Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dennis Muses: Suffocating Religion and The Churches of God

"In a world that’s f...... up by pollution, chemicals in nearly every household commodity. Matrix food is designed to make you (physically) sick. Matrix TV is designed to make you emotionally sick and Matrix religion is designed to make you spiritually sick."
The Spiritual Anatomy of Cancer
Soren Dreier

The religious environment offered by the vast majority of the Churches of God that have split and peeled off from the World Wide Church of God can hardly be considered healthy environments for personal spiritual growth.  The Churches of God promote religion , which is that which another pours into the head mostly without critical examination as to it's reality, demands one be certain places, at certain times for certain reasons and always remember to give a very certain amount of  one's resources to certain people.  

Most of what passes as rituals and holydays are merely control mechanisms and while the idea of  the membership into the ritual is "free of charge," it proves quit expensive to join.  The church did not make up these controls.  They were instituted in what we see as The Old Testament.  Whenever you have priests, sacrfices, detailed rules on all manner of life and living, it's about control.  Common sense for the good of community rules and laws are necessary and desireable of course, but killing millions of sheep, goats, cattle and birds along with washings and sending it all in to the priests and the temple, not so much.  That's all about control.  Let's face it, the writers of the day believed that if the Egyptians and outsiders did not surrender their culture "in that day" and come to the Feast of Tabernacles, it would not rain until they cried "Uncle", is control plain and simple.  I'd not want to speak to that audience of compliant and hungry rain deprived gentiles who'd probably not be in the mood for the Good News of the Wonderful World Tomorrow where their culture was to be trashed.  Real life doesn't work that way.

The Churches of  God do not promote an overall and abiding spirtual environment  and does not promote the individual either proving all things and holding on to the good things or producing ministers and helps that are actually encouraging helpers of anyone's joy. There are exceptions of course but you know exactly what I mean.  Joy is sadly missing from the equation.  Church of God members will go to great lengths and express great anger over anyone's recognition that they are caught in a joyless cycle of waiting for the end, endless support for the church and "keeping themselves unspotted from the world," which translates into just being weird and uncoperative in the most simple of life's moments.  "By the fruits you shall know them..."   Well....Now we know.

It is no secret, or at least should not be to those who stand back and observe, that the main players and many more minor ones are not the most mentally healthy fish in the sea of Church of God religion.  It is easy, and that should serve as warning sign of one's own religious blindspots, to accept what outside of their enclaves and in the real world would not be tolerated for one minute.  The Gerald and Stephen Flurrys, Dave Packs,  Rod Merediths, and Ron Weinlands of COGdom along with the very minor players such as  EW King,  James Malm, Robert Thiel and a host of others strain at gnats, swallow camels and major in all things minor missing the whole point of the New Testament if one is so inclined to grasp it literally.  They mix their old wine in new wineskins and have no clue they are doing it.  It also makes lousy wine.

These men and their fruits are that of RELIGION, but fall far short of themselves being known for their SPIRITUALITY or teaching it.

Galatians 5:22-23

New International Version (NIV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

2 Corinthians 1:24

24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.

Not exactly the traits and perspectives we find in many Church of God personalities.  The fact that there are even these "personalities" , hiding their quirkiness and ego centric selves behind the masks of religion should be telling enough. What looks like "obedience" and "insight" in religion is often called mental illness in the world and in reality.  Much of what passes in the Old Testament as the inspired behavior of the prophets would be considered serious mental issues today.  Seeing Jesus in visions where only you hear the voice and see the bright lights (depending on the version of the story) is not a  spiritually safe way to find your leader these days. 

I have, and most do who read such things, appreciated the deep message of I Corinthians 13.  Perhaps there is hope for many of the controllers and mentally unstable ministers and gurus in the Churches of God as they age or realize, and they will, that life will end for them just as it ended for their hero apostles.  

The chance that they will live to experience the "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, WE shall be changed..." is right at about zero. Being realistic is not scoffing and of course the "not Peter" of 2 Peter puts the blame and misunderstanding of the soon and shortly of Jesus coming clearly on those who were wondering why it never seemed to happen as promised or advertisd. As we saw then and see today, it is NEVER that the minister or guru was or is dead wrong. It is the "timing" and sure enough, God now is revealing those originally wrong about the crystal clear word of God  now find "new and expansive elements," that should cause us all to gyrate right out of the room in awe.  It's a game ministers who are simply dreaming and  wrong play.

 IF the Apostle Paul actually wrote this, somewhere along the way, towards the end of his life when he recognized how wrong he was about Jesus soon return, how many lives he may have disrupted with his advice to married and singles and how much stress he laid on his version of the Church over that which was not going to shortly come to pass in reality, he may have had this epiphany.  At least it sounds like a man who, while possibly sincere in the telling of his story, even if mistaken in many of his conclusions, realized that love is all there really  is and everything else is an illusion.

