In my previous posts I have described how I became a Christian, and how I was tricked into joining an abusive, cultic church. I have also described how I came to realize what kind of church I was a part of, and my leaving and search for a “healthy church”. To sum up, in visiting many evangelical churches I have discovered many of the same toxic elements that existed in the cultic church I first joined. In addition, there are other toxic elements in modern American evangelicalism which are hard to swallow. Or, rather, they should be hard to swallow if you are trying to find a Biblical Christianity!
Several years ago, Richard Foster, a Quaker writer, authored a book titled, “Money, Sex and Power: The Challenge of a Disciplined Life.” This book discussed the inner life of the Christian and how that inner life could be measured by the Christian's response to the temptations of money, sex and power. I suggest that the present diseased condition of the Church can be measured in terms of these indicators, as well as a few more, which I state below:
Money: The culture and livelihood of people throughout the world is increasingly being controlled by large corporate interests which care for nothing more than their own enrichment at the expense of the masses. Their aim is to sell dumbed-down, watered-down, valueless trash to captive markets at the highest possible price, to gain the largest possible profit. And these corporate interests have taken over the Church.
Lust: I don't just mean sexual lust either, but rather, that craving after a thing which causes a person to do anything to get the thing he lusts after – and to make up every conceivable justification for why he did it, no matter what commandment was broken and no matter who got hurt. An example: the many Christians who get a divorce even though Christ speaks against it, even though spouses and children get hurt in the process.
Power: One of the hardest sins to suffer is the lust for power, the tendency by some people to look on their fellow men and women as potential slaves, as potential property to be owned. This sin is alive and well in the Church, and can be seen in pastors who sue each other for control of a church, or politicians who try to recruit evangelicals as part of their power base in order to get elected to office.
Discernment: The Bible is increasingly devalued among evangelicals, because there are too many parts in the Bible which rebuke the deeds of these evangelicals. So their church meetings become entertainment services in which preachers give positive, “inspirational” sermons from “safe” parts of the Bible. And when people ask, “How can I find out what God's will is?”, they are told to wait for dreams and feelings instead of looking at what the Bible says. This leaves them open to being taken for a ride by con artists – of whom there are now many!
Boundaries: Walk into a lot of churches today and you will be “love-bombed.” That is, a bunch of people will come up to you and hug you – even though you've never seen them before in your life. They will put all kinds of pressure on you to sign on with them, to join their program, to be “one of us.” They will be invasive in their intrusion into your life. If you resist, they will tell you that that's not being nice, and after all, Christianity is all about “being nice.” They have been taught not to respect personal boundaries.
Over the next several posts I will explore these issues in more detail. This is a short list of issues. I am sure that some people could think of more.