By: Loren Rosseer
When people don't "attend church" one of the first assumptions is, "They're wounded." Yesterday,Â Antonio MaciasÂ made a brilliant observation. "The fact that 'church hurt' is even a concept reflects the seriousness of the issues in organized religion."
I believe most Christians are indeed well meaning. But that's exactly what blinds us to the problem! We hear the pastor's good heart, we see the friendliness of the congregation and so we say, "Not my church!" But what are we looking for? Demons? Monsters? Wicked people?. (That's why so many think my posts are hateful attacks on Christians.) But what doesn't occur to us is perhaps the problem is not with hearts but with machinery.
Think about it. King David was "a man after God's own heart." Yet, his "brilliant" idea to use machinery (an ox cart) to transport the ark (God's presence) got a guy killed! Was there something wrong with David's heart? Was there something wrong with his motives? What about with the guy who died? NO! He was actually trying to keep the ark from falling off the machinery! What was the problem? David adopted a method to carry God's presence that was not inline with the way God had instructed. The priests were to carry it - not man-made machinery! David's heart didn't get the guy killed. And if I may be so bold - God didn't either! It was the implantation of a man-made method.
The scores of believers wounded by church are not the result, in most cases, of people having evil motives or leaders having wicked hearts. The problem is Christians are utilizing machinery to carry the presence of God that was never meant to be in place. While they are busy saying, "Not my church!" another Christian is getting mangled in the gears of obligation, hierarchy, commitment, performance, business, and PR. Then, in order to win back the wounded they beef up the machinery even more and they wonder why they aren't running back. Many have learned the secret to surviving the machinery is apathy. Those who care too much or get too involved tend to get mangled. So not getting overly involved is the key to survival. Thus the reason mega churches do so well.
Until the man-made machinery is dealt with and the priests (all believers) once again carry God's presence as family, the landscape will continue to be littered with wounded Christians. And inviting them back to the factory is a really bad idea.
The Singapore Bible College itself is run as if they are still in the 1940s. They are so old fashioned in so many ways. A Mat Salleh lecturer once made a joke in class: "the dress code for the students in this college is Victorian" and he broke out laughing.
Management of the college is very much influenced by the Lee Kuan Yew's style authoritarian - I talk you listen.
There are no grievances procedures for the students. Thus students are expected not to dispute the decisions of the management and being a bible college, they of course do not think it is biblical to sue the college.
Read the rest of the letter here: More hidden sides of Singapore
MYSTERY BABYLON DENOMINATION
FOREIGN MISSIONS BOARD
To: Rev. Saul Paul
First Christian Church
Dear Mr. Paul:
I have your application for missionary appointment before me, and will be as frank as possible concerning your qualifications as a foreign missionary. We have to be very careful in choosing our missionaries, and our Missions Board has reviewed your case thoroughly. We have decided that it would be unwise to send you to the foreign field for the following reasons:
As you see, Mr. Paul, we feel definitely after close scrutiny of your case, that you are undoubtedly the most unqualified applicant we have ever seen, and my advice for you is to find a church where you can work in harmony, and use your past education as perhaps a Sunday School teacher.
- It has come to our attention that you are doing secular work on the side. We do not feel that making tents and full time ministry go together very well. [1Th 2:9] It seems that you do not have enough experience in trusting the Lord for your income. You should make up your mind whether you want to preach or continue your profession.
- Your previous actions have been very rash and unseemly for a minister. We learned that in a public meeting you opposed Dr. Simon Peter, an esteemed minister with a high reputation. [Ga 2:11-14] We also hear that you refused to compromise with other ministers such that a special council meeting had to be called in Jerusalem to prevent a serious split in the churches. [Ac 15:1-30] We frown on putting ideology before people. For your own good, I am enclosing a copy of Daius' Carnegus book on "How to Win Jews and Influence Greeks." [Ga 1:10, 1Th 2:4-6]
- You have conflicted with mature Jewish brethren in nearly every city you have visited who simply want to encourage the converted Pagans to be properly circumcised. Mr. Paul, you must know that these men are our most learned sages with a deep sense of the roots and history of our faith. As well, and more importantly, these men control the synagogues you could be ministering in if you would simply tone down your dialog into a more friendly and respectful exchange. [Gal 5:2-12]
- In checking back, we discovered your Christian education consisted of a three year course in Arabia. [Ga 1:15-20] We find that the Arabian school has not been approved by our accreditation board.
