‘I Love Jesus But Not the Church’ Just Means You Don’t Love Jesus

‘I Love Jesus But Not the Church’ Just Means You Don’t Love Jesus April 18, 2017

I find it puzzling that this topic is still up for debate, yet the sentiments of many Western Christians is that you can love Jesus without loving the church. Verbose arguments abound on the church not being confined to a building – that all spaces are sacred and therefore, filled with divine presence. The well-worn argument that the church does not consist of the physical space you occupy while worshipping God, but instead the body of believers, contains just enough truth to lure readers to their inevitable conclusion:

Church attendance is optional. Serving the brethren, again, is optional. Loving the brethren? Still optional. Feeling guilty about not wanting to go to church? Don’t worry about it; that’s the fault of institutionalized religion.

They then do a follow up post called The Real Reason Evangelicals and Millennials [insert people group] are Leaving the Church, where again, they pander to what people want to hear. So long as you subject the Scriptures to tokenism and appeal to sentimentalism, people will eat it up. Soon enough they’ll be in the woods celebrating “communion” with Coca Cola and cookies.

I’m not denying that some churches simply aren’t churches per the definition of Scripture; what I am speaking against is the underwhelming opinion that you can somehow be part of the universal church and reject the local church, or that the local church is made up of you and your family on a Sunday morning as you lay in bed and reject communion with the saints and sitting under the proclamation of the Scriptures.

The reality is that the entire New Testament presupposes you are going to be part of an institutionalized, local church. People wish to delve into semantics and separate the location from the body of believers, but that isn’t the point of defining what the local church is. Yes, the building could be demolished overnight and the church would still exist – however, that local church still meets in time and space. That local church still has a designated structure made up of elders, teachers, deacons, evangelists, etc., for the edification of the whole man until the saints reach unity in the faith and the knowledge of Christ (Eph. 4:11-16). The church is made up of living stones that are being built up as a spiritual house into a holy priesthood for service to Christ (1 Pt. 2:5) and they are members of one another (Rom. 12:5; Eph. 4:25, 1 Cor. 12:12-27), and are present within a local community.

Even still, the author of Hebrews indicates that we are to not forsake gathering with God’s people because of the hope we have in Christ, so that we might encourage one another to perseverance in the faith (Heb. 10:19-25). The idea being presented is that the confidence we have to enter the presence of God through Christ, being able to hold to the hope we profess without wavering, and drawing near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance, is directly related to the notion that we are intimately connected to this local body.

What’s more than all of this is that a local church is not a church without some semblance of this God-given functionality and structure. A group of three people without the headship of elders and teachers is not the church. They are part of the global church – but they are not a substitute for the local church. There are always exceptions to the rule, yet the exception does not prove the rule; special provisions do not institute a normative ecclesiology. The text never presupposes the rugged individualism indicative of American Evangelicalism.

We know Paul was prohibited from communing with the saints whilst in chains. We also know that many churches are confined to secret rendezvous, have gone without official teachers/elders for a period, etc. No one is speaking of things literally barring another from being able to be among the saints and sit under the Word, or a temporary, ecclesial detriment; it is the willful forsaking of the brethren and the eschewing of God’s good gifts.

While there are things worthy of introspection from the church – I don’t believe this to be one of them. There aren’t a host of reasons why people are fleeing from the church in droves. There aren’t many reasons why professing Christians are leaving the church. There may be healthy reasons why one leaves a particular local church, but when it comes to reasons why one leaves the church entirely, there’s really only one: they don’t love the church. Synonymously, they don’t love Christ.

The apostle John is about as straightforward as one can get in saying that the way children of God and children of the devil can be distinguished is that children of the devil are those who eschew righteousness and the love of the brethren (1 Jn. 3:10). This isn’t some strange new teaching – it is what they (and we) have heard from the beginning (v. 11-13). If that’s not clear enough, he then says that anyone who hates his brother remains in death and is a murderer (vv. 14-15). Furthermore, he condemns mere tokenism toward brotherly love; one must demonstrate this love in action and truth (v. 18). Much like the author of Hebrews, John maintains that by these things we will not only have knowledge that we are children of God, but assurance of our salvation (vv. 19-20).

The modern notion that you can worship God just as much by yourself as you can within the confines of the church is patently false and anti-biblical. It flies in the face of the Scripture’s teaching on the importance of the body of Christ, the proper structure of the church, and the goodness of the spiritual gifts that God has bestowed for the benefit of His people.

I sense that if one were to have a conversation with the apostle John on this, it would go similarly:

Objector: But what if the church damaged me?

John: Go to church.

O: But what if people hurt me at one point?

J: Go to church.

O: But what if I feel like I connect more with God in nature than with people in the church?

J: Go to church.

O: But what if I…

J: [interjects] Are you dying?

O: No.

J: Are you imprisoned?

O: No…

J: Is there anything prohibiting you from going to church?

O: Well, I feel like…

J: [interjects again] You can’t love God without loving His people and loving His people means that you die to self, bear with one another in love, and obey the commands of Scripture for your personal and corporate edification, in order that God might be glorified. Go. To. Church.

While the church can often be a motley group, Christ has enduring patience with His bride. His death accomplished her redemption, yet we live in this eschatological tension wherein we still sin against one another. In the love of the brethren, sin can be properly dealt with through a biblical, disciplinary process, or simply in overlooking the offense of a brother or sister whose actions are not indicative of normal behavior. In similar character to our Savior, we must be willing to bear with one another, in love and patience, as we are all progressively sanctified. I understand deep wounds can be caused – yet the Scriptures give us no option to withhold forgiveness from an individual, or forsake the assembling of God’s people. Summarily stated, loving God is inseparable from loving those within the household of faith. You cannot demonstrate a love for the brethren by abdicating from fellowship with and participation in service to one another.

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  • John

    Good points on the significant reasons for remaining in the local church. We can often loose sight of the larger intentions of church based on circumstance. But it is those circumstances that appear minimized a bit too much here. Dealing with conflict, abuse, error, etc. in the local church is paramount. Much of what has been written over the last few years on this topic often reveals hurt and abuses that have driven many out of the local church. That is understandable and to be acknowledged. So, there is a balance here to be fleshed out. Reminding Christians of the larger purposes of church along with acknowledging our common sinfulness and dealing with failure correctly in the church all go together. Its not a perfect place, but it must make endeavors in the right directions if it wants to be a place of hope, peace and truth.

    • Gilsongraybert

      Hi John, thanks for the good feedback. I have intentions of writing another in the future (Lord willing) on good reasons to leave a church. I do think there are many good reasons, but the scope of that argument plus this one here would make for one long post. Unfortunately, the best I could do without going down the rabbit hole was make a nod towards that in the fourth and last paragraphs.

      • John

        Sounds good. Yes, it is a big subject to fully cover and to get at the details which are important. Both sides have a responsibility here, leadership and congregation. To speak honestly, humbly and truthfully with each other. To respect, listen and act with integrity and grace. It is not easy, and requires patience and long suffering. One must not be prone to run away at the first sign of problems or conflict. In fact, it is in those arenas that we can grow the most and develop stronger bonds. Yet, when there is real abuse and neglect, then another road may be taken. Look forward to your future posts on this.

  • ChrisDACase95

    “Everything God has for you is available to you right where you are; in the woods, in bed, around your table, at the game, having coffee with your spouse, pruning the flowers, driving down the Interstate.

    These can be the places you fully commune with God and with God’s people; where you reflect and pray and learn and study and mediate and feel gratitude and seek guidance. Anything we do that is intentionally done with an awareness of God and others—that is Church because we are the Church.

    There is nowhere in Scripture where Jesus commands us to go to a building called “Church”. It was always about sharing life with people. All that existed in the New Testament were house churches where people were already living together in deep, relational community. The idea that we need to travel to sit in a space with strangers and consume religious entertainment is not at all Biblical. So while it may be helpful (and to many it is), it is not necessary. If people try to make you feel guilty for not attending a church building, know that they have missed the point, not you.”

    http://johnpavlovitz.com/2016/09/04/relax-christian-you-dont-have-to-go-to-church/

    • Gilsongraybert

      I actually had JP in mind when I wrote this post. He’s one whom I believe panders to what people would like to hear rather than what they need to hear, in almost every circumstance. Church has a God-given structure through elders, teachers, evangelists, and the various other aspects of spiritual gifts – yet I am hard-pressed to see how someone can uphold the command to be subject to one’s elders if they are not in an established, structural church (Hebrews 13:17). Unfortunately, the above sounds nice, but it doesn’t hold water when it comes to testing against the commands given in scripture. This was precisely the issue with the emergent church; they wanted to flee from any sort of structure – but in the end, the movement gravitated toward structure and leadership because it is unavoidable (in a good way). Yet the idea presented in what I have written is that structure and leadership are not only essential qualities of defining what a church is – but you can’t have the body of Christ without that structure and leadership because it is ordained by God.

      • John Thompson

        Christ’s words or Paul’s? I suppose women are not to preach or teach either? The Divine is omnipresent. The church is the people gathered in Christ’s name, not a building. We eat the bread and drink wine from the cup in remembrance. Jesus is inclusive not a legalistic pharisee. The grace of the Divine is for everyone. The thief on the cross crucified with Christ was not baptized,never took Communion, nor worshiped in a church, yet he now dwells in paradise with Christ. Your piety, exclusiveness, and judgement are disgusting.

        • Gilsongraybert

          Oh, so you reject the remainder of scripture then. I have little to offer you if that’s where you’re at. I wish you well, and earnestly hope you come to see all of Scripture for what it is.

        • Theodore A. Jones

          Without the writings of the apostle Paul you will never understand what the necessary lawful procedure you must have the faith to comply with in order to be added to the membership of the church Jesus Christ is head of is. Even tho the writings of Paul are very difficult to understand that does not also mean that they can’t be understood. No person has ever been granted the grace to enter the church of God of which Jesus Christ is head by drinking wine or eating bread. For by participation in the table one only makes himself guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

        • ChrisDACase95

          They also conveniently ignore how Paul admits to writing his own opinions down; which explains why many of them directly condridicts Jesus.

        • Nonsensical

          None of the apostles were women, priests and bishops are the successors of the apostles.

          A Church is sacred ground and is consecrated as a sanctuary from pagans such as yourself.

          In real churches we drink the blood of Christ and eat the flesh of Christ. Not in “rememberance,” but to renew our covenant with God. The essence of eucharist changes to that is the sacred species trough consecration.

          The pharisees were high priests who were willing to bend and break the law of God for political power and money. The modern equivalent would be a bishop who twists and distorts the faith to please the egos or rich patrons. The pharisees were the definition of “liberal,” and had utter contempt for the law.

          What you call “legalists” are just actual Christians.

          Christ is God Himself made man. Christ accepted sinners because they are still humans made in the image of God, but Christ does not accept their sin. The Church can accept the erroneous, but they have to repent of their error before.

          The thief on the cross was baptized in his own blood, took communion with God by literally speaking to God face to face, and worshiped Christ at the cross itself. Your message here is utterly absurd.

          Moreover, you call Piety, a man’s devotion to God, his family, and his country, as “disgusting.” Ha, I suppose a pagan like yourself would hate devotion to anything at all considering what you worship is the reflection in the mirror.

  • Statistics Palin

    “The modern notion that you can worship God just as much by yourself as you can within the confines of the church is patently false and anti-biblical”

    The practice of asceticism is older than your church. It will outlast your church. You think you’re better than John the Baptist, from whom Christ Himself sought baptism? You are a fool.

    • Gilsongraybert

      “It will outlast your church.” My local church, possibly. The universal church? Nope. And nowhere in here did I claim to be better than John the Baptist. I’m also curious to know what asceticism has to do with the Western belief that you can be a Christian and not love Christ’s body, for whom He died. I don’t think there is any correlation.

  • Al Cruise

    “some churches simply aren’t churches per the definition of Scripture” ,,,Here you describe the reason why the people are leaving and not wanting to attend, their leaving Churches that are following “conservatism/politics” not Scripture. Many young people, and dones are reading , Richard Rohr, Peter Enns , Mike McHargue and others which I feel is God and Spirit led. This is a very refreshing sign and shows that when God pulls the lamp-stand he also rebuilds anew.

    • Gilsongraybert

      I just don’t buy the argument that there are no good churches out there for people to attend. I sense most don’t like what the church is supposed to be and so they kick against the goads of God, but there are many good, biblically faithful churches across the States. Statistically, biblically conservative (not inherently Republican) churches are actually doing quite well. It is the liberal/progressive churches which are dying, namely because what they teach is against the Bible.

      Secondly, I don’t know the other two gents, but Peter Enns is probably leading more people away from truth than to it, unless they are running in the opposite direction. He has done nothing but adopt the false humility of not knowing anything for certain.

      • Al Cruise

        conservative churches are actually doing quite well … If that was the case you wouldn’t have written this post.

        • Gilsongraybert
          • Al Cruise

            Lets see in 10 years where conservative Church is at.

          • Gilsongraybert

            Or we could just look back over time and see where Bible-believing churches have been. Going strong nearly 2,000 years now…

          • Al Cruise

            Lets look at those 2000 years. 150 million indigenous people killed by disease brought by “bible believing missionaries” . Countless thousands murdered if they wouldn’t convert. The countless thousands killed in Europe through the years solely because of different interpretation of scripture. This is only a start of the list of autocracies by “bible-believers” over the last 2000 years.

          • Gilsongraybert

            Should we turn to atheistic dictatorial regimes? No one here has justified murder, but perhaps, if we take a purely numerical look at the figures, we can stack the body counts against one another.

          • Al Cruise

            It’s when the Bible is lived through a conservative perspective that horrendous evils become the fruits of those adherents. History has proven that over and over again. Fortunately, it is secular law and order institutions that keep you guys in check today

          • Is that why the majority of humanitarian work is done by Christian organizations?

            Tell me how well the “secular law and order institutions” worked in Germany under Hitler, or Russia under Stalin, or China under Mao, or Cambodia under Pol Pot…

          • Al Cruise

            I am referring to secular law and order here in the west. Example .. the role it played in abolishing slavery from the the conservative Christians [Southern Baptists] of the south.

          • Strongs119

            The Roman Catholic Church, a Christian church that has been the decisive spiritual force in the history of Western civilization. Along with Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism, it is one of the three major branches of Christianity. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Roman-Catholicism

            ♦ Christianity has played a prominent role in the shaping of Western civilization, which throughout most of its history, has been nearly equivalent to Christian culture.

          • Strongs119

            “Al Cruise” replied to you by saying, quote: Lets look at those 2000 years. 150 million indigenous people killed by disease brought by “bible believing missionaries.” — This is pure leftist Marxist propaganda, designed to instil guilt in people of White European racial heritage, as new evidence coming to light now shows. Read below.

            Megadeath in Mexico. Epidemics followed the Spanish arrival in the New World, but the worst killer may have been a shadowy native—a killer that could still be out there.
            http://discovermagazine.com/2006/feb/megadeath-in-mexico

            Mexican epidemiologist Rodolfo Acuña-Soto’s studies of ancient documents revealed that the Aztecs were familiar with smallpox, perhaps even before Cortés arrived. They called it zahuatl. Spanish colonists wrote at the time that outbreaks of zahuatl occurred in 1520 and 1531 and, typical of smallpox, lasted about a year. As many as 8 million people died from those outbreaks. But the epidemic that appeared in 1545, followed by another in 1576, seemed to be another disease altogether. The Aztecs called those outbreaks by a separate name, cocolitzli. “For them, cocolitzli was something completely different and far more virulent,” Acuña-Soto says. “Cocolitzli brought incomparable devastation that passed readily from one region to the next and killed quickly.”

          • Gilsongraybert

            Yeah, I wasn’t surprised to see him go there to be honest. At the end of the day, unfortunately, much of it comes down to a simple hatred of God, and thereby, the church. Even if disease was brought by travelers to such an extent, to tie in Cortez to the argument here is silly. It’s a red herring at best, and a blatant disregard of any opposing worldview at worse. Thank you for sharing this though – it certainly brings to light a far more truthful narrative.

          • Strongs119

            You’re welcome. Here are 3 short cartoon videos you might enjoy, they are quite funny actually. The first two videos expose the hypocrisy of certain non-whites and leftist whites, who try to instil guilt in people of White European racial heritage, because their ancestors settled the Americas. (Despite archaeological evidence showing, as I’ll post in a follow up comment, demonstrating that the original Native Americans were in fact Europeans.)

            “How Whites Took Over America”
            https://youtu.be/faNge-o0V-k

            “How Whites Took Over America – Part 2”
            https://youtu.be/fl9HMSTHeTg

            For good measure, here’s a funny video, exposing anti-white racism when it comes to DIEversity. https://youtu.be/xpyJLAKOS3E

          • Strongs119

            Overwhelming evidence demonstrates that the original Native Americans were White Europeans.

