Occultism and the Double Bind

 I wrote this thing a week ago, and wasn’t sure what to do with it.  I’m still unsure so I’ll throw it out there and let y’all tear away at it.  It was largely written in reaction to an online book I read that you can read, too.  Once I got through it, I could see some parallels with Mormonism and traditional Christianity and other orthodox totalitarian religions.  The results usually result in senseless bloodshed.  Once I saw where the discussion of the post below was headed, it was the green light to post this one which simply expands and exposes.

 

11/25/2007

 

How odd.  I endeavor to find God’s favor, to experience life with Christ without a human seer/facilitator/prophet/divinator/sorcerer/medium, and I’m accused of being an idolitor.  I want all believers to experience unity and community in Christ, free of human-created baggage and I’m a rebellious heretic.

 

Oh well.  Jesus said if it happened to Him, His followers should expect no less.

 

After shooting up that latest post and responding to a couple comments, I spent some time reading an online book I had downloaded.  It was eye opening, to say the least.  I had only done a limited amount of study on the subject, but here I got a really thorough treatment.  I might suggest reading about the Mountain Meadows Massacre first, and then reading the rest to get a fuller view of how it all happened or could happen.

 

All cults have certain features in common.  The first and foremost is the dogmatic view of submission to human authority.  Without this, there can be no control and hence no cult.  While the concept of free will is given lip service, people are psychologically enthralled and bound to the binder, who is the human authority. 

 

The primary psychological tools for binding people into a cult are guilt and threats.  These are the sticks.  The psychological carrots are reward and community.

 

Guilt is a very well-worn tactic for exerting control over those bound to the binder.  Through the use of some psychological judo, the binder can actually inflict their own shortcomings and faults on the bound.  “If you are really faithful, then you would (insert obligation and duty here).”  “If you refuse to do (insert obligation or duty) you are being selfish.”  Or perhaps you will be called rebellious, undisciplined, lazy or unfaithful. 

 

It’s important to note that these can be applied at anytime, regardless of any past service, compliance or effort.  Just because you were exceptionally faithful last year, or with another duty or in another situation, that does not exempt you from being guilted on the next go ’round. Any cultic entity must be able to exert control continually.  Like the hamster on the wheel, you must keep running.

 

Let’s talk a minute about why people get caught up in cults for a minute.  I’ve never met anyone that woke up one day and said, “You know, I think I’d like to be psychologically abused and messed with for most of my life!”

 

People usually come into these organizations with some sort of need.  They need community, friends and support; they want to belong. Perhaps guidance, direction, purpose and a need/want to serve are reasons they go looking for something.  And this is where the carrot kicks in.  Most cults promise a sense of belonging in a unique and special community.  They also promise some education in the form of teaching some special and exclusive truth that is unavailable to those on the outside.  They offer shelter and support from various outside dangers.  Finally, they usually offer some sort of payoff and reward, such as a Celestial Kingdom, eternal life, a permanent legacy or perhaps enlightenment.  Maybe 70 or so virgins.

 

So when a new person comes in, they are usually welcomed warmly.  They are surrounded with nurturing and caring.  The person believes they have found a family; a place where he/she belongs.  Then the person is initiated into their new family/community.  All is well as they are instructed into the ways of the cult…until the new initiate starts asking questions or bridling at increasing responsibilities.

 

Now the binder begins to truly exert his will over the bound.  First by guilt.  Then by threats. 

 

Threats are usually issued alongside accusations of heresy, apostasy and blasphemy.  In some cults and throughout history, these have been and are treated as capital crimes.  What these accusations truly boil down to, is the failure of an individual to submit to some human authority.  If the penalty is not death or some other physical abuse and torture, there are still psychological threats.  First, there is the loss of eternal reward and the not-so-veiled threat of eternal damnation.  Most people travel the road for a considerable distance before realizing where they are being led.  They invest much time, resources and effort towards the cause and towards their eternal reward.  Giving that all up can seem a very high price to pay, indeed.  In the case of Mormonism, it is eternal life with their families versus eternal separation.

 

But there is also the threat of being disfellowshipped.  Shunning is a common punishment for those who may choose to come out of various cults.  They may become estranged from their extended family and their support system. 

 

Most people who are part of a cult have absolutely no idea they are part of one, until the begin questioning.  Even then, they will be called doubters, accused of having little faith and finally be accused of being rebellious and perhaps in need of discipline.  The real and final tell, is when a person tries to leave.  Guilt and threats slip into overdrive and finally as they leave they are almost thrust out and seen as contaminating to the rest of the body of believers.  Shunning is mild in comparison to groups who will kill, murder and maim in the name of keeping out heresy, blasphemy and apostasy.

