Wednesday, March 29, 2017

She Has a Point

Self-Centered Religion Fashions a Self-Centered God
March 11th, 2017
American Evangelicals and Fundamentalists are often about “a relationship” with God, which, as one critic has observed, is a step better than being unconcerned with God. But relationship-based religion has got some problems.

First, if my religion is based on me having a great relationship with God, then if I don’t have a great relationship with Him, God has failed. If I have tried everything, offered everything (including my hours playing on the XBox) as praise to Him, tried to see every single trouble from the coffee not brewing properly to the toilet backing up as God taking action in my life to develop my relationship with Him, then when I get frustrated, mystified, and pissed-off, it’s God’s fault.

American Christanity talks a lot about "being broken" by God. You'll have a hard time finding the Bible speaking this way about believers. Christ was broken for us.

To get around that attitude about God, relationship seekers have formulated their own code, thanks in great part to the likes of Tozer and Murray, in which they talk about God breaking us, shattering us, maiming us, clobbering us, spitting on us, kicking us down the steps, letting the air out of our tires, and so on. Does this sound like blasphemy to you? Well yes, it is blasphemy. It’s definitely blasphemy. Any religion founded on the idea that God breaks us and shatters us for as long as He likes, while in addition He sends all of life’s littler vexations to drive us batty as we crawl blindly after Him, wondering what He wants us to do to fix the relationship, until He has reduced us to jelly in order to scoop us up and inject us into the mold that He chooses is blasphemous. It’s also imbecilic. It’s horrible, and it’s repulsive. And, way down deep at it’s heart, it makes man the center of the religion.
We who are in Christ have peace with God. And God established our peace with God, through Christ.

Evangelicals and Fundamentalists have, in many ways, lost the point of it all. God has not elected jellys to mold into shapes at His whim. He has elected saints, heroes of the faith, to know Him through obedience. And, to share in their lot and be their salvation, He has become one of us, leading us along the path of doing good, withstanding hardship with dignity, loving others all the way to death. That’s a far cry from the self-centered, jelly-based religion of American Christianity. We have not been put here to be broken, smashed, and shattered until we sit, absolutely stone still in resignation until the next blow of the hammer does or doesn’t come. We have been put here to open the doors of the prisons, make devils flee before us in our Master’s name, break the chains that oppress, and throw down evil in high places.

Are we going to suffer as we do these things? Well….yes (as in Duuuh!). God Himself when He walked among us, the Son of Man, suffered. He suffered all the nuisances and nonsenses of life, and He suffered poverty. Then He suffered rejection, abandonment, and crucifixion. He didn’t suffer these things because God the Father was breaking Him in order to have a better relationship with Him. Christ suffered because He put Himself into a fallen world under the dominion of sin. He suffered a lot of the nonsense of this life simply because it is the lot of fallen man to suffer. And though Christ was unfallen, He took on our lot in order to be one with His People. Furthermore, He suffered because He brought love and light into the world, and all the forces and energies of the world oppose such things. But He showed us that even as He participated in our suffering, that we His People can use our sufferings to participate in His sufferings. And we don’t have to live in terms of our pain. We can live in terms of love, mercy, and kindness.

God’s first and greatest commandments to us, echoed by Christ, are to love God first, and love others second. And the two commandments hinge on each other.

 Years and years ago I used to see Jeriwho on that Fighting Fundamentalist board, which I still believe has many interlopers on it. She seemed sincere and was someone who came out of fundamentalism herself.  I didn't always understand what she was writing about as I was new to fundamentalism myself just coming out of the Catholic church. I was a different person though I definitely had some empathy for those who suffered abuses she exposed. I would go on to expose things on this blog that outraged me too in the fundamentalist world.

Those were years I was still in the first IFB so we did not agree on everything. I don't agree with everything now, I believe she attends a conservative Presbyterian church but she has a point about the false fundamentalists who teach a self focused [I have written about this as the "best life now" theology] faith where everything is about rules, and toeing the line to "keep blessings" in this world. Her other writings seem to have many truths about the fundamentalist world.

