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Archive for the ‘Toxic Faith’ Category

Ever have an epiphany?
I just did, I had a freaking crap storm of them.
It just dawned on me that in my youth I never expected to live to see my 35th Birthday so I never planned on anything after that. Nothing.
Zip, ziltch, nada.
No financial plan, no career plan, no retirement plan. Just work until I die… so, according to my original calculations I should have not made it to 35. Then my adjusted calculations said I’d never make 45 since my dad died at 44. Yeah, that came and went as well. The final calculations begin this year when I hit 54, the same as as my Grandfather when he died. (and please, nobody give me the whole “it’s in God’s hands” spiel. I know it as well as anyone because I’m still freaking here)
Yep, here I am. Here I am…indeed.
Funny how life doesn’t go according to plan eh?
Epiphany #2 is this: If things are never going to change.. why waste the effort in attempting to make a change? (and please spare me the the self-help, self actualizing crap about, “Only YOU can prevent forest fires” philosophy. Nope, don’t believe that any longer either.)
Time is not on my side, there is more behind me now than there is in front of me, and all the best is in the rear view. There may be some good days here and there in what’s ahead but, it will be neither quantity nor quality and that’s just the facts. That’s not pity talking, it is reality. And that was Epiphany #3.

So, here’s to the days ahead. I know not what they bring. I’ll face them one at a time, and make the most of what is left, with what I have left. A job (yeah ,yeah, yeah… I’m thankful for it… but I hate it) that sucks the joy out of me. A neglected body that will probably never recover from the damage done to this point. And an attitude (and PLEASE don’t lecture me about attitude and how I can change it! I’ve lived with it this long so I’m f-ing comfortable with it.) I tried to reprogram for the past four years and I’m just tired of trying. Life’s too short to eat crab legs… too much effort and not enough reward. Just do what is comfortable and hope for the best.

And that’s it for now.  I’m just weary, bone freaking weary.

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altar call

The altar Call is an outward show of how the pastor can emotionally manipulate his followers to do what he says through guilt and other pressure tactics.  It is a power play so that there is visible evidence of a successful sermon.  The (so-called) “Altar Call” is the pastor’s way of  “proving that he is worth his paycheck.”  It is part and parcel of the Man-centered Gospel of the Church Growth Movement in Modern Churchianity.

The church lecture series is all about the man in the pulpit no matter how much he claims to the contrary.  The Cult of Personality is the glue that really holds the congregation together.  Take away the charisma in the pulpit and the so called church that meets in the temple they have built for themselves will dwindle down and die.  The sheeple will find themselves another proxy god to put in the pulpit.  They must have their very own idol to listen to and to worship.

“Not a god,” you say?  Really?  Pastors are the gods over their congregations.  His is the only voice allowed to speak during the lecture and he cannot be questioned about anything he says from behind the so called sacred desk.  He is infallible and not to be questioned.  He demands loyalty and obedience.  His word is law.  The sheeple are conditioned to passively, and unconditionally accept what the man in the pulpit is saying no matter what he says.  The pastor is in fact speaking “ex cathedra” as he is the head of his church no matter who he gives lip-service to.

“I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it.”   -Lord Acton  expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887

_________________________
My premise is that any man who is given authority over others will, if left unchecked, make full use of that authority for both personal gain and personal power. The amount of corruption by this person will ultimately be decided by the amount of power that is available. As Lord Acton says, “Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority.”

In modern Christianity most church congregations are based on a simple design. The authority is vested in the persons of the (so called) clergy, usually at the consent of, or at least the tacit agreement of the (so called) laity. This Catholic Idea of Clergy/Laity came from the teachings of Ignatius, Irenaeus, Cyprias, and Augustine who created and promoted the whole “Christian” class/ caste system. While not addressing the theological issues of this problem Lord Acton actually does a marvelous job of attacking just such a system, “There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it.” As true today as when Acton said it.

-excerpted from my blog:  https://persifler.wordpress.com/2010/04/12/corruption-is-directly-proportional-to-the-level-of-control-that-is-available/

The “Altar Call” is nothing more than a way for the Pastor to practice his manipulation tactics while stroking his own ego.  I dare say that what most people claim to be a movement of the Holy Spirit is at best ginned up emotionalism brought on through guilt and spiritual/emotional manipulation.  Why would I say such a thing? Because the “feeling” is generally gone by the time you reach the parking lot, that’s why.

Finally, and most importantly, the Altar Call promotes a man-centered humanistic approach to religion and “salvation.”  It portrays a weak frail god who can only work in “his building” following the pastor’s sermon.  I have heard testimonies from folks who sweated bullets all week long until they could get to the Altar Call part of the service so they could get saved.  That screams of a god in a box who is so weak and so inept that that he has to have the work of the Man of god (little “g” on purpose) in order to save someone.  I have also heard of so called soul winners who got people to say the sinners prayer on visitation coaching them to come to church on Sunday and come down during the altar call in order to make their decision official with the preacher.  *groan*   No, no I don’t have all the answers.  I’m just now asking the right questions.  I just know that this Kabuki theatre that is being called “Church” these days is a sham and a shame.

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Over on http://www.stufffundieslike.com forum a question was asked:

Why Did You Leave? Would You Go Back?
For those of you who have left Fundamentalism, and I think that’s probably most of you who post here, why did you leave? Was it the theology, or was it the culture? If it was the theology, what specifically about the theology drove you away? If it was the culture, what specifically about the culture drove you away?

My answer:

Why did I leave?

Most of you know my story and the history of deception and lies I encountered in the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement.
http://www.stufffundieslike.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=45

Why did I leave?  Why didn’t I stay and fight?
I believe that there is nothing worth salvaging in the IFB movement.  I believe it is a religious cult movement that should die a very public, and very convincing death.  The heart and core of IFB error is Theological Error.  The error lies in how the IFB presents and views God in relation to both the individual and the “Ministry” of the Local, sanctified, separated, sold-out, sanctimonious sect of believing believers.  According to IFB dogma the “Local church” is superior to all other things Christian.  In theory and in words they say they worship a sovereign God… but in practice God’s sovereignty ends with the
preeminence of the individual’s free-will.  In a nutshell, God is viewed as a reactive deity who frets around his heaven wringing his hands hoping that there will be someone to stand in the gap, make up the hedge, and come up with a masterful formula for winning souls to Christ.  Because we know that Church in the IFB is all about the numbers.

Numbers and power actually.
I am more convinced than ever that,   Most churches today have a “pastor” who oversees the entire operation, and there may be a deacon board that is either working with the pastor or against him… either way it is doubtful that either “office” is operating biblically. With the advent of the Professional Clergy there has been a rise in the cult of personality as well. The Professional is seen in a light that is clearly not biblical and we see that whether by “influence” or by acquired “authority” these men rise to prominence. Even the small rural churches are patterned after this and the pastor is looked on as a man of authority over the congregation. And there is the rub.
Even the meanest paid rural “pastor” would not willingly give up “his power” over even the smallest group of people. It is not about the money, heaven knows many, if not most, small congregations pay at or below the poverty level. No, it is about power to influence and control a group of people and mold their worldviews.(This is the danger of the passive approach to worship where a one-way conversation takes place.  The only view allowed in these meetings is the pastor’s.  This affords almost total control by the speaker to inject his own views as ‘god breathed’.  Whatever the “anointed”, “man of god” says while behind the “sacred desk” will be seen as, and accepted as, the “word of God”.) That is an especially strong allure for men of lesser character who are drawn to such positions. I have no doubt that there are good men who are trying to do what is right in these positions and I commend them and pray for them but the position itself is the enabler, the seductress; and even the best of men will, sooner or later, succumb to the temptation of power. We see a picture of this in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings Trillogy”.   As a Ring Bearer, Frodo Baggins had an awful burden to carry yet, even he failed in the end and succumbed to the power of the ring; unable to destroy it he claimed it for himself.  The thread through-out the tale is about power, the use and the abuse of it.  Many who would have taken the ring would have done so out of a noble purpose but would have been corrupted by it’s power and their corruption would (like Sauron) only be limited by the (unlimited) power of the ring.

Would I go back?
No, not even if my life depended on it.
I truly do not believe that the IFB movement is worth saving, and I truly believe that it is a cult.  A very seductive powerful cult that relies more on the abilities of man and less on the power of the god it claims to serve.  That may sound harsh and it may be.  I know that God does work in the midst of even the very worst of these bunkers.  But I do believe that the error and the man made traditionalism and the King James only idolatry that is practiced in these dens of sanctimonious piety is deadly poison to  sanctam ecclesiam catholicam; sanctorum communionem.  (the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints)

Where am I at spiritually now?
That is the hardest thing about leaving the IFB bassinet, one has to start thinking for oneself.  I was fortunate in that about the time I left the enfolding tentacles of the IFB, I broke my ankle.  How was that fortunate?  I was able to spend almost 6 months examining my worldview.  I was able to take a long hard look at who I was in Christ, what I actually believed, why I believed it and I wrestled with several items that I had to abandon because there was no reason other than man-made traditionalism that I was holding to them.   It’s much tougher than having someone spoon-feed you how you should act and think.  But the realization that you are no longer performing according to someone else’s standards is very spiritually refreshing!  Yes, there are often doubts and you find you might be out on a limb that you would not have climbed before… but the learning experience is so worth it.

In conclusion, I know that there are brothers and sisters in Christ who have a death grip on their comfortable religion and practices in the IFB bunkers which they live and breathe.  But I have found so much fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ outside the bunker system that I could never go back into the cave to stay.

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Just updated all the Marjoe Links.  This is a must watch documentary.

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0824122008

Yep, nothing says Salvation like a handy-dandy tract strategically located on your basic “American Standard” wall urinal.

Here we have your basic Semi-Pelagian* religious tract attached to a “Pisseth against the Wall” toilet device.

Doing one’s soul winning doody.. er.. I mean duty, by trolling public restrooms with religious tracts will earn you points with gid in heaven… you have his Word on it.

*http://the-highway.com/pelagian_Sproul.html

The Tract text can be referenced here:

http://www.fellowshiptractleague.org/tract_html/english/134/page_flip/134.html

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Charles Finney and the Heresy of American Pelagianism (White Horse Inn)

From Finney we can easily track the Church Growth movements in America that have been used in lieu of true evangelism.

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Ken Burns series is back on PBS tonight so this topic is fresh on my mind.

We have all heard the stories in the IFB about how one drink of demon alcohol will lead one down the path to distruction.  Many of us have heard the story of the broken home and one of the most poignant is the story of the little girl who goes to the saloon to plead with her father to come home and he ends up killing her.  Chick made a tract with basically the same story.

Ken Burns tracked down what I believe are the origins of the story.  You can read the book online here: “Ten Nights in a Barroom and what I saw there.” by T.S. Arthur

There was a propaganda film produced in 1909 by the same name and a remake in 1931.  Watch the 1931 version here. 

It’s interesting how the IFB has perpetuated the propaganda of the Temperance  and the Anti-Saloon movements for over 100 years.

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