(from our new book, Leaning Forward)
Because I know that the title might be a trigger for some people, let me just give a couple of disclaimers.
First, I realize that there has been some good in Christianity. There has been a certain amount of community action and relief provided by Christian groups. Most everyone, even those that have been traumatized, admits that the church was, at one point, some help to them.
Second, my motivation is not destructive. I’m not jealous, bitter, angry, or hoping to destroy someone else’s work. My thoughts in this area have come from deep introspection and hundreds of interviews with people on our podcast, The Desert Sanctuary.
So why would I make such a statement that implies that we should do something different than Christianity? It is the soil that I grow out of and where my roots are, but I do not think it is, in any way, the final destination or the goal.
1. It wasn’t ever the goal.
Jesus was Jewish, and most of his ministry was to his people. If we look closely, he was stressing enlightenment and going inside. He never encouraged his followers to draft a book or gather in a building. And they didn’t for several hundred years.
Around the time Constantine joined the church to the Empire, specific writings were chosen, and larger buildings were erected to gather and control belief systems. Gradually selected verses were chosen to encourage people not to go inside and trust themselves, but to focus on something out there instead of what Jesus taught about where the kingdom really was.
It is noticeably clear that Jesus was not the only source of wisdom, and even the wisdom he had was at least partially borrowed from people that preceded him. We ignored much of what Jesus said, even though we elevated him as the only source of wisdom.
2. The Church Doesn’t Heal Our Trauma
As I said before, churches usually have good intentions. They attract people that are hurting. They intend to help those people. But, as an organization, the church generally does not heal our trauma.
In a typical church, 70% of the money goes to building and salaries, and most of the energy of staff is postured toward the new convert. There is little time left after all the energy is expended on the show, and there is no time for questions or sharing our deepest hurts, and we don’t get better in this environment.
Modern churches in the West tend towards bypassing. Because wounded people make us uncomfortable, we develop catch phrases and ways to bypass the significant issues. We keep people busy with activities and services, but often, the real needs go unaddressed.
3. The Focus is All Wrong
We could argue all day about how our church is better than the church down the street, but, the focus is all wrong.
Christianity is very fear-based. Most Christians would admit that if you took away the belief in eternal conscious torment (hell), they wouldn’t have a reason to go to church or believe in Christianity.
But there’s also a stubborn insistence that we have to do a certain number of things to be accepted, and those are usually moving targets that are hard to identify.
When we moved away from organized religion and started to deconstruct our beliefs, our spirituality became amazingly simple. We also were able to see the areas where we needed healing and address those issues. When all of the distractions were removed, we were able to go inside and find a more authentic, deep spirituality than we had before.
For hundreds of years, we have been trying to fix Christianity. We assume that if we could just interpret the versus right and get the right belief system, everything would magically work out. So now, we have tens of thousands of different versions of Christianity that all think they are right and that God is on their side.
I insist that we need to move beyond all that and evolve into something better. Many of us have already started down that road and found deeper meaning, healing, and more peace. I can’t really predict or promise anything. All I can tell you is what I’ve experienced so far.
My hunch is that we will never be able to form a denomination or belief system, or creed that pulls us together. If we think about it properly, that has always been one of the issues. We may be able to perceive Source, Creator, and God better, but assuming we could “nail” it has always been part of the problem.
Be where you are,
Be who you are,
Be at peace!
Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-with-luggage-on-road-during-sunset-163688/