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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Christian Orthotoxicity

Ever since He left, most Christians believed He would soon return. After a while, they began to secretly doubt it would really be in their life time. That was when the serious mischief began and Christianity evolved away from its truly good news into a fear based controlling cult.

I think we are caught up in the snarled nets of tradition. Our goal was to discover supreme love to God and authentic love for all others. It was a dispensing of love to those going through the moments where love is so appropriate and to those who have lost faith in their loveliness. But our traditions acquired control hooks. And those unreasonable hooks are there, even when we do not think of them that way or mean to use them that way.

How do we reconstruct a faithful Christian tradition that conveys the redemptive outreach of love without the entrapment of the control net. It is so much easier when we are a community that is simply so busy functioning as a community that we do not stop to think of the duress or ever need to.

I cannot help but wonder if the answer comes in the risk of losing our organizational identity. The organizational "church" has to become a facilitator of the vision of Christ and His love but like John the Baptist, He must increase and our organizational structures must decrease yet without evaporating entirely. It is a decrease in our necessity to the process not in our active presence communicating love. That risk threatens our survival as organizations, but our survival as a body connected to each other only through Christ requires it.

I firmly believe that the church belongs to no man, is controlled by no man, that the church proper is every believer mystically connected to Christ. Having an organization with leadership has only to do with our earthly combined efforts. It is hard to get things done without getting organized, but the church and the organization are two entirely different things. The organization becomes a cult when it presents itself as the church.

What does that look like in practice? Can it actually work? It is entirely possible I am dreaming of a fantasy.

I still believe the church is just the people, I also feel the organizations are necessary and helpful. But they need to differentiate themselves from being identified as the church and let that identity return to the people in a manner we as organizations have no say or control over. Organized religion can help the church but it can never be the church.

The universal (Catholic) church is that mystical body made up of everyone who believes in Jesus throughout the entire universe. The church in America is made up of everyone who lives in America and believes in Jesus. The church in New York State is everyone who lives in New York State and believes in Jesus. The local church in Binghamton, NY is made up of everyone who lives in Binghamton, NY and believes in Jesus. The church in my house is made up of all the people who are in my house at any moment who believe in Jesus. Wherever 2 or 3 are gathered, there He is in the midst.

Organizations are manmade – every single one of them. The only true church is organic; it is living and breathing people. It is not what they think or what they write; it is not their creed or their charter, it is those very people themselves. They and they alone are the true church. Every single organization that claims to be a true church or a true local bible believing church is an imposter and an identity thief.

That local Baptist church is NOT a church, the people who meet there are but ONLY when they happen to be there. Your local church is always everyone in your proximity who knows Jesus. Never betray that loyalty. Do not get me wrong it is helpful to get organized and we need organized religion. But organized religion has NO spiritual authority whatsoever. It is just a way for people to get together and get some things done through a joint effort.

The gift of apostle, evangelist, pastor or teacher in the New Testament is a relationship role in the body not a job in an organization. It is fine for organizations to hire people to fill positions called by that name, but your pastor is the one person whose spiritual guidance is manifested in their relationship with you as you go through the various challenges of life.

The Roman Catholic Church is an usurper. The Anglican Church is an usurper. The independent fundamentalist non denominational church is an usurper. All organizations that claim to be a church in the New Testament sense are usurpers. The definition of Church in the bible never exceeds the domain of the flesh and blood human beings in whom Jesus dwells and always includes all of them within the proximate constraints of a particular context.