            The Washington Post published a longish article (“Radical theory of first Americans places Stone Age Europeans in Delmarva 20,000 years ago“). Or check read the Independent article, entitled: “NEW EVIDENCE SUGGESTS STONE AGE HUNTERS FROM EUROPE DISCOVERED AMERICA”
            http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/new-evidence-suggests-stone-age-hunters-from-europe-discovered-america-7447152.html

            The remains of the Windover Bog People were discovered in January 1982 during the construction of a new road near Titusville, Florida. The discovery yielded the skeletons of 168 men, women and children dating back over 7000 years ago. DNA testing indicated these people were of European descent indicating some of the first peoples in America were White.
            http://youtu.be/vbayBEbIEwc

            Overwhelming evidence demonstrates that the original Native Americans were White Europeans.

          • Strongs119

            The Lovelock cave giants archaeological discovery could be an example of the ancient European inhabitants of North America meeting a violent end at the hands of Asiatic originating Amerindians.
            http://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends-americas/lovelock-cave-tale-giants-or-giant-tale-fiction-003060
            The Paiutes, a Native-American tribe indigenous to parts of Nevada, have an oral tradition that they told to early white settlers of the area about a race of red-haired, white giants or ‘barbarians’ that their ancestors referred to as the “Si-Te-Cah.” The story was written down in 1882 by Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, daughter of a Paiute Indian chief in her book: “Life Among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims.”

            These “giants” were described as vicious, unfriendly and cannibalistic. In this story, the Paiutes speak of a great battle that took place which led to their extermination at site known today as Lovelock Cave. “Si-Te-Cah” or Saiduka literally translates as “tule-eaters” in the Northern Paiute language. The tule is a fibrous water plant, which according to legend, the giants wove into rafts to escape attacks by the Paiute.

            “Red Haired Giants & Sitecah – Lovelock Cave, Nevada”
            https://youtu.be/12lIyxaJyb8

      • Theodore A. Jones

        There are no contemporary churches Jesus Christ is head of. They are all built upon foundations which assert that the sin of murdering Jesus Christ is not an accountable sin by law.

        • Gilsongraybert

          I honestly am not sure what you mean by that second sentence. Could you flesh that out a bit more?

          • Theodore A. Jones

            Ok. Rom. 2:13 is across from Rom. 3:20 Rom 2:13 states that it is necessary to obey a law, but if not the result is that you will not be declared righteous by God. The statement is a soteriologcal thesis or paradigm. Rom. 3:20 says the opposite. What do you say to resolve the dichotomy without judging one of the statements to be false relative to the contemporary soteriological thesis of it not being necessary to obey any law to be saved?

          • Gilsongraybert

            Do you believe that you must obey the Law in order to be saved? I suppose my question is directed at what you are saying behind the initial questions. It seems you are trying to indicate that “salvation through grace alone” is false.

          • Theodore A. Jones

            Look pal!! I am not the author of Rom. 2:13 am I!!? That statement is the expressed thought of an apostle isn’t it? Now. Do you really want to have this conversation with me or do you not regarding the fact that that apostle has also stated to you “Do NOT! go beyond what is written.” 1 Cor. 4:6 ? I’ve already said to you “It is not the bench warmer who must be corrected, rather it is all of the characters in the pulpits!”

          • Gilsongraybert

            There’s a given structure to the passage and it is leading toward the pinnacle of the book in chap. 8. If you can, pick up a copy of Douglas Moo’s commentary (or Tom Schreiner’s) on the book of Romans if you desire a more technical commentary that will demonstrate this. Salvation by faith alone is an abundantly clear teaching in Scripture… Now if you were to say that much of what passes for preaching today is not preaching in the sense that they don’t dig into the text and feed the flock, I’d agree that many do not – yet a denial of salvation through grace is clearly Pelagian, and rightly condemned as heresy.

          • Theodore A. Jones

            Whom are you addressing boy?

          • Theodore A. Jones

            Well. Is it your judgement that that apostle’s statement incorrect ?

          • Theodore A. Jones

            It is necessary to actually have the faith to obey that law that apostle is referencing in Rom. 2:13 or you will not be declared righteous by God. The fact you don’t understand boy is that the law he is referencing in that statement is not the OT code. Whenever Paul’s writings are interpreted the interpreter of them must understand which code of law Paul is referencing whenever the word law is stated or the interpreter’s interpretation of Paul’s writings is not correct. You do not have that understanding and no amount of religious teaching will ever allow you to garner that ability and neither has any commentator ever had that ability either. You can reach me at this number when you are awakened @ 0300 after having tossed and turned all night. 916 792 8304 Other than that. Good riddance.

          • Theodore A. Jones

            Yes I am and I’m using your hide and flesh to do it as you’ve requested.

          • No Shrinking Violet

            Dude, you are doubling down on your creep factor…

      • Hata H. Zappa

        Whether or not there are “no good churches” entirely MISSES THE POINT of why someone would choose to stop going to an “official” church in the first place. I haven’t attended church regularly in many years, because I believe in fitting as much of my life as possible into the church I choose. But that’s just it. Church is not something anyone should ever be drafted into. They should always have the FREEDOM OF CHOICE. And part of that freedom means the choice not to choose.

        • Hata H. Zappa

          Furthermore, some people may actually be saving themselves from a life of heartache and pain simply in the act of not choosing a church. Jesus can reach the damaged person no matter where they are. A building is often times just a building. To the person who has suffered abuse of any kind in a church building, said building is like the person who has been sexually assaulted in their childhood home. If the abuse is extreme enough, it would not just be dysfunctional but sadistic to expect them to want to return to the spiritual crime scene.

        • Gilsongraybert

          Well we aren’t talking about inalienable rights or even the ability to do something outside of God’s revealed will. You can go eat a watermelon and call that church, if you so desire. That doesn’t make what you’re doing church, as defined by the scriptures – nor does it make it remotely Christian. It also doesn’t make them obedient in any sense of that word.

          To respond to your point below – there is literally not a place you will find I suggest that an abuse victim must return to the scene of the crime. If they are Christian, they are required to be part of the church. That doesn’t necessitate the same church, but it does necessitate one. No one is talking about Christ’s ability to reach damaged people. The post is geared toward what is expected of those damaged people: they be part with a local body of believers.

          • Hata H. Zappa

            Your attitude is why I don’t go to church. It is truly an antiquated viewpoint and it makes me really happy that I will never have to spend time any amount of time with you. Most of my spiritual insights have been gained by participating in activities that had nothing to do with the concept of a “church.” Nature is church. Endurance activities are church. Freedom of sexual expression is church. If God is everywhere, then God’s church is everywhere. And for you to suggest otherwise lets me know that your interests lie more in following the letter of the law and not the spirit.

          • Gilsongraybert

            So obedience to Scripture is following the letter of the law? What about when Christ says, “if you love Me you will obey My commandments?”

          • Hata H. Zappa

            I’ve made my point and I’m not rehashing it. It’s not like you were ever going to find a common place of agreement or concede part of your human argument, right?

          • Gilsongraybert

            I’m legitimately waiting for you to make a counter-argument. You’ve made many statements about how I’m basically an idiot to you, which is fine, but doesn’t interact in the least bit with what the Scriptures say here. I’m not above correction, but surely there has to be not only correct info to be corrected, but a compelling line of reasoning that shows this is wrong. I’ll heed Scripture all day long if you can show me where I am wrong by them.

          • Upon what authority to you make the claims, “Endurance activities are church. Freedom of sexual expression is church. If God is everywhere, then God’s church is everywhere.”? Where do you get the definition of the church simply as somewhere God is present (in sense of His omnipresence)? According to your logic, is there anywhere that is not the church?

          • Hata H. Zappa

            Direct, personal experience via spiritual vision, that’s what. Not to mention, philosophy and critical thinking. God gave me those as gifts. And to answer the second question–if God is omnipresent, then the church is everywhere. And yes, anywhere could be church. Because if God is omnicapable, then God is able to work anywhere. Furthermore, who are you to question God’s capabilities? But see. then there’s the matter of the problem of evil, and Epicurus famous quote:

            “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
            Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
            Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
            Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

      • rtgmath

        Okay, so a person leaves an abusive church. Where do they go? How do they know where to go? They were abused where they were — and they rightly fear abuse elsewhere.

        Gilson, your approach is nothing more than blaming the victims for their difficulties. They should just want to find another place to be abused? Because that is how you interpret scripture? I think another, better way to look at it is with the analogy of the Lord, that the good shepherd FINDS the sheep that is lost and brings it home. And not to be dinner, either.

        If people are leaving the church, it is not their fault, ultimately. It is the fault of the church. The Church should be looking for the lost sheep and bringing them in.

        • Gilsongraybert

          Where in Scripture do you find that believers are free to be apart from the body of Christ? Where in Scripture do you find that they will flourish if that is the case? Victims, believe it or not, can easily turn a tragedy against them into a sin against God. Foregoing the church is not a means to tinker with; it is literally something that John states places one in the camp of unbelief because it demonstrates that they do not understand what Christ has done through His gospel. Again, no one is critiquing leaving a church for valid reasons; I am fiercely criticizing one who leaves the church indefinitely, as that is what Scripture plainly maintains.

  • David Hancock

    Baloney. The institutionalization of church breeds corruption universally. I have been a member of thirteen different churches in my lifetime, and not one of them rose to the criteria you have cited. Forcing people to be dues paying members of a local institution in order to be considered right with God is bullying and extortion.

    • Gilsongraybert

      There are plenty of bad churches out there, yet that doesn’t change the prescription from scripture, especially since there are plenty of good churches out there as well that I know meet the biblical criteria. Do they do so perfectly? Of course not; it is made up of a group of sinful people. Does that change what the scriptures teach about this in particular? No, it simply means many have some housecleaning to do.

      • Theodore A. Jones

        You are some what right about house cleaning, but it is the charterers who are occupying the pulpits that have to go, not the bench warmers.

  • Todd S. Jenkins

    Feh. Another legalistic viewpoint that ignores the reality of why people move away from the body of Christ. Wasted bandwidth from someone who sees structure as more important than true spiritual enlightenment. The bit about “What if the church hurt me? Go to church.” simply maintains the anti-Christian notion that maintaining an authoritative institution is the end-all and be-all of religion, completely discounting faith as the most important element.

    • Gilsongraybert

      Authority and structure within the church is not optional; it is plainly taught within scripture. Abuse of said authority and structure is another topic – but to pit faith against the commands given that Christians are to be part of the body, which manifests itself in an ecclesial structure, is bupkis.

      • Hata H. Zappa

        You really are intent on working the last good nerve of everybody in this room. Christians are part of the body wherever they are. Some of my greatest lessons from scripture have taken place without a church in sight for MILES. I know the peace that surpasses all understanding because of this. I know what it means to be able to do anything through Christ who strengthens me because of this. I know what it means to be in this world but not of it because of this.

      • Darin Malone

        “…authority and structure…” You do not understand the meaning of the scriptures.

    • Theodore A. Jones

      re “discounting faith”
      Faith in the soteriological doctrine of the apostles.
      “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” Rom. 2:13 There is not any contemporary church Christian or otherwise which has a soteriological paradigm that is not in direct objection against that apostle’s true statement. And any church that does not have a soteriological statement which conforms to that apostle’s teaching is a church that Jesus Christ is not head of. Further if you think that law Paul is referencing is OT law, think again.

  • BorisM

    This is a generalization and is part of the issue of the church adopting a secular, academic either/or, in/out, evil/holy sensibility about God and humanity. There is an argument here because you are forcing people to take sides. At times I am moved to tears at church and at times it is worthy of being despised. Just like life, just like God. Church usually fails because it’s supposed to make us more human so that we can fully love not make us more “holy,worthy” so that God can love us. Completely wrong headed and the opposite of what Jesus all about.

    • Gilsongraybert

      The Scriptures routinely force people to take sides; why do you think Jesus said He came to cause division (Luke 12:51)? Truth naturally divides.

  • Robert Albro

    We my son died in a auto accident, the church fail me and my family. What my sons death taught me about what Being a Christian is the following: We are born with a relationship with our parents, and all we take with us to present to God is the relationships we made when we were alive. Good bad or indifferent. Everything else falls away.

    • Theodore A. Jones

      RE “the church failed me and my family.” is only an allegation without substantiation, and the “We are born,etc.” is not a teaching I’ve ever heard stated in any contemporary church, and I’ve attended a lot of them.

      • Robert Albro

        Read the sermon on the mount and the sermon on the plain, after you have lost a child. Brings a whole new meaning to the teachings.

    • No Shrinking Violet

      Sorry for the loss of your son and the support of the church in top of that, Robert.

  • Hata H. Zappa

    So let I get this straight: the “bride” of Christ is motley and “she” does all sorts of things that get on His nerves, but “she” has no option but to stay married to him, even though the person sitting next to “her” keeps making unwanted advances. There’s nothing patriarchal or misogynist about that. Not at all.

    Seriously, though, the writer of the article looks under 35, lives in the midwest and looks like the nuclear family concept goes back in his family several generations. Homogeneity at its finest. UGH!

    • Theodore A. Jones

      I think you are assuming incorrectly that if the sign over the door says “church” it also must be a religious organization that Jesus Christ is associated with. If so, nothing is further from the truth.

      • Hata H. Zappa

        That’s a very unreliable conditional syllogism. Given this logic, just about any church that one doesn’t like can be removed from the equation. The church doesn’t do communion a certain way? It’s not a church Jesus is associated with. The church upholds same-sex marriage as equal and valid? It’s not a church Jesus is associated with. The church still allows women who have had abortions to serve as pastors or lay leaders? It’s not a church Jesus is associated with.

      • Hata H. Zappa

        But for the record, I wasn’t talking about that. I was pointing out the patriarchal and androcentric bias with which the writer is thinking and using as a basis to write his article.

    • Gilsongraybert

      This is why modern feminism is simultaneously hilarious and sadly disappointing. I wouldn’t even know where to begin if I wanted to here.

      • Hata H. Zappa

        Spoken by someone who never understood the roots of feminism. So if you don’t even know where to begin, then I would suggest you don’t begin at all. Just accept that I think you’re full of crap and move on. Because if you start with me, I’ll finish you with your own holy book.

        • Gilsongraybert

          Modern (or progressive) feminism is not the same as feminism. Secondly, where in Scripture do we find the idea that the instituted church (in its local forms) is unbiblical?

          • Hata H. Zappa

            I never said anything about the instituted church being unbliblical. And as for modern feminism not being the same as feminism, that sounds a lot like the Black Panthers and Black Lives Matter not being the same. They are. I mean, I know you’re here trolling fuh de Lawrt and all that, but still…

          • Gilsongraybert

            May I ask, how am I trolling? This is in no way geared to simply garner a negative reaction because I somehow feed off of that.

          • Strongs119

            False Female Empowerment through Promiscuity.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQUHoNhAPi8

  • Theodore A. Jones

    Mr. Gilbert,
    During my early years I was acquainted with several Moody Bible Institute grads of the early 1900 era. Of course they were nice people and dedicated to their ministerial work. This reminded me of the record in Acts about the first seminary grad who began ministering in the church which was built upon the soteriological foundation taught by the apostles. Apollos, from Alexandria where a prestigious seminary was located, had to have the soteriological system he was teaching corrected. Every other Bible school grad and seminary grad since, has been in no other situation.

  • JohnandJeanette McDonald

    Please, please, please read the Scriptures. Throw out “I feel” and replace it with “what saith the Scriptures”. Many of these comments are making the author’s points for him. Great article – a voice in the wilderness. JKM

    • Theodore A. Jones

      Madam they might read them, however interpreting what is read correctly is of greater importance. As far as I can tell there is no cretin occupying any of today’s religious rostrums that don’t fail to promote and endorse incorrect soteriological interpretations of the Bible.

      • JohnandJeanette McDonald

        You being the exception of course.

        • Theodore A. Jones

          Correct Madam. There are only a few that ever find the gate Madam, according to Him. You are not suspecting that He is wrong Madam? I hope.

          • Laurence Charles Ringo

            Dude,there is something SERIOUSLY wrong with you. Seek help.NOW.

  • Montresor

    Christian internet troll. Living under the belief that the Bible is inerrant and infallible. Hope your kids aren’t disobedient or I might have to bring some popcorn down when you stone them. Oh, a daughter or niece had premarital sex or was raped, get your 50 silver and marry her away. I know, “the Bible said that but it also says this.” Cherry picking Christians are exactly why people don’t like going to church. Then you go and elect a megalomaniac as President because you want abortion laws overturned, thanks again troll. “All life is sacred.” Except those that deserve capital punishment or die breaking into our homes while we are armed.

    “My hypocrisy knows no bounds.”

    • Gilsongraybert

      There are some good resources available to you to better understand the purpose of the OT Law, but it seems you may already have your mind made up. Nonetheless, if you would like a recommendation or two on some topics, let me know; might clear the air a little bit on some things.

