Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Matrix: Living to Lie and Lying to Live

I recently had my brother over to watch the hockey game and we got to talking religion, a very common thing around my house (ask my wife). I was telling him about what I was doing with a group I started and he let me know how his life was going. We got to talking church politics and religious structure and he made me realize something, the matrix of reality. I will explain how this all unravels.

The church has become a matrix, we have become 2 or 3 dimensions removed from the original incidents of Christ's life. The church is interpreting Christ in light of those 2 or 3 dimensions after His life, ignoring the original because we cannot see it anymore. A good analogy is that of a tree removed 2 dimensions. You start off with a real tree, actually growing from the ground. Let's say they all disappear (the trees) and they are replaced with plastic ones. People become used to that after a while (since generations will continue on). Plastic one's become a hassle and they are replaced with computer imagery (looking more realistic). People are none the wiser since it is still a tree, it resembles the original form, but all in all it is a fake. This is the matrix and I truly believe we have entered this train of thought with Christian ideologies and interpretation of scripture.

The reason I say we have a Matrix because, unlike a tree, beliefs and ideas are easier to sculpture to our purposes (they cannot be seen). Ideas within the church have changed from bygon to bygon and one look at church history tells you of how incredulous some ideas and ideologies have been, an example crusades. The church, as a structure, promotes a structure and not really faith in God at times; they push ideas and thoughts passed down from a denomination and everything has to fall in line with that dogma. What we have is a matrix, we have a structure (an idol), teaching based on a denominations dogma, based on one man's findings (ex: Luther), based on errors in church history, based on the monks and holy people before them, based on Roman Christianity, Based on disciples of the orginal disciples, based on the original followers of Christ, based on Christ's life, based on the OT. Have we become removed from the true intentions of Christ's life? Good question.

What we need are some examples from modernity.
(1) The Sinner's Prayer: I have no clue where this came from but I do know the church has adopted this as a 'sign' that someone has been 'saved'. They build fantastic theologies upon it that result in questions like 'once saved always saved' and 'grace vs. works: works is not that important to salvation'. I applaude the charade, I really do. Is there a basis for any of this in Christ's teachings? I have found no where in the teachings of Christ where one prayer defines your salvation. Is this to be called faith in Christ? Even when Christ's teachings don't even back it.

(2) Church Services: The services we have these days find no scriptural basis. We have a worship part (always at the beginning), then an offering and even some meeting people, then some testimonies or 'prayer' for problems out there, the preaching of the word, then an altar call (end prayers and music), then good-bye. Maybe it's just me but isn't this a European idea of church, loosely based in Catholicism? Firstly, Public offering (giving), prayer, and fasting are all shown as 'non-signs' of sincere faith. The altar call, as sincere as we make it seem, is you praying for my salvation/healing...oddly enough, faith can only be done by the that prayer right there should be prayed by the person in secret where only God can here. What do we really got? A damn fine show of godliness that forgoes scripture for the structure.

(3) Spirituality: Spirituality is slowly coming to be defined as actually singing songs to God, I think they call it 'worship'. True people that are spiritual will love worship services and whole-heartidly participatory. I have seen this trend grow, a close look reveals less a faith in God and more to prove your love for God (to the higher-ups). Spirituality is not singing songs, that may be part of it, but it's not even the cornerstone. Spirituality boils down to something so simple we do it all the time and is the true determinent in eternity. 'Do unto others as you would have done unto you'. 'Love God with all of you and love your neighbor as yourself'. ''In as much you did it for one of the least of these my brothers, you did it unto me'. Jesus makes a great case for spirituality being an everyday way we effect the lives around us, for the good or bad.

(4) Exclusivity, 'this is our club you heathen': Something slipped into the church a long time ago and has refused to release it's paws of oppression, exclusivity. The church actually believes they are 'going to heaven' and the people outside the church are 'going to hell', why? They accepted Christ into their hearts and the others didn't (usually exemplified by a simple prayer). The church then finds fit to exclude the people that are not with them, to not even really try help them. They self-justify from scripture but they are so off-kilter it's borderline in-humane. The words of Jesus talk about defining who goes to heaven and who goes to hell, but I am damn sure that is not for us to assume. Jesus is harshest on a few people, the main group called Pharisee's, and why? They make it harder for someone to get to heaven than for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle. Whereas Jesus is called a drunk and is found hanging out with prostitutes, drunks, and other shameful humans...he calls them friends. When did church miss reading this?

