The God of 5th, 6th, and 7th Chances.” This message portrays God as some weak, anemic, pathetic figure who is wringing His hands and hoping that “this time” will be the time that you will choose to follow Him. That something He does this time will persuade you to try Jesus. …. Horsefeathers! That is not the God of the Bible! That is not the Creator God of the Universe! That is the weak, pitiful god of the imagination found in man-centered religion!
That is an example of the sloppy un-biblical preaching I can no longer tolerate. I will not expose my family to it any either.

Ok I’ll get off my soapbox for now. I’ve got to go rest and get my ankle propped up for a while. Enjoy the linked articles.

Read Full Post »

http://www.stufffundieslike.com/

This blog is a humerous look at the cult of IFB-ism, a.k.a. Independent Fundamental Baptist.  The posts are so funny mostly because of their accuracy in portraying the excesses of a good ideal gone horribly wrong. 

So Sit back, relax and enjoy “Stuff Fundies Like

Read Full Post »

Re-construction

Going to be off for a couple of weeks while my ankle mends. the Ice and snow we had left some black ice and my ankle was not up to my Peggy Flemming immitation.
I’ll continue the posts during my rehab/recovery in the weeks to come.

Read Full Post »