Welcome to Brian's Bits, where Brian gets to share at length about various topics stirring inside of him.
THE Ministry, Part 1
2 September 2014
In the four previous articles, I have shared excerpts from an incredible, must-read book called The Crucified Ones: Calling Forth the End-Time Remnant by Charles E. Newbold. Even though it was first published in 1990, I had never heard of it before, nor had I heard of the author. If you missed those four articles, you can start with Part One.
9 titles by this author.
I was most attracted to a book called The Harlot Church System, because it seemed along the same lines as other books I have really appreciated, like The Myth of a Christian Nation, Pagan Christianity? and So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore.
Like The Crucified Ones, The Harlot Church System is really killer, in more ways than one! As you will see in the excerpt from chapter 1 below, Mr. Newbold even warns his readers that they might not be ready to read this book, and that they are likely to be greatly offended by it! Why is that? Because we are always offended when the idols of our heart are exposed and attacked!
Just like when I was reading The Crucified Ones, I’ve been highlighting large portions of The Harlot Church System. As of today I have reached chapter 13, about two-thirds of the way through the book.
While I was reading chapter 8 — “THE Ministry“ — I found that I was pretty much highlighting the whole chapter! That’s when I decided I should share that whole chapter with you. Because it’s kind of on the long side, I am splitting it across two articles — Part One today and Part Two tomorrow.
As was the case when I shared the four articles of excerpts from The Crucified Ones, entire sentences highlighted in this color are MY emphasis — thoughts which struck me as especially important. I’ve even marked one particularly potent point in bold red. All other emphasis is the author’s, or implied by the author.
Even though this book is not available directly from Amazon.com, you can still buy it from third-party vendors on Amazon's Web site by following the link above or by clicking on the book cover. The Harlot Church System is also available as a Kindle e-book for only 99¢ — at that price you can't afford NOT to get it!
carnal (fleshly) mind devises in the exaltation of Self — the preeminence of Self over God. It is a place in us where we think we are IT. We exalt our imaginations and every high thing above the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5).I have shared the second half of this chapter from The Harlot Church System in THE Ministry, Part Two.
In this book spiritual Babylon refers to the institutionalized, organized, religious church systems which I contend are products of the carnal mind. Please read on to see what I mean by this. The word church and the pronoun it when used in italics in this book refers to this Thing we call church. When it is not in italics, I am referring to buildings that have been dedicated to the worship of a deity, or I am directly quoting other sources.
In the context of this book, the difference between the body of Christ and this Thing we call church is that difference between Spirit and flesh — what is of the Spirit of God and what is of our old man nature of flesh and sin, even the carnal mind.
The flesh loves Self. Self with the capital “S” is the term I use throughout this book to refer to that the self-centered, self-indulging, self-absorbed, self-willed, self-serving nature of fallen flesh.
The harlot, broadly defined, is anything for Self. I refer to these Things we call church as the harlot church system because they have been created out of our fleshly minds and desires for Self. Churches as we experience them today have no basis in scripture. They are icons of self-worship. Moreover, they are idolatrous, deceptive, and dangerous.
I will hit hard on the idolatry of the church system as we know it and experience it today. If you are not prepared to hear this message by the Spirit, you will no doubt take serious offense to it. The message of this book will be troubling to many of you who are victims of the church system, but will be most troubling to those of you who depend upon the church system for your livelihood and who find your significance, identity, validation, recognition, power, and security in it.
If you choose to continue reading this book, it will take you where you may think you do not want to go. You will journey beyond the façade of that Thing we call church and see how it is an invention of flesh. You will discover the demons that empower it.
We become spiritual prostitutes when we create something and give our hearts to it rather than to the Lord Jesus Christ. That is what men have done with this Thing we call church. They have made church a substitute for Jesus. Many within these harlot church systems are true believers who love the Lord, but are uninformed and deceived. They have unintentionally given their hearts to these Things we call church. God loves us all but hates our idolatries.
Judge the words in this book for yourself and judge yourself by these words. Open your heart to the Holy Spirit that He might instruct you and point you to Jesus. I hope to reveal Father-God’s heart to you that your heart may be revealed to you; that you may dare face your idolatries, cleanse His temple of whom you and I are, and return to the God of your salvation. The idolatry revealed in this book is not about “them” but about each of us.
Then I noticed the emphasis on the article: “Quit THE Ministry.” I knew it was a refining word of God at work within me. THE Ministry, with the emphasis on the article “THE” and a capital “M,” was a stronghold inside of me that had been passed down to me through the generations of religious tradition. This stronghold is what we call being in THE Ministry.
