Update: I decided to restore this post and just take my medicine. Have at me.
I am sure I’m going to regret this but I was asked again today by a very well-meaning friend why I don’t attend a church of my choice.
I have some questions that I’d like answered and some statements.
1. My understanding is that the professional priesthood/ministry/pastor/teacher job ended when the veil split in the sanctuary (Matthew 27:50,51) forever ending the separation of God from His people. Is this not true? Did not Paul himself continue his trade while establishing local churches and exhort Timothy to do the same? I have a major problem with multi-millionaire preachers or even those who live better than the most humble of their flock. I believe the closer New Testament example would be to keep your day job and practice your spiritual gift of preaching, teaching, prophecy whatever.
2. Show me in scripture where tithing is called for in the New Covenant. It’s not there. If you’re going to live by the law then live by all of the law. Shellfish anyone?
3. What are these ostentatious and overblown buildings for? My understanding is that the old temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and will not be rebuilt until Christ returns and the only other temple is our bodies.
4. I recognize the need to have communion with other believers. In Acts these meetings took place in homes. If too many people start showing up start another group.
Churches and Christian groups do a lot of good in the world. Don’t get me wrong.
I don’t tell anyone not to go and tithe and be on building committees and on and on. If you want to meet and pay some person a salary to talk to you then by all means do so. It’s none of my business.
I also have never been able to get one Christian “professional” to answer any of these questions without a lot of spiritualizing and obfuscation.
I’m not proselytizing anyone.
All of this actually kind of pushes me to the Catholic Church because if you’re going to buy into it you may as well buy into the original brand.
If you want to talk or convince me then please do. If you want to be mad please don’t.
It is not my intention to offend anyone or belittle anyone’s beliefs.
The opinions are my own and do not reflect the opinions or views of management.
Although I disagree with Mr. Hitchens basic premises I find him to be articulate, witty and charming.
I recently read an article that was written by his brother Peter, a former atheist, concerning his own conversion and his relationship with his brother.
See that article here.
1For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;7a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
As I write this my sister-in-law who I have known all of her life and is one of my favorite relatives is dying in the hospital with acute leukemia.
My wife, understandably, is extremely upset.
This young woman (early 50’s) has already survived a bout with breast cancer a couple of years ago only to be stricken again by this terrible disease.
As I thought about this tonight I remembered reading somewhere that it is God Who is in charge of the times and the seasons of our lives. I think on the internetmonk site but in a different context.
My sister-in-law is in His hands and has been since before the beginning of time.
It is hard for us to understand and accept but accept we must.
I don’t mean to not fight and try everything possible but when all is done and the science is insufficient then it is time to let go and seek peace.
She is in pain and suffers. If this suffering is to no point then I pray that it will end. Soon.
IMonk posted a very interesting message concerning God’s will and knowing it. See it here.
My tiny contribution there is this:
This post is a more eloquent description of one of the reasons why I reject most if not all of evangelicism.
God is not some big vending machine in the sky so that if we deposit enough coin (faith, tithes, obedience, etc.) then push button B and 6 God is obligated to give us our Twinkies (put your own desires in here).
God is sovereign.
The only clue I have as to His will are the very simple things that are told us in scripture.
To paraphrase Jesus, be nice to each other and worship God above all others.
To paraphrase Paul, go tell other people.
I won’t be putting out any fleeces or any of the other gyrations to know God’s mind. I can’t know it.
I can trust God’s mind.
So I am free to live and move within that mind of God without the constant struggle to make sure I’m making all the steps 1 through 12a to live.
Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty free at last.
Strangely, thinking about this has led me to at least the beginnings of another answer in my life.
I don’t want to be a Roman Catholic.
I am certainly attracted to the beauty, tradition and majesty of the Roman church.
But, believing as I have stated above, how can I be apart of a fellowship that teaches that if I confess to a priest and say 10 Hail Mary’s then my sin of lusting after a new guitar is expiated?
I realize that is an unfair simplification but it is what it is.
This leaves me with rejecting both orthodoxy in most forms and absolutely rejecting the evangelical church.
What’s a fellow to do?
Constructive comments welcome.
This past Easter weekend two of my dearest friends were formally taken into the fellowship of the Catholic Church.
This in and of itself is a little amazing but not shocking given that many evangelicals and former evangelicals are moving towards Orthodoxy in one form or another.
There are, however, a few things that I believe make this extraordinary at least for me.
Bryn and Sandra befriended my wife and me many years ago when we were perhaps not newly minted Christians but were certainly not deep in the faith.
Bryn in particular was and is a mentor to me as well as my friend.
I want you to imagine that person or one of those people that were there for you and helped guide you through the early days of your walk with Christ or “the Christ” as Bryn is fond of saying, becoming Roman Catholics. Think of it.
Those of you who are regular readers of the internetmonk have watched and in some detached way seen what Michael Spencer, an ordained Southern Baptist minister and educator has gone through during his wife’s conversion the Roman church.
Bryn was one of three older men who mentored and were spiritual guides for me.
