Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Something is fundamentally wrong! After two millennia of organized Christianity the world is not a better place. The same can be said for Islam and all organized religions. Faiths that were established upon the teachings of love have become the pillars of hatred. Teachings that claimed we are all brothers and sisters have turned brothers and sisters against one another. Each religion rails against the other and within religions sectarianism will prove their undoing.
What went wrong? There is an award winning video called, “Church Outside The Walls” that has been produced by Family Room Media. One of the basic premises of the video is that there is no real biblical foundation for the concept of a physical church with its corporate styled power structure. Keep in mind, this video was produced largely by former ministers and pastors that spent on average twenty to thirty years as part of that structure. No longer able, in good conscious, to stand before a congregation and act as intermediary between the people and God, these men and women basically took the “church” and left the building. Citing the historical evolution of the modern church as a way for the few to dictate to the many that began with the Roman Emperor Constantine, the video illustrates how the organized religion has no basis in scripture and has, in fact, separated man from God.
Video host David Frederickson, author of the book, “When The Church Leaves The Building,” takes the viewer through a journey that exposes the myths that underlie religious institutions. Noting that versions of the Bible had been re-written to satisfy the needs of a growing church and political power structure, Frederickson sets up the interviews of a growing number of former clergy that, while maintaining their faith in Christ’s teachings, have abandoned the role of leading and dictating to an unsuspecting flock. Those interviewed indicated that since leaving the organized church structure with all of its manmade rules and corporate organization, they have actually developed a more personal relationship with God. Claiming that the “body of Christ” is really the people in a congregation and not the church, these former preachers of the “word’ have discovered that the stifling and divisive nature of organized religion.
The video shows that the early church was really just a casual get-together of like minded people in a community who shared their hopes, dreams, food and shelter to those in need. Rather than preaching, there was discussion and sharing with perhaps a “facilitator” to help those with the finer points of the Christ message. This facilitator evolved into bishops, popes, pastors and deacons who began to assume total authority over teachings and relegating the true congregation to on-lookers and mindless followers. This drastic turn of events began in the year 112 with rules issued by Ignatius and went down hill from there. Even the Protestant Reformation was exposed as a movement that only replaced one authoritarian religious hierarchy with another.
Churches built by Constantine and most since his time were actually designed to prevent the interaction of its members by focusing all eyes toward a podium and building ceilings so high that the focus was on the church leader and the rising arches put God symbolically out of reach from all but those in control. In essence, they built the precursor to the modern cinema where all attention is placed on the screen in front and everyone saying “shhh” if you try to talk. Whether built of simple materials of the most expensive stone and glass, the physical church, according to Frederickson, fosters separation and blind obedience.
The participants in the video, who seem to represent a growing phenomenon, claim that since leaving the church and all of its encumbrances and demands, they have actually moved closer to their families and their God. Rather than spending the typical one or two hours a week at a church service and many more hours performing corporate church functions, these former ministers have found that they actually have made God a more integral part of their lives. One participant said that rather than work for God, God has become his friend and that the relationship is based upon love and not on the number of hours punched in, the donations given, the church taxes prepared or groups created and controlled. Most said that their former “service” was an illusion and not based upon the realities of the teachings of Christ.
Indeed, something is fundamentally wrong with organized religion and the downhill slide began only twelve years after the last apostle’s death. History has witnessed the continuous bloodletting fostered by religious institutions. Sectarian violence has not been confined to Islam, as seen today in the Middle East, but has followed the trail of every major religion as they have struggled to gain theological dominance or world religious thought. As these institutions attempt to fight off their inevitable “green mile,” a growing sense of spirituality, one without walls, is emerging.
From the gifts of giving on the Oprah Show to those discovering how to use the Law of Attraction, a new non-institutionalized spirituality is spreading across the globe. People are waking to the God within and the “Secret” is becoming a household world. From the revelation that Jesus taught esoteric laws to the growing exodus from the confining walls of church steeples, humanity is on the cusp of a Great Awakening where the true congregation is found discussing spiritual principles rather than dictating religious dogma. Perhaps the fundamental flaw in organized religion has served its purpose by showing what not to do and the reaction to its failings will lead humanity into a clearer light of understanding.