does the church have exclusive right of access?

does the church have exclusive right of access? June 17, 2013
the church has exclusive right of access cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
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Some assert that the only way to God is through the church.

Some would theologize that the church is Christ’s body, and that Christ is the mediator between God and people, so those in Christ would be in the church, and to be outside the church is to be outside of Christ.

Some would insist that you cannot find God without Christ and that the church is the best guide to finding Christ and therefore finding God.

Some cannot imagine a spirituality outside of an organization.

I admire and encourage people to find their own spirituality, to discover what it means to become spiritually independent, to refuse to bow to the institutional pressure to conform to the group. Even if this group provides privileges, your spirituality may be constricted. It takes a lot of courage to do what this young woman is doing. She has decided to challenge the church’s claims.

Meet other people like her at The Lasting Supper.

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  • Gary

    Wow – Perfectly in line with my facebook status for the day which was inspired by conversations on TLS.

    Love it.

  • good status update.

  • Dennis Irwin

    The use of the word “some” is disingenuous. “Some” would say there’s a Lock Ness monster in Scotland, “Some” would say the earth was settled by aliens (Richard Dawkins). But the One said…..I am the Way, the Truth and Life no one comes to the Father except through me.” I can’t figure it out….are you bitter from something in the past…..or do you just want to sell prints. Which I think are pretty good btw.

  • you’re one helluva curious individual dennis. trying to think the best of you, but you present challenges.

  • Dennis Irwin

    I don’t know why. I’m doing what you’re doing….challenging thought, trying to figure out what is real, not taking just anybody’s word. I guess it’s hard to come through the typed word…..prob my fault, because I suck at it. But you’d find I’m a likable dude in person. No sharpness in my real life tone. You can’t see my smile or the passion in my eyes or even the humorous eye roll in a typed paragraph……but you’d never see hate or malice in my physical expressions. Again, maybe it doesn’t come through the typed word that way.

    Btw….I get the dissatisfaction with the church. Of course I’ve been there. But I never let the “building” dictate to me. When I felt dissatisfied with the “church” in the past, I always looked around at all the people I know. All the battles we’ve been through. All the kids that grew up with mine. And I’d think…..this is my family. They’re a bunch of gypsies, tramps and thieves…and I love them. Folks on this page focus on the “institution” of the church. I never do. I look at the family. If I was at a church we’re I felt trapped by the institution…I wouldn’t leave the church. I’d find a new building to go to….and see if those folks could be a good family. No matter the denomination.

  • Dennis: I just find it very curious that you disagree with EVERYTHING I say and now you’re questioning my motives as fueled by financial greed. What kind of person continually comes back to the same thing that he disdains over and over and over again?

  • Religion and the church is so often the problem. I’ll admit that.

    We don’t need ‘the church’ to have a relationship with Christ Jesus.

    But it’s hard to be kept in faith floating around in this world on your own. Good churches (centered on the external Word of promise) are few and far between…but they are out there.

  • Caryn LeMur


    Did you really mean “disingenuous”? Here are some meanings from the on-line dictionaries:

    – not straightforward; not candid or frank; insincere

    – slyly deceptive or misleading, typically by means of a pretense of ignorance or unawareness

    “Some” is also used by those that wish to raise conversation and dialog, by causing internal questioning… let’s view a moment wherein Christ Jesus used the term ‘some’ quite effectively:

    “And Jesus spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

    And when he sowed, some [seeds] fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

    Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

    And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

    And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

    But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.”
    As a writer, I use the term “some” quite often.
    Lastly, your reply raises a false dichotomy: two choices (one of bitterness and one of greed). Our Jesus, in the above parable, raised a continuum of four stations (or phases, if you will – devoured, no root, choked, fruitful).
    May I offer that dichotomies are often reflective of the author’s heart, for ‘out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks’. Do you view Christianity as consisting of dichotomies? Do you have room for multiple stations within your applied theology, as did our Jesus? I am curious about your applied theology, as you can tell.
    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • Brigitte Mueller

    That there is beauty in nature and things happening in our hearts or souls, or call it what you want, we all know. We can all have this “spirituality” and have it more or less by simply being born human being. If we sit still we all have a certain amount of awe and wonder, of curiosity, of creativity, of joy, guilt, and hope, despair, wanting… But, the difference is, what we confess in the creed does not come to us from our own head or soul. It is something alien, outside of us. It is the family, the church, that passes it down to us. So the community becomes the channel from which some knowledge springs and which distributes good gifts, that are not found in other places. To see it as a constriction is a way of looking at it. But it can also be viewed as expanding. Showing us new things. New relationships, new reconciliation, new hope, news about God and a future life.

