Monday, July 6, 2009

church

Question: Since when has the word church (in Greek: ekklisia) evolved from a word meaning a group of like-minded individuals who strive to live for the glory of God to a building made of stone and brick and drywall?

I am officially considered a radical threat to the church for asking that.

You're welcome.

Not once in the over 110 times this word is used in the New Testament is it used in the context of a building.

Duh.

It doesn't mean building. Not the way Jesus used it.

It means a group of people.

Jesus doesn't live in a building- He lives in our hearts. At least, He can live in our hearts if we let Him. The letting is up to us.

Question: Why do we go to church to sit in pews facing the front, watch the pastor talk for an average time of 32 minutes and then go home? What God's name does that have to do with the original Christian meetings where people got together in someone's living room on throw pillows (or the 1st century equivalent of them) and discussed the Bible, prayed and ate a "love feast" (which, on a side note, was what Communion is supposed to be. The sacrament wasn't a cup of an alcoholic beverage or a plastic thimble of grape juice and unleavened bread or crackers- it was supposed to be a huge affair. With talking and mingling and little kids shitting their diapers)?

Huh.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately.

And by the way, if you're reading this to check on my love life, click the little red x on the top right corner of your screen. Get out. You're seriously not appreciated. It's a little sickening.

Back to the point.

There has to be some reason I can't stomach even 10 minutes of church. I've walked out the last, oh. . .3 or 4 times I've gone.

Right after worship starts, I have to leave, which is weird because worship has always been my favorite part.

It feels so wrong now.

Because it is wrong.

Enter: Frank Viola's book, Pagan Christianity?. Read it.

That is some crazy shit in that book. It will rock your world.

I read it and it went freaking kaboom in my head. All the questions that I've been asking in Sunday school and texting Calvary (which they haven't answered on their website or on Sunday nights as far as I know) are legit! I wasn't just imagining people totally avoiding my question and giving me an answer that had nothing to do with the freaking question itself. . they were really doing it.

Not because they were purposefully trying to deceive me. No. Definitely not.

Because they have no clue what the answer is themselves.

Sometimes, because they don't understand the question. It can't even cross their mind, it's so forbidden.

Whoops. Wittle Annie's asking too many questions again.

I seriously can't help it, though.

Have you thought about steeples? I have, and so has Frank. What the heck do steeples have to do with anything in this freaking world having to do with Jesus??

Hmm. . . well, the only thing in the Bible that remotely resembles a steeple to me is. . the Tower of Babel. They were trying to reach God.

According to some historians, steeples are used to make us feel, ahem, closer to God.

How about, say, uhh. . tithing. Did you know that the whole 10% thing came way after Jesus died. Not sure when, if you want I can get you approximate dates, but it was like centuries later. You know why 10%? Because that's the same exact percentage the Romans used in their taxes. Huh.

The only thing the Bible says about tithing money is found in the Old Testament. Apparently Jesus thought it was okay to give whatever you thought you should, and geez, probably the Holy Spirit will tell you to give more than 10%. The Widow gave 100%.

That, my friends is pure crazy giving.

And Jesus, well. . Jesus was all about crazy.

He disagreed with both of the main religious parties of the day.

The Pharisees added to the Bible all these random laws. They totally made up this extra mini "Torah" for their followers to do.

The Sadducees took chunks of theology out of the Bible. They didn't believe in angels, demons, resurrection and stuff like that. They were like the pragmatists of the day, boiling everything down to the mere 5 books they called the Torah. Everything else, they tossed out.

Funny, this all seems mighty familiar. One added, the other took away.

Human nature doesn't change.

We still do this today.

We don't have the freaking cool Jewish names, but we still do it.

Jesus was like, "Hey, I'm in between. I hate the fact that you added all this crap to the Bible, and I hate that you took tons of stuff away. I'm right between you two. I'm balanced."

And they hated Him.

Actually, they hated Him and then they killed Him.

There are two sides.

There are the people who sit at home and watch TV and sip beer and say "Dude, I'm still a Christian. I don't cheat on my wife, I don't get drunk, and I don't do drugs- I just can't stand the stuffiness of church" and there are people who dress up in funky gowns that, wow. . . greatly resemble and basically imitate Catholic priest's gowns and make everything a ritual. There's two extremes.

One takes away everything but the basic "I-believe-Jesus-died-for-my-sins-and-repented-of-my-sins" and the other relies on two candles on the sacrament table to keep his relationship with God straight.

We're just humans.

But if we can make some things right. . . why don't we?

So.

Until I can find some like-minded individuals who can't stand siting through another well-organized liturgy when they know there's chaos and pain going on right outside this "churches" walls. . . I'm just going to stay home from the building that has come to be wrongly known as church.

