Welcome to Brian's Bits, where Brian gets to share at length about various topics stirring inside of him.
Consequences of Not Going To Church
12 September 2010
Exactly three months ago today I posted my article Why I Don't Go To Church. And just last week I experienced a harsh reality as a consequence of the stand I have taken.
The membership requirements state that you must attend church regularly. If you don't, they said that you could send a letter with your application explaining why. So I took my article Why I Don't Go To Church plus the last paragraph of my article Pagan Christianity? and sent that as my explanation of why I don't attend church regularly.
A couple of weeks later we received an acceptance letter, so I assumed that they had accepted my explanation and that everything was fine. But after a few weeks, when I was sending them our September check, I noticed that they had not cashed the check we had sent them in August. So I contacted them, and was stunned to find out that my wife and kids had been accepted as members (because they attend church regularly), but that my membership was still in limbo as they pondered their response to my letter. Because of their acceptance letter (which did not exclude me) we had already canceled our health insurance. So now I have no coverage at all.
The customer service representative (let's call him Bob) had not read the letter, and told me that our file was locked in the office of one of the managers who was currently on vacation. Later in the day, after Bob had just read the letter, he called me back in an agitated state, and without even bothering to say hello, he started to confront me about what I had written.
First, he told me that he imagined that we would be having lots of long conversations regarding my not attending church, and that he wanted to reach out to me on his personal initiative, and not necessarily as an employee of Samaritan Ministries — so he gave me his personal cell phone number. I told him that if his main goal was to convince me to attend church, then he was on the wrong track. He replied that just the previous day he was talking with a 64-year-old man who was not attending church, and by the end of the conversation Bob had convinced him to return. Apparently Bob expected to have the same "success" with me.
Next, he asked me what happened at the Vineyard, the church I had refered to in my article Why I Don't Go To Church. He seemed to be implying that something had gone very wrong there, which made me not want to go to church anymore. I told him that nothing happened there — it was just normal church. Again, he was on the wrong track.
Let me make it clear right here that it's not because I had a bad experience at a certain church that I don't go to church. If that were the case, I would just find a different church. I don't have anything against a certain church or denomination — but I DO definitely have something against the man-made, corrupted, perverted, pagan version of Christianity, which is pretty much the ONLY Christianity we know in the Western world.
For more than seven years there has been a growing and strengthening feeling deep in my heart that I just can't buy into and participate in this Pagan Christianity. It wasn't until two years ago, when I first read The Myth of a Christian Nation that I started to clearly understand why I was feeling this way. My convictions have only been strengthened and clarified by reading The Myth of a Christian Religion and Pagan Christianity?. After reading these three books, not only do I understand the issues much better, I can also articulate them and explain them to others much better.
Back to our story ... he then launched into an emotional, manipulative appeal: I could have the love, prayers and support of 15,000 member families, and I could have all of my medical financial needs covered for the rest of my life, even over a million dollars, if I would only take the tiny step of going to church each Sunday! Was that asking too much? But all I could see in my mind was the Devil dangling a million dollars in front of me, tempting me to compromise my conscience and abandon my beliefs.
I told him that it didn't seem right to attend church for the sole reason of becoming a member of Samaritan Ministries, and that it appeared to me that only if I toed the religious line would I have the love, prayers and support of 15,000 member families and more than a million dollars of medical coverage, but if I didn't toe the line, then I was out. That seems like very conditional love, prayers and support!
Next Bob passionately explained that Jesus loves His Church, and that He has an awesome destiny for His Church. He also said that it was apparent from my letter that I was highly articulate and intellectual, and that I had significant giftings that the Church could be benefitting from. How could I deny the Church of Jesus the very giftings which might play a part in helping the Church to enter into its destiny? He said that I needed to love the Church, and be accountable to other Christians by going to church each week.
Then Bob appealed to me that my wife and children needed me to go to church regularly to set a good example. How could I possibly imagine that it was not harmful to them for me to remain home on Sundays? How could I be so inconsiderate of their spiritual welfare? I told him that I could not support the man-made institution of Pagan Christianity with a clear conscience, and that the reason I was not attending church WAS to set a good example for my family, because playing the hypocrite and going to church each Sunday against my conscience just so I could be a member of Samaritan Ministries would be setting my family a very BAD example.
By this time he was starting to lose his patience and composure. He told me that I was obviously deceived if I thought that it was OK not to attend church. I replied that I was trying to do the Christian thing in how I had applied for membership. Would he prefer that I play the hypocrite and attend church just for the sake of membership? Sorry, I have more integrity than that! Would he prefer that I had lied on the application and not sent the letter, so that it appeared that I did go to church? They would never know the difference. He replied that then I would be following the Devil, the father of lies.
So I told him plainly that if I had played the hypocrite or lied, then I would have been accepted as a member. But when I try to do the right thing and tell the truth, and explain clearly why I don't attend church regularly, then I'm rejected because I don't conform to their religious standard of being a good little Christian by going to church each Sunday.