  • Dennis Irwin

    It’s not like any of us, including me, are exempt from financial greed. But that was the 2nd thing I listed and I never thought that you were being fueled by greed. We all have to eat. But I’m curious as well.

    I didn’t get saved until I was in my late 20’s after being raised Catholic (very minimally). I didn’t believe Christ is who He says he is because my parents said so……they were unbelievers. Instead I was drawn to Him……….I fought it, thought about it, reasoned it, talked to God about it, read the Bible, talked to Christians, talked to unbelieving friends and then He saved me. I’ve been fascinated with God’s kingdom ever since. I find the Bible fascinating. How it all works and just makes perfect sense when I look around the world and at my life.

    So, God made me a teacher. Not by profession (I’m actually a plumbing contractor), but by a gift I suppose. And one thing as a teacher that I hate, is misleading people. I’ve done it and it makes me sick. I know misleading hurts people, and of course the Bible says…. “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (James 3:1). One of the reasons I’m very sensitive of misleading is how in my secular life I was mislead too many times (esp. by my parents). And then in the church I’ve seen misleading hurt people as well (if you don’t speak in tongues, well maybe you’re not saved). And so it drives me. One, it drives me to make sure I know what I’m talking about (Gary’s gonna make a smart remark about And second, I’m driven to fight those who mislead. Even in my own church. In a way, it’s how I love people. Which is why if you met me, I think we’d have a beer on the pool deck and talk for 6 hours without hating each other. I’m not interested in opposing people for the sake of opposing. I want to get to the truth. But of course over the years, I haven’t known what I’m talking about and I’ve been wrong about others misleading, lol…’s not always black and white. But as I get older, and mature in Christ more, it’s gotten clearer. And what I read here doesn’t make sense. It’s like “bizzaro-world” from Sienfield. I disagree with “EVERYTHING” you say because you teach the opposite of what I know to be true. I mean come on….”what do you think when hear the words ‘church’ and ‘boys’?…..really? It’s misleading. It’s disingenuous. You know as well as I do that the Catholic church has the biggest problem with this….and some even think it’s a gay issue! Because girls are rarely involved and some think gay dudes can hide in society easier as a priest. I don’t know if that’s true….but it seems plausible. Which is why I think priests should marry. Just like congress….churches are a reflection of society….because people are there.

    Maybe the guy on the street needs to be told love is action…it sacrifices. It puts others first and it’s hard. But so spiritual and joyful. I saw a video of you where you say you don’t go to church anymore. I’ll be straight with you, I think that’s selfish. It’s not about you, someone needs you there. I know it’s hard work loving gypsies, tramps and thieves. I know, because I’m one! But we’re commanded to. It’s not a feeling but a choice, and not only did you choose not to love your church body……you attack it! In my view with ignorance. I know you’re really smart….but that doesn’t matter to God. He’ll use dumb fishermen or even plumbers. It’s not about being smart, which seems to be the biggest currency here on your blog……lots of smart people. Who are mislead into thinking the opposite.

    I’ll leave if you ask to me too.

  • Shary Hauber

    Sad to say there are many churches who restrict women in talking to God or hearing God unless they say and hear what the leaders want them to hear. I am thankful he is Papa and I can go to him about anything even if I am a woman.

  • Caryn LeMur

    Dennis: first off, I hope you do not leave. It is interesting to meet someone that believes not attending a church can only be due to selfishness… and that the only reason to attend is “someone needs you there”.
    In your mind, are there other reasons for not attending a church that are valid? Are there other reasons for attending besides to meet the needs of someone else?
    What are your views of Acts 13, and the calling of Barnabas and Saul away from the church-structured? Can that exist for today?
    Your thoughts?
    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • Dennis Irwin

    Dang it…..I just spent 15 min writing a response to your other questions…..and erased it all by accident! I’ve got to go now but, if Dave doesn’t kick me out, I’ll be back later.
    btw…did I say “only”? I don’t think so. See ya in a bit.

  • klhayes

    That reminds me of my comparison of the Christian Industrial Complex and how they sell Jesus (like Apple sells ipods), the top down organization, not questioning those at the top, putting a smile on your face no matter what b/c life is perfect with Jesus, and now the patent on exclusive rights! Love it

    I always feel like I am thinking about the issue you draw about, before I see your drawings. Last night I was thinking about these ideas; being constricted to certain views of church and religion even if I did not like them. I came to the realization that I can simply let them go and develop a new view. I do not have to believe any pastor, any book, any church council. It has to be genuine. At with that, this chronic insomniac fell asleep.

  • we must be on the same page klhayes 🙂

  • klhayes

    Dave is not leading (or misleading) any of us….a lot of what he says I am already thinking and feeling.

