Breaking Free Of Religion
In my last post, I was talking about the Azusa Now event the recently occurred down in southern California and the acquaintance/friend of mine that spoke favorably of it. In this person’s estimation it was an exciting testimony to the widespread anticipated explosion of revival that many believe is soon about to occur in America. That all sounds wonderful and just might give you goosebumps, except for the detail that the folks leading this “movement” are literally willing to disregard the doctrine of Scripture for the sake of unity among different religions; namely Roman Catholic and Protestant (though my friend who attended also indicated that “all faiths” were represented there). I mentioned in my last post how one of the leaders at this event publicly told the 100,000 people in attendance that Jesus doesn’t care that Christians and Catholics disagree on doctrine! They may call it Azusa now, but I would dare call it Apostasy Now!
I also talked about how both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are really part of the same religious bloodline (as are virtually every Christian denomination in existence today because they all hail from a “protesting” ideology. Like Luther, they reject some of the legalism and doctrine of Mother Rome, but they have held on to much of the rest and merely “Christianized” its elements for the Christ-follower’s consumption. This is NOT how true followers of Jesus identify themselves. The identity of a true Believer is found in Christ Jesus alone and has no concern for trying to fit within the legalistic boundaries that other religions sets forth as essential, by re-labeling or adjusting those practices so that they appear “Christian”. Neither does the Gospel of Jesus afford that the doctrine of Christ is secondary to a so-called “vision of unity” among all faiths. This is a grand deception, but one that has been at work for many long years and we are now starting to see it emerge more publicly and more widespread than every before.
There is this image in many Christians’ minds that there has been this huge divide between Protestants and Catholics. Now we are seeing famous religious leaders proclaim that God is restoring unity between the two camps. But those who are not ignorant of the origin of the Protestant movement, understand that the two have always been related to each other (and in fact one literally was produced from the other). When you understand this fact, it becomes easy to see that this proclaimed “unity” (or re-uniting) is nothing more than a smoke screen to a devious delusion that has been in the works from the very beginning. Many Christians who do not describe themselves as “Catholic” have long thought their religious identification was perhaps best described by the term “Protestant”. In other words, if you’re not a Catholic, you’re a Protestant. But there is a massive problem with this concept, namely that does not come from Christ and cannot be found anywhere in Scripture. Nor is it the least bit representative of true Christianity.
When I first made my exodus from organized religion, I remember talking with someone online about aspects of the Christian faith and the term “orthodoxy” came up. Now, up until that time I had always presumed I held to orthodox Christianity, because my understanding of orthodoxy was with regard to the doctrine established by Jesus Christ and His apostles in the first century. I still hold to that ideal; However, as I began to re-examine the actual definition of the term orthodox, I found that embracing this concept was not as simplistic as I once presumed.
Here is this literal definition of orthodox from Webster’s Dictionary:
1. accepted as true or correct by most people : supporting or believing what most people think is true.
2. accepting and closely following the traditional beliefs and customs of a religion.
This is the dictionary definition of “orthodox” and was a bit of a shocker to re-read… “Accepted as true or correct by most people…” What? I could care less about what “most people” think with regard to the Christian life. What the Lord Jesus says is true is the only truth I desire to accept! Orthodox refers to “supporting or believing what most people think is true…” What they THINK is true? Since when has the Lord Jesus called anyone to support and accept what most people THINK is true? If you don’t mind me saying, that’s likely one of the major reasons why we have so many church organizations today that are all over the place with doctrine. It’s not that there is a problem with doctrine; The problem is that they are basing their doctrine on orthodoxy – what most people think is true… rather that drawing the truth from out of the Scriptures as plainly as Jesus spoke. We have pastors and teachers everywhere, giving their twist on doctrine and these become divisions apart from the sound doctrine once delivered to the saints, as we read about in Scripture.
The following is an excellent article, authored by our friends at ecclesia.org.
Why Believers should not attend Church
[Note. There are many godly people who attend church, and there are many positive things about attending church. Many people have discovered and accepted Christ in a church. This article is not putting down churches as far as a place to gather and hear the word of God, because it does not matter where one hears God’s Truth, as long as they hear it! However, this article deals with the topic of “how” we are to worship God, and addresses the belief that one must worship God in a physical building called a church. There is a difference between going to a place to hear God’s Word, and going to a place to worship God.]
Galatians 4:30-31 – There is a Scripture that tells us what to do: “Expel the slave mother with her son, for the slave son will not inherit with the free son.” Isn’t that conclusive? We are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
Galatians 5:6 – For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.