- Further, you admit to being an unskilled public speaker. [2Co 10:10, 11:6] Paul, surely you must know that people expect fine elocution from men of God, and that as a denomination we stand for the highest levels of excellence in the pulpit. Yet instead of going to much-needed oratory classes you spend your time making tents instead. From your correspondence, you also appear to be spending a considerable amount of time writing letters to insignificant little "churches" that meet in homes. [Ac 28:3-6] Honestly now; do you really think that such misguided activities are what will lead to your success in the world of religion? We strongly suggest that you put down your tools and set aside your pen, and instead practice hand gestures, facial expressions, and voice modulation in front of a mirror for several hours a day until you come up to par.
- It has come to the attention also that you often emphasize "the power of God" and "the gifts of the Spirit." [1Co 2:3-5, 12:1-7] Also that you speak in tongues a great deal. [1Co 14:18] Surely you realize that such as this only drives off the better class of people, and attracts only the riff-raff. It would be better to tone down those more sensational forms of worship. You sound as though you are "off the deep end." [1Co 3:18]
- It has been proven to our satisfaction that you had hands laid on you at Antioch with prophecy going forth, [Ac 13:1-3] with none of the Apostles or Headquarters brethren present to conduct this ordination service in the prescribed manner.
- We see here that you have a jail record in several places. [2Co 11:23-27] If this is true, it puts you in a bad light, for our denomination has always stood for a high standard of civic responsibility. I fear it would damage our reputation to have someone representing us that had served time in jails and prisons. Frankly, Mr. Paul, we seriously doubt you could have been innocent and the judge wrong in so many cases. It just doesn't look right.
- It seems that you are a troublemaker, Mr. Paul. Several business men of Ephesus have written us that you were the cause of severe loss of business to them and even stirred mob violence. You must learn to cultivate the friendship and influence of men such as these. [Ac 16:16-22]
- We also have some details of a shameful "over the wall in a basket" episode at Damascus, [2Co 11:30-33] plus a stoning at Lystra, and several other violent actions taken against your ministry. [2Ti 3:11] Haven't you ever suspected that conciliatory behavior and gentler words might gain you more friends?
- We have learned through channels that following some trouble with a preacher on the island of Cyprus, you began to allow yourself to be known by the Gentile pronunciation of your name rather than the proper Hebrew. [Ac 13:4-11] Yet another conflict, and then a name change. This does not seem to us to be conduct becoming to the ministry.
- You admitted in your application that in the past you neglected such needy fields as Bithynia, just because "the Spirit didn't lead that way," and that you undertook a hazardous journey on the strength of a dream you had at Troas. [Ac 16:6-10] Mr. Paul, surely you don't expect us to go along with such flimsy and fantastic excuses for your seemingly purposeless wanderings.
- Many times you did not stay long enough, in our opinion, to get a church properly established. You left your converts many times without even a pastor to guide them, and without setting the church in order in some good hierarchical denomination. [Ts 1:5]
- We hear also from Troas that you preach too long, one sermon lasting almost twenty-four hours, even to the extent that a young man fell asleep and was seriously injured. [Ac 20:7-12] We understand that you claim to have restored his life and raised him from the dead by falling on him and embracing him. What nonsense! We need practical men in the ministry, Mr. Paul, not high strung emotional radicals. Our advice is for you to shorten your sermons considerably. We find that about twenty minutes is the longest a minister can hold the attention of his audience these days. Our motto is "Stand up, speak up, and shut up."
