Many of you know that I’ve been on a spiritual journey. I’m sure you’ve at least gathered as much by reading some of my posts either here or on Facebook. There’s a lot that I’ve learned, and a lot more that I’ve unlearned. I don’t know what the ramifications of writing this series of posts will be, but I honestly don’t care. My website is called “Heretical Love” for a reason. Please know that I know there are churches out there doing great things and helping lots of people. I’m just not onboard with it anymore.
It all started a couple of years ago when Lindsey and I read a book. The book, titled “Pagan Christianity” written by Frank Viola, forced me to think outside of my comfort zone. I hated it in the beginning. Lindsey can attest that I would interrupt her from reading the book aloud, sigh often, or just throw my hands up in the air in protest. That’s when it occurred to me that I wasn’t approaching this with a teachable mindset…like, at all. So, to avoid repeating the agony that was experienced in the reading of the Table of Contents, I decided to change my mindset for the actual book. Turns out, Frank had done his research. The information and historical background that he provides to our modern version of Christianity was invigorating. I honestly found myself floored by all of it!
Why hadn’t I heard any of this before? Why was I a full-time minister, and how had I come to that place without ever knowing any of this history? It’s simple, really. I was raised and taught what my parents were raised and taught what their parents were raised and taught. By the time I reached full-time ministry, like most of my family and friends before me, I was part of a well-oiled machine. I didn’t need to know any of the modern church’s history (or at least very little of it); I just needed to know how I fit in the machine.
After finishing the book, I realized that there is a drastic difference between the American church (the organized institutions) and The Church (the Bride of Christ, the organism). Now, I had always heard pastors say something like, “The building isn’t the church! If it ain’t happening outside of these 4 walls, we’re doing something wrong!”, but the disconnect from the organization wasn’t ever made. In other words, this building may be called 1st National Church of Divinity, but outside these walls we’re still 1st National Church of Divinity – the organized institution, not The Church. All of this may not be a big “AHA!” moment for you, but it was for me.
Here’s why: Jesus never referred to his Bride as the 1st National Church of Divinity. He never said, “Go therefore and build buildings, collect ye their tithes, pay thine pastors, woo unbelievers into thine programs!” That’s absolutely ridiculous.
In Jesus’ tenure they never promoted him and put a pulpit in front of him. He was homeless. Paul’s (failed) attempt to supply the Church of Jerusalem through tithing was his idea. Cherry-picking the Bible to formulate a prosperity gospel through the damaging idea of tithing – or for any other reason – is wrong; however, giving freely of yourself to those in need isn’t. I have M-A-S-S-I-V-E issues with a “non-profit” taking in and redistributing more money to and amongst themselves than they what they give to those actually in need.
After reading Pagan Christianity, a few other books, and knowing what the Bible says – or doesn’t say – I decided that I could no longer continue collecting a salary working as a full-time pastor for reasons of conscience. Also, Jesus is completely capable of wooing his Bride unto himself! He doesn’t need the help of the 1st National Church of Divinity. He doesn’t need them strategically planning to target a group of 30 year old single moms with 2 1/2 kids. That’s called stalking, and Jesus would likely be quite jealous to find out how they’re attempting to steal his Girl. He just said to love her. Quit picking and choosing, and just love her. It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t look like you, speak the same language, worship God (or the same god) as you, if she’s atheist, or even in your same city/state/nation. NONE OF THAT IS YOUR CONCERN. Love her. Take care of her. That is all.
I could go on for days telling you more about what I’ve learned/unlearned after reading Pagan Christianity, but I’d rather continue with my story and have you read it for yourself. If you care to waken from your sleep, to become conscious of the machine you’ve been in your entire life, if you want to know that the matrix exists in the form of the 1st National Church of Divinity, read Pagan Christianity. Read it with your arms laid down, with a teachable mind, and with vigor to know who you truly are.
Quote from the movie “The Matrix”:
“You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” Part 2 and beyond of my story requires the red pill.