 

In the binder/bound relationship, the binder usually has groups of people bound to him (it’s usually a man, but can also often be a woman).  The people are managed very much like a herd of livestock.  They serve the interests of the overseer, and are bound to submit to his authority.  In return for their loyalty, the people/livestock group are offered protection from heresies and apostasies and blasphemies, and they are fed the truth.  If one of the bound begins questioning the truth, the binder will remind them of their obligation to serve and the relationship that requires them to submit.  The binder will remind the bound that they must have faith and trust.  If the bound begin to struggle as they attempt to apply their own experience and intellect, they may be chided by the binder for their lack of faith and their lack of humility. 

 

The problem with this binder/bound relationship is that it requires the bound to be put into a role that the binder is not necessarily bound into.  They may have been in the past, and worked their way up the Amway-like hierarchy.  But the bound almost always carry more of the burden than the binder and derive the least amount of benefit from the relationship.

 

Another byproduct of this occultic relationship is that it sets up enmity between them and members of larger society.  Basically, as people join and get acculturated into the “truth” they are on a collision course with those who will not ascribe to the same truth.  Remember that the biggest threats to a cult are heresy, apostasy and blasphemy.  Any free society is filled to the gills with heretical apostate blasphemers and unbelievers!  Many of them are trying to rob the followers/livestock and increase their own flocks and herds at the expense of each other.  There is no way any semblance of unity can exist in a place where such fear, intolerance and intimidation exist.

 

The leaders/binders/farmers try to distinguish their flocks and herds from one another and do so by highlighting the differences as far as rituals, beliefs, doctrines and theology.  The wider the chasm they can create between their own bound livestock and the neighbors, the less likely the animal/followers will be to wander off or to be lured away.  They often give lip service to unity, community and peace but they practice the exact opposite.  The more they teach and engage their initiate, the more they divide. 

 

Religion, by it’s very nature, is an exclusive business.  Each religion is trying to peddle its particular brand of truth which necessarily excludes all others.  Even Hinduism, which sees itself as highly tolerant, will exclude others on the basis of not accepting their inclusive doctrine exclusively!

 

So we have this situation within Christianity, where several different doctrines are being peddled about and seen as Truth.  And it puts several of us at each other’s throats.  Is that what Christ envisioned as He hung on the cross, forgiving and saving the thief that hung beside Him?  That thief had all the needed elements for salvation, if you believe at all in the Bible and what it says.

 

Jesus was the model and example.  We should follow Him as best as we possibly can, entreating Him forgive us as we fail.  Jesus had much to say about human authority and to the human authorities of His day.  Basically, in Matthew 20:25, He enjoins His followers to not only not lord it over each other, but he plainly states that we are NOT TO HAVE AUTHORITY over one another.  Call no one rabbi, teacher or father, because we have only One, Who is in Heaven.

 

Jesus exercised His authority over demons, illnesses, the weather and over fish.  He really never exercised authority over other people.  In fact, Satan tempted Him with just that and Jesus refused.  He spoke out repeatedly over and over again AGAINST the exercising of human authority over one another.  This is precisely why the Pharisees hated Him and tried to kill Him.  The charge was blasphemy.  Jesus never charged anyone with blasphemy, apostasy or heresy.  The Sanhedrin convinced the Romans to try Him on account He was leading some sort of rebellion against Rome, largely on the basis of His teachings against their (the pharisees’) authority.  They were corrupt and perverse, which will always happen when men seek to get others to submit to them in the name of Christ, Caesar, the Republicans or any other party or cause.

 

I seek to know and follow Jesus Christ alone, fulfilling the scriptures that say we can be called children of God and members of a royal priesthood.  And yet because I’m not submitting to a person, who is not Christ, I would be called an idolater.  This is the occultic double bind which is so pervasive among people who are afraid to let people reason and think and decide for themselves.  They are afraid of the priesthood of the believers.  They fear loss of control and seek to employ intimidation to rule and consolidate control and influence, as well as to buttress their own demonically controlled systems that are totally unbiblical.  For Satan’s desire is the same as the Pharisee: to control, manipulate, accuse, dominate, sow discord, frustrate and to wound and even kill those who would refuse to submit. 

