Thinking my blogging was over for the day, I am inspired by debate, and am looking at the awesome ‘Battered Sheep Ministries website again.
Basically thinking in terms of what Elle and I commented on healthy churches on my recent ‘Anything and Everything’ post.
I will proceed with a variety of quotes about Church and cult behaviour. This is very refreshing stuff, it helps to restore me, thanks Ginger, for inspiring me.
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.”
[Ezekiel 34:1-6, NIV]
This passage below is tough!
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law [literally, scribes] and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”
[Matthew 23:1-3, NIV]
“Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred?”
[Matthew 23:16-17, NIV]
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices — mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”
[Matthew 23:23-24, NIV]
Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors.”
[Luke 22:25, NIV]
I have had all my dirty laundry hung out by the church, whether the dirt is imagined or real, and although I have confessed my sins in penitence and faith, I remain condemned.
“… at any future date, the overseer may drag out this dirty laundry to discredit the disciple or make him feel guilty. That happened to me when I was trying to explain my position. My overseer blurted out, ‘I hate to bring this up, but …’ And this was done in a room full of people. My immediate reaction was to curl up and shut up. I had nothing on her but she had a lot on me.”
[Churches That Abuse, by Ronald M. Enroth, pp. 106-107.]
As we have seen, all of this authoritarian and elitist projection of power through intimidation and manipulation inevitably leads to very tragic consequences. And these consequences go even beyond what I have just described. Jesus foretold the consequences in the Pharisees’ case as follows (verse 34):
“Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.”
[Matthew 23:34, NIV]
I cannot imagine Jesus telling us to falsley empower ourselves by throwing our hands out and saying ‘fire on you’, I cannot imagine Him understanding people lying on the floor whimpering ‘Daddy God’, nor can I see Him encouraging children to be used in the laying on of hands, or the use of ‘sobbing music’ or sexed-up talk about us being the Bride’ to get people in a hysterical mood, these do not seem like frivolities Jesus would have time for when He came to save us.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”
[Matthew 23:13, NIV]
Excellent paragraph below! So many times in Jersey ‘words’ were given to me, and usually I laughed, because they were given as part of the show.
Words of Wisdom and Words of Knowledge can come from God through spiritually sensitive people today. However, these words do not supersede the authoritative weight of the Apostles. The only real way to be sure that a word from the Lord is for you, is if it’s the Word of the Lord, that is, Scripture. And yes, even in this, Scripture is not to be used to manipulate people.