It's funny because I mention a lot of interesting idea's and some church folk will agree or disagree, all I am doing is pointing them back to Gospels. For those who do agree, do you do it only in 'word' thus fooling yourself, although appearing to be holy all the while. Let's just say I pulled the curtain on the 'Wizard' himself, a tin man, a lion, and a man made of straw saw the same thing. So what do you think...the Matrix really there?


Humming Bird said...

What does this scripture mean then?
Sounds pretty simple to me...there are no perfect words (set prayer), but the meaning seems pretty clear on what to do...I have listened to alot of people and pretty much, those that believe something different are really wanting a different meaning to these simple words, and they are looking for God on their own terms instead...

Romans 10:9-10
New International Version (NIV)

(Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
NIV at IBS International Bible Society NIV at Zondervan Zondervan)

9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

SocietyVs said...

I agree with the heart of the scripture that both believing and confession will follow faith. But even that scripture is not a call for a 'formula', prayer formula, no such thing exists.
But even with that said, if we go by Paul's words here (which I am more than happy to do), if we merely confess (say the words) and believe that Christ raised from the dead we are 'saved'. That means mere words, a confession, is good enough.
Then why a strict system whereby the church defines who is and isn't a person of faith...the do's and don't's of the church? Can't anyone do this at any time, having no retribution from a system that, after the prayer, tries to define righteousness for the person who said the prayer.
It's easy to say a simple prayer means salvation, but it is really hard to prove that is the fact and actually taught within churches. If churches will thus believe a prayer means salvation, then no need for a structured rule based faith which says you go to hell if you are 'gay' but says you earn rewards for 'giving' really doesn't matter according to a theology based on that scripture alone. That makes room for a 'once saved always saved' attitude. Even more possible, this scripture isn't making a formula at all...I'll have to check the context one time...seems to say something about Gentiles being accepted into faith, which isn't by the law.

Humming Bird said...

I am not of the belief that once saved and always saved, (Because you can't just say because you make a vow that it is something that will always be...if you break the vow it is then broken-although there is restoration-repentance-if you choose it) may choose to keep the vow or you may choose to break it, you choose separation or you choose restoration (you choose to live a saved life or you choose to live a life constantly away from God and centered around the things that are not eternally centered in a world where things pass away)...I am by no means supporting such doctrines (once saved always saved), and further to this scripture there are endless scriptures that support, living a life that produces good fruit, versus just saying some words and by magic you are something (salvation is just the beginning-we all need a place to start, being a Christian really ought to be seen as a lifestyle - one where God counts)...
Sometimes we can get sidetracked by someone's idea, instead of sticking to something that should be simple...salvation is a doorway to a great life with God, but it is by our own choices whether we choose to live a life of character and giving and a life patterned after matter what church you go to there will be people, no matter where people shift around there will always be people, the real focus needs to be the relationship with God...Is that real for the individual? and it is only up to the individual to put the effort into that...I don't usually debate about church or the concepts of it because to me life is really more about how I connnect to Him (God). They say that one person can affects 10 and 10 people affect another multiplication of people, and then it grows from there. If my heart is right and I reach out knowing God is the center of what I do then that is really where real impact comes from with people (proof is in the pudding). I know it works, because I have proof of it in my life and have seen it in Faith is strengthened by being a part of the good things God does through me and by seeing His Word work in this life...the benefits of focussing on His Word and the good things it accomplishes outweigh many distortions of life and helps to staighten out my own site that may have been injured along the way...The path to healing is not through rabbit trails marking everything that is wrong, but focussing on the road and following the steps to healing...the other things fall away...if you focus on the wrong things then hardness and bitterness consumes your site and you get frustrated...I don't ignore everything...but I don't spend time marking all the rabbit trails either...I think I am rambling now...sorry about that...

SocietyVs said...

I agree that everyone's life effects another, whether for the good or bad and I am glad that you have chosen to follow Christ. I think we both know that Christ is the centre of our faith and I applaude you for keeping faith in a generation of skeptics.
My point with a lot of my writings is to dis-spell the myth's the church has built and to display Christianity in a way that closer reflects the Gospels of Christ. I am all about people following Christ, and not on my terms, but on what is actually written in the scriptures. Call it 'fighting the good fight' but I really feel I have to help make church a more accepting place and to erase the dividing lines keeping Christians within church walls and keeping people of non-Christianity outside those walls.
So you can see my heart is in the right place, to cause less division and more acceptance. Maybe this is what I was called into, hard to be dead sure. But in order for the church to move forward into a more redemptive structure, it has to start getting involved in the community it serves.