 

Whether you are a Pharisee in a Jewish synagogue, a protestant church, a Mormon temple or Catholic cathedral it makes no difference.  Your attempts to prevent heresies, blasphemies and apostasies attest to your unbelief and lack of faith.  The Holy Spirit is bigger than anything you can possibly teach, preach or conjure up.  The Truth will come out *in spite* of everything you do.  The more you try to prevent heresies, the more heresies you commit!  No institution, movement or human intervention has ever prevented heresy.  Every human institution has sown fear, terror and discord.  The hierarchy is not a protective castle, it is a white washed tomb. 

 

This business of whipping the herd/flock into submission needs to come to an end.  Jesus said “Feed my sheep” not beat them over the head and about the shoulders!  But as long as the blind guides continue to insist they be followed as to the Lord Himself, it will be necessary for reformations to happen over and over and over again.

Perfect love casts out fear.

 

Unless the leading virtue is love, there is no light. 

Just to add a couple more thoughts:

There is no human-created structure, body or institution that can protect us from the cosmic forces of evil and darkness that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 6.  None.  Attributing divine properties to structures created by human hands is idolatry, plain and simple.  Saying that there is extra divine protection under the covering of some certain church leader or pontiff is a further heresy.

W e can certainly offer each other much support in a loving community of believers.  We can help each other, lift each other up and serve each other.  We can thrive in such a community.  But there times when the community may become toxic.  Those folks in Waco, those folks that drank the kool aid in Ghana and in a host of other places and times.  Every movement has a group that ends up going crazy.  The point is not to disparage Christian groups, but to lift off the burden of guilt for those who choose to jump out of the bus before it goes over the cliff.  Being in the wilderness does not have to be a spooky, scary, threatening experience.  God’s grace is sufficient, especially in a time of relational transition.  In fact, no other relationship will substitute for Father’s.  None.  Trying to find a substitute is….you guessed it….idolatry.

I’m just on a journey in search of authentic Christian relationship.  Not something contrived.  Not something that is just on paper and is paper thin.  God’s doing something, and I’m seeing what it is in order to come along side of it and join in rather than asking Him to join in whatever I’m doing.  To simply assume I’m just doing whatever the hell I please in order to please myself is a gross oversimplification and an inaccurate generalization.  I could do that in the Methodist church!!  I could do that in the CGM church my wife attends!  In fact, I can do that in pretty much any and every church group in the country.  Releasing out of that is actually more difficult that staying in.  Now that I’m fully not “affiliated” I discover what the status of my relationship in the community truly is.  And it is exceedingly poor.

If there’s a community worth joining, God will lead me to it.  It might not be the most direct route, tho, as He works out some of my personal character defects.  And there will be some pain involved in that.

I’m not convinced Jesus instituted ushers, greeters, parking lot attendants,  nursery workers, acolytes, organists, music directors, building custodians, secretaries, business managers, choirs, youth pastors, associate pastors, grounds keepers and a host of other machinery in order to run and conduct a typical Sunday morning meeting.

 

D.

 

 

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13 Responses to “Occultism and the Double Bind”

  1. Jesus Christ Says:

    By studying your Article I got to know about the real meaning of Occultism and much more about the god and really I am in need of this information thanks for providing this valuable information in this article.

  2. FTN Says:

    This was a great — though strongly worded — post. I’m still looking for that scripture where it says that some are given as greeters, organists, and parking lot attendants. You mean that’s not a spiritual gift?

    Let me just say that although no human-created structure can fully protect us from darkness, and all are fallible… I still believe we NEED a community of believers. That’s not to say that Jesus isn’t all we “need.” It’s just that I believe that community — those friendships — are vitally important. While I may not get a lot out of a Sunday-morning teaching, the conversations I have with a few guys that I know always leaves me a bit richer. Look at the books of Proverbs and Psalms — they are FULL of David talking about the importance of having a brother or two to help pull you along. THAT is what the church is.

    So when you say, “If there’s a community worth joining, God will lead me to it,” know that you can’t just sit back and wait. Be proactive! Search people out! Because I agree, God is doing something.

  3. Digger Jones Says:

    THANK YOU JESUS!

    I’m reminded of that odd experiment in the ’70’s where they took people who claimed to be Jesus from different institutions and housed them together in order to see if being faced with another of their sort would break down the delusion. It didn’t, of course, as each one gently claimed they were still the original while the rest of them were loving people but crazy.

    The search for community is exactly the bait that is used by cults, FTN. Even long after the theology has crumbled, people will persist in a toxic community because of their NEED for belonging.