  • Hata H. Zappa

    You know, I’m done arguing with the “writer” of this slop, but I’m still going to reach out to the comment writers. You want a good reason why “da body of Chrift” is something people don’t love any more, this link will give you a good insight as to why: http://mynewsla.com/government/2017/04/18/sex-romps-by-president-trump-gop-evangelicals-say-maybe-affairs-arent-so-bad/

  • Don Roberts

    I’m sorry, but I have to respectfully completely disagree with this article. 1. Matthew 18:20 -” For where two or more are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst.” This statement not only speaks on how to address those who sin against us, but stand alone it means that Jesus is present even in the smallest of groups present in his name. 2. Church is not a building nor is it an ideology. The Church, whether in a building or across the digital internet, is the spiritual communion of people. 3. Loving God is loving His creation, humankind. Loving humankind does not require a church sect participation or a religious ideology. 3. Salvation does not come through the Church or any of it’s thousand denominations. Salvation only comes through the Grace of God. That Grace is the foundation of our faith, as our faith is the driving force of our works. Those who do not attend a regular church is every bit a member of the the Body of Christ as a regular goer. It is not how, when, or how often we meet, or even if we meet, but how we love, how we express our faith through our actions, and how we discover God within us and all humankind. 4. We are called to forgive every one. But, we are not called to continue associating with those who continue to wrong us. As a believer and follower of Jesus, I certainly would not, nor should I be expected to, participate in a church that denigrates or dehumanizes my very being. I forgive them for their beliefs, I forgive them for how they treated me and my love ones, I even forgive them of their lies and slander, but I do not, and am not required by Jesus to, continue fellowship or association with them. 5. Jesus spoke about having many sheep of different flocks. Not every human is comfortable or even made to be part of an organized group. John the Baptist was certainly not part of any organized group, or the current religious establishment of his time. To say someone doesn’t love God because they don’t like going to church is creating barriers, walls, that Jesus tore down…permanently. God loves us and meets us where we are. It’s not up to others to determine where we should be or how we should be prepared to commune with God. 6. When the Holy Spirit tells me something is wrong with the message of a church body and propels me to leave, that is exactly what I do.

    • Theodore A. Jones

      “Salvation only comes through the Grace of God”DR, but it must be determined what the Scriptures establish and identify what the grace of God actually is. The thing I get from your expressed thought is universalism. The sin of murdering Jesus Christ has only perfected the way you might be a recipient of the grace of God. According to the testimony of God himself there are very few individuals who ever in all of history find the gate that one must have the faith to use in order to be a beneficiary of the grace of God. His use of the word few is not hyperbole by any stretch of imagination.

      • Laurence Charles Ringo

        Since you keep harping on “the few”, Jones, let me ask you this: Do you honestly believe that your finite human concept of what these “few” are will be the equivalent of what Almighty God’s few will be? According to the Book of Revelation, Almighty God’s Few will be a number that no man can number.Can you, or will you accuse the Apostle John of hyperbole? I await your reply.

        • Theodore A. Jones

          “and few there be that find it.” Mt. 7: 14b KJV. “and only a few find it.” Mt. 7:14b NIV. An authentic disciple of Jesus Christ does not argue against what he has said.

          • Laurence Charles Ringo

            And this answers my question how,sir? Are you aware that according to a population survey research team, approximately 108 billion human beings have lived and died on Planet Earth since humanity was regarded as such? How many of those billions of souls became Christian since the Ascension of Jesus the Christ? Again,according to those who keep track of such things, there are currently almost 4 billion people on Earth who currently regard themselves as Christian; who knows how many have passed into Eternity since Christ’s Ascension…so again, what our finite minds consider as the “few” that find the Road to Life,well…I suggest that Almighty God is a better Judge of that than either you or I Mr.Jones. And that’s all I have to say on this issue. Peace be upon you—JESUS IS LORD.

          • Theodore A. Jones

            Mr. Rinjo,
            It is only an an unauthentic “Christian” who argues against an authentic statement Jesus Christ has said.

    • Paul Russell

      Yes

    • Laurence Charles Ringo

      Bravo,Mr.Roberts!!

  • timmcguire

    Saying you love Jesus, but hate the church is like saying you love your wife, but hate her body.

  • Farelle

    Given that 5% of the members of any church (According to the Council of Bishops figures on the laity) are active, predatory child molesters, taking any child into that environment is reckless endangerment, and should immediately lead to a full investigation of any other abusive behavior, for the record the rate among non-Christians is 0.13%.

    • Theodore A. Jones

      Nonsense. Participation in the Lord’s table on the basis of your soteriological conjecture only has the outcome of making you guilty of the Lord’s body and blood. That table has no other purpose. “May their table become a stumbling block and a retribution for them.” Rom. 11:9 “Their table” is only referencing gentiles. Jews do not have the religious practice of serving the Lord’s table. You get this fact straight between your ears. No! man’s murder is a direct benefit. It wasn’t for the Jews who murdered Him and it is not a direct benefit for your Caucasian posterior either!

  • Maria Dewar

    When you have been bullied, either at school or at work or – yes – at church, you tend to avoid it. I manage to go to a very quiet service on a Wednesday instead of Sunday. I wouldn’t go on a Sunday now, both me, my children and my family were treated badly at two different churches. Also I do read the Bible regularly and find it hard to correlate what I read there with how people behave at church. When I decided to try the second church, the vicar at the first one sent me to coventry but another member of the congregation said I was only trying to find a better church for my family’s needs. Treating newcomers as afterthoughts or worse is the usual thing, with important church meetings taking place informally in cliquey groups at after service coffee while newcomers stand awkwardly nearby not knowing anyone.

    • Nunya Beeswax

      You’re talking about leaving *a* church (i.e. one local instantiation of the church). But in any small town there’s at least a handful of other churches, and unless you live in the middle of the desert there are always other options. If you leave the church entirely over how you were treated in a particular parish, my suspicion is going to be that you simply can’t be arsed to go to church at all and you’re using poor treatment in one community as an excuse to sleep in on Sunday.

  • Well written. I have the same reticence about church as do many of who have commented here. But I do believe in community, that God is ‘community’ and for us to reflect God to the world around us, we too must likewise be in community. For some these communities are small and for others large. If they give opportunity for relationships to deepen, for good works, for authenticity, for crisis resolution, and for worship, then the biblical imperative of fellowship is met.
    I have a number of friends who are homeless and for whom the experience of fellowship hinges on meeting them where they are, rather than in more conventional settings. When you think of how little of Jesus’ ministry occurred inside a building and how much of it occurred outside, we who think of church as geographically located, need to figure out ways of doing church outside, where it can be seen, and be, as it is, ‘the light of the world.’

    • John Purssey

      I agree. It is more important to be the church than go to church.

  • Hermes60

    Many churches have twisted the teaches of the christ
    So how can you defend them?

    • Gilsongraybert

      Can’t and won’t defend those that do. There are good reasons to leave a church; none to not be joined to another, solid church.

      • Theodore A. Jones

        There are not other than un-solid churches my boy. There isn’t a solid church anywhere today my boy. Foundation they are all built on is the lie my boy.

        • Gilsongraybert

          Theodore, sir, you are woefully incorrect in your statement and clearly have some vendetta. You’re deceived into thinking everyone’s out, but of course, you’re in – yet the truly pitiable thing in all of this is that you’re literally in the same boat as most of the other commenters here, just to the opposite extreme.

          • Theodore A. Jones

            Boy is it true or false that only a few ever actually find what the gate into the kingdom of God is? Few is referencing a small amount sonny, Right? So then it being the fact that the truth of God has been exchanged for a lie according to the scripture, what’s the lie sport? And besides that you are not allowed to rebuke an elder publicly, Right?

          • Gilsongraybert

            The narrow road does not imply the one and only Theodore A. Jones. To suggest, as you have repeatedly, that there is not a single honorable church in existence, is simply a bold-faced lie and demonstrates an incredible amount a hubris. And no, there is nothing within scripture that dictates I ought not rebuke an older gentleman publicly. For elders governing the church, there is not to be an accusation even entertained without 2 or 3 witnesses – and then if it is true, they are to be rebuked openly before the entire congregation. That passage has nothing to do with age, but those specifically charged to keep guard over the flock (local church). If you’re thinking of 1 Tim. 5:1, in that a young man is not to rebuke an older man harshly, but entreat him like his father – I have done that and maintained respect with you since the start. Firm words are not harsh words.

          • Theodore A. Jones

            B/S!
            Were you not warned by Him that if a particular type of leaven, and just one little pinch of it, is all that is necessary to actually destroy the whole religious lump? Boy! the doctrine of substitutionary atonement was a soteriological faith and practice 2000+ yrs. before Jesus Christ was even born, and that is the leaven He specifically warns about. For can not you read that it was impossible for anyone to know what the actual purpose was for Jesus Christ to be murdered by crucifixion for if it could have been determined why he was to be murdered by crucifixion from any source He would have NEVER! been crucified. 1 Cor 2: 6-8
            “that one man should die for the people.” Jn. 11: 49, as a direct benefit, but He had already countered Caiaphas’ lying conjecture prior to Caiaphas stating his lie.
            “When He comes He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin”Jn. 16:8 AFTER! the sin of murdering Him by crucifixion. The foundation for the church Jesus Christ is head of is not substitutionary atonement in that its soteriological theorem requires that the sin of murder be committed to attempt to perfect it. Now! you lying hypocrite get you ass out of that jam you’ve put yourself in!

          • Laurence Charles Ringo

            Whoa, Jones!! You need to take a deep breath and dial it back a notch! Who do think you are, dude? Gilsongraybert has been patient and respectful to you,and frankly,your vicious,incoherent rantings are quite revealing. Now, I don’t know what your area of expertise is, but it’s more than obvious that Church history,hermeneutics and history is NOT among your field of knowledge. So,with all due respect, do us all a favor and JUST. STOP. TALKING.[ And you uttered profanity.

          • No Shrinking Violet

            Oh no – profanity.

          • Laurence Charles Ringo

            If you actually have a point, “No Shrinking Violet”, please–Don’t shrink, go ahead and make it…

          • Theodore A. Jones

            Wasn’t I referencing His stated fact that only a few ever find what the gate is, bozo? Don’t dare change the subject.

          • Gilsongraybert

            Alright, take care Theodore. I’ve done nothing but give you respect and you can’t be bothered to return the favor. I earnestly hope one day the concept of salvation by grace alone will be illumined in you by the account of Scripture, through His Spirit.

        • John Purssey

          Beware of anyone who addresses a fellow human as ‘my boy”. Obviously a false sense of superiority.

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          What the what are you talking about, Jones??

      • Hermes60

        There is if you do not follow the christian path
        Just because someone follows a different path does not make their path invalid

        • Gilsongraybert

          Actually it does; competing truth claims (especially when the truth claim’s of Christ are explicitly exclusive) cannot be equally true.

    • Theodore A. Jones

      Because, Hermes, I know precisely what they’ve done to the scriptures to twist them. Contrarily unable to divide the the Word properly they have conflated the Word with the OT code and despise the Word of law the church of Jesus Christ must be built upon.

      • John Purssey

        For those who speak modern English “divide” is an anachronistic word that means “interpret”.

        • Hermes60

          Thanks
          So annoying when people use language to inflate themselves

      • Hermes60

        Sorry but they have also DISCARDED the HISTORICAL CONTEXT of the teachings that give the foundation to the teachings

  • Gilsongraybert

    Charlie, there is much here that is blatantly false, but the easiest one to address is the historical witness of the scriptures. The earliest writings were less than 50 years from the point of Christ’s death – and many of them were certainly written by those who did walk with Christ. The remainder of this seems mixed with some strange blend of eastern mysticism and anecdotal relativism. At the end of the day, the question everyone here has to deal with is: what do the Scriptures say on the matter?

    • Charlie Landman

      Ah Gilbert, read your history: Jesus was a mystic, and an eastern one at that. An inconvenient problem for official church, which early decided to deny all those early churches which honored that part of his nature.

      And more history: all serious bible scholarship agrees that none of the New Testament writers were contemporary with Jesus. The New Testament is a hash of different ideas, opinions, and understandings about Jesus. There are precious few things that seem to be authentically Jesus’ words (almost all of them parables. It is an amazing irony that you want to literalize a man who spoke entirely in metaphor. Ponder that, my friend.) Historical scholarship generally agrees that almost of what is attributed to Jesus was written by others.

      You might ask yourself why it is that it is so important to you to believe in the veracity of the bible, while I have before me the very same bible, and don’t have the same need. What is it that drives you to feel that way? And then to demand that others agree with you?

      • Gilsongraybert

        I’ve read, watched/listened to lectures, and ingested about as much as I can of church history. I sense an exercise in futility though, given your excursus into “serious [reductionist] scholarship.” To outright deny conservative scholarship, which given the plethora of historical genius in the church throughout the past 2,000 years, only reveals you view serious scholars as those who affirm liberal principles. I’m not demanding you do anything, I’ve simply made an argument from Scripture and asked that people reconcile with the claims thereof. I’ll admit though, you gave me a hearty chuckle with the Christ as an Eastern Mystic line lol. By His own words, nothing could be further from the truth. It is He who lays the claim to divinity and leaves no reasonable grounds for objection; I simply try to quote and reason in line. If you won’t heed Scripture, there is nothing I can do to demand, or more accurately, persuade you.

        • Charlie Landman

          “The kingdom of God is within you.” Sounds a lot like a classic mystic to me, but ok, how about “magician?” That suit you better?

          The problem with “conservative” biblical scholarship is that it sets out to prove a point, not to sift through the evidence to as objective a conclusion as can be reached. (Much like climate change denial science, in a different context.) But I understand, that is for you one little bit of support for reading the bible as the actual words of Jesus. I was a lawyer for forty years, I know evidence, and that ain’t much, and there is so much more that is all uncertainty, contradiction, and confusion. Really, if you want to believe in the literal truth of the bible as the words of Jesus, then just say that. Trying to defend it on any basis other than “I want to” is hopeless, and unnecessary if that is what you believe.

          My original point was that you have found a Jesus that suits you, that meets your personal needs. Good for you. Most people believe what their parents, family, and community of “primary discourse” believe, so I’m guessing that describes you. Nothing wrong with that, as long as you understand it. But in so doing, you have to close so many doors that lead to an amazing world of wonder, and of grace. You are a young man, and I pray for you that one day something will stop you in your tracks and open all of those doors for you. Believe it or not, but doubt is a great blessing, because it makes you struggle with what you truly believe, and why.

          • Gilsongraybert

            Lol, I was an atheist until I hit 21; I’ve only been a Christian for 9 years and certainly had no religious upbringing whatsoever. Besides funerals and weddings, and until I wanted to debate Christians because I felt they were idiotic (especially people like who I am today) I had no interaction with anything Christian. I’ve come from a progressive atheist to who I am today – and surely none of that was brought on by my pursuit of what I believed was best for me. I didn’t even want to become a Christian when I did become one, until Christ became so irresistible that there was no other reasonable option. To assume I’ve bought into what was taught me in youth is beyond dismissive; its laughably unreasonable in this instance. I spent a few years studying the Scriptures prior to belief in them and have literally spent the entire 9 years since studying them voraciously. Far be it from you to assume I’ve been without doubt and the testing of what I believe. I simply don’t think uncertainty is humility, but rather a measure of arrogance unbeffiting truth claims. Relativism is a black hole; everything goes in, but nothing ever comes back out. To assume one can have their own personal Jesus is again, a laughable presumption. To borrow from Lewis: Christ is either liar, lunatic, or Lord. He cannot be all three (or more). The Scriptures, likewise, don’t present themselves as a means for one to reject what they wish, nor that they find what is best for themselves. Rather, they call for a renewal of one’s mind to conformity to the image of Christ – and thatmeans dying to self, continually.

          • Theodore A. Jones

            C. S. Lewis was about as much a Christian as Satan is.

          • Reformed Catholic

            … and your proof is ??

          • billwald

            Sounds like modern US politics Everyone with whom we disagree is either a liar, a lunatic, or evil. What happened to simply wrong, misguided, uninformed . . . ?

          • Hata H. Zappa

            You have only been a Christian for 9 years? You are too young to write a sermon so old-fashioned.

          • No Shrinking Violet

            Amen on the doubt. It was doubt that kept me from perpetuating false religious tradition into my son’s generation and we are both the better for it.

          • Charlie Landman

            An open mind is a rare thing, in this discussion and pretty much everywhere.

      • J_Bob

        I would say that you comment as to “serious” bible scholarship may be a bit off. A significant number believe that the Gospels & Acts were written by eye witnesses. or those who had access to eye witnesses.

        From John’s , ( last gospel written, per Muratorian Canon, ~160 AD), own words, he notes the Pool of Bethesda is still there.That pool was destroyed in 70 AD, & positively identified by archeologists about 10 years ago.

        • Doug Tozier

          You are simply wrong. The Gospel writers don’t even name themselves, how could you know they were eyewitnesses? And none of the alleged secular historians name them either; they barely acknowledge that Jesus existed, often referring to him in the terms of his followers, and not from actual first-hand experience. If you actually read the documents claiming to authentic the gospels and life of Jesus, the picture becomes more hazy, rather than clear.

          • J_Bob

            You say i am simply wrong.