 I have thought of the fundamentalist world a lot and about my own experience with that spiritual abuser and asked myself, "Where is the love?" Isn't God supposed to be love and not just a cruel being, who smacks us around if we step out of line or listen to a secular song? That said, rule based authoritarian people who worship a "God" of cruelty operate out of the desire to "control and punish others" which sums up so much of the religious political and religious right. They believe in a "God" that wants to break them, instead of God who said this:

1 Peter 5:7 KJV Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you


Anonymous said...

"Having a relationship with God" is found nowhere in the bible. Some say to be saved one must have a "relationship" with God, my bible says one has to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved. Having a "relationship" would imply that God is talking back, which is not true. He talks to us through his Word. Salvation isn't a "fuzzy" or "warm" feeling. People who rely on this instead of trusting on the Lord and his promises through his Word should reflect on their faith. This is my opinion of coarse, I'm positive there are others who would disagree.....James

Debra said...

John 14:16-18 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

John 14:26 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost (Spirit), whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

1 John 2:27 King James Version (KJV)
27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

Psalm 4:3 But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him.
Ephesians 1:17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
I John 2:5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
Revelation 3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
John 9:31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.
Luke 8:10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.
Luke 16:15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
Mark 4:11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:
Mark 12:24 And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?

Debra said...

I think many are looking for that formula to receive a blessing. The goal is to get a blessing rather than to seek God and His Kingdom. They want to win the lottery by outperforming the Richter scale of religious duties. I say religious because true Christianity is obedience out of love not obedience out of self promoting acclamation to receive praise from men. Their works is not by the Spirit but by the flesh. So when all is said and done, those who did not receive a reward or blessing turn to curse God for not fulfilling His part of the deal. Why is it so hard to believe God loves us? He just does and it's more than we can fathom. We have God's Holy Spirit who teaches us all things. Jesus promised us this. His promises are true. Exercising our faith is different than jumping hurdles to win a prize. We are one with our Father, His temple is within, He is not a distant God but our ONE true God. There is no disconnect other than our unbelief or rebelliousness.

The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall NOT want... said...

The whole duty of man is to fear God and keep his commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Bible Believer said...

Thank you James. I agree God talks to us via His Word, some take the "relationship" stuff to an extreme end where they imagine "jesus" as like a boyfriend in some of those worse songs and churches. It's true the fuzzy and warm feelings lead many to a false place. Some of the easy believism, just say this prayer and be saved, without real belief, leads people to bad ends.

Thanks for the verses

Jeremiah 31:3 - The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, [saying], Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

I agree Debra, it is religious duties and "make work". I know a few religious types and it is go-go go all the time. They do seem to believe they have to build God's kingdom for Him. They want the blessings in this world and life and some seem to love the adulation of being a "good religious person". There is a difference of obedience to God in love and the make work, structures that are about conformity and self promotion. I think a lot of those "Christians" get weary. Some may be saved but not yet seasoned but feeling the exhaustion while others are in the game for "success" in this world. The false fundamentalist world focuses on the outer trappings and endless religious duties as much as any Catholics who are into social works.

Anonymous said...

Should We Blame God
Should we blame God for bad things in life? Many people wrongly blame God for everything, but are they justified in doing so? How does the devil, man’s freewill and this general cursed age fit into all this? Let’s look at the Scriptures for the various reasons painful things happen to us all.
What Is Bad?
First, how can we be sure an event is really bad? There are so many Biblical examples citing the different “bad” things that happened, which really turned out for good in the end, as with Joseph being sold into Egyptian slavery so he could advance into the palace. By looking at the big picture, it wasn’t really bad as it first appeared. Furthermore, John being exiled to Patmos resulted in the Book of Revelation, and Paul being in prison resulted in the prison epistles (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon).