    FYI, most of those fantastic Psalms were written while David was ALONE! In fact, most of the Bible was written by people who were alone at various points in their lives. Ask your friends and they may share how leadership of any sort is often a very lonely business. Pastors are among the loneliest folks in the world. Jesus endured the cross pretty much alone. Perhaps Jeremiah wished the folks that threw him in the well would have left him alone!

    I’m not saying it is fun, but some solitary time really seems to be an essential part of growth. At least that path seems to be one that has been well- traveled by Biblical giants.

    Having said that, I agree that authentic Christian community is a wonderful thing that allows the people to combine and use their various gifts and is essential for apostolic mission. There’s a time to be in the wilderness and a time to come in from it. It’s hard to have a community if everyone is alone!

    I’m not just sitting and waiting, FTN. I’m searching God’s heart! Like Jacob, I sometimes wrestle with Him. Searching out people before searching out God is backwards thinking, IMO. Wouldn’t you rather your daughter search out your heart before she decides which boy to date and eventually marry? Or which gang or cult she is going to run off and join? Perhaps her time would better be spent with her father before being proactive in searching out other people. And eventually, you might introduce her to some fine people who meet with your approval and will love and care for her as you do.

    How much more with God and His children? How much looking did Jesus do? He just naturally drew people to Himself, and I think His people will also draw others and be drawn to each other. I’m not against intentional communities, just those where there is some other center instead of Christ. The strong wording was why I sat on this post for awhile. It has enough in it to offend a lot of people. But this is a journey and if I’m in error, then I’m willing to work at it. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

    D.

  4. FTN Says:

    Digger, I think you’ve got a good point about searching and wrestling with God before searching out people. I only wrote what I did because I really don’t KNOW you as a person. Sure, I’ve read your thoughtful insights for the past few years, but at the same time, I’ve also known people who seemed intelligent who, out of the blue, told others that God said they need to cut off all contact with their family, or divorce their spouse, or shave their head and call themselves Hambone.

    If I knew you personally, I would probably more understand… But you can understand my hesitation to encourage someone on the Internet, that I truly don’t know all that well, to “go it alone.” Even if they claim that includes God.

    Although, it’s funny… I should trust God a whole lot more than I trust other people! Some of it is probably a slight personality flaw of my own — I much prefer time with groups of people to alone time.

    Most of those people in the Bible had at least SOMEONE they could go to in times of need, even if they did spend time alone. Jesus needed at times to go off by himself, but in the long run, he picked 12 guys to be in his close circle. I’d love to hear some of the day-to-day talks they had that weren’t captured in any of the gospels!

  5. Desmond Jones Says:

    I’m sure I have something to add to this conversation, Digger – I’m just not sure what.

    The Christian community that I’ve belonged to for the past 30+ years has, on occasion, drawn accusations of being a ‘cult’. It’s possible, especially in our early years, that we might have deserved it, at least in part. We did, for several years, have ‘one strong leader’ who, in the fullness of time, was found to have been abusing his authority, altho his ‘circle of abuse’ was never all that big a chunk of the community, and none of the other ‘leaders’ were similarly inclined. I could talk about my own experiences of this guy, but that would mostly be a diversion from what I mean to say.

    Being social is part and parcel of our human nature – we are made for relationships with other people. In our community, we are fond of saying that the nature of Christian community is ‘right relationships of brotherly love’. And I strongly resist the notion that there is a kind of dichotomy between love of God and love of the brethren. They are two sides of the same coin – “Anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”

    Maybe it’s the Catholic in me, but isn’t it significant that Jesus founded a church – ‘a people for Himself, zealous for good deeds’? Brotherly love was the most significant marker of the early church – ‘see how they love one another!’

    I don’t think that love of God and love of the brethren are nearly so ‘separable’ as what you depict here. Yes, there will be times when I am more ‘alone’ and ‘one-on-one’ with God; there will also be times when my brethren ‘hold me up’ and help me through dry times when God seems distant. But it isn’t ‘one or the other’ – loving the brethren doesn’t happen at the expense of loving God, nor vice versa.

  6. Xian Husband Says:

    So much to say, so little time and space.

    I just think it is amazing how much Bible you know and yet how badly you seem to miss the point of it.

