WHEN RELIGION GOES WRONG – “NEW LIFE” BULLETIN
When I use the word “religion”, I’m not just talking about Christianity, but all forms of belief in a supernatural, controlling power. There are many such beliefs. More than I have room to discuss here. However, they range from terror and fear to love, peace and tranquility. In general, as practiced, Christianity is infected with all of that, of which some of it good and some not.
For example, in a recent news article, the Word of Faith Fellowship Church in North Carolina was accused of both sexual and physical abuse (including children) by some former members. Of course, you can read a denial of those charges on the church website. If they are true or not will be left up to the court.
Word of Faith Fellowship is a mega- church. Their website shows lots of happy men, women and children. So why would we assume the church is guilty as charged? Because it follows a pattern of the distortion of the teaching of Jesus by many churches.
In this case, as in so many others, the doctrine centers on sin, the devil and demons. There seems to be a fascination with casting out demons and the devil by almost medieval means. If the news report is true, that part of North Carolina is a haven for demons.
I don’t know if the charges against WFF are true, but there is a substantial number of accusers who say they are. One young former member who was interviewed told of going off to college and when she returned home during a break, her father opened the door, looked at her and slammed it in her face. She talked about how she was alone and without a family. No doubt the rejection of her was falsely based on a passage in 11 John. She said she is still a believer, just not their kind. I have also seen this same passage used the same way by other churches, including the Church of Christ.
It involves the fear of God. No one wants to have God’s wrath upon them, even though no one is sure what that might be. However, once a person with assumed power convinces others that they know God’s mind, anything can happen to the weak minded. I read of one woman that gave all her money to a church because she was told it was God’s will. Who wants to go against God’s will? Another woman said her husband chained her in the basement for three months to cause the devil to leave her.
This always happens when the individual turns control of their thinking to others. Remember when some preachers were saying the Harry Potter books taught witchcraft and should not be read? You may even remember the couple in Lynchburg who started the story that the Procter and Gamble symbol of the moon was a satanic symbol and it cost P&G financial losses. You may also remember P&G sued that couple big time. (Have any of you played a record backwards lately?)
It’s sad, but there is an abundance of evidence that there are many Christian churches where fear and trembling is the foundation of their teaching.
As I read the stories of people who have given up on Christianity, I find a familiar pattern. All of them center around how the Bible is to be used and understood. “If you don’t believe part of it, you can’t believe any of it.” Which is a way of squashing any questions about the Bible which challenge the “accepted” understanding. In fact, many people spoke about the atmosphere in churches where questions about the Bible were considered to be dangerous. Doubt was something that meant you were in the clutches of Satan. Questions about the things done in the name of God in the Old Testament were answered with “God can do whatever God wants. God is the same yesterday and today and forever.”All of that is theoretically true. How could you argue with that? Of course, you can, and should.
Humankind always understands the meaning of God according to their historical environment. For example, several places in Matthew 5, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said…” He then quotes an accepted teaching from the past. But he then says, “But I tell you…” Did he say those “old” teachings were wrong and sinful? No. They were in some ways part of the law of Moses. But that view of God is gone.
The greatest danger in religion is when people are told they shouldn’t trust themselves, but trust someone else to tell them what God expects from them. What if they just got a Bible and read the sermon on the Mount?
CONCERNS: Judy (Shivers) Edwards is recovering from a brain aneurism. Her sister, Ann is recovering from a badly broken leg. Roger Fisher spent a few days in the hospital, but is out and doing well. Wanda Musgrove is in Lewis-Gale, room 300. Del Bolin’s mother is having some health issues. Joanne Elder and Martha Foy, as they job hunt. Jim White’s mother, Corol Jones, Sheila Jansen and her Daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, Tolly Nicklas, Ray & Darnel Barns, and Gil Richardson. Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.
OUR DAILY BREAD: MARCH 6-11
Monday: Genesis 12:1-20
Tuesday: I Samuel 3:1-18
Wednesday: Philippians 2:1-11
Thursday: I John 4:7-21
Friday: Romans 7:13-8:11
Saturday: Ephesians: 3:7-21
OUR DAILY BREAD: MARCH 13-18
Monday: Jeremiah 31:23-34
Tuesday: I Corinthians 11:17-34
Wednesday: Acts 6:1-7
Thursday: Matthew 5:21-48
Friday: Psalm 119:129-152
Saturday: Psalm 67:1-7
About this time each year a representative from Gideons International comes to tell us about their work in distributing Bibles.
Today we have with us, John Myers. John will speak before the scripture reading and sermon. Anyone who would like to contribute may do so in the foyer as you leave.
If you will be graduating from a high school, college, vocational/training institution, please let Erma Williams know. Plans are being made for our annual spring graduation banquet.
Remember to set your clocks ahead an hour on Saturday night. It is the beginning of Daylight Savings Time.
Almost new. Susan and Wayne Phlegar became grandparents to Briar Rose Grace Phlegar, who was born in Greenville, SC on January 19.
Vivian Dugan will be away for the next three weeks. She will be visiting with her daughter and son-in law over on the coast.
If you enjoy and appreciate the use of the monitors which show the songs, scriptures and other bits of information on Sunday, stop by and thank Erma Williams. She does a great job getting it ready and Garrett helps on Sundays It has expanded our singing, scripture reading and information. Remember our song leaders, as well as others who serve.