            So where is your proof that you are simply correct?

          • Doug Tozier

            As I said, I have studied the topic extensively. Although it is not incumbent on me to prove you wrong, here is one sample of which I speak: https://www.namb.net/apologetics/josephus-and-jesus

          • J_Bob

            Easy out for someone to say “You are simply wrong”, Sounds more like “I can’t back up my statement, so I’ll just pontificate”.

            Since we do not have the original NT manuscripts, with regard to the evangelists signing their names to what we call the gospels, we do have parts of early manuscripts (2nd & 3rd century), such as the Muratorian Canon fragment, that attest to the authors.

            By the end of the 2nd century, it appears that titles were put on the manuscripts, as noted in Papyrus #4.
            “ευαγγελιον κ̣ατ̣α μαθ᾽θαιον” (euangelion kata Maththaion).

          • Doug Tozier

            If I was taking an easy out, then why did I go to the trouble of providing you a couple of my sources? I don’t care what was added to manuscripts after the fact; we don’t have originals and that is a simple fact. I would even posit that if we DID have some original texts, it would still take a leap of faith to say that they were somehow inspired by a divine being which would still require some kind of evidence that this could be possible or true. But in texts that have errors and discrepancies, to even consider them “true” is a grave misuse of that word.

          • J_Bob

            Using your logic, it would appear that you might toss Plato, Euripides, etc, in the ash can because we do not have their original transcripts. And I say transcripts because they did not have video or voice recorders back then.

            P.S. You still didn’t provide anything close to proving me “simply wrong”.

          • Doug Tozier

            I just don’t base my eternal destiny on them. I do however, take the best philosophy from EVERY source available, if it seems to have experiential merit. It’s all about VALUE. I live in a real world, not a future utopia. But since you seem to have ignored the sources I shared with you, then this conversation is over.

          • Doug Tozier

            It looks like one of my comments didn’t post; here are the other links I wanted to post; https://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/whynotchristian.html

            https://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/quirinius.html

          • Irineos Plac

            Don’t you know the internet has made everyone an expert. “Here’s a link from the Google School of Divinity” lol!

          • J_Bob

            Sometimes, or more, it’s better to go to the some of the earliest manuscripts we have, published by Comfort & Phillips.

      • Strongs119

        Matthew 16:23 – Get thee behind me, (((Satan))). You are an Antichrist in accordance with 1 John 2:22 and 2 John 1:7, which state that those who deny that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, i.e. the followers of non-Christian religions (e.g. Jews) and atheists, are antichrists.

    • billwald

      In the US, we have the same pragmatic problem discussing the Bible and the Constitution. People “believe in” both documents but there is no agreement as to what the English words meant when written, what they mean then and now, and how they were intended to be applied then and now.

      • janusee

        the new testament wasn’t written in english.

  • jimoppenheimer

    It is true that some who love Jesus find no group within their area that meets their needs. Saying this isn’t so serves no useful purpose, save perhaps the smug self-righteousness of the judge.
    However, there are those who just don’t see a need for a church. Obviously one can assume that these do not “love” that which they don’t value, but the conclusion that they don’t love Jesus is rubbish. Your view of what Jesus is and their view probably differ, but that’s a very different matter.
    The unspoken assumption, I am guessing, is that one needs to go to church having faith that they will find God there. The person who has been to five or ten churches and unfailingly has found the atmosphere unacceptable is essentially told, “Well, you might have found consistently in the past that all churches have failed to minister to you, but just go to church. This time it will be different.”
    And you can’t see why the person looks at you with utter disdain????
    There really is a problem of the person who has left the Church, found nothing really happened (the sky didn’t fall, people don’t avoid them, and their fortunes have not been different), and decided church was unimportant, and hence one more thing in life they could jettison. Yes, I would say that this is a problem. The suggestions in this writing offer nothing for that problem, unfortunately.
    The unspoken assumption is “Well, they OUGHT to go to Church.” Well, that is an intriguing idea, but you don’t need to tell me; tell THEM. And you had better do that in a manner which causes you to be believable, unlike all other experiences they’ve had of the church.

    • Gilsongraybert

      Jim, this has absolutely nothing to do with personal conviction. The apostle John wrote that the one who does not love the brethren does not love God. Again, the assembling of the brethren is called the Church. Ergo, the one who doesn’t love the Church doesn’t love the brethren and by the Scripture’s account, cannot love God.

      • Jennifer

        Your ability to gloss over so many things and possibilties is awful. The assumption that every new Christian should automatically know where they belong is incredulous at best and damaging at worst…..Why not be encouraging to those who are scared, for whatever reason? Why be so condescending?

      • Laurence Charles Ringo

        Wow,Gilsongraybert…I’m flabbergasted that you actually believe that that’s a coherent argument!! Seriously? That’s not even remotely credible; whatever school you went to,you should demand your money back!!

      • jimoppenheimer

        Where to begin?
        So John has his opinion. That doesn’t really mean anything.
        If the brethren as you so quaintly put it, don’t treat the man decently, one can’t be surprised that he walks away.
        And as for loving God, I doubt that most people love God, including you and most saints. You can’t love a disembodied force that runs the Universe. Awe comes easily — love, not so much.

        • Gilsongraybert

          “John has his opinion.”

          And now we see the root of the issue…that’s unfortunate since that same John was the one who maintains that “we love Him because He first loved us.”

    • Theodore A. Jones

      I am not affiliated with nor do I attend the religious services of any of the contemporary Christian churches or any other. The soteriological platform all contemporary churches are built upon is entirely false.

  • billwald

    I gave up seeking a personal experience of the Divine at least 40 years ago. I want a local church where I don’t need hearing protection, where the music is written in SATB form, not guitar chords, where everything is done “decently and in good order,” where the sermons are not about social gospel or politics . . . .

    • Charlie Landman

      Some folks believe, as Jesus taught, that we are each filled with the Divine. In that case, the path to the Divine is simply to open ourselves to our true nature. Thomas Merton once famously said: “How is it possible to tell everyone they are all walking around shining like the sun?” Fifteen hundred years of being told that we have a evil, sinful nature has wrought enormous damage to the western psyche, to the point where the hardest thing to imagine is our own divinity.

      As I said before, we each find the god and the church we need. For some, it looks a lot like a friendly social club. (I was raised Lutheran, the “potluck social” church, so I understand what you are saying.) Nothing wrong with that, certainly better than the rather large contingent of the terminally self-rightous, who seek and have found churches that match their emotional needs to put others down.

      • Theodore A. Jones

        Jesus does not teach that you are filled with the Divine.What God has perfected in regard to the sin of murdering Jesus is the only Way God might form an intrinsic union with you if you have the faith to obey the word that has been added into law in regard to the murder of Jesus Christ. And even if you do obey this law you’ll not be raised to the status of divine.

        • Charlie Landman

          What do you think “the kingdom of heaven is within you” means, if not that we are filled with the divine? It doesn’t say, “maybe some day” or “after you are dead” or “only if you repent” or “only if you believe” or “only if you worship Jesus”, it says the divine is in you. Now. At this moment. Which means it has always been and always will be.

          But I am more interested in knowing why, with the choice of believing you are filled with divine light, or believing you are filled with sin and darkness, you choose sin and darkness? Are Christians really all so filled with self-loathing that they can’t even imagine themselves as radiant beings of goodness? You have a choice what to believe, you really do. Try this: for a day, just one day, imagine that you are in fact filled with the divine, and see if maybe just maybe you get a glimpse of the wondrous being you truly are.

        • cat

          Charlie Landman: The mystery kept secret for ages but disclosed is this “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” We are indwelt by the divine, but that does not make us divine.

          • janusee

            sounds like a kind of twisted, dualistic thinking, based in a dark self-loathing.

        • janusee

          “Christ within, the hope of glory.”

      • billwald

        The one observable truth of Christianity is that wel all have a sin nature. Call it inherited defective DNA if one prefers. In 6,000 years of human history there is no evidence that we have evolved into a more race of critters. At best, we are more efficient and sanitary at doing evil.

        Trying to be a good neighbor is simply fighting against our sin nature. The ones who do it best . . . in the old days, we called them “saints.”

        • Charlie Landman

          I have no idea what “sin nature” might be, but it is worth remembering that original sin isn’t found n the Bible, it was invented by Augustine, an man filled with self-loathing. It is also worth remembering that virtually all people live decent, honest lives. That some don’t certinly doesn’t add up to all humans, or allow the conclusion that they represent “human nature” whatever that might be.

          The more interesting question is why Christians, most of whom live perfectly fine lives, are so committed to seeing themselves as evil. And what kind of religion demands that belief as the price of entry?

          • Doomarious Roy

            Your bad theology and understanding of the history of man is appalling. “Virtually all people live decent, honest lives…” Really? How do you explain all the corruption and crime around us? How do you explain the love of money and worship of people, things, sports, music, and nearly anything else but God among so many people, including yourself? Ask those who you see as Christians what they were before and how they lived before their lives were changed. Ask them why it happened and to whom they give credit.

        • swbarnes2

          No, you don’t need to be Christian to acknowledge the observable truth that “human beings make mistakes” But the key to really holding that axiom is to be constantly checking to make sure that your beliefs are grounded in objective, observable fact. Western religions make it a point to avoid doing this.

          And sorry, but modern technology (see, grounded in testable and observable facts) have made the world better. There are many places in the world where a very large chunk of the population does not live in miserable poverty. Vaccines alone, and the drop in childhood mortality worldwide they directly caused is a very compelling argument that things are better than they used to be. 2000 years of Christianity didn’t accomplish that. A few decades of dedicated post-Enlightenment work did.

          • Doomarious Roy

            I guess you have forgotten how America has legalized the murder of the unborn and killed over 60 million since 1973. Worldwide the numbers are staggering in butchered babies in the womb. Do you think we have made the world better in declaring that children in the womb are not human and can be discarded like refuse? In this supposed “enlightenment” we have seen world wars that have killed multiple millions and millions more have been tortured and imprisoned for political reasons.

            You want to proclaim now vaccinations have done so much, yet there is an epidemic of autism due to vaccinations using serums not thoroughly tested and screened, not to mention many, many dead directly. You mention poverty and some places where there is less of it, but it still exists in multiple countries and even in this great country of the U.S. And poverty will always exist as long as men are in charge.

      • Guthrum

        Also a long time Lutheran, I am shocked at the differences then and now. I would describe then as strict, formal, serious, no nonsense. Now it is laid back, relax, comfort. There is something to be said for a formal service and liturgy. I still remember many parts of the service and Bible lessons. The phrase ” Word of the Lord ” was heard often in the service. Back then the church was central to families and the community. Now it is go if we have time or we are not too tired.
        Remember the Sunday school attendance pins?

      • Wade Nye

        We do not need others to make us feel guilty for our stinginess, greed, lust, selfishness, etc. Our conscience does a fine job of that, unless of course we have seared our conscience by repeatedly ignoring it.

      • Doomarious Roy

        In your corruption you think divinity is in your “true nature.” Your description of what you think Jesus taught is utterly false and misleading. Jesus taught that all men were sinful and there was no one “good.” No one had the divine nature within them. All were corrupt and gone out of the way. That is why he called men to repent, saying, “Except your repent, you will perish.” Jesus explained the way back to God was through Him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.” John 14:3
        Jesus taught that men must “enter the kingdom of God” but that they could not unless they were born again or their natures made new by God. He describes this in John 3.

        Now somehow you think yourself to have found divinity within and you condemn the actual teachings of Jesus and his way of redemption. What you have found is a way to justify yourself outside of God. “There is a way that seems right to man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death.” Christ and his apostles taught how all men must repent and look to Christ for salvation, cleansing from sin, righteousness, godliness, and so on. You teach a false way and say it is what Jesus taught. You are misguided simply teaching another false gospel as all false prophets do.

    • Theodore A. Jones

      Very well then. But the Way into the church He’s head of does require that the law Paul references in Rom. 2:13 be obeyed to get into that church He’s head of. Don’t have the faith to confess directly to God that you are truly sorry His only begotten son was murdered when He was crucified and be baptized into your confession? Entry into the church He’s head of is denied. There are no exceptions.

    • J. Inglis

      In other words, you want a church that fits and suits and reinforces

      your particular culture and won’t attend any that don’t.

      • billwald

        YES! I made peace with God many years ago. My conscience with respect to the land of the living is clear. I try to be a good neighbor but stopped shoveling sand against the tide.

        Anyway, half the times I have tried to go far out of my way to help someone else, I seem to have made the problem worse.

      • Al Cruise

        You describe here exactly how conservative evangelicals behave and think.

    • Doug Tozier

      For some reason I can’t reply directly to Charlie Landman, but I agree completely with his comments about finding the god each of us needs; mine is nature- after 40 years in churches of various stripes, I finally realized that god was all around me and a building and community of “believers” was not right for me and impeded my experience of the divine.

    • Wade Nye

      Sad to be such an honest man who is honestly lost and bereft of God’s comfort and love.

  • Cliff

    Your argument is illogical: “…the NT presupposes you are going to be part of an institutionalized,, local church.” Just not so. Local, perhaps. Institutionalized, no.
    Institutionalization is the curse of the church. Clifford Hill

  • Carolyn Janson

    “…. reasons why one leaves the church entirely, there’s really only one:
    they don’t love the church. Synonymously, they don’t love Christ.”…. No. This is wrong on many levels. The Church is not the churches. The Church is not an institution nor a political force. These things have been imposed on the Church of Christ, which is indeed invisible and contains all believers. Since very early in the history of the visible church, the spirit of Jesus has been disrespected and ignored, and human regulation substituted. You simply CANNOT equate not loving the church, as it is under human usurpation, with Christ.
    The study of the history of the visible church is rife with power play, even from the beginning. Where is the Lordship of Christ? The guidance of the Spirit? Where is true fellowship, worshipping and learning under the Holy Spirit? The visible Church has usurped the place of our Lord, and man’s reign substituted. I do NOT love the visible Church. I do love the Church as it is in Christ – the fellowship of all believers, and I am sad that this is lost to most believers, because of human pride. I love my Lord and I was commanded by Him ( the only time in my life that i got a direct command like this) to leave the institutionalised church, as it is unfaithful to Christ. Read Revelation, specifically the letter to Laodicea.
    I agree that there are local churches that are faithful and give the Lord His place. They are however not the rule but the exception. Many Christians are being commanded to leave the Laodicea of our time and come out, learning to love and obey our Lord. We can still have fellowship; but if we are thereby shut out from all the fellowship that should be amongst us, it is not our fault but the church’s. I have opened the door to my Lord, and He has come in and sups with me. I will never again be part of a church which has disobeyed our Lord.

    • Darin Malone

      awesome comment! I wish I could have said it that well! Do you ever listen to Darin Hufford and his Free Believers Network? That was really well said.

      • Carolyn Janson

        No, I haven’t. This comes directly from my experience of God since I left church. But thank you! He really is the best Teacher!

        • Darin Malone

          yes He is!

  • This is simply another version of the bullshit thrown out by god belief and religious doctrine. Just make it up as you go along. What could be more obvious.

  • Darin Malone

    Wow, I pretty much disagree with everything you are saying here. Glad I don’t go to your church. I think I would feel bullied.

  • Jennifer

    You write as though you are addressing a bunch of silly little disgruntled long time mature Christians…….Your ability to gloss over so many things, like abuse in the church to wrong and unbiblical teachings in others and so many other possibilities is awful.
    The assumption that every new Christian should automatically know where they belong is incredulous at best and damaging at worst…..Why not be encouraging to those who are scared, for whatever reason? Why be so condescending?

    • Gilsongraybert

      Unfortunately the space and people’s focus only allows for so much within a blog post, hence why that could only be given a short nod in the fourth and last paragraphs. There are good reasons to leave a church and go to another one – but there aren’t any good reasons one would leave the church entirely, and that is the main focus on this particular post. That can and likely will be an entirely different post, as I sense one showing proper reasons to leave deserves a fair amount of space and prominence also. I’m also not addressing new or naive Christians, but the particular crowd that believes you can love Jesus and not love the church, hence why I made that goal very clear in the beginning of the piece. One who is nervous to go to church yet understands they need to is different than the individual who feels they are simply above going to church.

      • Jennifer

        Thank you for clarifying! God bless!

        • Gilsongraybert

          God bless you as well!

  • JA Myer

    Jesus speaks of love and welcoming everyone. The church speaks of loving self and rejecting others.