    First off, Jesus not asserting His authority? So many examples, from “if you love me, you will keep my commandments” on. Jesus not building a community that included authority? He told His Apostles, “If they reject you, they reject me, and the One who sent me.” We have Paul telling the Ephesian elders, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

    And that, even as he prophesied that some of these very leaders would go bad and harm the church. And when that event finally happened, what did he do? He sent Timothy to Ephesus, telling him to remove the bad leaders, and appoint good ones — not to scrap the whole idea of leadership. THAT would have been completely out of the question, as it was not man, but God who instituted church leadership.

    Ephesians 4 and all that.

    Which is why Acts 15 is so important. The Jerusalem Council could not have had any place in a community that did not have clear lines of authority. Some people calling themselves Christians were hundreds of miles away teaching something others felt was wrong. The solution? Get the leaders together and decide for EVERYBODY what was the right thing to teach. That decision was then bound on ALL.

    All of which is just a practical working out of what Paul abstractly deals with in Romans 13 — that ALL authority is established by God and submitting to it is part of submitting to God, and rebelling against it is rebelling against God Himself.

    You can’t do it on your own for a great many reasons. First of all, it is flat-out disobedience to the Lord who tells you to submit. Second, God has created us as a community to need each other, because He has not given every gift to everyone. We were created to work together. Third, this is the working out of salvation itself. The words “personal savior” never appear in scripture. Jesus Christ is NOT you “personal savior.” What He is, is the savior of the Church — “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved THE CHURCH and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself THE CHURCH in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.”

    Salvation is never an individual thing, it is a collective thing. Christ saves the Church. If you are in it, you are saved. If you are not, then you are not. And being a part of the church requires unity and submission to each other — as Christ’s prayer in John 17, Paul’s discussion in I Cor 1, I John 2, and so many other passages show.

    Christ came to purify for Himself a PEOPLE for His own possession. A kingdom of priests for Himself. His own body. To be alone is to be outside the community, which is to be outside His kingdom.

    Which is to be lost.

  7. Digger Jones Says:

    Did I ever say I was against Christian community? But those crazy people you talked about, FTN, who said they heard God tell them something out of the blue; most of them were probably part of a community that felt likewise. Testing the spirits is an individual as well as a corporate responsibility. It helps to have some other folks to give constructive feedback and let a body know when things are getting out of hand.

    As an example, I see that your comments reinforce that I seem to be communicating some sort of anti-community message, Desmond. So I need to rethink my thinking and and my writing. Much of what I’ve been reading about emotional enmeshment within marriage sort of mirrors the sort of larger thing I see, experience and read about in the institutional hierarchy. I’m challenging some very cherished beliefs, here. But loving one another is what I’m challenging. To put it back where I was coming from, the Mormons can be a very moral, sincere and loving community. They are also very religious. Their religion is also based largely on fiction. I could join them and be part of a very loving religious community, and would be required to submit to their leaders in order to join. The question is this: would I be better off with them or with no one?

    XH, you and I are going to have trouble seeing eye-to-eye on most things, as we read the same scriptures differently:
    “If they reject you, they reject me, and the One who sent me.”

    That applies to every one of us, not just the original 12! Jesus did not disfellowship anyone, and the ones he spoke against the most were the leaders themselves; that same ones who had Him crucified!

    In the post above this one, I have a link referencing the “Bed of Procrustes.” It practically leads directly to your front doorstep, and truly highlights why you and I will be locked into a struggle where we are on seemingly opposing sides. From W. Carl Ketcherside:
    ———–

    I have a deep sense of compassion for those of my brethren who are the constituency of the Churches of Christ. They are heirs of a movement which began as “a project to unite the Christians in all of the sects,” but they were fragmented into so many rival factions and warring tribes that any real witness attempted by them for unity is virtually negated among thinking people. Even the type of approach toward unity by most of them only serves to widen the existing chasms and create new cleavages.

    The reason for this is quite understandable. Our brethren have a veil over their faces in the reading of God’s message and they cannot distinguish between the divine revelation and their own human interpretation. They confuse their deductions with his declarations and seek to bind all equally upon the hearts and consciences of those who are willing to be servants of God but are not willing to be slaves of men. Unless our brethren are transformed by the Spirit and renounce their false premise they are destined to become the most narrow and antagonistic sectarians of our age.”

    ———end of quote———
    http://www.freedomsring.org/heritage/chap15.html

    Hey, *I* didn’t write that! I stumbled upon it while looking for something Schnarch referenced (Procrustean Bed)in his book and stumbled into some religious content. I seem to running into this sort of thing a lot lately.

    Perhaps Google and Firefox are demon possessed!

