In suspect of Institutions

I have said many times that I don’t really care what politics and the world are doing. They are never going to agree with Christianity or live up to its worldview, nor should we expect them to. That is what the gospel is for. I do care when people speak as if Christians and grossly undermine its teachings. I do care when people misrepresent Christ and his church.

I was watching video of a prominent “christian” professor saying that he is in suspect of christian institutions. Now this is fine for a person to believe on his own, but what he was doing was embracing all sorts of social views in opposition to the Bible. This is also fine for a person to believe on their own but not as someone one supposedly believes in Christ. The other problem is the applause of the audience which furthers this notion that as long as Christianity is about paying lip service to Jesus it is cool, but the minute it is institutionalized it is a problem. Institutionalized means it becomes an organization it adopts methods, it has structure, rules, ways of operating, and people buy into them. Oh No!!

People like to include Jesus until he says something that excludes. So what they mean is they like Jesus but they do not like theology. This is why about 70% of Americans claim to be Christians but less than half than that do not know what being born again means. So if it has theology it is now opposed to Jesus? This silly notion that somehow Paul and Jesus are opposed theologically or worse yet Paul was all about theology and creating an institution whereas Jesus wasn’t interested in theology.  Hmmm….

So is this true?   Let’s take a look.

It is a popular phrase to say “I am spiritual but I don’t like organized religion.” I get it, the whole Catholic thing definitely did some damage back in the day. Some have seen the modern church do some as well. But what does spiritual even mean? As a Christian I know what it means. It means having to do the with the Holy Spirit who indwells us. It means allowing him to guide and thrive in your life, He is present and active. But if he doesn’t and isn’t why use the term?

What are you trying to communicate? Might it be that you are interested in the idea of God, but perhaps you want him on your terms?

True some people backed slavery, some backed Nazi Germany at first, some backed the Inquisition, and the Crusades and the Witch burnings. Sure some did this and sometimes it was an organization that did it. But many did not, certainly not all did. Should we really distance ourselves from theology because some have misused it? Should we really ignore large sections of the new testament because some of it has been used poorly in the past?

Jesus said it was to our benefit that he goes away so that his Spirit would come and lead us into all truth (John 16:7-14). This is what we get in the New testament. So is Jesus and the Spirit at odds as well? Jesus’ instruction in the great commission was to teach all things that he taught but much still had to be delivered with the advent of the Holy Spirit.
If we put societal whims above the pages of scripture then who really is God in this scenario?  If we say we just want Jesus but don’t want any of those rules then we do not really understand Jesus at all. If you think something is not important because Jesus didn’t say it directly himself then get out your scissors and trim down the new testament quite a bit.  Furthermore why buy into the Gospels? They were also written down, but not by Jesus, but by his disciples. So is it only direct quotes that count, is that what we really believe? Then cut out all the black letters from the Gospels as well.
This line of thinking is hardly Christian nor does it by any means honor Christ.
Jesus tells his disciples that his Spirit will come and lead them all into truth. This is the backdrop to the writing of the rest of the cannon. In other words Jesus is comfortable leaving the building of his church in the hands of his disciples. They are after all instructed by his Spirit; saying that this was the better set up. So to have people come along later who are undermining this organization set in place by Jesus is to not understand the Gospel or the Kingdom. It sounds more like the term institutionalized is used because we don’t want to deal with all those hard verses, we just want to have only love talk and Jesus.

But, If we care about Jesus’ words, we will put stock in his church.  They may have some mess-ups in history, but that is precisely why we need all his teachings, for bringing balance. That is exactly why we need, may I say it? Fundamentals. The teachings that he left to come later after his departing, he let it be delivered from the Spirit to his apostles.

Jesus has this discussion with Nicodemus in John 3. John tells us that some people believed in Jesus but Jesus himself did not put his trust in them. He knew that people were about lip service to him but when it actually came to following him people often would walk away. Jesus starts to get at this with Nicodemus. If you think I am a good teacher and possibly the messiah and are interested in the Kingdom (an institution)  then understand you need to be born again (a rule). To follow Christ means to come to him on his terms. He gets to decide if his kingdom is a free-form, rules free, love fest or if it actually has doctrines and practices that are important. If you read the new testament you will see that he does in fact favor one over the other.

Coming to Jesus is always on his terms not on whether or not his followers have crafted a following that you find appealing or not. If we decide to distance ourselves from institutions then it should be because they have strayed from his words, not because his words form doctrines and those doctrines contain some fundamentals, because they do. If you want to extract Jesus from the Bible then fine but you are left with one of those other Jesus’ that even the Bible mentions as not worth following. Think I am making this up?

1 Corinthians 2:11

1I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! 2For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 3But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.

Even Paul admits that this line of thinking is silly. But we have people wanting the name of Jesus but not the historical man from the pages of scripture given to us from the testimony of the mouth’s of his followers. So here we are. The question becomes how do you know if the Jesus you follow is the actual one? Well, you better become familiar with the one proclaimed from the Scriptures by his followers.

So If you are suspect of the institution of the church perhaps you should double check who your headmaster actually is, hmm? Because even Dumbledore was friendly, powerful and worth following, but he didn’t die for anyone’s sins making peace with God. He was also fiction.

thanks

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