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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Confessions of a Former Churchgoer (by Van Robison)

Confessions of a Former Churchgoer by Van Robison (for the Battered Sheep Ministry).
"At one time I was a completely deceived churchgoer. I was caught in a web of deception as a young adult with no worldly understanding or experience. I was mesmerized by the church pastors and their speaking abilities to persuade their captives, that they were God's representatives on earth. I took the correspondence course (Worldwide Church of God/Ambassador College under Herbert W. Armstrong), which led me through the Old Testament teachings that they insisted were to be obeyed as the means to eternal life. I was fully persuaded that the church hierarchy of authority was God ordained and that to question that authority was tantamount to questioning God. We faithfully attended Saturday Sabbath church services for years, paid tithes loyally and even observed annual 'Holyday' festivals that were considered 'God's Feasts.'
We were assured that our church organization was the one and only "true" church of God on earth, and all others were apostate."
"Jesus never intended that life in Christ is meant to be a religious ritual."
"Going to church routinely is not the definition of love, nor of being a Christ follower."
"I am fully persuaded that life in Christ is Christ living in us 24/7 and has not one iota of anything to do with going to church."
"Church organizations will always defend their existence, because it gives them power and money -- the very thing Jesus denounced the Pharisees for ..."

I think a number of the readers of this blog will find that this is very radical.
At risk of losing you, I have to say that I agree with a lot of what Van Robison is writing about. Quite a long time ago I realized that the NT doesn't actually say that followers have to go to a building called a church on Sundays, or Saturdays for that matter. However Jesus did say, "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill..." (Matt. 5:17). So it is implied that the 'Law' of the OT (The Commandments) should still be followed. It is assumed that this includes resting on the seventh day - the Sabbath.
"Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath ... " (Exodus 20:8). Note that there is still no mention of congregating in a building on the seventh day. Matthew 6:6 actually says that you should go to your room to pray and shut the door - presumably that would be a room in your house.
Nelson's Study Bible notes (after Leviticus 23:3) "... 'in all your dwellings' emphasized the universal nature of the Sabbath. It was not to be observed only in the sanctuary; it was to be celebrated in every household."


jack635 said...

"The sabbath was created for man, not man created for the sabbath; therefore man is Lord of the sabbath."
Jesus was confronted because he and his disciples were in a field picking grain to eat on the sabbath day. He was told by those who confronted Him that it was unlawful for Him to do so.

The truth is in the bible (new testament). The truth mixed with lies is in the "churches" of today.

Mary Lane said...

Oh I completely agree. So does the Apostle John in I John 2:27-"The Anointing"(Holy Spirit)"abides in you"(if converted)"and you do not need any man to teach you, as the same Anointing teaches you all thinks, and is the truth...." and Christ stated in John 16:13-14 that Holy Spirit would teach us.
I do know that He said that He would build His church in Matt.16:18, but that is the Spiritual ekklesia(people called into His Body) not a building full of people who are just there to warm benches and sing nice songs.
We go into His presence when we seek Him in prayer and His Word, not because we walk into a designated building(Heb.10:19-20)

Anonymous said...

i agree that believers of Christ should NOT go to a "church building" on Saturday/Sunday ONLY for legalistic purposes and/or to please people/leaders, but i still believe that the Bible does require a regular gathering of the body of Christ. Of course, because of today's era when most people are off on weekends, this happens on Sundays, and for compliance to city ordinances (i.e building codes), regular gatherings of a crowd calls for a "church building."

Regular "meeting" of believers is encouraged - if not commanded - a number of times, not only in Old Testament (i.e. book of Psalms) but also in the New Testament.

Hebrews 10:25: Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another

Ephesians 5:19-20: Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, spiritual songs.

Being a part of a church is very important to a believer's growth, especially to those who are "babes in Christ."

"God is not impressed by a person attending every Sunday morning service, Sunday evening service, mid-week service, and Bible study opportunity a church offers. God’s desire is that we utilize the local church for our own spiritual edification and the use of our spiritual gifts to minister to others."

Anonymous said...

In 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians, Paul was explicitly giving instructions to the Corinths in managing the "church" as an organized group - the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 14:26-39 in the NIV is even titled as "Orderly Worship" which clearly implies a formal worship service.

the fact that Paul was instructing or teaching the Corinths some management skills of their church organization per se implies that it is hard to maintain a "church." we are even warned in the bible that some will claim they are the only way to salvation, and it is true that some church groups have been perverted because of lust for power. however, this does not disqualify regular church attendance as "unbiblical."

Anonymous said...

I have learned when Scripture is not quite clear to our understanding, see what the teacher
DID. Paul KEPT God's Sabbath day
(Acts 13, 17, 18) and also the feast days. He would never dishonor his Lord with disobedience. A man who has a problem with one of God's Commandments, is not in Christ, he is in his own pride. He won't know the truth, for it will not be given to him to know; this is done by the Holy Spirit given to those who "OBEY" Him. Acts 5:32 It is high time for us to come out of darkness, humble ourselves, acknowledge who our God is, and repent! One day the door is going to be shut, just as it was during the days of Noah.


Aprill Wilson said...

I hope you are still getting these comments forwarded to you. I happened across your website which it appears hasn't been active lately. But I wanted to say I just read a few stories/articles & so far I agree with you! I wanted to share a link to a website that has been a great help to me as I leave institutionalized "church" & learn to live a performance- and religious-free life resting in the love of the Father! Please visit Lifestream facilitated by Wayne Jacobsen (author of "So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore?"). Hopefully, you are currently on a good place on your journey. Sincerely, Aprill (aprillonajourney@gmail.com)