    You give me things to think about and challenge me, XH, which is good. But the chasm that separates us is not narrowing! Am I moving further from God and thus further from you? Because I AM on the move! Hopefully towards a better and more balanced relationship with God and other Christians. I obviously need to get more balanced in the community aspect.

    D.

  8. Xian Husband Says:

    First of all, Jesus did not say that to all of us, just to the 70 he sent out. To say that it applies to EVERY Christian would be a leap of interpretation outside of what it written. If that’s what you want to believe then I guess you will, but you can’t justify it on scripture.

    Second, I’ve often said that it is dangerous to take what is believed (or perceived to be believed) by many or most people in the Church of Christ and extrapolating it to me. But even so, why do you think Ketcherside’s opinion has any weight whatsoever? Fine, that’s his opinion. My opinion is that, in my experience, when people start complaining about someone else’s “rigid interpretation” and how they, instead, need to be “lead by the Spirit” it is usually code for saying, “Wah! They told me I couldn’t do whatever I wanted to while trying to justify myself by taking scripture out of context, and it makes me mad, so I’ll call them names.”

    There are few things on earth as powerful as the drive to protect self. And the human ability to reason never elsewhere demonstrates the power it exhibits in the justification of self and what the self wants.

    In this “journey” you are on, you decided the destination before you ever set out, and you decided it on your own. Did it come from studying what God said? What good and devout and zealous Christians said over the last 2000 years? No, you took what you wanted, said it had to be true because you wanted it to be, and are now seeking to justify yourself. This isn’t being “spirit-led.” It is being self-led.

    Just because you’ve seen human abuses of divinely-appointed offices doesn’t besmirch the office itself. Just the person fulfilling it. If, in your experience, EVERYONE who tries to fulfill this office is doing it wrong then, instead of blaming the system you might want to check and see if the groups you are observing might be to blame. Not the idea of institution, nor the whole set-up of institution, just the particular examples you are dealing with.

    And it might be helpful to consider why these particular groups might be exhibiting these particular problems and abuses.

    But to say “particular (fallen) humans in leadership roles disappointed me, so that means all leadership and the very concept of leadership is all wrong” is a response way out of proportion to the issue. It speaks of deeper reasons, seeking the abuses as a justification to do what it wants to anyway. Perhaps to be free of ALL outside authority? To be free of anyone who would say, “but that means this,” or, “but we have to believe that,” or most particularly, “but you can’t do that.”

    It speaks of a soul that wishes to be its own God. That wants to determine right and wrong, true and false, good and bad for itself. To be free from all outside compulsion — to find it’s own path. To find itself. To be God for itself.

    I will take this stand now, and on these things I stand: there is Truth and there is falsehood. Absolute Truth. Truth is not relative nor subjective, but objective. When God gave the Truth to His prophets and Apostles it was singular, not multiple. It was one. To believe in Truth is to believe exactly what God said is True. Not all opinions are created equal, and to say that you have your truth and I have mine, that truth is relative, and that any opinion is equally good is to betray a lack of faith in the One God who IS Truth.

    Things are True because God says they are — what He says is True is, by definition, what reality IS. And God spoke the world into existence.

    The scriptures, then, are not a matter of “interpretation” in the sense many want to use, because there is but one truth they speak to. Not all interpretations are equally valid because there is but one Truth. Either you believe it or you believe a lie.

    And lies have no power to save. Sorry, Kevin Smith, what you believe DOES matter. One who has faith in a lie does not have faith in God because God has no communion with lies.

    The goal then is not to try and use scripture to prove one’s own point of view as true, but to search to find what one’s point of view should be. Not to find oneself, but to find God and Him alone. In that search the guidance of the Spirit is, obviously, essential — for He is the Spirit of Truth. But so is the church, as Paul calls it “the pillar and foundation of the Truth.”

    To search for it alone, on your own, outside the Body is to search for it where it is not.

    Doesn’t mean that anything that calls itself “church” is equally effective here. There is but one Church, the Body of Christ. While this is not equivalent to only one earthly organization, neither does it consist of every organization that wants to claim it. The claim to be Church rests on the solid foundation of Truth — those that believe it, teach it, and proclaim it are in it. Those that do not are not.

    If you look for Truth where it is not — in oneself, in the world, or in those that in vain take the name of the Lord — one cannot but fail to find it. If you are unsatisfied with the answers you have found then your initial motivation is right — look somewhere else. It’s just that you’ve turned to find it in the wrong direction. The solution isn’t to move from those that falsely claim the name “church” to those who do not even claim it at all and instead to those who actually have legitimate claim to the name.