    People have the right to leave church and organized religion, they have a right to question an institution that will do anything to save face even if it means letting children be harmed (and trust me, there are Priests that have issues with girls-my mom when to an all girls’ Catholic school in the 60s and talks about how many of the priests used to “hang out” with the young girls out and girls have been abused), churches that are not practicing social justice.

    No one here wants to be saved or needs anyone to save us. We know the Bible, we know the Church, we know all of it….we just have decided to expand our view and understand that faith and spirituality are separate and complex and can change over time.

  • I won’t ask you to leave Dennis. But I would say your attempt to cloak your arrogance in “i’m just a humble plumber who loves Jesus” failed on me.

  • Gary

    Yeah…when someone is this combative and repeatedly talks about getting banned from the site they are usually either trolling for laughs or a narcissist.

  • Dennis Irwin

    Or…just a poor communicator with the written word.

  • Jenny Jacobs

    Didn’t Jesus demonstrate, over & over again, that God was NOT mediated by the “church” of his day (ie the priests, the temple)? He talked directly to his father and encouraged everyone else to do the same. He said public prayer was pointless (Matthew 6:6) but to go into your house, close the door and pray in private. I think he would look at today’s church organisations and think he had to start all over from the beginning as it seems to me that the churches have done their best to replicate the very system Jesus was trying to dismantle. We are back to square one in so many ways.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    The kind that finds the link on the front page of Patheos?

  • Dennis Irwin


    Since you’re a writer….you can tell…..I’m not. Thus, maybe the reason for your confusion. I did not mean for my 2 choices to be collectively exhaustive. Just 2 choices at the top of my head.

    But I did mean to use the word disingenuous.

    These two questions you have raised are actually tied together, because I don’t get Dave’s angle. I’m trying to figure it out:

    “Some would theologize that the church is Christ’s body”-
    Eph 5:23- “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.”…’Some’ would.theologize? Who? Paul?

    “Some would insist that you cannot find God without Christ ……”

    “Some assert that the only way to God is through the church.”………”Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. Sincere Christians all know this. I know this, you know this…..Dave knows this. The “some” that say otherwise are on the fringe minority. Why put it this way?

    With his experience in ministry….it seems disingenuous to me. Maybe I’m wrong, we’ll see.

  • Dennis Irwin

    Caryn, Sorry it took a couple days getting back to you.

    Again……only? Of course not. Never said that. But… is a common reason.

    “Are there other reasons for attending besides to meet the needs of someone else?” Now that is a fascinating question. If only this blog could debate this without demeaning fundamentalist. My opinion? Young Christians…..yes. Mature Christians…

    As far as Acts 13…the 1st missionary journey by Paul (I don’t think he was Saul anymore). Seems to me, he planted a lot of churches. And he encouraged them to get along, stay the course, keep meeting together, help each other, etc. No?

  • Dennis Irwin

    “expand our view”…..hmmm.

    Eph 5:23-” For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.”

    Eph 1:22,23- “And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. ”
    That’s a good idea. Let’s use the Catholic church to disband the whole church body. Where’s Luther when you need him.

  • klhayes

    There are people of many Christians traditions that have been abused in the name of God. And not just physical…people are tied of the narrow-minded and exclusivity and the lack of social justice in the name of tradition. People are tired of being made to feel bad because they question things and won’t simply follow. No matter what institution, it is always important to question.

    And honestly I cannot say that I had a bad experience with any church….just disgusted with the coldhearted socioeconomic and political path some Christians are taking b/c they cannot handle the many people don’t think like them and are leaving the old ways behind.

  • Dennis Irwin

    It’s funny how those on this blog preach about the injustice! Nobody thinks but us! The narrow mindedness! And yet from my perspective…..narrow mindedness and such describes you.

    I wonder how many people have been hurt in the name of social justice?

  • Caryn LeMur

    Dennis: Thank you for the reply.
    “Some would theologize that the church is Christ’s body” … well, yes, that is one analogy used by author of Ephesians. We that believe are also ‘living temples’, ‘wells that spring forth water’, ‘sheep in a pasture’, ‘branches on a vine’, and so forth. Some of us lean towards different analogies within the scripture (probably because they appeal to us at a deeper level)… and some analogies just ‘do not do it’ for some readers of scripture.
    By David using a half-thought, he prods people into a response. When I write a half-thought, it is amazing how many people leap forward to ‘complete the thought their way’… but yet, when I write a complete thought (such as momentarily touching upon ‘living temples’, ‘wells that spring forth water’, etc.), many people go silent… though a few erupt with ‘Nonsense! You know nothing!’ (but then, little evidence is often all that is offered). There is something about a complete thought that discourages rapid interchange… and complete thoughts seem ‘closed’ to further discussion (as if only an angry challenge can offered in return).
    Nonetheless, I now understand better why you thought David’s approach was ‘disingenuous’. Thank you for sharing.
    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • Caryn LeMur