Should We Blame God — Discipline and Tests

Then we have God’s discipline, which can be painful (Heb. 12:5-7). As it says there, “hardness” can be God’s discipline, but that is not bad. His discipline is good, though it doesn’t seem like it:
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Heb 12:11)
Moreover, with Job, the “bad” things were a very severe TEST through which Job got “ruined” without reason (Job 2:3), but that was temporary. Again, the big picture needs to be viewed.
Should We Blame God For Man’s Folly or His Sin

Proverbs adds to the aforementioned with this truth about man’s freewill:

A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the LORD. (Prov 19:3)
The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly. (Prov 5:22,23)

part 1

Anonymous said...

part 2 from above continued

That is exactly what I personally observed with a man I knew very well, who believed in the LIE OF CALVINISM and its predestination. He wrongly blamed God for everything he thought was bad, but his own folly needlessly brought some of it on himself! He was very close to suicide at one point as an eternal security proponent — thinking he would go to heaven afterwards like many others who were deceived and went through with it, including George Sodini. Perhaps it was the sharp rebuke I gave him of his certain damnation in hell if he did commit suicide, that helped prevent it! Certainly, Calvinism has ruined many lives as God gets the blame for some needless painful circumstances.

Trouble Every Day

No one can escape trouble in our cursed age. Jesus spoke the vital truth — being unlike positive speaker smiley Joel Osteen and papist Kenneth Copeland:
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Mat 6:34)

Trouble comes daily on the righteous and unrighteous. Blaming God for such trouble surely won’t resolve it. God is the answer and solution. He’s not the problem to be blamed! The devil wants us to blame God to drive a wedge between us and God. He is the deceiver.

The Avenger’s Retaliation
On the other hand the devil is called the “avenger” in Psa. 8:2. He causes MAJOR trouble and conflict for people, especially God’s servants. Consider what Paul went through because he faithfully served God — jail time, beatings, stoning, life in danger, etc. Some of the things Paul observed PERPLEXED him! “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor. 4:8-9) Should we blame God for what the devil does? Never! Consider also the following:

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death. (Rev 2:10-11)

So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. (Job 2:7)
Rejoice In the Lord

God is infinite. His ways and thoughts are not like our (Isa. 55:8,9). The only way we can understand him and what he wants is found in the Bible and most of the “why” questions we may have about life are not answered.

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (1 Pet 4:12-13)
That’s the winning attitude, along with Romans 8:28:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Anonymous said...

part 3

17“What is mankind that you make so much of them, that you give them so much attention,
that you examine them every morning and test them every moment? Job 7:17

Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away Psalm 90:10

Love Olga God bless you.

Anonymous said...

I think that you're looking at "broken" in the wrong way, as if God just keeps on pounding away at us until we're broken. Yes, it's a description of something that people who write about this are trying to convey, and it isn't exactly straight out of the Bible, although I'm not sure that there is not something that corresponds. And I know that Calvinism is being used to make it sound like God is cruel and uncaring, that He is behind every cruel and evil thought and act ion.

But look at the parable of the publican and Pharisee in Luke 18:10-14. Doesn't the publican seem broken to you? Doesn't that describe him? But the Pharisee is self-confident, "whole" as far as fleshly self-confidence is concerned. But it is preferable to God that we be broken like the publican, that isn't cruel, is it? That's the kind of brokenness that is good.

Luke 18:13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

And look, this is a fallen world. You could use the analogy of inverted, right side up/upside down, instead. The world is really upside down, isn't it? If you are right side up with God, it is upside down with the world. In this world, we run up against this enmity, in other people and in ourselves. We're bound to get smashed up when we run into hardened rebellion, and just the whole upside-downness of everything. So I don't believe that the idea of that kind of brokenness is wrong, or especially the brokenheartedness over our own sin. That isn't wrong, and there's nothing sadistic in the heart of God about it at all. I would not treat the writings of Tozer or Murray as if they are scripture, because they are not. But im not condemning the idea of brokenness, since it describes brokenheartedness too well.

And the Bible doesn't use the word relationship, but Jesus describes His, er, relationship with His sheep in John 10. And in Revelation 3, when He says that He will come in and sup with us if we let Him in, that's relationship. When He calls the weary and heavy laden to come to Him and take His yoke upon us, and tells us in Matthew 11, I think it is, that we will find rest for our souls under his yoke because he is humble and lowly of heart, that is relationship. It is good that we think of ourselves in relationship with Him because we are supposed to _know_ him. That's relationship. If we have never _known_ Him, that means that we have not been saved. --Linda J.