Bryn and another dear and departed friend lead my brother and me to a men’s spiritual retreat and training that I still look back upon with deep appreciation for the many lessons learned.
Both of the other men have now gone on to be with the Lord.
Bryn and Sandra also opened their home to us and several other couples for a home bible study/worship service that to this day has not been equaled in my experience for its depth and warmth.
These are not flighty church jumpers.
Bryn is a 71 year old semi-retired architect and Sandra has raised two beautiful daughters as well as put up with Bryn for a long, long time.
Sandra, being clearly much younger, could possibly be looked upon as doing something out of the impetuosity of youth. Bryn has no such excuse.
I spoke to both of them at some length last week and the single question I had was this.
Both talked at some length about things that they liked or didn’t like about the churches from their past and their new church home.
They both talked to some degree about the theology and apologetics.
When it finally got down to the basic truth they both were looking for authenticity in their worship experience.
This is a reason that reverberates with me.
This is reason I understand I believe many evangelicals can identify with.
Our churches and the worship experience have turned into extravaganzas and circuses meant to attract the “unchurched” and entertain the masses.
I wish my friends all of the happiness and blessing possible in their new spiritual home.
They may soon be joined.
John Dennis has written one of his typically astute posts on his “If” blog.
This one is concerning bibliomancy (Notice the other superstitious and occult references on the same page in the online dictionary).
See it here : JohnDennis on “If I Could Just Find The Right Verse”.
While he deals in a pointed and hilarious way with this superstition I would like to add my own 2 cents. (That and $6 will get you a cup of coffee.)
How many times have you sat through a sermon or teaching while the speaker was lifting bits of scripture here and there to make a topical point?
I have no real beef with topical preaching/teaching but I do insist that if you are going to take this hodge-podge method that it:
1. Support a solid biblical concept/truth.
2. That the lifted scripture not be out of the context of where it is in the narrative of the bible.
The bible is not magic.
God is not the big Make-A-Wish-Foundation in the sky. (Wonderful organization here on Earth.)
Study your bible. Read it like a book not a dictionary or as an unrelated bunch of quotations.
John 3:16 makes a statement alone that is consistent with the overall message.
Be careful that you don’t apply the magic method to Matthew 27:5.
I have a confession to make.
I do not attend any organized form of worship service on a regular or even a very irregular basis.
I of course go to funerals and weddings and have occasionally gone to a local megachurch to hear my nephew sing.
My inclination is to blame this all on the churches and the people who run them. You can see from the last post of imonk that I put up links to here and in other postings of his and the comments that there is plenty of wrong to go around.
The real problem is me.
I wrote to a famous blogger asking what are we to do as far as finding a church in response to a provocative blog about the ills of evangelical churches. His response was that if I couldn’t find some kind of group to worship with amongst all of the myriad possibilities out there than there is something wrong with me.
He is right.
I do have many issues with churches. It is the reason I started this blog. I’m not talking about the groups that deny the deity of Christ or His Supremacy. They are not my concern in general except as fellow humans who may need to be presented with the gospel.
No my issues are with the evangelicals. One thing is I have been surprised by how many groups take on that appellation.
I once, in my distant youth, even wanted to be a bible teacher or pastor. I did succeed for a while in leading a large group in bible study (40-60 a week) but I betrayed the trust of that group and eventually even blamed that on others.
I am by nature a weird combination of both a cynical skeptic and a hopeful dreamer. Not a great combination if you are looking for something inspiring in others. Looking for some evidence of the Divine in the people around me that claim brotherhood with the Risen Christ.
As noted above, I am chief among those who have disappointed others. Deeply disappointed. Ruined families. Deeply damaged my own family. Hurt and confused younger brothers and sisters in Christ.
Yet with all of this I presume to set myself up as an arbiter of what is right and wrong with the church both local and universal.
Talk about a hypocrite.
I know none of us is worthy and I may be slightly more honest than others may be willing or able to be at this time but that does not excuse my behaviour.
I’m not sure I have the guts to push the button and actually post this. We will see later.
So I guess you could say that guilt is a big part of why I don’t go to church.
There are other better reasons that would certainly be more palatable to others but they don’t seem to matter very much right now.
I know where I need to be and who I need to be with. I just don’t have the stomach for the worshiptainment and circus nonsense that goes on at most of the groups I would consider aligning with theologically.
I have even flirted with Catholicism but there are just a few points that I can’t seem to get past. (There’s some of my line in there Mr. Bell).
I don’t need or desire anyone’s sympathy or even deserve it. If you want to pray for me then pray. Don’t tell me about it. God will know.
I suppose for the time being I will suspend my series on why tithing isn’t new testament biblical or there is no model for a professional clergy. That we don’t need these giant stadiums complete with coffee shops and indoor gymnasiums. I could go on.
All of these things I feel strongly about but do not believe I am qualified to comment.
A dear friend of mine once told me that he thought I had the gift of prophecy, the telling it like it is variety not the world is coming to an end type, and that Satan had sabotaged my life to make me ineffective.
That is flattering but I am sure it makes me out to be be way more important than I am.
So, there you go. It’s me.