At this point Bob was apparently fed up with this conversation, and decided to bring it to a close. Obviously he was not going to have the "success" with me that he had had with the 64-year-old man the day before! So he told me that there was no way I could be a member of Samaritan Ministries unless I went to church regularly, and that there was nothing more to talk about. After mutual good-byes, we hung up. Paul McCartney expressed it well many decades ago: "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm sixty-four?" Apparently not! Not if I don't attend church each week!
Bob did seem pretty irritated by the end. His emotional, agitated state seemed to clearly indicate that I was pressing a hot button. My refusal to toe the religious line was threatening one of his sacred cows, and it was bringing fear to his heart.
It may be very true that I'm deceived, like Bob accused me. That's something I'm always concerned about because, by definition, if you are deceived then you won't realize you're deceived. That's what deception is all about. And deception is something that we are warned about over and over again throughout the New Testament, especially in relation to the Last Days. It's one of my main prayers to God on a regular basis, that He delivers me from deception. But I think it is equally possible that many Christians, including those at Samaritan Ministries, are also deceived into a blind allegiance to the man-made institution of Pagan Christianity.
You may say to me that I made my own choice to not attend church, and now I'm simply reaping the consequences of my own free choice. Well, I suppose that's true. However, I still think its a lamentable commentary on modern Christianity that I'm not "Christian enough" to participate in "Christian" health coverage, and that they are throwing me back to the pagans' health insurance system. But the words of Scripture comfort and encourage me:
God is pleased with you when you do what you know is right and patiently endure unfair treatment.... if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Messiah suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in His steps.... even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it.... you must worship Messiah as Master of your life.... Keep your conscience clear.... Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong.... Let us, then, go to Yeshua outside the camp, bearing the disgrace He bore. (1 Peter 2:19,20b,21;3:14a,15a,16a,17; Hebrews 13:13)You may also tell me that you and your children go to church regularly, and that you experience God there, and that it does you all some good to go. I have no doubt that this is true. But it is really beside the point of what I am talking about. I think that God meets you at church IN SPITE OF the man-made institution of Pagan Christianity, not BECAUSE of it. As the authors of Pagan Christianity? wrote:
We do not doubt that God can, and undoubtedly does, work through practices invented by humans, that have no Scriptural basis. That God still works through people in the institutional church is beyond dispute. But just because God may use His people in a particular system does not mean that He approves of that system.From all that I have read in the New Testament, in The Myth of a Christian Nation, in The Myth of a Christian Religion, and in Pagan Christianity?, I am absolutely convinced that God does NOT approve of the man-made institution of Pagan Christianity. Neither can I approve of it or support it by participating in it. It's that clear; it's that simple. As Pastor Boyd wrote in The Myth of a Christian Religion:
Once upon a time I embraced the Christian religion. Frankly, I wasn't very good at it. Religion just isn't my thing. For a while I felt like a failure. Some religious folk consigned me (and still consign me) to the fire. But over time I've come to see my religious failure as a tremendous blessing. Because when I lost my religion, I discovered a beautiful revolution.Of course, my life would be a LOT easier if I would just play the religious game, act like a good little Christian, stop rocking the boat, and meet the expectations of the man-made institution of Pagan Christianity. But then, I'm not called to a life that is easy, but to a life that is TRUE. And so are you.
This may surprise or even offend you, but Jesus is not the founder of the Christian religion. True, a religion arose centuries after He lived that was called "Christian," but in many respects this religion was antithetical to what Jesus was about. In fact, the very concept of a "Christian religion" is something of a myth when understood in the light of what Jesus was about. What Jesus was about had nothing to do with being religious.... What Jesus was about was starting a revolution. He called this revolution "the Kingdom of God."
This revolution isn't centered on getting people to believe particular religious beliefs and engage in particular religious behaviors, though these may be important, true, and helpful.... the Kingdom has nothing to do with religion — "Christian" or otherwise.... the Kingdom of God can't be identified with any human institution, including the church, or any organized religion, including Christianity.... This insight saved my spiritual life and reignited my passion to be a follower of Jesus. My hope and prayer is that it will do the same for all who read this book.
Don't miss the follow-up to this article and my interaction with Samaritan Ministries: What IS the Church?
This article is 7th a series of articles on this Web site related to Modern Christianity and the Church which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
On October 29, 2015, EF wrote:
I feel the same way. The emergent church is a platform for entertainment and false teachers. I stopped going because I know better than what is being taught and exhibited in "church" now. I've been running to and fro trying to find a group with a pastor whom preaches the unadulterated word of God and people who know how to love. The last two churches I was a member of had those kinds of pastors and congregation, but each pastor of these churches moved out of town and I couldn't find another church like that in my community. A year ago I had an injury that kept me form being able to drive and the bus system in my city is deplorable. I have been having bouts of just falling down, then unable to get up, so I am now afraid to try to walk to a bus stop. I fell in the streets once and since that time, I said, not again. plus the closest churches I've already made "the rounds" and they aren't worth falling down in the street while trying to get to any of them. The pulpit is now an entertainment stage and nothing of substance is being preached. The preaching is worst than the milk of the word, NO MEAT at all! And all that begging all the time, this prosperity preaching (lies!) PLUS the pastors are using corrupt versions of the Bible now. I close with these 2 Bible verses:
Amos 8:11-12King James Version (KJV)
11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:
12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.