Humming Bird said...

Being a Change Agent is never easy, especially when you are dealing with people who are used to "the way it is." I do applaud you...and the concern was only that in being a "Change Agent" that you end up getting led down too many rabbit trails or get focussed on being too one way about the change - stick to the simplicity of the Word of God and His heartbeat and you will see many good things continue to happen...I know I always say this, but or refer in some way to it, but our own hands are too small to do everything that needs to be done...our actions can only go so far - but are definitely worthwhile when helping those in need...but the ultimate emotional and physical physician is God, and our prayers do make an impact...we really do move the hand of God...I know that is what you desire to see...REAL change...REAL Results...REAL Meaningful things done in peoples comments are not against you...and I hope you know that...because I know that God gave you a drive for a reason, even if you don't see the whole picture yet...even that will the word on my blog means...Be Patient...Take Time...good things are yet to come...really...people are hard work...being a Change Agent also has its lessons, and its breakthroughs, and as long as we are teachable we will see God step onto the scene...Who better than that eh?...anyway...enough from me eh?

SocietyVs said...

Again I do agree with the points you are making, that God will make the change happen. The weird thing is I lay no expectation on anyone I work with, if they change or do not learn, I will continue to support them as a brother.
I think I am hoping that people will grasp to greater ideals, gospel based ideals but that is not for me to determine...that is personal to each person. My support is quite simple, 'to love my neighbor'.
As you mentioned, I pray they do change but choose not to ignore them either. For I figure if we can ask, seek, and knock and God will provide a way...we should be the same way, to be godly.
One comment struck me kinda weird though, 'we really do move the hand of God'. How do you figure I can move God's hand or even pre-dispose myself to say I speak for God (which is the same idea)? I have faith in God, but I can't find within the teachings of Christ where I take that place of making God do 'my will'. I have heard that said before and it puzzled me.

Humming Bird said...

It's not the concept that we can speak for God, His Word speaks for Him if we will hear it and acknowledge it...God gave us some promises that He said He would keep in His Word, and that is what I mean by moving His is up to us to believe Him at His Word...and our Faith (belief that He will do something good) is put into action...Isaiah 58, Lamentations 3:21-31 (Amplified Version), Isaiah 55:11, Isaiah 43:25-26, Isaiah 45:19; 23-24, Isaiah 46:13, Psalm 91, I Peter 5:10...not from the perspective that we control, but by granting God room to move so that He can come in where we have no capacity and He does better work than any man can...I can't quote a scripture and produce a certain thing...but I trust that God has a better plan and that when I allow Him room that something better does come...but I am not here to start any particular debate...I agree the best way to support is to show love and to DO SOMETHING...

SocietyVs said...

Hummingbird, don't worry that I will get offended, I actually enjoy hearing a different viewpoint than my own, gives my mind room to expand and acknowledge. I may debate a little but only for discussion purposes, to hear another viewpoint defended.
I respect your voice, it's getting me thinking and what is the damage in that? nothing. I enjoy our conversations to be honest.

BruceD said...

Excellent post! I'll be back for more!

I happen to think that the work of the cross goes much further and deeper than any of us can realize. I believe that Jesus came to set us free from obligatory, rules-based, requirement-ridden religion, and help usher us into a new realm, a relationship with God. But, some good people were nice enough to put some of their thoughts and opinions down on paper, and in our need for (and dependency on) structure, we turned those writings in a religion. Another religion! Christ came to show us the Father's love in a way that we can all understand, but that wasn't good enough for us. We had to take that free gift and place all sorts of requirement on it. We built our formulas, rites, rituals, ceremonies... all because we don't trust God's message. We want "insurance". We want to control our destiny. But, isn't that what religion was all about in the first place? And isn't that what Christ showed us was the problem?

The message of Christ is, "God isn't angry with you, so you are free to enter into a loving relationship with Him." But, the people said, "I don't believe that. I will come to God on my own terms!"

Stop by and visit some time!