And, no. I'm not going to have a set time of prayer or worship or Bible-reading. Not anything more than I do every day.

Why?

Why, Annie, do you refuse to go to church on Sunday morning and then on top of that won't wake up and conduct a worship service?

Why? Because I'm tired in the mornings. I can't keep my freaking eyes open.

Oh, you want a spiritual reason?

Fine.

Because I think "worship services" are stupid.

Why do we have to have a service to do something we're supposed to be doing every breathing moment??

Why a designated time?

When did worship evolve into a time when people play music, anyway?

And has anyone else noticed that the music and lighting and prayer is all used to evoke emotions that will help the pastor in his goal to get us to come up to the altar to either a) confess sins or b) give our life to the Lord???

WHICH- Since when has that been the goal of a Christian? Since when do we talk about Jesus, sing about Jesus and talk to Jesus so that we can get more notches in our Christian belt/bedpost? Yeah.

Oh, and the altar call.

Don't even get me freaking started.

What the hell?

Do you ever see Jesus giving an altar call in the Bible?

Yeah- no.

I didn't think so.

And when the poor people, the flock, finally do go up to the altar. . . the emotions that they've been conditioned to experience finally hit them, and they think they're having a spiritual encounter with the one true God (don't get me wrong, Jesus can still work at altar calls. I'm not saying He can't . . . Geez, He made heaven and earth. . ).

But, usually (again, not always!), it's just these emotions that are caused by the awesome music, the cool colors and all this stuff that Plato said makes us have a connection to God through our souls (or something like that). It's usually not real.

In my case, every single time I've gone up for an altar call that's what it was.

It sure as hell felt like something that Jesus was doing.

But I'd get up the next morning and I would still feel like shit, and I would still be no closer to God.

And that made me loose faith in God Himself.

And it wasn't even God who was to blame.

It was centuries of people who changed one thing because it worked, which in turn changed the whole idea of what Christianity and the Church is supposed to be.

Wow. I can't believe I thought less of the Jesus that saved me and who loves me and who I love- because my emotions let me down. . . because they wore out.

Again. Emotions are not bad.

They certainly are used by God and they are an amazing tool!

I'm one of the most emotional people I know. That's why they sometimes call me a bitch.

Emotions are what fuel my writing. They help me give praise to God because I feel how much I love Him.

But they aren't a spiritual experience.

Okay.

That was a lot, wasn't it.

Digest it.

Leave me a comment telling me what you think of all this.

And seriously- read the book Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna.

I trust this dude. He knows what he's talking about and he's done research.

<3

5 comments:

  1. I just spend an hour and a half writing a massive commentary.

    My internet fried.

    The thesis statement?

    You go girl.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very good said Annie!

    One thing tho, u gotta fix the typo in here :)
    Geez, He made heaven and earth. . ). <--- sorry but this is so good it has to be fixed.

    I agree, i mean the only thing that i do at youth group is play games then talk about god for like 30 min's. i like being with the people but thats the thing. youth group is something to do instead of drugs or crime. u cant get closer to God if you go to church and youth group. You wont get closer if you go to 2 or 3 church's.

    Now to all of you that read that. yes i am a Christian, i go to youth group every week. I don't, how ever, go to church. My point here is to take a break from all the "worship".

    Well thats all from me. this is Annie's page and i wont try to take over :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very interesting post!!! We are alike, in the sense that we question the reasoning behind "so-called beliefs". Most of the stuff that is practiced/required in church nowadays, aren't even things that God asks of us. It's totally unreal!!! What denomination is the church that you attend? I go to a Pentecostal church, but I call myself a "born-again christian".

    ReplyDelete
  4. You are right on! I have not missed beingin a building for the two years that we've been gone. In the last year, we've been involved in a home fellowship that has been wonderful.

    To me, it doesn't get any easier than "Let there be no division among you." Denominations all formed from splits in a corporate church body -- or division.

    Annie, your maturity and wisdom in spiritual matters is so inspiring. You rock :)
    Love
    Sus

    ReplyDelete
  5. The sequel to “Pagan Christianity?” is out now. It’s called “Reimagining Church”. It picks up where “Pagan Christianity” left off and continues the conversation. (“Pagan Christianity” was never meant to be a stand alone book; it’s part one of the conversation.) “Reimagining Church” is endorsed by Leonard Sweet, Shane Claiborne, Alan Hirsch, and many others. You can read a sample chapter at
    http://www.ReimaginingChurch.org .
    It’s also available on Amazon.com. Frank is also blogging now at http://www.frankviola.wordpress.com .

    Also, for a look at the purpose and vision behind these books, check out Viola's brand new book, "From Eternity to Here" at http://www.frometernitytohere.org .

    ReplyDelete

Sound your barbaric yawp over the rooftops of my blog: