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Posts Tagged ‘Power and corruption’

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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propaganda-edward-bernays-1928-cover

Opening passage:

  THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.

      We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.

      Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.

      They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons—a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty million—who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.

      It is not usually realized how necessary these invisible governors are to the orderly functioning of our group life. In theory, every citizen may vote for whom he pleases. Our Constitution does not envisage political parties as part of the mechanism of government, and its framers seem not to have pictured to themselves the existence in our national politics of anything like the modern political machine. But the American voters soon found that without organization and direction their individual votes, cast, perhaps, for dozens or hundreds of candidates, would produce nothing but confusion. Invisible government, in the shape of rudimentary political parties, arose almost overnight. Ever since then we have agreed, for the sake of simplicity and practicality, that party machines should narrow down the field of choice to two candidates, or at most three or four.

Read more here:    http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/bernprop.html

Americanized Religiosity is an important part of the Control Mechanism.

As distasteful as this ideology is to the “American Spirit” of rugged individualism it is an accurate observation on the mechanics of how society operates.   The important thing is to see it, understand how it works and be aware of how it is being used.  Knowledge is power.

Personally I would rather be consciously aware (at least as much as is possible) of how I am being manipulated than blindly following the power masters programming.

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So we don’t forget you can watch it here:
http://abc.go.com/watch/2020/SH559026/VD55121488/2020-48-victims-forced-confession%20entire%20episode

*EDIT:  You will need to go to ABC and download their player.  (This will also allow you to watch any of their shows on the internet as well)

http://abc.go.com/

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Christopher Peterman has been expelled today, just days before he was to graduate from BJU.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151561551900506#!/DoRightBJU

Watch his statement on video here:  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151561551900506#!/photo.php?v=10151561551900506

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Another good one from  Jeri Massi @ jeriwho.net.
Again what we have is a moving target and the bullseye is some mythological place in the mind of the observer.  The “Center of God’s Will” is the Holy Grail of the Fundie world.  Some place that will create a spiritual, (if not physical, finincial and emotional) utopia.  Being in the center of God’s will means you are in the zone, in the bubble, in the zen of perfect enlightenment.
Oooops, shhhhh, there’s the secret they don’t want you to see, that the doctrine of “Being in the Center of God’s will” is no different than that of Perfect Enlightenment, Trancendental Peace or whatever other religions call it.  However you label it, it boils down to man’s efforts, man’s abilities, and man’s benefit.  It is the effort to appease one’s god according to rules, standards and opinions of those who observe and judge.
And she has hit the nail on the proverbial head: “Christ is victorious in all that He came to do on earth, and that God brings about every end that He intended from the beginning.”  This does not give us license to sin, but it does take away the burden of the Law, and the power of sin in the believers life.  It also portrays a God who is loving and compasionate and long suffering rather than the Zeuseus poised and ready to hurl lightning bolts at those outside the “Center of his will.”

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Want to increase your evangelism effectiveness?

 

Want to see an increase in the number of decisions you get each week?

 

Have we got a Program for you!

 

A Program for those who are serious about growing their church!

 …and don’t forget your breathmints

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Why I fled Facebook

On April 27, 2010 I declared my Independence from Facebook.  I have broken ranks from the masses and ran for the exit, though I fear it may have been in vain and I fully expect to hear, ‘Relax, we are programmed to receive. You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave!’  [1] 

“Why” seems to be the question Inquiring Minds want to know.  Why bail out on such a good thing.  To answer that I have to confess that I am not wired like other people, and I may be a little too, Fox Mulder-ish.  Where others see Facebook as innocuous and something good, pointing to the old friends and classmates that it allows one to reconnect with, I see it as more insidious where way too much information is being collected and the collected information is being used to mold an experience.  That is social engineering and a type behavioral modification.  When the machine dictates what you see then it can influence how you think.  In my mind that is dangerous.

Why did I choose April 27th?  This was a day of convergence turned divergence for me.  I had already been toying with the idea of leaving FB for a number of personal reasons but then there were two articles, a change to FB that confirmed one of the articles and one posting in particular that convinced me it was time to go. 

From one of the articles (http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/04/27/tom-helou-internet-cybersecurity-al-qaeda-password-google/ ) there is a heads up regarding corporate security and privacy issues.  In part it says, “As the global recession drags on, sensitive information only becomes more valuable – and more vulnerable. Former employees, upset over a recent layoff in these hard economic times, have insider information that can be used to access company networks and obtain corporate data. Depending on how big their axe to grind is, now it’s all too easy for the disgruntled former staffers to plaster sensitive intelligence all over the cyber-world.”[2]   Now the phrase that pays in this article is “more valuable and more vulnerable.”  Anywhere there is the lure or temptation for making $$$ there is the possibility for corporate hanky-panky and industrial espionage.  This article also talks about last month’s attack on Google where their source code was hacked. Again the article points out, “Consumer records can be left uncovered in the process of a breach, and the virtual identities of millions are left for the taking. In 2008 alone, 285 million consumer records – or nearly one per American – were compromised.”[3]  So the problem is both real and imminent.  I realize that is true of all sites that gather personal information on its users.  So why do I worry about FB so?

Glad you asked.  Now as most of you know I am a conservative and I never in my wildest dreams ever, never thought that I would be on the same side of an issue with Sen. Chuck Schumer… but here I am.  Today, the 28th I ran across this article and find I am in league with the Senator and others as, “Senators ask Facebook to alter feature that shares info.”    The lead  for this story begins, “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg‘s latest vision of making the social-networking giant more visible on the Internet may resonate with marketers, but not all of its 400 million members are sure.”  What that means is FB, in order to make more money for themselves, and create a personalized internet experience for you, will now be, ”involved intermingling your life as a Facebook user with other activities around the Internet.”[4]  In other words they are going to make your information available to other websites that you visit so that when you visit these other sites you get a page that has been customized to your personality based on your FB information . 

Now Facebook has already been doing this.  You know all those ads on the right hand side of the page?  They all have the like button with the thumbs-up in the lower left and the “x” in the upper right.  If you like the ad and give it a thumbs up you  will see more of the same type and category of ads.  If you click on the “x” then you see less of those.  I remember when they started using that information to customize the in house ads that we saw.  In a way I am thankful for the machine’s use of that information because I remember how ugly it was when the ad would pop up for unwanted hair removal  accompanied by the gal with the Sasquatch pits. I probably should have ran screaming from FB back then… but I stayed.  FB has now evolved to the point that it leads instead of following.  It is now powerful enough to dictate what it will do and how it will do it.  This is seen as a boon to the movers and the shakers and all the marketing types.  Cha-Ching!  I see this as social engineering, corporate manipulation and behavorial modification that is beyond my ability to control.  To my way of thinking this level of manipulation is dangerous and borders on brainwashing.   Of course we have been under such attacks since the first marketing ad that was ever put on a shingle and hung outside a business.  It has now taken on the sophistication of fine art and we just fall in line and get in step.

Then there was the app that sent me over the edge.  FB is full of all these “Fun” questionaires.  This is where FB seems to take on a darker air.  Take a look at the questions.  They are very generic it seems but if you look at those questions you see a profile developing.  The FBI could not do any better at gleaning information in a full on interview as people give up willingly in these questionnaires.  Now let’s go all hypothetical shall we.  Person “A” fills out several of these funzie questionnaires.  Putting all of their personal info on them: age, gender, likes, dislikes, wants, desires, traits they admire in others, types of people they like… you know the spiel.   Along comes person “B”, a friend of a friend.  Now “B” is a creeper, a stalker type.  They read about “A” and since “B” is well versed in manipulation they soon strike up a conversation with “A” and using all the information that was freely and willingly supplied by “A”, “B” soon gets into the confidence of “A” and from there the games begin.  Maybe “A” becomes a missing person not long thereafter?  Who knows… that is a hypothetical postulation but the information that is so freely shared with others is real and is forever in memory in cache somewhere. 

Now look at your info tab on your profile page.  What can we learn about you?  Lets see: age, gender, education, likes, hobbies, music, movies, relationships, books you read, email, websites, your political and religious affiliations.  This is the info that FB is opening up to other sites you visit so that they can “customize” your experience.  Maybe it’s just me but I remember that Michael Crichton techno-western Yule Brenner played in, Westworld  “Boy have we got a vacation for you… where nothing can go wrong!” [5]

I am at a transition point in my life right now and it seemed a good time to escape the assylum.  Arkham was getting crowded and I needed to work on other endevors, including this blog.  I am on the mend physically, and mentally and emotionally I have excised some demons from my past that have haunted me for years.  It is time to start some reconstruction amidst all the deconstruction that I have been doing here lately regarding my worldview.  I also have to devote more time to preparing myself to go back to work.  So here at this cross-road I choose to take the road less traveled.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost[6]

I may yet return but not right now.


[1] http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/eagles/hotelcalifornia.html

[2] http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/04/27/tom-helou-internet-cybersecurity-al-qaeda-password-google/

[3] Ibid

[4] How to Take Control of Facebook Privacy, http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/04/27/control-facebook-privacy/

[5] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070909/combined

[6] http://poemhunter.com/best-poems/robert-frost/the-road-not-taken/

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“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

This arose as a quotation by John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902). The historian and moralist, who was otherwise known simply as Lord Acton, expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887: (1)

Lord Acton took a great interest in America, considering its Federal structure the perfect guarantor of individual liberties. During the American Civil War, his sympathies lay entirely with the Confederacy, for their defense of States’ Rights against a centralized government that, by all historical precedent, would inevitably turn tyrannical. His notes to Gladstone on the subject helped sway many in the British government to sympathize with the South. After the South’s surrender, he wrote to Robert E. Lee that “I mourn for the stake which was lost at Richmond more deeply than I rejoice over that which was saved at Waterloo.” (2)

In 1870 came the great crisis in Roman Catholicism over Pope Pius IX’s promulgation of the doctrine of papal infallibility. Lord Acton, who was in complete sympathy on this subject with Döllinger, went to Rome in order to throw all his influence against it, but the step he so much dreaded was not to be averted. The Old Catholic separation followed, but Acton did not personally join the seceders, and the authorities prudently refrained from forcing the hands of so competent and influential an English layman. It was in this context that, in a letter he wrote to scholar and ecclesiastic Mandell Creighton, dated April 1887, Acton made his most famous pronouncement:

“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.” (3)

_______________________________________________

I apologize for the history lesson but I felt is was necessary to lay a foundation for the argument I stated in the title. In this history of Lord Acton’s dictum we see that he makes application both in the political realm and the religious. Given today’s socio-political climate I could just as easily argue from the political angle showing the relevance of his statement to 2010 America, but I would rather persue my own leanings and follow the Religious path.

We see that Lord Acton himself made a stand against the corruption in religion that results from an unhealthy accumulation of power. In Lord Acton’s day it was a stand against the man-made notion of papal infallibility. Here today I wish to take a similar stand against a parallel crisis. Whereas the Roman Catholic system has a centralized Pope which Lord Acton recused for such a power grab as papal infallibility, I wish to make the same accusation against modern Christianity where the Local Pastor is infact a defacto local pope. Unlike Acton I will step over the Theological line and call into question the Protestant (and Baptist… for those Landmark folks who claim the Baptists were never protestants) use of the leftover Clergy/Laity system that came over from Roman Catholicism and whether such a system can be defended biblically.

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.

In Ephesians 4: 11-16 it says, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

In this passage we do not see offices to be filled but gifts that are given to “equip the saints for the work of ministry…”

Yet, by and large, most “churches” see the gifts as offices and positions to be filled. This idea of ecclesiastical offices would have been reinforced in the King James translation of Scripture especially since, thanks to Henry the VIII in 1534, the English monarch was also the head of the English church. The translators would be sure to frame their wording to reflect the offices of the church in deference to their King. Therefore, we see that the offices of the clergy were firmly established in a translation that was Authorized by a political ruler who was also head of the English Church at the time. This is the beginning of the protestant veneration of the person who holds the office rather than the service and the doing of ministry by the gifts given to the body of believers. This kills the spirit of service and produces professional “office holders” that I refer to as hired guns.

“There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it.” This has become a real problem in the churches of America today. Most churches today have a “pastor” who oversees the entire opperation, 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 wheather by “influence” or by acquired “authority” these men rise to prominence. Even the small rural churches are patterened after this and the pastor is looked on as a man of authority over the congregation. And there is the rub.

The man holding the office is elevated above all the rest and his position is considered more sancitfied, more holy, and more powerful simply because of the office. This is heady stuff even for the best of men to guard against. The drug of power is very seductive and there are few men who do not succumb to it’s influence. At some point men holding these offices begin to believe in their own positions and begin to use both the assumed authority that the office brings and the power and influence it affords, for their own purposes. The Christian world is replete with tales of those who have abused their (so called)”offices” just as often and just as wickedly as any of the pedophile Priests in the Catholic church. That is the problem, the office creates a caste system where the Clergy is the ruling caste and the Laity is the subordinate serving caste reinforcing the political framework in the religious setting. At best men succumb to the evil over time; at worst men of poor character seek the office for the very reason we are discussing, to acquire power. Once the seduction with power begins the level of corruption will be commensurate with the level of power that is available.

Is there a cure? I believe that there is but it is so radical I doubt very seriously it would ever be adopted. The first step would be, to do away with the professional Clergy. Practically speaking this will never happen. The established Clergy and the pattern for their existence is too powerful. Never, of their own free will, would any of the professional “pastors” ever give up their position of power.  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 nobel 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.

1. http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/288200.html
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dalberg-Acton,_1st_Baron_Acton
3. Ibid.

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