    You have a role to play in this as well. God created you for a purpose. He gifted you with all your intellectual gifts for a reason. But that purpose can only be fulfilled in the arena He has prepared for you. That is not alone in the desert. Wander there is that is where you want to go, and when your soul hungers and thirsts for that which is True and that which is Pure, then turn yourself back to the City of God, to the communion with the Sons of God, and to the Rampart of the Truth.

  9. Digger Jones Says:

    Egad.

    XH, meaningful debate with you on the Bible is absolutely pointless. You want to apply certain scriptures to the people Jesus actually spoke to in Luke 10, but then you want to apply other scriptures to all of us who were not the primary audiences as in pretty much every letter Paul ever wrote. Is your name Timothy or Titus? That’s pretty convenient.

    And so it is that you pretty much expose your own hypocrisy. You can not live up to the Truth that you want everyone else to live up to. You want to pick and choose what applies where. You make up your mind what you believe and then go searching for scriptures to back it up rather than reading what it actually says. Jesus either meant what He said or He didn’t. He either intended for us to follow Him and His example or He didn’t. We were either meant to read and apply the scriptures or not. This is the same stuff you spout off all the time, and yet you slink off the track at the first chance!

    Ketcherside simply nailed it dead-on. You want to play God with the consciousness of other people. You are not the one who decides who gets in and who doesn’t. You don’t even get a vote! You do not get to decide who is in the church or who isn’t. And if you see yourself as fit to judge, you pretty much disqualify yourself! People become members in Christ’s church, not by you, me, the pope, Joseph Smith or anyone else. Christ alone invites us and calls us in. And He’s the only one who can bar the door.

    D.

  10. Xian Husband Says:

    Give me a break! When Jesus sent out the 70, He sent them and only them out — a hand-chosen few — and He gave them special authority. Authority to heal and to cast out demons, and to call people to the Kingdom. When He said those words to them, He was clearly saying them to THEM, and not to everyone else. That whole passage is one of a special appointment by Christ.

    On the other hand, when Paul describes the Church to Timothy in the other passage I quoted he said, “Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”

    And you say that this has no relevance to us? Come on! The exegesis here is simple. He gave instructions so that those of us in the Church would know what conduct is expected of us in the Church. Why? Because the Church is special, and Paul tells us why.

    This is just reading what was written in context. Understanding who wrote what to whom and for what purpose. We’re not talking rocket science here.

    Yes, Jesus is the judge. Yes, He is the one who determines who is of His flock. But He tells us exactly what criteria He will use: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven,” “If you love me you will keep my commandments,” “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me,” “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats….The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'”

    Are we maybe seeing a pattern here? If it isn’t clear there, it is certainly clear from the teachings of His Apostles.

    While we cannot judge another person’s heart, we can certain compare their words and actions to the standard set before us. We are called to do so, because that is the first step in holding each other accountable. Which is our duty to each other and to our Lord. If someone says, “I believe that faith alone saves,” then we are CALLED to point out that the only place the words “faith” and “alone” appear together is in James 2 where it says, “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” It is our DUTY to take a stand for the Truth and to point out error. Especially error that destroys salvation in Christ.

    Christ, by His own words, came for the purpose of giving witness to the Truth. He then gave His Church — the pillar and foundation of the Truth — the Spirit of Truth. Truth matters. He gave it to us and told us to guard it, and if we do not do that we are shirking our duty to God and being disobedient children. We are called to defend the Truth by confronting lies — “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

    This isn’t playing God with people’s conscience, it is being a witness of the Truth. It is taking a stand for God’s words and His Word. It is following Paul’s attitude and actions when he would say, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” Just let it go! God forbid!

    You’ll do what you want and you’ll believe what you want. But allowing someone to believe convenient lies is not loving. The loving person would keep their brother from walking off the cliff. The loving brother would give warning. The loving person would do all they could to keep their brother or sister out of such dangerous waters. To say, “Sure! Do what you want and let God sort it out” is to allow someone to play Russian-roulette with their eternal soul. That sort of apathy and disinterest doesn’t come from love, it comes from its polar opposite.

  11. FTN Says:

    I really have to say, XH, that honestly, I don’t even know the specifics of what you are saying. You are trying to be very strong-willed with the “Truth,” but your truth is quite vague when it comes to real-life application. Give me some specifics. What is Digger doing wrong? What are you warning him about? You have a number of long comments where I read the entire thing, and I honestly don’t get your point, other than, “You are wrong and I’m telling you what’s right.”