“What does it mean to quit THE Ministry?” I asked my wife, Nancy. As usual, with keen perception, knowing it had to do with me in particular, she thoughtfully answered. “It means not feeling responsible for the people in the little groups we minister to, making a syllabus or a book of everything that comes to you, systematizing everything into a formal teaching with the idea you have to teach it, starting a ministry school, putting out newsletters, nor pastoring anyone. It means to just BE.”
“I understand that,” I told her, “but I don’t know how to quit. How do I quit what has been programmed into me since childhood?”
From that beginning, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see some things about THE Ministry and began to set me free from the false expectations that go with being in THE Ministry. church, so is it with THE Ministry. It, too, is an idolatrous extension of Self, a Thing that exists outside of and in addition to the one in ministry. It is a mantle we put on ourselves that God has not woven for us.
We make a Thing out of being in ministry when we surmise, “I am IN ministry, therefore, I HAVE a ministry.” Many well-meaning saints have started Ministries on the basis of an unusual testimony or an unusual gifting. It is good to have a testimony. It is good to share our testimonies. That is probably why we have them, but we do not have to go into THE Ministry just because we have a testimony. We do not have to go into THE Ministry just because we have a gifting to evangelize, prophesy, heal, teach, sing, or even preach. We do not have to go into THE Ministry just because we feel God’s call to serve. God has called us all to minister. We are to do the ministry of the saints.
Paul, the apostle, illustrated how we are all members of the body of Christ and each has a different function. These functions are gifts and services to one another in the body. Paul said that if we have the gift of prophecy, then we are to prophesy according to the proportion of our faith. If we have the gift to serve, then we are to serve. If teaching, then teach. If exhortation, then exhort. If giving, then give with simplicity. If ruling, then do it with diligence, If you show mercy, then do it with cheerfulness (Romans 12:6-8). Nowhere does he remotely suggest that we are to get a private, non-profit corporation, name it, and solicit funds for it so we can be who we are in the body of Christ. Just do according to who you are.
When we start out in THE Ministry, we start something God has not started because we are wanting something for Self. We get possessive of this thing we call Ministry. We refer to it as “MY Ministry,” or “THIS Ministry.” We even make a business out of it. We name it, incorporate it, build a database for it, solicit funds for it, and traffic our giftings like five-and-dime store merchandise.
The one in THE Ministry feels obligated to think of himself, behave himself, and perform his duties in a certain way in order to live up to the expectations that go with his ministerial position. He feels obligated to produce sermons, perform rituals, conduct services, visit parishioners, develop programs, print bulletins, mail out newsletters, increase numerical growth, boost the finances, write books, sell tapes, be on television and radio, dress the code, and in some circles heal the sick and work miracles. These are the kinds of things that falsely attest to his success.
The one in THE Ministry feels obligated to set up the playground in which we can play church, so that he can lead the rest of us in playing church. Playing church is doing anything religious that is not inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is faithfully doing all of those things we do at church that make us feel like we have done our religious duty. We play church by the way we dress up to go there, by the pretentious ways we greet each other, by the programs and rituals we follow, by the way we line up in pews, and by the way we do things AT each other without ever having a sense of involvement WITH each other.
We more accurately express what it means to BE the body of Christ when we do things WITH and FOR one another. Our gathering together should be “to consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works, exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25). We accomplish these things by being sensitive to the Holy Spirit who alone knows how to minister to our individual needs. We minister to one another by the Spirit with the gifts of the Spirit named in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11.
The one in THE Ministry feels obligated to justify his ministry. He relies upon phony outward proofs of his success by counting noses, increasing the budget, multiplying his salary, building bigger buildings, making more visitations, keeping longer hours in the office, counseling more people, increasing the number of programs, acquiring more invitations to minister, scheduling more TV appearances, engaging a wider listening audience, and selling more books and tapes. Could this be the driving force for those who post the attendance and offering records on the church wall each Sunday with a comparison to “this time last year?”
The one in THE Ministry feels obligated to present himself in a certain way to his public that will impress them so they will approve of him. It may be in the way he dresses, the way he grooms his hair, or the way he talks; it may be in the kind of car he drives and house he lives in.
The one in THE Ministry feels obligated to be pious and religious, pretending to be more spiritual than he truly is. He becomes hypocritical as he puts on his phony religious mask. Piety and religion have nothing to do with the simplicity of following Jesus in honesty and brokenness and allowing His Holy Spirit to change us from the inside out.