  • DebbyJane65

    As long as families that have known each other for decades “lead” an assembly of people; the assembly will never be the “body of Christ”. The favoritism is despicable! The arrogance and attitudes of these families is even worse! When a Pastor’s wife is allowed to stand before a congregation and say, “Some people do not do what I tell them to do!”; you wonder, “Who does she think she is?”. When a Pastor comments “about others” with info that has been chatted to him by his wife; you wonder, “where is God in this?” When a Pastor and wife cannot accept criticism and make a change; but expect others to change; they show their immaturity. When a member cannot be a greeter, sing in the choir, etc. because of this “tribe”; it is not Church. When a member is told, “we are letting you go” because the leaders have failed and do not how to confront people; then it is time to go! The leaders usually do not know the whole story! Bottom line: Immature leaders cannot effectively lead. They do not know how to connect with others. To bring in replacement leadership and keep the old leadership at the same time until they are ready to fire the old leadership hurts the congregation to the core! If these leaders think the congregation was not aware; they do not know about discernment. It was a 3-ring Circus! These leaders are very self-centered and taking care of their personal families “tribe” is their priority. They act like tribal warriors; and expect you to “just show up”! When these leaders “personal itineraries” are boasted repeatedly; it becomes a “Show and Tell”. They are so blind! I would rather “sit in the woods, drink coca cola and eat cookies!” (chocolate chip please). p.s. I love Jesus. I love the local Church. Yet there are many local churches that make up ‘the body of Christ”. One has to keep searching until they find a temporary home – a place where they are loved and feel like they belong so they can give back; instead of always giving with no sense of even belonging. I have no personal family;so Church is everything to me; until it isn’t. That’s all folks!….for now. Pray for me. Searching…….

    • Theodore A. Jones

      You are not going to find any church of today’s churches that Jesus Christ is head of. They are all built on a soteriological foundation that is impossible for anyone to construct.

  • Kyllein MacKellerann “

    Simple, Sad Fact: Any Church (a business) who actively practiced the teachings of Jesus would go out of business in short order. Jesus was not a businessman, he was a teacher.

    • Theodore A. Jones

      Well pard I would have liked to have thought of that barb. These contemporary churches have a hell of a lot bigger problem they are facing than is imaginable.
      P.S. Jesus is not a ‘was’ re “was not” rather he’s just as much alive as he has always been.

  • Mark in Ohio

    As an outside observer, I find if interesting that this column shows up in the Evangelical section, not the Catholic section. After all, the continuation of the true and original church of Paul is the Catholic section. After all, how would Evangelicals leaving the original church to worship differently but in a way that coincides with their personal interpretation of scripture be any different than those choosing not to go to church and worship more independently?

    • Gilsongraybert

      Hi Mark, thanks for the good comment/question. The Reformation initially was started not as a divide, but as a means to repair what was broken, if that makes sense. Luther’s primary purpose was not that another schism took place, but that the church would abandon principles contrary to scripture and place herself under the authority of scripture rather than above it. The most important thing out of this was that the pure gospel of Christ was lost among the Roman Catholic Church. Ultimately, this is what drove the divide and still holds that divide today, as we hold to drastically different notions of what salvation entails (compare the five solas of the Protestant Reformation against the sacramental and ecclesiastical system of the RCC). I would disagree with your sentiments that the true and original continuation of the church of Paul (do you mean Peter?) is the Roman Catholic Church (as would the Eastern Orthodox Church, but not on the same grounds). Instead, the true church is the church that has held to the same gospel as Paul and Peter, one which is not perverted by the concoctions of meriting grace in some manner other than Christ’s substitutionary atonement. So in that regard, the distinctive, again, is what Scripture is driving adherents of the Christian faith to do. Any church that is not in submission to scripture and forsakes the gospel is not, by the definition of scripture, a church. Again, there are many reasons for division and the catalysts of the Reformation are quite valid reasons to divide with what would be considered an apostate church. In that, the idea presented is not a measure of rugged individualism (i.e. living the Christian life apart from the local church), but a measure of preservation of the true church of the gospel of Christ.

    • No Shrinking Violet

      Excellent point, sir!

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Terrifyingly I find myself sort of agreeing with you. I think I may be going down with something. I would agree that you can’t say you love Jesus but don’t love your fellow Christians, but you are trying mashing together a number if different things. It is quite possible to love Jesus and not attend formal church services, which is not the same as “not loving the church”. There is in any event no “church” in the NT: the word translated “church” just means “assembly” or “gathering” so any gathering of Christians is “church” in the NT sense, even if the larger more established gatherings might have been quite formal.
    You are also misquoting and misusing 1 John 3, if I may say. 1 John 3:10 does not say the children of the devil are those who eschew righteousness and the love of “the brethren” (plural) it says love of “his brother” (singular). It has nothing whatsoever to do with going to church, but is about loving one’s fellow men. That this is about love of neighbour, not love of church should be obvious from the reference to a hater of his brother being a murderer, a direct quote from Jesus himself (Matthew 5:21).
    Where I agree, however, is that someone who says they love Jesus but has no desire for or an aversion to meeting together with fellow Christians in love is probably deluding themselves. (However, in individual cases there may be good reasons why a local church is spiritually harmful and someone avoids it through necessity, or they may find formal collective worship a hindrance due to their personal history in their stage in Christian life.)
    I would also agree that someone avoiding church after church because they find fault with them may instead have the fault within themselves, either through arrogance in thinking they know better than everyone else, intolerance of any views other than their own, or an unloving intolerance of other’s faults and foibles.
    I would also say that while you can in theory love Jesus without attending church, to truly sustain one’s faith without drifting away, and to avoid disappearing into one’s own little world of weirdness of belief without the support, comfort and grounding of one’s fellow Christians is a very hard thing to do.

  • Monique Lynn

    The Church en masse discriminates – especially the Evangelical Church – exclude the LGBTQ community and disallow women to be in authority over man or anyone(pastors). And until the church can do that I will not be party to any of it, and I have zero guilt about it. I’ve had many attempt to guilt me. But that’s on them. I am no less saved than anyone in church and talk to the Lord daily and spend time in His Word.

    • billwald

      You understand the old dictionary difference between prejudice and discrimination? They are antonyms.

      • Sven2547

        There are countless examples of people discriminating against others because of their prejudices.

        • billwald

          The old meaning of discrimination was selecting the best qualified, the best made, the best whatever out of several choices. Using experience and knowledge to make the best decision.

          Prejudice means deciding without knowledge, experience, information. . . .

          One discriminates by staying our of dangerous neighborhoods, buying the highest quality product, eating/staying at 5 star establishments, avoid buying junkers, staying out of bars after dark, streets with bad reputations . . . .

          • Sven2547

            “Discrimination” is not defined by making the “best” choice. Rather, it’s defined by making a deliberate choice. In the all-too-common cases of racial discrimination, sex discrimination, and various other forms of demographic discrimination, it’s generally not the right choice.

          • billwald

            45 years ago, the Seattle School Board wanted to bus our kids from our civilized neighborhood to the most dangerous part of Seattle. We removed our kids from Seattle public schools and am still glad we did.

            The Rainier Valley is being “civilized” by our East Asian community but it is still the most dangerous part of Seattle. If one of the grand kids wanted to marry a Chinese, Korean, or Japanese person it would be great for my extended family. The family get-together’s would have more interesting food.

  • Robert Albro

    is this the works or faith argument that one gets into heaven with?

  • Robin Warchol

    St. Cyprian of Carthage said in his letter “On the Unity of the Church” this and it’s one of my favorite quotes: “He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother” in 251. If modern evangelical Christians are confused about this, I would suggest to read the early Church fathers and their clear teaching on this matter

    • Theodore A. Jones

      NONSENSE!

    • billwald

      Agree but as soon as I graduated from college I moved 3,000 miles away from my parents.

    • Laurence Charles Ringo

      Oh,please; give me a break, Warchol…I don’t get my understanding of what the Church is from some long-dead so-called “church father’s” definition. The True Church is comprised of EVERY Born-Again,Blood-bought, Spirit-Filled child of Almighty God in Christ Jesus, PERIOD!! That is how the Scriptures defines The Authentic Church, of which Jesus the Christ is the Head thereof, NOT these various man-centered religious constructs and pseudo-theological institutions who presume to arrogantly judge and lord it over everyone else, and most certainly NOT the so-called popes/papacy, one of the WORSE human religious endeavours EVER concocted. Frankly, I like the “two or three gathered in My Name” model espoused by My Savior, and NO ONE can repudiate it,or worse pass judgment on it per Romans chapter 14. Besides, why would I want to be part of a religious institution that can’t get a handle on its pedophile priests problem; an institution that just admitted that the Jesuits owned slave plantations? (I’m African-American,so you can imagine how disgusted the Georgetown University announcement made the other day made me feel.Even now I want to gag.By the way, you can thank pope Nicholas V’s papal bull entitled Dum Diversas for that.)—So…no.Cyprian doesn’t get to define church for me; only Almighty God can do that.

      • Robin Warchol

        I do not see how my simple comment that never mentions the Catholic Church on a Reformed blog becomes a rant about race and slavery on your part. While Georgetown is busying itself with 5 Jesuits from over 170 years ago, it has no problem taking millions from Saudi Arabia which only outlawed slavery (at least on books) in 1961 and still has it citizens auction off their slaves on Craigs lists and does not allow women any rights. While you want to quote or misquote a Papal bull and twist that into support for slavery, you ignore Sicut Dudum, 1435, Sublimes Deus 1537, Immensa Pastorum 1741, In Supremo Apostolates 1839, and Catholic Ecclesiae 1890. All of them condemned slavery in no uncertain terms and threaten repeatedly in all of them ex-communication for participation in any form with slavery. You are also ignoring the repeated condemnation of slavery by these Popes, Gregory the Great, Hadrian I, Alexander III, Innocent III, Gregory IX, Pius II, Leo X, Paul III Urban VIII, Benedict XIV, Pius VII and Gregory XVI. I don’t agree with too much at all with this particular blogger, but when I think he gets it right which I do in this case, I have no problem in trying say so. While you want to ditch anything to do with early Church history and writings, it seems if that just maybe if more Christians actually knew their history and teaching, one wouldn’t be seeing some of the confused, angry and even nutty comments about something as basic as Church attendance for people claiming to be Christian. And with that, you give me a break.

      • Nunya Beeswax

        “I don’t get my understanding of what the Church is from some long-dead so-called “church father’s” definition.”

        Of course not. You get it from the same place every other “non-denominational” Christian and goofy New-Ager does–you make it up.

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          If you have a coherent, valid comment to make,”Nunya Beeswax”, please—bring it on. I am perfectly capable of defending my stance from the Scriptures; unlike the Roman Catholic Church I don’t have to invent dogmas and construct pseudo-theological chimeras and quasi-political ideologies to manufacture man-centered religious constructs.Now, if you don’t know how to contend for your claims with clearly-exegeted Scripture, don’t waste my time trying to be cute. Contrary to popular Roman Catholic belief, I’m not enslaved by millennia of Catholic groupthink; I won’t submit my “will and intellect” to your man-centered so-called magisterium.If you can’t think for yourself with the God-given mental faculties and presumably Spirit-empowered acumen the Lord our God has bestowed upon you,be honest enough to admit that instead of lowering yourself to the level of an ignorant child. I await your reply—JESUS IS LORD.

  • rtgmath

    I rather think that the conversation with John would go differently. John would point out that there are false shepherds who rip and tear the sheep, and you shouldn’t put yourself under them. Matthew would point out that the Spirit called Jesus into the wilderness, away from everyone else, for a time. Perhaps some people need a wilderness experience.

    ‘Church’ isn’t magical. Putting yourself back under abusers isn’t smart. Would you send an abused child back to his abusive home because that was “where he belongs”? Would you tell him he can’t love God if he doesn’t love his abusers?

    Many churches today are nothing like the Jesus they claim to represent. Don’t blame people who don’t go to church if all they have experienced is false advertising and abuse. It is the job of Jesus and His ministers to seek those who have gotten lost, not the job of the lost sheep to go back to the wolves for dinner.

    • Theodore A. Jones

      All of today’s “shepherds” are none other than wolves. Don’t kid yourself.

      • rtgmath

        Not all. I find that universal quantifies are generally unhelpful. “All are” and “none are” are usually untrue characterizations. Had you even said “most are” I’d have agreed with you.

        I have experienced my fair share of the wolves, and I can say the wolves believed themselves to be shepherds. Their tearing up of the sheep was merely “biblical discipline”!

        But I do think there are good people in ministry. The trouble is finding them. It isn’t easy.

    • Gilsongraybert

      Again, this post is not directed at those who have left a church for valid reason, unless, of course they feel that never going back to one is the best course of action for their spiritual well-being. Simply because one has an understandable reason one can sympathize with doesn’t change what the apostle John has written. This doesn’t mean that they have no need to be counseled, but it does mean that they still need to be part of the body. How can the brethren minister to them and help them heal if they never return? How can they be properly guarded against wolves, especially those wolves which wear the guise of the likewise wounded and lure them into false teaching, if they refuse to place themselves under the proper headship of godly elders?

      • rtgmath

        Finding godly elders is a big problem. Then, too, there is a difficulty with the idea of headship. I know the theology. The theology of headship has led directly to abuse and victim-blaming.

        No, it is the job of a shepherd to seek out the lost and find a way to rescue them. Nowhere are sheep told to go into any convenient fold. Or to find a shepherd. Telling people to “go to church” is a useless exercise.

        • Gilsongraybert

          You are in plain denial of Scripture then if you feel there is no command for Christians to be part of a local church and under the headship of elders, as fellow partakers of the covenant serve one another through the gifting of the Spirit.

          • rtgmath

            Hmmm. You avoid addressing my issue, that the shepherds should be seeking the lost sheep. Why is that, I wonder? You seem to insist that the lost sheep somehow find themselves and get back on their own? That is legalism, not grace.

          • Gilsongraybert

            No, it is evangelism, which is the charge to every Christian… I wasn’t avoiding it, I was puzzled that you seem to insinuate that is only the job of the undershepherd (pastor).

          • Theodore A. Jones

            “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” Rom. 2:13 Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.?

        • billwald

          It is the Holy Spirit who rescues the sheep through regeneration and conversion,

  • paganmegan

    “The modern notion that you can worship God just as much by yourself as you can within the confines of the church is patently false and anti-biblical.”

    Matthew 6:5-6 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.”

    • Gilsongraybert

      Sure, because praying without making a spectacle of it is akin to forsaking the rest of the Scriptures which indicate one worships with the collective body of Christ andthat this is the primary means of worship for believers.

      • paganmegan

        As a charismatic, I’d tend to agree. However, the purpose of such fellowship was to engage in the gifts of the spirit, a practice that rarely exists in modern churches. My own gift, discernment of spirits, allowed me to sense the presence of demonic spirits in my church, but because the church doesn’t acknowledge my gift, I was unable to act on it.

        Evangelicals tend to take for granted that “wherever two or more are gathered…there I am in their midst.” I left my evangelical church, not because I hate Jesus or even my church, but because I was oppressed by the demons there, demons the religious leadership was too blind to see.

      • billwald

        Praying while making spectacle out of it is doing everything “decently and in good order?”

  • Daniel G. Johnson

    Today: Going to church is the morally wrong thing to do.

    What people should do: Stand outside of especially evangelical churches DURING SERVICES with picket signs which read:

    “NO TRUMP. NO KKK. NO FASCIST USA”

    Chruch, you voted for Trump. You are now invalid. The New Testament did not presuppose that you would be a racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-LGBTI hate machine.

    You don’t get to vote for Trump, and say “never mind”.

    • Gilsongraybert

      There were many Evangelicals who did not vote for Trump and many others still that voted for him whilst holding their noses hoping for any better result than Hillary. We also posted many blog posts with the hopes of convincing Christians not to vote for Trump, so you’d do well to become informed instead of speaking in sneering platitudes.

      Regardless of all of that, there are much deeper, personal issues if you sense that people who think differently than you are simply racist, fascist, sexist, anti-everyone hate machines. All that empty rhetoric and name calling will do nothing to help your cause – even if you happened to be right on something in the future.

      • Daniel G. Johnson

        There were very few evangelicals who did not vote for Trump.

        Even more important, there were very few who opposed Trump.

        So, when shall we see legions of evangelicals come to the streets to oppose Trump fascism? Will we see Pence protesting?

        Trump and evangelicals have done busted Godwin’s Law. We full tilt have landed in the 4th Reich as the Trumpster pimps for Le Pen.

        In truth, it was evangelicals who put Trump over the goal line. So, no. We wouldn’t want no name callin’. The current project in evangelical world is to run from moral responsibility.

        • Gilsongraybert

          Ok, you seem to have not followed much of anything during the election cycle, as it was incredibly polarizing in the evangelical community…

          Regardless: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/chorusinthechaos/hypocritical-christians-dont-invalidate-biblical-truth/

          • Daniel G. Johnson

            81%.

            https://www.thenation.com/article/eighty-one-percent-of-white-evangelicals-voted-for-donald-trump-why/

            On your article. No sale here. You assume from your evangelical world view that somehow everyone on the planet is obliged to agree with you that Scripture (your view of it) is the repository and dispensing agent of Truth.

            No. The New Testament is an anthology of disparate political works containing various competing agendas. I find truth in James as opposed to Paul who took a gamble on goyim and look where it all landed.

            So, let’s get some good out that thar polarizing you claim. Where’s the evangelical Confessing Church 2.0?

          • Gilsongraybert

            Yup, because everyone claiming to be an evangelical is one – just like all those kids who carried around skateboards in the 90’s were skateboarders, right?

