Rhonda and I continue our wrestling over the church, its role and our role in it. This is good stuff. So, I wanted to post some of it here. This last go-round started when we were talking about churches and ministers constantly asking for money. Actually, it started when Rhonda was a little put off by a ministry she follows doing a lot of tooting their own horn in a newsletter and asking for money (I hope that's a fair characterization). It then branched into the role of the church in general with me giving more of the reasons for the "traditional" church and Rhonda speaking of the fact that is not a need for a large, structured church, for professional clergy and being turned off by churches asking for money. It was "ironic" that this came up about a day after I had posted here about a worker being worthy of his wages.On Dec 18, 2006, at 9:11 PM, rhonda yvonne wrote:
The problem I have, Brian, is that there's this idea out there that "the flock" are too dumb and must be "led" and "taught". It was one thing, back in the First Century, when nobody knew who Jesus was--that he was the promised Messiah. Since all know that now--what's the purpose? I know, I understand that there are humble pastors who simply serve--and places where all are equals. I think that's not the majority. And what's even as important--if not moreso--is that UR isn't being taught--hellfire or ED is. I could never try to get new people into a place that believes those things--no matter how many good works they do for the community. This is why I say it surprises me that so many U'ists as well as Preterists, remain in church and remain silent.--rhonda
Here is a point I can agree with you on (even though I still think you have an irrational fear of churches. Is there such a think as churchophobia?). I am growing increasingly intolerant of teaching of ET, even if it's just an underlying theme. I'm also pretty much fed up with salvation by "free will" as Martin Zender calls it. Before I could sit and think of all of the wonderful things about a church (the worship, the ministries, the fellowship) and just ignore these things. But, I think that's largely because I really felt I had no choice. When I visited the Quaker church back in May, I started to feel maybe it was time for me to get out (even though that was not really the place for me). I visited another assembly this weekend. I got a great email from the Pastor (which I've asked for permission to post here).
The analogy that came to mind a few days ago was this. ET is poison. I wouldn't drink a drink that just had "a little" poison in it. The analogy given in the Bible over and over is leaven. A little leaven goes through the whole loaf. So, I agree with you about the ET thing. But, you need to have patience with people who may not be there yet. Also, the reverse can be true. If everyone who believes in Universalism and/or Preterism pulls out of the traditional churches, the inbreeding continues. Maybe we need to be there to be salt to them.
BTW, I'm going to post this on my blog, under the comments. Let me know if you mind. But, I think you've already given me blanket permission.
On Dec 19, 2006, at 10:59 AM, rhonda yvonne wrote:
Dear Brian, an irrational fear would be without reason, and I have reasons for my stance. I am patient; I don't expect, when someone reads my posts, that person will just up and leave a church; and that's not my goal, anyway. I keep putting my reasons out there, so that if anyone IS wanting to break away, they get a little affirmation and support from what I say. It isn't easy to break away, even when a person really, really wants to--they need all the support they can get.
I think churches serve their purpose, just like parents do. They rear a child. When the child grows up, its time to move on and make his own home. Many people want to move on; feel called to move on, but feel as if they would be abandoning their loved ones if they were to actually do it. Usually they've been told that its sinning to not attend any longer. I've said many times, if one is happy in a church--that's fine with me, and my words won't mean much except maybe piss that person off for "dissing" something they're happy in. But it isn't happy people I'm trying to reach, and I'll counterpoint their reasons for church, especially if those reasons are invalid, for the sake of anyone reading who wants to leave church, but is having a difficult time doing it. :)
I understand your reasons for attending church, and I'm happy that you aren't being held in something that you're miserable in for reasons such as: Do not be forsaking the gathering of yourselves together--(one scripture churches use to keep members). I will say that its difficult to be the "salt" in a place where one's "salt" must be kept quiet. At the same time, I don't blame churches for not wanting what they believe to be heresies spread. They want to protect the flock from these teachings--if they were to allow every kind of teaching, they would no longer be who they are: standing for certain beliefs that make them them. One joins a church because of what the church is; now if one is unhappy with it, that's because the person has changed--what once appealed has lost that appeal. What they taught was fine when the person joined; now its not so fine. He can stay there, keeping silent about what he now believes is truth, stay and try to talk to others about it (which most likely won't work for very long,) or move on. Personally, I'd feel like a hypocrite with the first option (staying silent) and staying silent is something I'm not good at. I can't be anywhere unless its whole-souled. I would expect to get kicked out with the second option (speaking out about what I believe is truth,) and the 3rd option keeps me true to my beliefs while leaving the church in peace.
As long as a person is happy in his church, that's not a problem for me.
Of course, you can always use whatever I write, bro. :) --rhonda
Thanks, Rhonda. Well said.
I don't know that I agree with the parent analogy. That's ONE aspect of church life. I guess that I see it that after one grows up, one grows into a different relationship with the church. Instead of just being fed, one helps do the feeding. But, if irreconcilable differences sprout up during that growing up process, one does need to move on. And, you're right, fear keeps too many people in places where they don't belong. One should NEVER stay out of fear. Another point we agree on.
Of course you have reason for your stance. My question was more about your fear being out of proportion to the true danger. My perception is that you view churches as almost completely bad and without purpose. You have clarified that recently. (especially with this post).
As always, I appreciate the dialog and that we can have this discussion and perhaps help other make what is a difficult decision for them. I wish we could do this on my blog. This is some good stuff.