Matthew 24:1-2 – And Jesus went out of the Temple, and on the way his disciples came to him, pointing out the buildings of the Temple. But he, answering, said to them, “See you not all these things? truly I say to you that here there will not be one stone resting on another, which will not be pulled down.” (In other words… “Not impressed boys!”)
Acts 7:48-51 – “However, the Most High doesn’t live in a house built by humans, as the prophet says: ‘The Lord says, “Heaven is my throne. The earth is my footstool. What kind of house are you going to build for me? Where will I rest? Didn’t I make all these things?”‘ “How stubborn can you be? How can you be so heartless and disobedient? You’re just like your ancestors. They always opposed the Holy Spirit, and so do you!”
Okay folks, so I’m not especially brilliant with the titles I come up for blog posts sometimes (haha)… I’m even worse with book titles. I would never make it as a pastor (thank God)… Well, except for the long sermon part. By-the-way, someone asked me if this post could be made available as a PDF eBook, so here you go – just CLICK THIS LINK. I might add that this will be a bit of a lengthy rant (and everyone who knows me said, “as usual” – ha), hopefully not too redundant – although I admit I tend to reiterate things a lot when I am impassioned about something and really want people to sense the intensity of the conviction I believe the Lord has given me. I NEED AN EDITOR! That might have to wait until I get Truth-For-A-Small-Fee.com published. Hey, I’m kidding you! Hopefully some will find this affirming and also encouraging. May God highlight the truth and whatever may be more of me than Him, I pray it will not be a distraction from His truth.
I’ve also got my helmet on today in case of flying bricks (grin)…
To me this is a subject (i.e. “church” & “religion”) that is so “settled” now for me (because of my own journey that I have traveled), yet I continue to get emails about it and occasionally run into discussions with Christians who take great offense at some of my conclusions (or at least are disturbed by them and want to argue). The subject regards whether or not Christians need to (or whether or not they should) attend church. Most of you who frequent this site already know my thoughts on this for the most part. I have heard arguments on both sides of the issue; however, in my personal life, I refuse to let it be an issue at all anymore, since I truly believe that Scripture is so very clear on the matter and God truly has set me free. Nevertheless I will share (or rather I should say “reiterate”) some of my personal convictions on this matter.
As always, I invite each reader to consider these things in the light of prayer, your own study of the Bible, and to lean assuredly on the voice of the Holy Spirit who is the One that guides you into all Truth (John 16:13-15). I would not wish to presume God’s will for any person, but these are my sincere thoughts. To some this will sound like I’m “preaching to the choir”. But since, most of the time, the choir resides in a church service, perhaps that’s exactly who needs to hear this. Absolutely, lean on God and follow His instruction for your life according to the path He sets before you, day by day. With that introduction I offer this as food for consideration for those who have ears to hear. If you would like to respond (whether in agreement or total disagreement), please feel free to do so at the close of this posting.
So let’s get right into this…
While reading an article on another website recently, I started to think about how most church-going Christians tend to categorize and compare themselves against other folks. I feel pretty confident in talking about this subject because I was one of those church-going people for better than 30 years of my life. The article I was reading made a point about how the Lord views people as opposed to how religion often tends to categorize them. While I wouldn’t want to be guilty of plagiarizing the article I read (which was about the author’s perspective on the rapture – not the direction of my comments here), I do want to draw from some of the author’s example and utilize the following comparison for this discussion.
For the sake of example, let’s talk about a guy we’ll call Josh… Josh is a believer in Jesus; However, probably very few typical Christians would recognize him as such. For starters, Josh doesn’t go to church. Josh doesn’t have a pastor. Josh doesn’t tithe. In fact, Josh doesn’t give money to any church organization at all and, even worse, he often sleeps in on Sunday morning. Josh also doesn’t care too much about religious stuff, he doesn’t sport a fish emblem on the back of his car, he doesn’t wear Christian t-shirts, he doesn’t watch TBN, and doesn’t employ any of the typical religious lingo (what I call “Christianese”) that most other Christians do.