            As for Scripture’s authority, you pretty much nailed it. Everyone on earth is obligated to submit to its instruction.

          • Daniel G. Johnson

            The whole of the evangelical movement, especially its theological leadership, is responsible for its behavior over the last 40 years in which it vigorously defined and fought the culture wars which have led to the present moment of fascism. It wasn’t country snake handler preachers. It was mainstream evangelicals wedded lockstep with the Republican Party in general, and the Tea Party become the Bannon/Breitbart/Trump deal. So. This Franklin Graham rhetorical method…we’ve already seen that….where he fictitiously says he’s not endorsing a candidate but then goes on a big ol campaign tour endoring Trump’s cultural memes during the most optimal campaign time.

            No, to your claim of Scriptural authority. You can only pull the chain there on a thousand beat the dead horse rerun debates that nones and dones have put their foot down…on a moral basis. Again, it is the juxtaposition of your claimed authority which evangelicals have chosen to exercise over the narrow cultural war fetishes and the completely immoral refusal of evangelicals to overtly oppose oppression of the poor and minorities by an ascendant plutocracy which aims to achieve its ends through fascism that propels people at increasing rates away from church….for every moral reason. They are keeping the moral core of the faith by leaving the rotted brick and mortar trumpian impostor church.

          • Gilsongraybert

            That certainly is a verbose way of restating your initial claim that all Evangelicals are blindly nationalistic, bigoted, idiots, but it has little to do with the Scriptural arguments given and the general idea of truth. Truth is objective and not limited by one’s displeasure of, another’s hypocrisy against, nor even still another’s rejection thereof.

          • Daniel G. Johnson

            CHURCH was your topic. Church is a corporate entity. Individuals who attach themselves to that entity are morally responsible for input as to the behavior of that entity. It is strange magic indeed to try to save the moral reputation of the entity by segmenting individuals out of it who may possibly be quietist minority reports.

            The Church is rotted. Moral people have left that immorality.

            Your rhetorical use of the word “truth” is an aesthetic invitation to debate on a million different angles completely deflecting from the the fact that NT writers and camps disagreed with each other.

          • Theodore A. Jones

            Basket cases arguing. I shouda sold tickets.

          • Strongs119

            Leftists celebrate White Americans, becoming a minority in the USA, by mid-century, as a result of massive 3rd world immigration and high birthrates among non-white immigrants. (e.g. President Bill Clinton’s, now-famous 1998 address to students at Portland State University). http://mobile.wnd.com/2011/10/357133/

            (If race is so unimportant to leftists, why do they celebrate Whites becoming a minority?). Joe Biden: Whites Becoming A Minority – “A Source Of Our Strength” https://youtu.be/r_sSxre-1nA

          • Dubious in Tennessee

            Hate to tell you, people of Spanish descent are white. Only in the good old USA are they considered another race. Incidentally they are also in huge majorities Catholic. Another uncomfortable truth, all white folks originated from Africa by way of the middle east. Are Muslim people a different race? I do not think so. Take an individual’s DNA and you might ascertain what part of the world his ancestors came from, but unless you knew how to decipher the DNA information, would not know the pigment of his skin. I think you are more worried about your tribe than your race, however that might be constructed.

          • Strongs119

            The vast majority of Mexicans, Guatemalans, Salvadoreans, and other Central and South Americans are NOT of pure Spanish White European ancestry, MOST of them are in fact MESTIZOS.

            https://www.britannica.com/topic/mestizo
            mestizo, plural mestizos, feminine mestiza, any person of mixed blood. In Central and South America it denotes a person of combined Indian and European extraction.

          • Dubious in Tennessee

            Yes, there were native folks in those lands before the Europeans showed up, I think my point is that we lump all together as if they are another race. Did not bother to address the main point that we are all of common ancestry, and most if not all folks in Cuba, Puerto Rico and a few other places probably to numerous to mention are indeed almost entirely of Spanish descent. The indigenous people paid high price in disease and annihilation at the hands of Europeans such than the populations of may groups have shrank to near nothingness. I guess you could give them all the look over when they entered the country to be sure we only let the right ones in so thoroughly have the genetics been mixed. I have Puerto Rico-an in laws, and they are exclusively European, considered white in Spain, here not at all.

          • Strongs119

            The notion that a majority of Amerindians were wiped out by diseases carried to the Americas by European explorers is pure leftist Marxist propaganda designed to instill guilt in people of White European racial heritage, as new evidence shows.

            Megadeath in Mexico. Epidemics followed the Spanish arrival in the New World, but the worst killer may have been a shadowy native—a killer that could still be out there. http://discovermagazine.com/2006/feb/megadeath-in-mexico

            Mexican epidemiologist Rodolfo Acuña-Soto’s studies of ancient documents revealed that the Aztecs were familiar with smallpox, perhaps even before Cortés arrived. They called it zahuatl. Spanish colonists wrote at the time that outbreaks of zahuatl occurred in 1520 and 1531 and, typical of smallpox, lasted about a year. As many as 8 million people died from those outbreaks. But the epidemic that appeared in 1545, followed by another in 1576, seemed to be another disease altogether. The Aztecs called those outbreaks by a separate name, cocolitzli. “For them, cocolitzli was something completely different and far more virulent,” Acuña-Soto says. “Cocolitzli brought incomparable devastation that passed readily from one region to the next and killed quickly.”

          • Strongs119

            Overwhelming evidence demonstrates that the original Native Americans were White Europeans.

            The Washington Post published a longish article (“Radical theory of first Americans places Stone Age Europeans in Delmarva 20,000 years ago“). Or check read the Independent article, entitled: “NEW EVIDENCE SUGGESTS STONE AGE HUNTERS FROM EUROPE DISCOVERED AMERICA”
            http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/new-evidence-suggests-stone-age-hunters-from-europe-discovered-america-7447152.html

            The remains of the Windover Bog People were discovered in January 1982 during the construction of a new road near Titusville, Florida. The discovery yielded the skeletons of 168 men, women and children dating back over 7000 years ago. DNA testing indicated these people were of European descent indicating some of the first peoples in America were White.
            http://youtu.be/vbayBEbIEwc

          • Dubious in Tennessee

            Ok, do not think that is embraced by majority, but a very interesting theory.

          • Strongs119

            New evidence suggests Stone Age hunters from Europe discovered America. “The Solutrean (European originating) Native Americans were either partly absorbed by the newcomers (Asian-originating Indians) or were substantially obliterated by them either physically or through competition for resources.” http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/new-evidence-suggests-stone-age-hunters-from-europe-discovered-america-7447152.html

            The Paiutes, a Native-American tribe indigenous to parts of Nevada, have an oral tradition that they told to early white settlers of the area about a race of red-haired, white giants or ‘barbarians’ that their ancestors referred to as the “Si-Te-Cah.” The story was written down in 1882 by Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, daughter of a Paiute Indian chief in her book: “Life Among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims.” These “giants” were described as vicious, unfriendly and cannibalistic. In this story, the Paiutes speak of a great battle that took place which led to their extermination at site known today as Lovelock Cave. http://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends-americas/lovelock-cave-tale-giants-or-giant-tale-fiction-003060

            “Red Haired Giants & Sitecah – Lovelock Cave, Nevada”
            https://youtu.be/pNktBFcfsmw

          • Strongs119

            Western culture and Western civilization = White culture and White civilization, as it was originally created and sustained for thousands of years, in Europe, by the indigenous White peoples of Europe, aka native Europeans.

            The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, has hit out at multiculturalism saying it has “no future”. http://www.christiantoday.com/article/patriarch.kirill.multiculturalism.puts.christianity.at.risk/101613.htm
            https://www.rt.com/news/367599-patriarch-kirill-rt-interview/

            It is insanity, cuckoldry, to celebrate your own people becoming a minority in the nation founded by their ancestors, there is no other race of people on Earth that does this, except for people of White European racial origin. I recommend watching the following video entitled: “Why I Don’t Want to Become a Minority” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPm0NKcBZcY

            And if you have time, watch this too. Ever more young people are understanding what’s going on. “White Nationalism?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JP-DZtafLY&feature=youtu.be

          • billwald

            On the other hand, in the last 40 years, white evangelical Americans produced the highest standard of living for the blue/white collar working class of the major world nations

          • Daniel G. Johnson

            That is not true. The Republicans began dismantling unions 40 years ago.

          • jbnorton

            Um, the US doesn’t have the highest standard of living in the world, and most white US residents aren’t evangelical. But, hey, thanks for displaying your inherent racism. JC would be proud.

        • billwald

          I voted for trump for only one reason: A nation that does not protect its geographical borders is up for grabs. Mrs. Clinton seems to prefer that the UN controls geographical borders.

          • Daniel G. Johnson

            So for you, Christianity is all tied up and dependent on a militaristic defense of the State?…against poor people simply trying to do what your ancestors did when there was no such bar on the gate.

          • billwald

            You confuse my Christianity with my national identity? I don’t.

            I think that if we do not protect our borders in the same way that the Indian People did not protect their borders against our European ancestors that we 21st century Americans including out American Indian population could end up living in an Islamic state or a UN state.

          • Daniel G. Johnson

            Oh. I thought most of the folks coming over the border were Catholic.

            Is there a UN state somewhere?

          • jbnorton

            Good point. Shall we all self-deport, then? Do I go to France, or Ireland, or England?

          • jbnorton

            You know that most people that are undocumented immigrants came to the US legally, but chose to stay after their visas expired, right? No wall will keep them out.

    • Theodore A. Jones

      Practice what thou doth preach.

    • Strongs119

      http://www.newsweek.com/are-antifa-terrorists-658396
      The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has formally classified the activities of anti-fascist groups (antifa) as “domestic terrorist violence” since early 2016, according to confidential law enforcement documents obtained by Politico and interviews. http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/01/antifa-charlottesville-violence-fbi-242235

      The VIDEO of Brown antifa turning on White antifa gives an insight into the kind of future that awaits White leftist progressives. Pay special attention to what one of the brown antifa members, tells the white antifa member about his “White DNA,” near the end of the clip. https://mobile.twitter.com/BevHillsAntifa/status/912411161915559936

      The FBI’s New U.S. Terrorist Threat: ‘Black Identity Extremists’ http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/10/06/the-fbi-has-identified-a-new-domestic-terrorist-threat-and-its-black-identity-extremists/

  • Rick Taylor

    “Loving Jesus” is akin to loving a 3rd century myth.
    “the Church” created and perpetuated this myth.
    However “TRUTH” can be found, …….if you sincerely search from your heart/soul.

    • Laurence Charles Ringo

      I’ll ask the same question Pilate asked Jesus,Rick Taylor: “What is truth?”

  • NoNoise

    I was maliciously prosecuted by Divine Saviour Catholic church members, 90065 for a crime I did not commit. Jury found me not guilty. LA City Attorney prosecuted me with no evidence and no witnesses. Do you know a civil rights attorney? I protest with a sign on the sidewalk all by myself. They did this to shut me up and keep me away.
    SLAPP ( stragetic lawsuit against public participation)
    http://www.nbclosangeles.com/investigations/Woman-Fights-to-Stop-Nearby-Church-Bells-303134301.html

  • Rose

    It seems to me that many people who don’t want to go to church anymore forget that our eyes should be on the reason we’re there–Jesus, worship, teaching, communion–and not the people sitting with us in the pews. Even if we don’t like any of them, we are still called to worship together with our eyes on the Reason we’re there.

  • Daniel G. Johnson

    The author has expanded his demands on the thread in an interesting fashion. First, he demands church attendance. Second, no doubt part of the first, he claims a general demand of Scripture that everyone on the planet is commanded to the demands of Scripture. Third, there is the author’s claim that not all evangelicals are trumpian.

    So. Given that 81% of evangelicals voted for the Trumpster, the divine math demands that the populace of the planet are commanded to somehow find the elusive 19% of non trumpian evangelical churches to attach themselves to. Well, that’s going to be a little rough in Oregon and Norway.

    • Gilsongraybert

      How outrageous of me to believe Scripture as a Christian! I’m also so brazen as to suggest not all people who voted for Trump condoned his bravado, but there I go again…

      • Daniel G. Johnson

        Let us nail down the commands. Commands should be specific.

        1. You have a command to go to church.

        So. You’re going to have a number of people whose only church option is trumpian church due to geography, health, transportation, parental control, etc. These people are commanded to go to a trumpian church. No doubt, part of this command is fueled by your corollary that hypocrisy doesn’t taint truth.

        2. People are commanded to church. And, they are commanded to truth. Thus, if trumpian church is the only option, your command paradigm is obligated to result in a command that people attend a trumpian church and then oppose its teaching and leadership because one has to BOTH attend church and adhere to truth.

        To branch off to your point above: For you, the problem with Trump is his “bravado”? How then does his aligning with dictators around the world rate?

        Then, does non-trumpian evangelical world have a COMMAND to clean its own house and oppose Erik Prince and his sister who themselves now command trumpian power? Should Erik’s death squad business be taken up at the next non-trumpian evangelical executive board meeting?

  • Bert

    One reason I think doesn’t get enough attention – the overemphasis on personal salvation rather than on the redemption of God’s people and all of creation. If the focus is on individual salvation, the idea that the church serves to save individuals is pretty common sense, and failures of the church to serve the individual become front and center. If the focus is balanced on both personal salvation and on the salvation of humanity and creation, the church (and community, and fellowship, and communion) takes on a different meaning, which I see in the last couple of sentences of Grayson’s post.

    I only skimmed comments, apologies if the point has already been made. 🙂

  • Roland Leblanc

    Hum, do we need to be apart of a group to be alive?
    And, dont’ you think that we are to be evaluated from within our=selves for being honest and realistic about all religious concerns.
    What if being religious or not was not important?
    More likely , being authentic and alive is what makes us all unique and yet all inter=related to each others.
    I have the feeling that what divides people is wrong. We are one, One…
    So, let us try to accept believers or non believers as part of the gang of Hu=man beings.
    I think it is worth thinking about this simple and yet evident fact that we are so alike and united no matter …
    Roland ♀

  • Damn straight. If you don’t love the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate you don’t love Jesus.

  • Anny

    The local church where I’ve found the strongest “fellowship with and participation in service to one another” was deliberately set up as an expression of the local church for people who have been hurt by the church and for whom being told to just “go to church” would be a knife in the gut. And yes, we’ve had communion in the woods with things that were not wine and communion wafers.

  • Sven2547

    ‘If you love Jesus you MUST go to church’
    Next you’re going to tell us that ‘if you go to church you MUST tithe’.

    If you love Jesus you MUST pay me money. The oldest con in the book.

  • Harold ‘Russ’ Aylsworth

    If you think you must love the church in order to love Jesus, then you don’t know Jesus.

    • Theodore A. Jones

      Ya got that right bro.
      “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Dt. 6:5 NIV “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Ex. 20:3 NIV
      “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” Rom. 2:13

  • Guthrum

    People now a days want some form of worship, a comfortable facility, friendly members, and a soft – cheap grace message. They do not want an organization of committees, procedures, schedules, meetings, duties, reports, and membership requirements. They do want to help others and a spiritual experience.
    The mainline denominations have too much bureaucracy and establishment for a lot of people today. But they seem to want the full services and programs of a mega church.

  • disqus_YdgZkuzrpE

    “The reality is that the entire New Testament presupposes you are going to be part of an institutionalized, local church.”

    No, it does not.

    I’ve read the Greek New Testament more times than you’ve read it in English. There is no “institutionalized” assembly (which is what ἐκκλησία means in Greek – the garbage about the ‘called out ones’ is a part of the root fallacy) in the New Testament. In fact, Jesus stood up against institutionalized religion more than just about anyone. From pronouncing judgment on the Temple pretty much every time he got the chance to calling the Pharisees a “brood of vipers” to denouncing the practice of korban to going so far as to say, “call no man father up on the earth” (don’t tell the Catholics) – therefore abandoning the then-common practice of placing authority in powerful teachers, he was not a fan of what we call “institutionalized religion.” Paul fell right in line with that, with his denunciation of the various parties in Corinth. You don’t serve a “guy” (looking at you, Furtick and your creepy coloring books) because Christ has not been divided.

    He did, however, talk an awful lot about helping the poor (Matt 25:31-46 springs to mind). The modern institution spends about 7% of its earning on “ministries.” What Jesus envisioned and commissioned is not what we have, and it’s not by degrees. It’s a matter of a different animal altogether. Institutions exist to propagate the institution. The church is supposed to exist to be a light to the nations. Can’t do that when you spend a whopping 10% of your budget on missions (both foreign and domestic). They’re not shining cities on hills. They’re social clubs.

    • Gilsongraybert

      If what you got out of this is that I am advocating people go to a church like Furtick’s, you completely missed the point. Also, I nowehere made the argument literally outlined in Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies – but that’s besides the point. A proper church involves more than a mere social club; if that has been your experience, I am sorry to hear that, but would suggest you attend one where they are faithful to the Scriptures in what a church is called to be. Christ, and any of the NT authors, did not maintain that one is to be removed from the community of believers, but that hypocrisy be removed from that covenanted community.