    Continuing with a slightly different thought:
    Dennis, your writing seemed to tie ‘the only way to know God is through the church’ to ‘the church is the body of Christ’… if I am following your logic correctly, you seem to be leaning towards:
    “Given that the only way to know God is through Jesus;
    given that the only Body of Christ is the church;
    then, the only way to know God is through the church.”
    Am I understanding you correctly?
    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • Dennis Irwin

    Not at all. The only tie is they were both in Dave’s post so I used them as examples. The “church” is pretty clearly defined in scripture……all believers. I’m not sure how you got that from my post. One of my main points is that we all know “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life….” is the truth. And mainline denominations teach this as well, so who is this “some” that thinks the only way to know God is through the church? Maybe the Catholic church….other than that only fringe individuals. But Dave doesn’t single out the Catholic church. He just says “church” which usually includes all of Christianity (which includes the Catholic church). I know of no mainline protestant denominations (or individuals) that teach the only way to God is through the church. So why did Dave put it this way? An agenda to show that the church is bad? I don’t know. That’s why I’m questioning.
    Denominations/buildings/altars are just place believers continue to “meet together” as the book of Hebrews puts it. But are an important tool in teaching, encouraging, strengthening and accountability.

  • Dennis Irwin

    I’ve got to admit…..I have no idea what you’re talking about in this post. But you seem very nice……if you’re not being condescending.

  • Caryn LeMur

    hmmmmm… perhaps an agenda to help people think about, question, improve the church, or leave it… lol. But, I really do not know David’s agenda, as such.
    To be honest, at times, I do not know my own ‘agenda’. I recall being ‘called to a meeting’ and questioned about my ‘agenda’ in attending a Vineyard (protestant) church. I laughed… I had no ‘agenda’. Gosh, I was there as a transsexual (male to female) with my wife, because my wife wanted to attend, because I enjoyed serving God and praying with people that hung around seeking God at the end of the church. Oh, and I thought some of the music was good.
    Apparently, the young leaders of the church continued to question and seek out my ‘hidden agenda’. I was forbidden to pray with people; I was allowed to sing only at Christmas and Easter choirs; I was later asked about all my infidelities (that everyone knew I must be doing)…. Again, I burst out laughing. I am bisexual in orientation – and bisexual means ‘some men are hot; some women are hot; it’s just a chemical thing’. Bisexual does not equal swinger. So, when the Spirit told me to leave that Vineyard, I was delighted to go.
    So, agendas change over time. Now my agenda is to help others outside of the church; to plant hope in people that wish to walk with God outside the attacks from the church; to teach others about marshaling evidences and/or opinions; to teach listening and critical thinking. To me, this is all about the greatest gift of prophecy – “to comfort, to encourage, and to edify.”
    But I am not a political cartoonist… nor a church cartoonist (as David is). Humor is not one of my tools that is easily available… humor is actually difficult for me to use in writing. David uses humor and political-style cartoons to drive discussions… and pretty much has allowed the readers to set the pace, and even the direction, of the discussions.
    So, perhaps you would like to continue to come here, and engage in discussion with people that have very different worldviews: atheist, humanist, Catholic, Methodist, follower of Christ outside the church, and/or alternative lifestyle believers (our version of the Samaritans or Roman Centurions that believe, and are not Protestant lifestyle jews, so to speak).
    Thank you again for sharing your thoughts. Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • Al Cruise

    “that teach the the only way to God is through the Church” This IS, what is happening in mainline Churches today, It is done very subtly, and that is exactly what you are doing here in your posts, if you would be honest with yourself. I have spent 40 years in those Churches in lay ministry, I know the the real psychology at play, it comes clear in everyone of your posts and how you present it. The need to defend your position, its all a pretence.

  • Al Cruise

    Sorry Caryn, I am replying to Dennis and his posts.

  • Al Cruise

    It’s the way the Church system is set up in western culture, there are inherent flaws that are built in and are unavoidable.The need for money,the need to have a power structure, the need to adapt to relevant culture, the need to deal with other Churches that are different, competition with other Churches,etc , these things, never make it about the well being of the people. It’s like factory farming, You say you want to build a huge pig farm with 50,000 animals. You tell everyone who has concerns about it,that the waste from it won’t be problem.You spin all the positives jobs,food,benefits to the local economy etc. Once you get it built, it stinks to high heaven. The real purpose is profit. For the Churches the real purpose is its image to the present day culture. To be the the one that’s right.