During a course in the sociology of religion at Monash university I was in a tutorial with a number of religious folks. One was a Buddhist, another was a lapsed Christian who saw Bible stories on the same level as Aboriginal Dreamtime stories. Another was a practising Christian who had worked, not always happily, at a Methodist Mission.
The Buddhist and the tutor, an Anglican of understanding had more peace than some. The Methodist reported stories of work place abuse – phenomena not restricted to this denomination but to any, as my wife and others of my friends can attest. An unvarnished penal substitution theory and the god that goes with it does not promote grace.
SOURCE OF JUDGMENT
In His book Repenting of Religion, Gregory Boyd notes that the most judgmental attitudes towards Christians are likely to come from fellow Christians. He states that if we are living from a Christian version of the knowledge of good and evil, aka the law, then this is an expected outcome. He’s right about that. Law-mongering is a sure way to judge ourselves and pick at others.
I joked once to a pastor with a good sense of humour that we both belonged to a religious community that was a form of abuse. He knew what I was talking about. So do some I know who are presently employed in its ‘wards of spiritually ill people’.
These wards are not places where people are healed. There’s no healing in legalism – only separation from God and separation from oneself along with an incapacity to relate well to others.
They are places where employees are criticised and judged because those leading it live from a basis of judgement: The Law. As we may expect these are they who feel compelled to blame the victim and engage in ‘gaslighting’ in a bid to control.
'The core of you is your core belief'.
I have read books with titles like, ‘Escaping From Spiritual Abuse.’ The experience in my community was not like some I read about where people were continually manipulated and controlled.
The abuse was more subtle. It came from a gospel that was no gospel at all. A hybrid gospel of old and new covenant mixture that generated spiritual malnutrition while claiming sola scriptura.
THE SOWERS WEED PATCH
There is a religious culture that grows from the soil of the law that is a weeds, thorns and briars. Its cause is separation from God and the human attempt to manufacture righteousness. It is sourced in the law and consists of criticising others, particularly those who multiply the clear life of Jesus. Or those who are more able and intelligent than they are.
Some families have a history of condemning people with a better character than themselves. So do some denominations and churches.
It is this spirit – the spirit of anti-christ that put Jesus to death.
It pits itself against all who multiply the genuine life of God and subverts life to replace it with any form of un-life that looks pious.
We are talking the death of the spirit and the suffocation of the soul, along with the decay of the mind. And with this the gradual onset of spiritual blindness caused by the cataracts of adherence to non-Kingdom doctrines purporting to be revelation and truth.nay
Jeff Turner writes of His extrication from distorted ideas at the hand of the Spirit of Christ.
A FIRE THAT THAT BURNS UP VEILS AND MYTHS
“Over the course of a decade plus, I found all of my cherished, but lethal beliefs being burned up like chaff by the blazing heat of the Father’s love. Before there even was such a thing as a “Grace movement”, I began to encounter a God who was gracious, compassionate, kind and more loving than I’d ever dared to dream. When the reality of His love met my angry God theology, something had to give, and it wasn’t going to be on His end. It was a season of great upheaval and uprooting in my life.
The religious abuse and depression I’d become so accustomed to living with was slowly being chipped away at, and I simply could not exist that way any longer. I had to learn a new way of living, and it wasn’t easy.” (1) FALSE GRACE
False grace denies truth. Grace is not an excuse that allows us to remain in long-held bad teaching and ‘other gospels.’ Grace leads to truth and truth leads to love, liberty and joy. Truth is life.
Life is God. Lie is death.
A legalistic compulsion to never tell the truth when it is the truth, makes some individuals and families so blind that they cannot see the rabbit burrow in which they live.
MORBID GOD THEOLOGIES
Not everyone has an angry god theology. Many have an austere god theology and some have a joyless god theology that rubs off in the manner in which they treat themselves, their families and their employees.
The law does not nurture people in grace and truth. It perpetuates religious fictions and an austerity culture. This can morph into a denial of personal responsibility and an antipathy to truth-tellers. It’s the spirit that put Jesus on the cross.
PURE IN HEART
If we are really followers of Jesus we will not Have a divided loyalty and will not pump up false doctrine because our identity is bound in ‘another gospel’.
We will not be like the climate change denier who ignores the truth for the sake of the religious investment class and the false comfort of lies that have always been believed.
We will advance with Jesus into the truth that sets people free when we decide His identity is more important than our self-made identity in a coterie of wishful thinkers. The pure in heart see God and deliver others from the bondage of truth disguised as lies. (1) Turner, Jeff. Saints in the Arms of a Happy God: Recovering the Image of God and Man (pp. 10-11). Jeff Turner. Kindle Edition.