- It is reported from your home church that you could not get along with your fellow ministers; that John Mark--a commendable young man and nephew of one of our highest leaders--had to leave your party in the middle of a journey; and that you had a sharp quarrel with gentle, good natured Barnabas. [Ac 15:36-40] Now these men are well thought of in Jerusalem and we wonder why you are always having trouble with your fellow workers?
- We have notarized affidavits from four very popular and influential preachers: Diotrephes, Demas, Hymenaeus, and Alexander; to the effect that it is impossible for them to cooperate with either you or your program. [1Ti 1:20]
- From what we hear, you seem to think that you have some direct sanction from on-high, boasting about your revelations and that God has chosen you to reveal some "Mystery". [Ep 3:3-4] Can't you realize that any truth that is to be revealed would come through Headquarters to the recognized, established brethren, and that after it had been checked by our Procedure and Doctrine Committee that we would distribute it on to the field workers?
- Finally, we hear that you claim to be an Apostle. We know nothing of this being passed upon by the proper authoritative channels and wonder how you could back that claim up, when the last Apostle was voted into office right here in Jerusalem. [Ac 1:26] Now that our denomination is firmly established, why do you imagine there would be any need for God to continue the Apostolic gifting?
I hope I have prevented you from making a terrible mistake in your life.
Most sincerely yours,
J. Flavios Fluphehead, SECY
Based on Bill Britton's classic; modified and expanded by Dean VanDruff.
“We’re going to pray now for those who are seated that they might know the Lord and accept Jesus into their hearts to make him the Lord of their lives and be born again,” the lead singer said (or something to that effect). He prayed for a long while. Yes, he started with threats of hell. There were lots of amens and teary hallelujahs from my “friends” in the immediate vicinity. But wait, there’s more.
They asked my friends for my name. The singer began praying into the microphone for “Bert’s” eternal soul. They first subjected me to entrapment, and now I was betrayed by my buddies. (But it was entrapment and betrayal for a “noble cause,” they certainly rationalized.) At least I found out at that moment that there were others seated like me. My name was not the only name called. I had partners in crime somewhere else in the forest of standing, praying, weeping “Christians.” I felt a little better knowing I wasn’t alone.
Why didn’t I just stand up? I seriously considered it but decided against it. It wasn’t that I considered my self “unsaved.” I didn’t. It was just that I resented their presumption that I was unsaved (simply because I was from another denomination I suppose). I resented their assumption about my status before God. I resented their covert conniving to lure me in and “fix” me. I resented the absurd assertion that just standing up at their church somehow magically made you saved. So I sat while the lead singer prayed for my salvation. But that’s not all.
After a very long prayer supported with tears and whispers of “Yes Lord,” the singer instructed everyone to lay hands on those seated as he prayed. The first hand put on my head made me really angry. They had shanghaied me and now they were violating my personal space. I didn’t give anyone permission to touch me. But they got away with it because, I presumed, there were only two ways I could have stopped them from touching me at that point. I could physically protest in some way, push their hands away, but I worried that would draw even more unwanted attention. Or I could stand up and “get saved!” But I didn’t do either. I folded. At least a dozen hands touched my shoulders and head, and I just sat there humiliated. Surely I was the victim of the longest "mercy molesting" in the history of Christendom.
My “friends” didn’t talk to me on the way home. They were punishing me for something, I guess. I wondered if the silent treatment was a planned response designed to shame recalcitrant heathens who refuse to knuckle under to pressure. I couldn’t believe the hostile atmosphere in that car. No one said a word the entire way home. But I was glad in a way. I had nothing to say to them -- nothing nice anyway. They dropped me off in cold silence. Maybe they took it personally, like I had held out on them so as to embarrass them in front of their church friends and youth pastor. Perhaps I robbed them of bragging rights: “We saved Bert Gary! Can you believe it? Bert Gary! It’s a miracle!” I really don’t know. But one thing was certain. They judged me as hopelessly hell-bound and never spoke to me again