      An institutionalized church refering to, of course, what was instituted by God in the Scriptures, being they are: 1.) Christ-centered, 2.) Word-centered, 3.) oriented to the glory of God, 4.) missional – both near and far, 5.) located in space and time, 6.) participating in the Lord’s Supper, Baptism, and the preaching of the Scriptures, 7.) Spirit empowered for the exercise of the various gifts and the pursuit of holiness, 8.) in covenant with the Lord and one another, and 9.) centered around a common confession of the historic faith handed down from the apostles.

      So actually yes, the entire NT does presuppose you will be part of a covenant community within the local church.

      • Irineos Plac

        10.) organized with authority and called servants as episkopos, presbyteros and diakonos.

    • Irineos Plac

      And yet Paul called himself both father and teacher. Could it be that Paul misunderstood that saying, or could it be you?

  • JustSaying

    “Church attendance is optional. Serving the brethren, again, is optional. Loving the brethren? Still optional. Feeling guilty about not wanting to go to church? Don’t worry about it; that’s the fault of institutionalized religion.”

    Hate to break the news to you but these things have been and always will be optional. If the Church can’t keep people around it needs self reflection, not blaming the people it’s turned away.

  • Elizabeth

    “There aren’t many reasons why professing Christians are leaving the church.”

    Really, there are.

  • Jesus didn’t hate people unrepentantly, the church does. Its not that hard a concept to follow.

  • baekmah

    Is this supposed to be satirical?

  • Yuuenchi

    My friends, what I think Mr Landmark misses in his critique of Mr Gilbert’s post is the contention the unless one’s love of Christ impells one toward gathering gtogether with the elect, and issues in love of brethern, then ones love of Christ is itself incomplete and lacking.

  • Hopeful_One

    I disagree with the author strongly. He does not understand the people who truly love the Lord, but hate the churches. Why? Because he probably does not know the Lord himself and is following church, not Jesus.

    When I first met the Lord Jesus when 19 I asked him about the churches. I didn’t understand how there could be so many churches all over and yet I was just finding out that he was real and alive for he first time in my life. He showed me very clearly: “They know about Me, but they don’t KNOW Me.” Many churches are dens of iniquity, full of politics, strife, backbiting, and great hypocrisy. They don’t love Jesus, nor worship Him, but they love themselves and they love the church. The church is truly their god, not the Lord. They serve the church, but not the Lord Christ. They are poor representatives of Him, because they take his name and preach about him, but have never repented of sin and never been born of the Spirit. They don’t know the Holy Spirit and they don’t know Jesus.

    Paul talked about this to the Corinthian church telling them about false prophets who come in the name of Jesus, but with “another gospel, another spirit, and another Christ.” The truth of this matter is that the wolves have gotten into the sheep fold, killed and driven off most of the sheep and have put on sheep’s clothing to continue to fool people into thinking they are God’s men. They are false prophets and have taken over modern churches and spread their false gospels, false Christs, and an evil, false, religious spirit throughout this country. They have made themselves rich and famous and beloved to people, while leading people astray into pseudo Christianity. Their fruit is very bad, but they do many “good works” to fool people into thinking they are good, but people must ask God for true discernment and learn what true “good fruit” is and what “bad fruit” is.

  • Hopeful_One

    What is bad fruit in the churches and among preachers? One of the main bad fruits Jesus warned people about is hypocrisy. But what is hypocrisy? He said the Pharisees of his time (and today) actually teach hypocrisy. Do they have sermons telling people how to live hypocritical lives? Actually, they do, but it is far more subtle than that.

    Consider the modern means of salvation taught by Billy Graham and thousands of other pastors who’ve taken up his methods. A person hears a sermon and then is told to simply come to an altar and pray a sinner’s prayer and they will be saved. These are things any sinner can do, but they are simply outward deeds. Do they reflect a repentant heart, sorry for their sinful lives and particular evil things they’ve done? No, not at all.

    The sinner’s prayer is very general and one need only admit they are a sinner. Does the Holy Spirit need to be working in a sinner’s life, convicting them of sin for them to come to an altar and pray? Not at all. It is simply an outward act with a superficial prayer. Men’s hearts are “deceitful and desperately wicked” Jeremiah tells us, so many see this as a way out of sin without actually being sorry or confessing their particular crimes before God. Are they told they must deeply repent of their sins and admit their personal sins and be grieved and sorry for what they’ve done and how they’ve lived in rebellion to God and His Son? Why such things are not even talked about, much less required for modern salvation, yet Jesus and his apostles preached that “men everywhere should repent.”

    Can you see how the very means of salvation taught today is just superficial, not requiring the heart wrenching look at the truth of who we really are and what we’ve done. That takes the work of the Holy Spirit, working with true men of God explaining the true way of salvation, which is much deeper. So this is one way how hypocrisy is taught from the very beginning to the modern day believer. A simple outward action, a simple prayer, a simple profession of faith, none of which require honesty or truth in the inward parts.

    How far away is this from the call of God in Isaiah or the call of James, the Lord’s brother, “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
    Isaiah 55:6-7 (KJV) “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
    James 4:8-10 (KJV)

    I could go on, but this gives you a little to think about.

    • Tiny J

      Don’t get your cause and effect backwards. We are saved, therefore we have the power to repent. Jesus saved us, so we are freed from sin. We don’t repent in order to be accepted. We are accepted, therefore we repent.

      • Hopeful_One

        If what you say is true, explain Jesus’ words: “Repent, and believe the gospel.” The command to repent comes before believe. Both are commands of grace and can only be accomplished by the grace of God. You are saying that men can be saved without repenting. This is contrary to Jesus’ teaching. It is a given that a believer can repent after he is saved and must, but from what I read from Jesus and the apostles, repentance is a requirement for one to be saved.

        It has become a strong doctrine in recent times that says “repentance is a good work and we are not saved by works.” But Jesus taught that “except you repent, you will perish.” How can one embrace the teaching of Jesus, yet reject repentance as a requirement of salvation?

  • Hopeful_One

    What does “church” mean today? Today, church is what we call buildings that have meetings where Christians gather. Denominations and other Christian organizations are called “the church.” Some actually refer to “the body of Christ” as the church, which means their particular group that meets together and espouses their particular doctrines, not the entire true body of believers in the world. Then there is the “local church,” which is supposed to mean the local body of Christ, but, again, it is used referring only to the particular people attending that particular fellowship.

    But is there such a thing as a false church? Are there denominations that do not represent the true Christ and his teachings or is that an impossibility today? According to most preachers, it is impossible today, so they have espoused the doctrine of “essentials.” As long as the church teaches the “essential” doctrines of salvation, they are “the church of Christ,” no matter the denomination and many other doctrines they hold contrary to Christ’s teaching and other denominations. Divisions are acceptable today and are the norm, not the exception.

    In the early church, division was condemned. All were to teach the same thing, according to Paul the apostle, and Peter, and James, and John, and Jude, and the Lord Jesus, who called us to be “one,” or completely united, even as He was with the Father. But today, the preachers tell us that is not so, or not possible, at least so that all of them can still be considered part of “the church, the body of Christ;” a convenient cover story for the myriad of false prophets and churches.

  • Hopeful_One

    Do my comments mean I don’t believe in assembling with other Christians, to have a pastor, and so on? Not at all. Recognizing the dismal state of the modern church does not mean I must be a “lone ranger Christian.” It does mean I must open my eyes and ears and follow the Holy Spirit and not simply join some denomination or church for church’s sake. God will guide me, but the greatest danger for any true believer is false prophets who will lead him down a path of hypocrisy and compromise, away from Christ, “even denying the Lord that bought them.”

  • LavenderBubbles

    This is why I tend to stay away from other believers. Most of y’all are self righteous idiots.

    • Tiny J

      I actually LOLed at your comment. That’s irony at it’s finest.

  • What a load of crap. Faith is personal. Organizations are not. Faith only becomes corrupted when organizations dictate man-made rules and demand adherence to what THEIR idea of faith looks like. Jesus never intended that. Get over it.

  • I agree that we are not to forsake gathering with other believers. I’m not sure this is intended to be much like 95+% of “churches” today. These are meant to be interactive faith communities, which is not the normal model of a Christian “church.” So I agree just being an isolated believer is not at all what Jesus intended, but I also don’t think most “churches” are what are intended in the New Testament either. Some paid person acting as a lecturer before an audience is not true church, and the fact that some religious rituals may be thrown in does not redeem it. The clergy-laity split is not Biblical, and it should be rejected by Christians. The writer has a financial interest in the current system.

  • AJ

    This is as bad as “Love the sinner, hate the sin” when really you hate the sinner just as much.

    Also, “Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, I am with them” guess that’s just BS because it’s not ‘church’

  • Dan Murrow

    sounds like someone noticed a substantial drop in the tithe income.

  • rtgmath

    Sigh. Grayson, you really need to understand that your theology does not define everything. There are those who very sincerely love Jesus and show it in their love to people, but have had “the institutionalized, local church” be abusive to them and drive them away. Sometimes people don’t know where to go. It isn’t as if you approve of church hopping when people try to find a place that is compatible. There are plenty of people who rail against this as well, even though many of these people are trying to find a place where they can love and be loved and accepted.

    If you happen to be fortunate enough to find in your local church a place where you can be at home and participate, fine and good. But stuff your dogmatic “if you don’t love going to church you don’t love Jesus” assertions. You aren’t God, last I checked. Nor do you speak for Him.

    Seems to me a bit of grace would season your speech quite a bit. It needs it.

  • Vance Morgan

    An updated version of the narrow, exclusivist, judgmental Baptist Christianity I was raised in. I thank God I escaped from it. I love Jesus, and I do not love the church. See–it isn’t difficult at all.

  • keri

    Well, this is about the most ignorant thing I have read in a minute! Who are YOU to pass judgements? How hypocritical! And blatantly untue!

  • MrCorvus

    “A group of three people without the headship of elders and teachers is not the church.”
    -Grayson Gilbert

    “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
    -Matthew 18:20

  • James Cullen

    “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” – Matthew 18:20 These are the words of Jesus Christ, the most high, the way and the life. Christ does not say we have to gather in a building or local church with 30 or 300 members. You go to church to share the message with people who love the lord and to help one another because we are all broken. It does not mean that if you don’t go to a local church you do not love Jesus. Church is wherever you are gathered in his name, period! He loves you no matter what! This is one of those articles that gets under my skin because it embraces the dogma of mans religion and not the message of Christ. While we are discussing this subject, believe it or not, we are now in church. If you are reading this, you are in church! Whatever path leads you to our lord it is the right one for you. Read the new testament and his message, for the bible is perfectly capable of interpreting itself with out the skewed opinion of mankind.

  • Harold Lewis

    I disagree. Many churches do not follow the teachings of Jesus nor do they want to follow those teachings.

    • Tiny J

      So chase them out with a whip, like Jesus did.

  • This article is STILL up after being thoroughly debunked? Good grief.

  • Corc Hamr

    Really? You are going to argue that people should put themselves back in an abusive environment where the “faithful” often pervert the Word for their own ends, shame their fellows into cultural biases that have no real basis in scripture or its historical context, and gossip and bicker when anyone displays a differing opinion on faith?

    Sure, once a person has developed the strength to combat these abuses, it is good for one to not neglect fellowship, but “sitting out” of the church also has its place, for personal growth, for healing, and for meditation on the Scriptures.

    Aside from that, if there is a reason people are removing themselves from congregations, those reasons should be given at least due consideration. Abuse is not an excuse, it is a reasonable complaint. If the congregation is not based in love, then I would argue that the Body needs admonishment, not those seeking relief from such.

  • Fartrell Cluggins

    But The DaVinci Code taught me that the hidden books of the bible said that you don’t need a church to love Jesus, hence why those books were left out. The churches lose their power if this information gets out.

    When local churches are all about the stage show and money, that’s not a church, but an abomination I will avoid. I can still learn from and follow the teachings of Jesus without going to church.

  • Alan Drake

    I renounced the church of my childhood, a member of the Southern Baptist Convention member for the evil they supported. I tried some other SBC churches – but the central evil of the SBC was there. So I left & renounced them all.

    It took over a dozen years to find and join a Meeting of Friends, that is Quakers. I now have a profound personal relationship with the Holy Spirit.

  • Wade Nye

    The great flaw of your argument is believing the church to be an institution. Neither the church of Jesus nor marriage is an institution (who wants to be in an institution) Jesus always considered His church, the one he builds, to be a dynamic movement of men and women, committed to Christ and one another, witnessing with light and salt to a lost world. The church men build is an institution, governed not by Christ, but by human rules, creeds and dogmas.

    • Tami Cilk

      Amen to that!

  • Peter Bateman Mockridge

    Loving God’s people does not occur only within a church. I love lots of folks who have never crossed the threshold of any church. They are, nonetheless, God’s people.

  • Trisha

    This post makes very very sad and a tad angry. That this man thinks he knows the hearts and mind of people who struggle with church here in the US is appallling and arrogant. The scriptures he quotes are quite true but they are not the ONLY Scriptures that apply about church and especially church leadership. The US church has become a very dim reflection of Jesus’s desires for his people and for so many of us-it no longer the church when it supported a 3 divorced self-professed sexual predator for president. Church leadership no longer looks for men or women who meet the scriptural requirements for leadership-they love corporate well-educated professionals who may or may not have a solid record of true discipleship. No one pastors anymore. I can’t remember the last time a pastor made it his or her highest priority to shepherd the flock-to know them well enough to pray for them, to sit and their homes and grieve with them, to administer loving grace and mercy and confrontation when necessary.
    Be very careful about your judgment. God has much stronger words for the failure of leadership than the flock!

    • Thomas Lon Crabtree

      Amen Sister!

    • Shirley Blake

      White washed supulchers of death is the image that comes to mind of the church, Jesus’ words.

      • Doomarious Roy

        Agree with you completely.

    • Doomarious Roy

      You talk about being careful in your judgment while you judge those who supported Trump over Hillary. I supported Trump and am glad I did. Were you a supporter of Hillary Clinton? He was the only choice besides Hillary for president. Perhaps you are angry for the wrong reasons. I agree with you about pastors, as most are in it for the money and praise of men. The church in general has fallen far from God and his grace and preach false gospels and lead people astray, rather then to repentance and back to God.

      This writer is out of touch with reality and does not recognize the fallen state the average church is in. They have forsaken the right ways of the Lord and preach a different gospel. But let me ask you this regarding people in general. Was it not a woman out of whom Christ had cast 7 demons that first saw him and spoke to him after the resurrection? Many formerly notorious and sinful people followed the Lord Jesus. Be careful yourself to remember that God can take and change and use those who previously lived sinful lives. Judge them by what they do and say today. Trump was not a sexual predator and not unlike many men in his former attitudes, but Bill Clinton was and is a sexual predator, and his wife enables him and covers for him. She intended to be our president with that deviant living beside her in our White House and she continuing to follow her pay for play schemes, selling out this country and our security for her own enrichment. Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteously.

      • Dubious in Tennessee

        Deviant? Maybe he has repented. She stuck by her man and saved a marriage, not praise worthy? See how easy it is to turn the thought process. Thrice married and likely serial harasser, not deviant? Cheats the little guy in business and always attacks everyone who disagrees with him, not deviant? Really, it would help if religious folks would stay out of politics publicly and not claim god selected someone to save the country. Seems a very spurious claim to me all the way around. Do not think the church has done itself any good in the world by hitching its wagon to earthly power.

        • Hopeful_One

          Bill Clinton has raped several women and had untold numbers of affairs. Hillary actually knew of these and worked to discredit or pay off the “bimbos” so that Bill could be elected. I call that enabling and abetting a serial sexual predator to gain power. Take off your rose colored glasses.

          I could dispute all your have said, but it has already been done by many, many people. No one is so blind as one who chooses deception to support his agenda and world view.

  • ChrisDC

    This is one of most infuriating crocks of garbage that I have ever read. I am going to try (probably unsuccessfully) to keep this comment short — I don’t trust myself to refrain from engaging in profanity.

    I am UNWELCOME in my church because I’m gay. This is made quite clear to me on a regular basis. The church and I have reached an accommodation where the other congregants are willing to tolerate my presence at marriages, christenings and funerals. I could (and do) go there and sit as quietly as a mouse at other times. My mere presence is deemed disruptive by many. Someone — not everyone — but someone will use my presence to make that particular service about me and whether or not I should have been allowed to be there.

    Do I believe in that church? Trust me. I am not stupid. I have faith that it will become better one day precisely because I am a Christian who attempts to live his life, to the extent anyone can, in a way that at least tries to live up to Jesus’ example.

    I thought that made me a Christian but, apparently not, according to you, you homophobic jerk. (I thought about using another “j” word, but since the last two of its 7 letters are both s’s preceded by an “a,” I didn’t think I could get away with it.)