The impression that many church-going folks might probably gather from Josh is that Josh is not really a Christian… and I have to say that, if that frame of thinking is true of church folks who are sizing up Josh on these “qualifications”, then I’m quite sure I’m not a Christian either (at least in the eyes of a lot of these people)… In fact, I’m probably in even more spiritual trouble than our buddy Josh because I actually wear a t-shirt sometimes that says “No More Religion”, I have a website geared toward people who don’t “do church” anymore, and my wife wasn’t even a Believer when I married her (and I knew it)! By all traditional appearances, neither Josh nor myself are likely to win any “Christian-of-the-Year” awards and most church-goers, judging by typical religious standards, are going to shake their heads in disappointment at how far we have fallen.
But now I have to ask those who are concerned about Josh (or about myself… and many of those who fit in our boat of un-church-ish-ness), what does the Bible reveal as evidence of Christ at work in the life of true Believers? Jesus himself said that a good tree bears good fruit and that we would know those that belong to God by the fruits they bear… The question is, are we judging people according to the actual “fruit on their tree” – or according to some other religiously-invented criteria?
This last weekend was quite an interesting one for me and my wife. I thought I share it with you guys for fun… To start off, my wife had been watching TV earlier in the week and there was an advertisement for a local “Holistic Living Expo” at the convention center in town… She saw the pretty hand-made jewelry and natural soaps and other pretty things in the ad and wanted to go… So, we went. I knew, before arriving, that this would not just be a “pretty things” expo, but rather (what I call) a juju-fest. In other words, this is where all the new age knuckleheads pop out from under their rocks. Well, I was up for a little dose of crazy so we went. On the way in to the conference hall, I put my arm around my wife and just asked the Lord to keep His hand on us and protect us from anything the devil might intend for our deception or destructive influence. Though it’s rare that I ever even get near one of these kinds of events, I always seem to get a splitting headache from it. This day was no different. In case anyone is wondering, no, I didn’t go to a Sozo session or a certified TheoPhostic counselor to get relief (although they probably had their own table here too – hehe). It cleared up as soon as we got clear of the building. (ha!) Must have been a natural result of no longer inhaling the second hand marijuana smoke.
Recently, my wife and I watched the action-packed movie PRIEST. It’s about a warrior priest living in a futuristic society that is controlled by the Catholic Church. The Church rose to power after its priests defended the people against a massive attack of vampires. Now those vampires are back and one priest requests permission from the clergy to leave the city and find his daughter who has been taken captive. The Church, however, does not wish to acknowledge that there is any mounting threat and does not want the people’s faith in the Church shaken so the priest’s request is denied.
The priest rebels and decides to go rogue…
by David Y.
This last week I took a trip with my wife to Seattle to visit family. While we were there, we took a day trip up to beautiful Mount Rainier National Park to enjoy God’s creation. It was simply amazing! If you ever have the chance to visit the Seattle area in Washington, I encourage you to try and make a trip up to the mountains. They are simply spectacular and Mount Rainier is especially a sight to behold.
That was one of the highlights of our trip, as well as the joy of visiting my mom who as been recovering from a recent hip surgery and is doing awesome (thanks everyone for your prayers)! Another “highlight” of our trip (and, yes, I’m being a little sarcastic) was attending church with my family. I only make it home to visit my family every few months (sometimes longer), but when I do, mom likes all of us to go to church together.
Now, bless her heart, she means well, but I must tell ya that I’m not a big fan of her church. Nothing really in particular, but I suppose that right there is also the reason… It’s just a stereotypical religious organization. Of course my family doesn’t see it that way I suppose. To them it’s pure awesomeness (hehe).
We walked in and took a seat. A few moments later the service started and everyone hopped up on their feet to sing (on cue I might add). For a moment I felt like I was in an airplane just before take-off, watching the stewardess explain how to work a seatbelt; The worship leader started out by saying, “Come on everybody, clap your hands like this,” as if no one had a clue how to engage this strange new activity called hand-clapping.
Back in 2006, Wayne Jacobsen did an interview with some folks from Dublin Ireland (Collin Langran and David Rice) who felt God leading them out of the church building (and the traditional church mindset) and into a relational family life with Christ at the center. More than 25 years later and they are still functioning together as a simple family, without the need for institutionalized structure and mindset. They meet together as a family and there are no “pastors” the way we know pastors today. There is no ministry staff on salary either. I encourage you to listen to their story and discover how it is possible to experience fellowship as a family without any religious trappings. While so many of today’s preachers tell us that “it won’t work” without a building, without tithing, without pastors on salary, these are guys are proof that the traditional thinking is WRONG! Jesus designed His body to function (and function WELL) as a Family. –Dave (TruthForFree.com)
To listen to the audio file below, just click the link. To download the entire file, right-click on it and choose Save Target As.