1 Corinthians 13

New International Version (NIV)
13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Paul wakes up to his own offensive behaviors and mistaken views?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes,what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

That's quite a turn around for the author.  The Church of God Gurus have not yet come to this conclusion with their vain boastings, envy of each others stuff, proud braggings about "fruits", self seeking, dishonoring of others beliefs and choices and rejoicings over when others fall.  A few like to think they can even predict the fall of others based on their vain and ridiculous musings about themselves as they see themselves spoken of in the Bible, which has to be about as close to mental illness as one can get in ministry.

Whether it is the narcissistic personality disorder  rising to the "top" and running the show, a sociopath or someone sincere but totally off the track of reality in ministry, there are dangerous Church of God types who are train wreck waiting to happen yet again.  In the Church of God is so true that "if it is one thing we have learned from history, it is that we have learned nothing from history," and that as Winston Churchill said, "History is one damn thing after the next."   It seems so in many of these high profile leader institutions. 

For example,  little if anything Dave Pack of Restored Church of God says is actually true.  In a business setting he would have been fired for being so wrong about his product appeal and advertising approach.  In religion, he gets a pass...for now.  Dave is not spoken of in the Bible.  His Church is not spoken of in the Bible. He lied years ago when he demanded monies in ways that should have gotten the attention of a State Attorney General or someone at least because, once again, time was short.  He doesn't really believe time is short or he, like HWA was, would not be busy building his mini and quite fake religious institution which is a good word for it.   

Whatever he comes up with shortly as an awesome and over arching run up to the Spring Holy Days, will be more religious bullshit and not contain one bit of true spirituality any member can real-ize.  If he is smart, he will shut up about this failed topic and appeal to 2 Peter and blame everything on scoffers who don't understand that God does not see "soon" , "shortly" and "the hour now is", like humans might think of it.  Of course 2 Peter is one of the great and first apologetics to arrive on the scene of the fire set by the Apostle Paul over everything ending shortly in Jesus return so just do what he says.  The real Peter was long gone when that new truth was revealed in perfect Greek.

As noted in times past, in the Churches of God, you don't actually get to grow in grace and knowledge.  You get to be religious but not spiritual.  Grace has too much law behind it and law, not enough grace. In my last church here in Greenville, the previous pastor, now Evangelist I hear, kicked out lots of folk for lots of reasons that merely needed a more gracious and forgiving approach.  Boy did the elders and deacons get upset when many returned when he was gone.  And they solved their "problems" without the church before doing so.  Grace tends to turn into lawlessness and law into a graceless existence in Church.  Paul learned this the hard way when his teachings ran amok in I Corinthians and he had to start bouncing the grace filled lawbreakers.  Indeed...Paul was hard to be understood was the apologetic for him not thinking his views through clearly or the implications for others.  

Concerning the ministry and members of the more arrogant, proof texting and silly minded ministers who take themselves way to seriously making the Bible mean what it never meant...

"Too Soon Old and Too Late Schmart"

Let's hope not...Time is short


Black Ops Mikey said...

Sure: The grand Con.

But you know, after all that is said and done, once someone realizes it's a con, they should bail, but for the most part they don't.

Part of the problem is that the rank and file have been institutionalized so their get up and go has gotten up and gone, but they haven't because they lie to themselves to stay right where they are and wallow in the evil they fell into.

Perhaps we should get back to the mostly true, "You can't cheat an honest man" principle to examine the dishonesty of the followers who are responsible for being victimized -- or even worse, sink to the depths of the Stockholm syndrome to angrily defend the con artists.

Anonymous said...

You know what's strange?......

If you challenge the assertions people make that they believe to be unassailable "proofs" of their faith, the response is usually one that reveals...well...I'll be generous and say "lack of joy" that's quite the opposite of what the respondent claims his faith has given him.

Some religious folk think they're being like Jesus, with their gun-nut type of responses like "Go ahead punk, make my day!", and attack the messenger rather than the message.

Corky said...

If Jesus had done the things a Messiah was supposed to do, restore Israel and conquer their enemies and converting the nations, instead of putting it off for 2,000+ years - the same result could have been accomplished. So, what is the purpose of the 2,000+ year interval between then and whenever Jesus returns? It's not to convert people because that gets done after he returns.

The only purpose I can see for the interval is so that a bunch of people can run around pretending to be more righteous than other people for thousands of years. Not to mention the fun of forced conversions by sword and fire and torture.

It has provided 2,000 years of gruesome, horrifying entertainment and a damn good living for a lot of the priesthoods and preachers of the religion.

That interval has been a real booger, hasn't it? But, supposedly, the reason "God", Jesus or whoever or both or all three (take your choice) couldn't reveal the truth was because it would interfere with "free-will". Well, what about when it is revealed? You know, during the thousand year reign of "Christ"? Wait...What would have been the difference - then or later?

No difference, that's what. So, why the interval? You know the answer, you really do...

Anonymous said...

The WCG did not provide spiritual growth, just conformity. It attracted dependent personalities and encouraged dependency. My 73 AC diploma is not proof of an education but of indoctrination. But, I'm glad I was in the church for 4 years. I met my wife there and now am more able to think critically and help others do the same.

(minushorny)old EXPCGhag said...

Everybody say AMEN...AMEN!