By Nathaniel E. Hocker on February 6th, 2020
Are we assessing potential spiritual damage we may be causing when certain religious tools are used unethically? Are we evaluating our approach to ministry? Are we listening to the heart of people? Where is the message of Jesus in this new age of greed, corruption and lies?
The Bible has sadly become a weapon against people, over the tool of reference it was designed to be. Passages are taken out of context, bent into man’s agenda and then retranslated back to” broken” people. I am describing, frankly, the “system” that is the business of church (Christian church). When money is at stake, necessary to run the institutions we call “church”, fear must always be the card in play . . . It keeps butts in the seats if you’re of a contemporary persuasion or in the pews if you’re of a traditional echelon.
If it weren’t for the prescribed fear curriculum of “fire and brimstone”, one might be a good person anyway and pursue their beliefs. The injection of “Hell” alongside a very conscious, yet viscous ruler, Satan, is enough to scare a blade of grass from bending! Who wouldn’t surrender to Christianity with this kind of looming threat? A lake of fire? We can be “in the world, but not of it”? I must be saved, sanctified and filled with the Spirit? I can’t raise questions? This, my friends, isn’t religion, even spirituality, it’s brainwashing.
Christ followers should know and understand by now that He didn’t call you to GO to church, but rather, He called you to BE the church! The church Jesus spoke of is a body of believers, not built temples dedicated to the glory of Hollywood production, with key actors (pastors) who seek the spotlight and a Bentley . . . where your pocketbook is the ticket to blessing . . . ENOUGH!
Tyranny No More
As a young boy, I wasn’t given the option to not attend church or discover my own spiritual path. I was told to believe in God, no other way to heaven but through the Son, the lot. My family ventured from one denomination to the next, from Baptist to Methodist, Non-Denominational to Pentecostal; messages were overlapping confusedly; worship sung from hymn to praise team productions; people running the aisles; choir marching in from the back to off note singers; hands lifted to knees bowed and bodies bent; black church to white church; these were my experiences!
How could anyone find their way, spiritually, when the various expressions of Christianity are so vastly different, yet the process to heaven is supposed to be the same? I assure you that the message of the Baptists is not the same delivery nor curriculum held in the Pentecostal denomination, either one, racially diverse.
Having experienced these many faith traditions, I quickly noticed that like any pie, the message of Jesus had been sliced up . . . and uneven the pieces are. Some receive a larger piece, more theology, others smaller, lesser theology, and even some receive a “wavering” theology, you know, the ooey gooey whateverness remainder of the pie? No single denomination enjoys an evenly sized piece of Christianity and the taste is certainly questionable per the faith tradition. Wait . . . Surely something was wrong, right? The answer in my mind: “Yes. Something is wrong where certain denominations practice one way and some another. If we are to be “as one”, then why is Christianity operating so differently amongst its various denominations? And why are there so many damn denominations?!” So much irony is in these questions . . . This isn’t to imply that everyone who believes in God worships as a robotic body, one way, but maybe it would help if Christians were in sync, you know, on the same page?
I wasn’t allowed to ask this or any question(s) growing up because I was taught to never question the “Word of God” (Bible). I wasn’t allowed to ask about any means or methods of operations, though a question as to why someone would take off running during praise service was okay; they had “caught the Holy Ghost!”
I would later in life, coming of age, be made aware of the many corruptions in the pulpit, the scandals of key figures seeking to get rich, the congregational agreements – prayers needed to seal the deal on new stuff, but for who, the Pastor(s). Money talks, money lures, and the love of money quickly scales the balance from up to down. How politically American. “God really wants us to be as rich as possible!”, so we continued to hear. How and why did the message go from, “Give unto others”, to “Being blessed means being rich”? Are the pastors to blame solely or does the fault lye with us? Quite frankly, if we knew the Bible, we’d know that this kind of happening, shouldn’t. Furthermore, this is wrong in every way! If even Jesus didn’t have a house to call home, shoes to wear, or even a place to lay His own head, then why would we ‘crown’ our spiritual leaders as monarchs and be okay with it? Why would “Pastoral Worship” not be seen in the likeness of idolatry? This is, ladies and gentlemen: “Prosperity Gospel”, a new wave of mind disruption, cultist mentality, a new brand of Christianity – perhaps the next chapter . . . This was the commencement of a new chapter in my spiritual journey, however. This specific instance among many issues lead me to rethink my theology, my faith. It would become the breaking point at which I would leave it all behind for the better . . . Enough is enough!
Truth be told, Christianity is not what Jesus taught. This is man’s labeling of a loving ideology that wasn’t meant to be boxed up and offered as a 66-book care package with amenities such as concerts (praise and worship today), coffee bar (mega-churches love it), and awesome sanctuary acoustics (if it ain’t Hollywood quality, it wont sell) – sold to the most vulnerable. What began in the Middle East thousands of years ago is somehow lost in translation today. The experience is indeed a different arrangement of mixed messages, false hopes, and million-dollar one-liners. People world over continue to ‘take the bait’, as it were, and feed on the illusions of grandeur that Christianity offers. All the while, the decline of the Christian Church is in its own refusal to confront reality, furthermore, many churches refuse to change and evolve alongside culture. Before I digress into a plethora of more issues, I no longer refer to myself as a “Christian”, which after 32 years of doing so, seems crazy. How in the hell did that happen . . .? I was the “church boy”, the “little Reverend”, the “goody two-shoes”. My heart breaks for the many others who will be spiritually destroyed by this ‘machine’ that is both Christianity and man-made, but more so, this isn’t what Jesus intended.
This is my experience – to be continued . . .