    So what’s right? Seriously, I need some specifics. No more vague ramblings about truth and lies and exegesis.

    Must one sit in a church pew weekly to attain salvation?

    How about twice a month? Even once a month?

    And which church building? Will any church building do? Does it have to be your church? One that you “okay”? One that the Holy Spirit reveals as being true? What are the EXACT criteria? You’re an engineer, surely you can be more detailed on what’s required of the church.

    Is switching church bodies not allowed? Must I stay with the same church my entire life regardless of what happens there? Would leaving be going against the authority that God has instituted? When am I allowed to find another church community? Must I do it immediately? Am I allowed to ponder and think and wrestle with God about it for a couple weeks? A couple months? Does it have to be in a brick building with a cross on the front, or could I meet in a friend’s basement? How about at Starbucks?

  12. Xian Husband Says:

    First, “Church” is not a building, so talking about those is meaningless. Church is a community, a nation.

    A family.

    It’s a community, so asking how often you have to “go” is nonsensical. It’s a community. You are either a functioning part of it, or you are outside of it, and where you are is defined by your personal involvement. By relationship.

    Just showing up and sitting in a pew at worship is pointless. We all know of people who come to worship every week yet are not part of the community. They come in late, sit in the back, scoot out as soon as it’s over if not before. Never talk to people. Don’t know anyone and nobody knows them. They are outsiders of the community.

    At the same time, if you aren’t sharing on a regular basis with your brothers and sisters what should be the central focus of our lives, then you obviously aren’t a part of it either. And the writer of Hebrews says, “Do not forsake the assembly.” Just know that if your only involvement with the church is Sunday morning in the sanctuary, you are probably not “community” either.

    Church is a community that, like all, is brought together by a particular unifying principle. Chess clubs get together to play chess. Book clubs get together because of a mutual love for books. Etc. With the church this principle is our common faith. We are united in our holding and believing a certain set of Truth-claims about God and man and the world and life and death, etc — and our belief in these things must be demonstrated in our actions. Everything we do in life, family, ministry, etc is done in light of these Truths because that is what it means to be a part of this community.

    Problem: Not all communities that call themselves “church” are necessarily a part of the Ecclesia Christ founded, but only those whose faith — and actions — are True. Only those that believe the Truth-claims God Himself proclaimed to us and not truth-claims from the mind of men. A great deal of people who call themselves “Christians” are a part of communities united by faith in lies.

    So, should Christians switch church bodies? Well, if their “church” is not Church then certainly, because there is no salvation outside of Christ’s Church. If your “church” does not believe, confess, and teach the ancient Apostolic faith then by all means find one that does! But if your church is True, and you are a part of that family, why would you want to leave?

    This is about relationships!

    Part of this family relationship — as we’ve been discussing here — is submission to the authority God has provided for it. In the nuclear family that authority is ultimately the father, and on a lesser scale the mother. Children obey your parents. Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord. This is a relationship that was CREATED to mirror the Trinity itself. God the Father supreme, Christ the Son submissive to Him, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from both.

    This Trinitarian/familial relationship is also reflected in the Church. The head is Christ, the Bridegroom. Under Him, in the position of submissive and secondary authority are the institutional leaders of the Church. Below both and submissive to both as children to parents is the body.

    Does church need leaders? That’s like asking “does a family need a mother?” or “does the Father need the Son?” Of course it does. Should the body be in respectful submission to them? Should your children obey their mother? This is not authority that places itself between man and God anymore than my wife and her authority over my children comes between them and me. It is not absolute authority, but derived authority — authority derived from Christ, the head, appointed by Him. This is the structure the relationships of this community live in.

    Every club has a president, ours just happen to be hand-picked by God. If you want to be a part of the club you respect the leaders that are there and abide by the by-laws put in place, and willingly contribute whatever special talent you bring to the table for the good of the group as a whole.

    I said it once, and I’ll repeat, if you are looking for Truth outside Christ’s church you will not find it. If you’ve looked for it in communities that are not Church then you were destined to fail. But no more so then looking for it outside of community altogether. The primary job of the leaders Christ appoints for us is teaching. Helping us find Truth, live in Truth, and stay firmly planted in Truth so we are not tossed about with every wind of doctrine. That is where Truth is. That is why Christ created this community in the first place.

  13. Differentiation « Reality & Redemption Says:

    […] her from Unsolicited Advice WP because this nicely dovetails into some discussions we’ve had here and […]

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