    So, on behalf of all of the people like me, thank you so much for being clear about your belief that it is left up to other people to determine whether or not we are Christians. (You’ve endorsed a barrier to entry which, even though it is not maintained or enforced by you, is one I confront all the time and which I have not yet been able to pass. Bigots are often fond of Catch-22’s, in my general experience.)

    My Grandfather was nominated for membership in the Masons (which he never wanted to be a part of, anyway), but he was blackballed because one person could never, or would ever, overlook Grandfather’s role in racially desegregating the public schools in this part of very southern Louisiana in the 50’s and 60’s.

    In considering whatever else you decide to write, it will be helpful to know of your similar, utter, moral bankruptcy.. It is informative to know that you stand for absolutely nothing — because you give complete deference to “The Church” to decide who is, and who is not, a Christian.

    Matthew 18:20 says, “For whenever two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

    Jesus, as you may note, did not exempt himself from the head count.

    All I have to do is pray, and I am not alone. As angry as I am, I do feel pity for your inability to understand that.

    Hypothetical: If you were stranded, all alone, on a desert island, would that make it impossible for you to be a Christian? By your formulation, it would seem so. I happen to know better, and I hope that, one day, you may come to understand that.

    • Doomarious Roy

      “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.””
      2 Tim 2:19 (NKJV)
      Homosexuality is noted as a “work of the flesh” and all who practice this and the other works noted there “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” If you wish to become a Christian, you must depart from iniquity or all known sin. If you reject the word of God in part, you reject all. It is you who are commanded to repent. If you wish to remain in your sinful lifestyle, then do so, but don’t call yourself a Christian. And comparing yourself with others with whom your associate in your church, thinking yourself better, only makes you self-righteous. Why would you bring shame to the name of Christ by refusing to depart from your sin, yet still call yourself his follower? Jesus accepts all who come to him in humility and truth, forsaking their old, sinful way of living. But those who are proud and glory in their sin, Christ rejects. You have been rejected. Why not repent instead of condemning God who sets the standard of right and wrong for all men?

      • Dubious in Tennessee

        I think it is pretty well established that homosexuals do not chose to be homosexual, they just are. Kind of curious why in that case god would make someone with a preordained sin. Sorry, the justification for your statement is steadily being eroded by established science and fact. I cannot pretend that other things have fallen out of practice since science has identified that they are in fact not sin or brought on by sin. The list of such things that are no longer thought of in such barbaric terms are legend.

        • Hopeful_One

          You are mistaken. It is NOT established science by any means that people are born gay. All men are born sinners and have a propensity to sin and each person falls in different areas of life, but none are “created” with inbuilt sin. It takes a conscious decision for anyone to have sex unless they are raped. You are rejecting the Bible and God’s laws and truth about life to justify wrong behavior. You call God’s truth about men “barbaric?” What do you call the killing of a baby in the womb? A natural act of compassion?

          • Dubious in Tennessee

            So predictable, yes it is quite established that homosexuals arrive that way. It appears if they are truly of that mental make up there is no choosing, there just is the fact of it. No amount of insults will change that. As for the baby killing, we have pushed that particular idea so early in the pregnancy that it has become meaningless. 25% of all fertilized eggs either end in early miscarriage or never implant. I have no quarrel with limiting the time that an abortion can be performed with a viable fetus, but it needs to be based on some form of rational basis not murder, murder, murder at every single stage of development. Some times early abortion is an act of compassion for an early in development embryo. Black and white does not serve to reduce abortions. Good birth control goes a long way, ask Colorado. May want to stop trying to be insulting if you want to be taken seriously in your arguments. Otherwise, many may see you as just an ideologue unwilling to give any justifications for your positions except shouting. Male despotism does not work anymore.

            Incidentally, the barbaric practices in the Bible we no longer accept are legion. Including , I might add, a procedure for producing an abortion. Do the research if you like. By all means, if you are comfortable in your beliefs as absolutes, carry on. It is likely others see some shades of gray and do not share your obsession with all the rules you might embrace. That is just how life rolls.

          • Hopeful_One

            I’m sure you are oblivious to the point I am about to make. The things you are saying are highly offensive to me and blasphemous. Your contempt for the Bible and God is palpable, as is your viewpoint of the human life and how little it is worth to you. Neither is there any “abortion” procedure taught in the Bible. Such things are made up and accepted by those looking to find fault with their Maker. Your attitudes are an affront to decency, but, I am afraid, accepted and believed by many who have rejected their Creator, choosing to worship the creature and inanimate things, whose minds are given over to reprobate thinking.

          • Dubious in Tennessee

            Ok, might want to research my thought though. No need to take offense, none was intended in your direction. I simply do not see things the way you do and do not subscribe to all the doctrine that you espouse. I am not interested in convincing you otherwise in your beliefs. I only ask the same courtesy since we would likely not ever worship in the same church.

          • Strongs119

            Apostle Paul stated in 2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”

            Matthew 5:18 “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
            Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”

            Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
            Malachi 3:6 “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”

        • Strongs119

          Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, and Romans 1:26-27 define homosexuality as a sin, an abomination, stating that those who participate in homosexual acts won’t inherit the kingdom of God.

    • Strongs119

      You wrote: “My Grandfather was nominated for membership in the Masons (which he never wanted to be a part of, anyway), but he was blackballed because one person could never, or would ever, overlook Grandfather’s role in racially desegregating the public schools in this part of very southern Louisiana in the 50’s and 60’s.” — Did you know that School desegregation was enforced literally at bayonet point, see image. http://s719.photobucket.com/user/ThisDayInHistory14/media/ForcedIntegrationatBayonetPoint001.jpg.html

      “Civil Rights,” “Desegregation,” “MultiCULTuralism and DIEversity,” are all enforced by a tyrannical Zionist Occupied Government, and are all designed to miscegenate people of White European racial ancestry out of existence. “Jack Greenberg, the Jewish Lawyer Who Used Law as a Weapon To Desegregate America’s Schools”
      http://forward.com/culture/looking-back/351856/jack-greenberg-the-lawyer-who-used-law-as-a-weapon-to-desegregate-americas/

      Why aren’t there any Jewish organizations working to desegregate schools in Israel, so that Arabs can attend classes with Jewish schoolchildren? (((They))) only want to force desegregation and assimilation with non-whites, and non-christians, on White Christians.

      • ChrisDC

        Did I know that school desegregation was enforced at bayonet point? Of course I knew that. It didn’t happen here, in part because of my grandfather, but I am from the South and I did grow up in the 60’s and 70’s. Little Rock happened before I was born, but I’ve studied the history — and seen the pictures. Speaking as a White Southerner, it made me happy to know that somebody had finally put people like you in their place — on the sidelines, screaming hate. Which is as much your right as the right of those children to go to schools their parents tax dollars pay for. You people did LOSE the Civil War, after all. Treason does have its consequences.

        And, pardon me if I’m wrong, but you seem to be a bit anti-Semitic.

        • Strongs119

          — More (((COHENcidences)))!

          “For perhaps another generation, an optimistic forecast, the Jewish community is thus in a position where it will be able to DIVIDE AND CONQUER and enter into selective coalitions that support our agendas.” — (Stephen Steinlight, National Director of the American Jewish Committee, writing in the article: “The Jewish Stake in America’s Changing Demography: Reconsidering a Misguided Immigration Policy.”)
          http://cis.org/articles/2001/back1301.html

          Jewish politicians Behind The Hart-Celler Open Immigration Law of 1965 included: Senator Jacob Javits (NY); Congressman Emanuel Celler (NY); Leo Pfeffer (Former President of American Jewish Congress (AJC); Norman Podhoretz (Writer and Member of The Council on Foreign Relations,– former leftist, now a Jewish neo-con); Senator Charles Schumer; and Representative Elizabeth Holtzman.

          • ChrisDC

            Like I said.

          • Strongs119

            — Another (((COHENcidence)))?

            In 2010, after Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law bill SB1070 which made it a misdemeanor crime for an illegal immigrant to be in Arizona without carrying the required documents, requiring state law enforcement officers to attempt to determine an individual’s immigration status during a “lawful stop, detention or arrest”, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) coordinated a letter to Congress that was SIGNED BY MORE THAN 65 JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS and public figures, condemning the legislation.

            As a result, the US Supreme court threw out three provisions in the Arizona law. The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), describes itself as the “global migration agency of the American Jewish community”

            http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/news/jewish-groups-court-ruling-against-arizona-immigration-law-to-have-mixed-outcome-1.444134

          • ChrisDC

            If you thought you’d found someone to take you seriously, I assure you that you are mistaken.

          • Strongs119

            The Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, often speaks about the dangers of mass Chinese immigration into Tibet: “…the unabated influx of Chinese immigrants to Tibet, which has the effect of overwhelming Tibet’s distinct cultural and religious identity and reducing the Tibetans to an insignificant minority in their own country, amount to a policy of cultural genocide.” — Dalai Lama.

            Is The Dalai Lama a “racist”, or does he get a pass from you anti-racists because he isn’t White?

            Labour threw open Britain’s borders to mass immigration to help socially engineer a “truly multicultural” country, a former Government adviser has revealed. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/6418456/Labour-wanted-mass-immigration-to-make-UK-more-multicultural-says-former-adviser.html

    • ChrisDC? I’m sorry you have had to experience this response from your congregation.

      …I too have been tossed aside, and in my case unwelcomed under any circumstance (except that I renounce my womanhood and repudiate my support of others in our (queer) community). You see, I am trans woman (though people usually don’t realize this until I disclose it to them). YET not everyone in the Church is like this. It might encourage you to read of this positive experience I’ve had:

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unfundamentalistchristians/2016/05/sunday-outing-a-transgender-woman-finds-acceptance/

      Blessings & Joy to you ChristDC!

      Renée

  • janusee

    Churches vary a lot, how does one find the a good fit? Also, for some individuals it is a harder fit to locate. The author writes in broad generalizations, and seems insensitive to subtlety and to those in smaller minorities, or who have individuated in ways that are not truly or at least easily welcomed. Surprised and disappointed to see this level of writing on Patheos.

  • Charlene Kay Omholt-Montague

    I oppose any/all religious organizations because of the one thing they all have in common – the requirement that a person suspend reason, logic, critical thinking and evidence in favor of FAITH. Faith dictates that a person believe in some mystical, magical god for which there is absolutely NO proof. Faith is viewed as a DESIRABLE trait by most people in America. People like me, a secular individual with no belief in any of the god claims – are viewed with suspicion and as having no morals. Nothing could be further from the truth, but that does me no good if I want to run for a major political position.

    Religious organizations are automatically granted tax exempt status without ever having to reveal their books on accounting and actual services provided! Secular organizations must follow the law and apply for 501-c-3 status in order to get tax exempt status. All religious organizations should be held to the same standard.

  • JA Myer

    It’s that kind of single minded thinking that made voting for tRump seem like a reasonable thing to do.

  • Elizabeth Ristow

    I feel you are being judgmental and self-righteous here. You are not speaking in love, sir. I can sense your ‘up to here’ attitude, and I’m sure others reading this can as well. If your goal is to help others see the truth, you might try dealing with them according to understanding. This kind of teaching can only get people’s backs up and cause them to reject whatever you are saying. I’m sorry to see this.

  • diana

    I have been a Christian for about 40 years. I have been to several different churches as I have moved around, and have realised after a long time that some personalities are far more suited to church life than others. I have had long periods of time away from church(once 10 years) and to be honest, my faith has grown more in that time than when I was in church. While happily married with a family, I don’t need, and often dont want, to be with lots of other people. It drains me and tires me out. So after a service or fellowship group I will be glad to get back home. Those who love the whole church life thing, and want and seek out the company of others, just don’t get this and are usually seen as more spiritual because they
    want to be involved and busy. Those like me who often avoid being with people too much, are sometimes seen as unfriendly or not wanting to join in.

  • “…Then you don’t love Jesus” is an *incredibly arrogant* assumption; really a judgement that only God can rightly make of anyone.

    Being an active part of a local body of believers is NOT nor has it ever been a “litmus test” of one’s love of Jesus or others…

    …HOWEVER, from my lengthy experience in the Evangelical subculture, I know it to be an important test of *tribal identity*. It’s important to note that “tribalism” is not close nor even related to Godliness nor Christlikeness. I will also point-out that frequently many of these same local bodies will shun and/or cast-out people that Jesus would unconditionally accept – I know this from multiple personal experiences: do the rejected love Jesus *any less* because their brethren fail to love them as Jesus does??

  • Dubious in Tennessee

    Someone else busy telling me what I do and do not love. How the supposed faithful have egos like this is beyond me. Do not need this type of worship and standard setting anywhere that I go, thus I am very particular about whom I spend my time. Some of the most faithful are not in organized churches anymore and neither for the most part am I.

  • Cally

    Just before Jesus’s crucifixion he prayer to the Father. He did not rush off to pray in the temple. He found a quiet spot in the garden an communed with God. Like in any other kind of relationship, you don’t put a whole heap of people between yourself and your loved-one. Why should the most important relationship you will ever have, be any different. I don’t care what the bible says. An intimate relationship with Jesus/God is a direct experience and not one that’s approached via an organisation or body of people collectively called ‘the church’.

  • Jeff Miller

    Excellent article. Thank you. I’m sharing this one.

  • JA Myer

    Roy Moore. any organization that not only welcomes but supports him is not a place I choose to be.

  • BrotherRog

    The title of this is overstated, as is the title of this piece, but both pieces convey needed truth. See the title of this piece is overstated, as is the title of this other piece, but both convey needed truth. However one of them I think will speak to more people more readily. See: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogerwolsey/2013/03/spiritual-but-not-giving-a-damn/

  • What a load.

  • Your trying to wax intellectual and make a topic complicated. Nothing in organic society or the human condition is complicated. A boeing 747 is complicated. Full of discreet predictable components. Like your argument. People are complex. Like a biological cell, full of interlocking rube goldberg contraptions that don’t behave predictably on the individual, but patterns emerge nevertheless from the result. You’re attempting to find the root with the entirely wrong tools.

    A shorter way to put this, is you’re trying too hard. Use a little intuition, and then *check your work* – and let that meat between your ears work how it was supposed to. You aren’t a computer and neither is any human. Don’t try too hard. Just verify.

    People don’t want to identify with church because church has identified itself with politics and ideology.

    Change that, regain the humility of the gospels, your pews will be filled again. Bank accounts, not so much. Because it isn’t flashy.

  • DanDev

    This article is bullshit.

  • breed7

    Wow. Judgmental much? Your lack of empathy rises almost to the level of sociopath. Those who have been seriously harmed by the church (like the LGBT community) do NOT need to go somewhere that dehumanizes them and humiliates them.

    The only option you leave for such people is to turn away from God altogether. I’m sure God is so proud of the way you’re driving people away from him. Great job,

  • Clayton Gafne Jaymes

    Given the fact that Jesus is the Savior or those who come to him in true faith, and that he quite literally is Lord and King, why would any so called ‘Christian’ dare to think that loving Jesus is separated from the ‘body’/congregation’ (called church) belonging to Jesus?

    Now, if one isn’t showing ‘love’ to the congregation of Christians, then what are you showing? In principle would it not be a form of ‘hate’? Do you know what it says about ‘hating your brother’? Here is what it says:
    1 John 2:9 The one who says that he is in the light and yet hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10 The one who loves his brother remains in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and is walking in the darkness, and he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
    -[RNWT
    ***
    For those of you thinking that Jesus is/was somehow against ‘organized’ worship in unity as one ppl, you are out of your mind. You really think the Scripture teach ‘free lance’ worship and ‘to each his own way’?? Show that to us please. Show to us, to me, where there isn’t an organized way taking place in some way even from Jesus over the ppl. You show me where Jesus threw away the nation of legitimate Israel and the Synagogues/churches that listened to Scripture from God without it being corrupted. You show us where Jesus didn’t go to organized places of worship before and during his time of being baptized and coming forth as the Messiah to start his official ministry to bring the lost to him for salvation through hi as prophesied.

  • james warren

    Jesus was never interested in forming another religion. He was pushing the envelope of Judaism and was disclosing a nonviolent God of mercy and grace and who only wants repentance and a contrite heart.

  • KEVIN RYAN

    If the “church” isn’t following the Bible as the 100% Word of God, why bother hanging around with any of them? Where “two or three gather in my name, I am with them.” ( Matt. 18:20)

  • You ever notice how Patheos keeps posting this article on Facebook no matter how many people debunk it (myself included) every single time? It’s almost as if they revel in being wrong.

  • Shirl Herzog

    Problem with church is they preach helping others but they don’t preach helping all others. Church is a small group no matter how big the building. And churchgoers in said church are a small group of like minded people with very little empathy towards others who don’t believe what they do. Too much do as I say not as I do. Jesus didn’t want people to follow his words he wanted them to follow his actions. You can preach whatever you believe doesn’t mean everyone else should believe it too especially if you say one thing and do another.

  • Vance Morgan

    This oldie just popped up on my Twitter feed. You start with the mistaken assumption that when people say they love Jesus but hate the church, they mean that they hate organized religion. They don’t mean that they hate fellow believers. Big difference.