The one in THE Ministry feels obligated to stay somewhat aloof from other saints. As a result, those in THE Ministry often form exclusive fraternities as evidenced in the existence of ministerial associations, the holding of clergy conferences, and other gatherings that bolster the unscriptural existence of clergy and laity.
The one in THE Ministry today more frequently feels obligated to establish a legal corporation to provide tax exemptions for their contributors. Often, however, this paper entity becomes more than a tax provision. It becomes the name and image of “his” ministry. He presents himself as the president and founder of it. He speaks of “this Ministry” in the third person as though it was the source from which the ministry of Christ flows. In so doing, he makes himself appear bigger than God has made him to be.
The one in THE Ministry feels obligated to start something — anything. He cannot present himself as idle. He organizes, institutionalizes, formalizes, establishes, and systematizes things. He, with deep heartfelt concerns, starts things in his own strength and has to keep those things going in his own strength. When he stops working his plan, his plans stop working for him. But what God starts in Holy Spirit power, God finishes in Holy Spirit power.
The one in THE Ministry feels obligated to build his reputation and to market his talents, gifts, and wares. Consequently, he has to have his own public relations program to promote himself. He proudly puts his name and his face on the work that he believes God has called him to do. Whereas James wrote, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up” (James 4:6,10).
The one in THE Ministry feels obligated to know more about the Bible and religion than those he ministers to. Thus, he is obligated to achieve academic prowess which often opens him up to pride and intellectualism. He is not content for people to just know. He has a need for people to know that HE knows. He feels obligated to compete with other ministers to know as much or more as they and to be as good or better than they. He sometimes feels it is necessary to keep those he ministers to ignorant; thus dependent upon him.
The one in THE Ministry feels obligated to solicit support for his ministry whether from his “partners” or from a salaried position. When he receives a salary for his so-called leadership role in the body of Christ, he makes a distinction between himself and the sheep. He ignores the fact that he, too, is a sheep and that all sheep are in ministry.
The one in THE Ministry lacks faith in God’s ability to use him in season and provide for him without having to manipulate others into supporting “his” ministry.
The one in THE Ministry feels obligated to have a title for himself — Pastor, Reverend, Bishop, Apostle, Doctor. The more prestigious the title, the better. Bob Hughey says, “Titles divide; function unifies. A testimony is more important than a title.”
The one in THE Ministry feels obligated to clone others to be like him or his kind of church. He needs to clone them in order to own them. If he does not own them, he fears losing their support.
The one in THE Ministry feels obligated to be set apart from the “laity” by being ordained. Many church traditions ordain their clergy through what the historical church calls “apostolic succession.” Apostolic succession is the perpetuation of spiritual authority by the successive ordination of clergy from the time of the apostles. One must be ordained in apostolic succession in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Eastern Orthodox traditions in order to administer the sacraments and orders.
While Barnabas and Paul were confirmed as apostles by the prophets and teachers in Antioch (Acts 13:1-3) and elders were to be appointed in every city (Titus 1:5), the common tradition of ordination as it is practiced in western Christianity is not found in the New Testament. Barnabas and Paul were not set apart by the twelve apostles but by certain teachers and prophets in Antioch. The anointing for ministry comes from God and not from men (Ephesians 4:11).
The one in THE Ministry feels obligated to perpetuate the industry of THE Ministry. THE Ministry is big business. It drives the economy of seminaries and Bible colleges, churches with their staff positions, new church construction, church furnishings, Ministries, publishing houses, recording companies, book stores, conferences, and radio and television shows. It is a web of economic support in which the Minister himself becomes entangled and from which he cannot easily break away. Those in THE Ministry live compromised lives under the influences of man-pleasing spirits. The merchants who peddle their wares to those in THE Ministry and those who are in THE Ministry are dependent upon each other for their existence. This mutual dependency for existence is another reason why this whole system is a stronghold not easily pulled down.
The one in THE Ministry feels obligated to perpetuate the institution of THE Ministry as well as the institution of church. THE Ministry is an institution within the institution of church and is the singular most powerful force that perpetuates the institution of church. If we were to remove this erroneous notion of THE Ministry from the equation of church, this Thing we call church would fall apart. Similarly, without the church system, THE Minister would have no context in which to practice his craft. Church is sustained by money. Once the money ends, the church institution folds. Likewise, when the money ends, THE Ministry ends because those in THE Ministry depend upon the money and the system.
For additional insights on the topics in this article, see my previous article Pagan Priests Called Pastors.
Other articles of extracts from The Harlot Church System:
This article is 40th a series of articles on this Web site related to Modern Christianity and the Church which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
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