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KARMA CHICKENS HOME TO ROOST: THE UNFORTUNATE FALLOUT OF UNACCOUNTABLE CHURCH AUTHORITARIANISM

Many church-going Christians in America, a probable majority, are currently acting powerless in the face of tyrannical secular overreach because they’re long conditioned to be subservient to strict clergy control.

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DO NOT GIVE HIS GLORY TO ANOTHER

There is only ONE Person deserving of all praise and honor. If Christians honored this ONE Person the way they honor their preachers/pastors/ministers/priests/reverends, the response to our present circumstances would be swift and powerful. That it is not is due to centuries of church conditioning that renders Christians largely harmless to the enemy, primarily because they have surrendered their God-given authority to authoritarians and high hat ecclesiastics more interested in power over Christians than serving the Lord to foster power within Christians.

We have the perfect example in the Lord Jesus. He had to die to release us from bondage. His intent was to free us from the prison of sin, usher us into abundant life, and empower us to stand, as He did, against all enemies. His example did not allow for a mere lone potentate on a platform throne but a sea of Spirit-filled believers let loose in the world to tell everyone the Good News and defeat every single spiritual enemy in opposition. His example, teaching, and spiritual equipping created spiritually powerful people willing to do battle anywhere and everywhere. They were never a collection of docile sheep silent and servile under a single high and lifted up human subsidiary or some absolutely unscriptural vaunted hierarchy with a dominant pyramid topper, but a collection of equals under the sole authority of the ONE who died to save them.

The Lord Jesus was the only ONE the early Community of the Lord honored above themselves. They honored each other laterally as sisters and brothers, and served one another as sisters and brothers, and lowered themselves to the status of servants but only in ultimate service to the Lord. They served one another not according to the standard servant-authoritarian paradigm but for the love they each had for one another. The Lord taught them to do just that and to even prefer their brother. This allowed not only for the destruction of human pride but also obliterated any idea or desire of taking charge over one another. This attitude allowed for an otherwise impossible dynamic in that the original Christians were both humble to the nth degree but powerful enough to whip demons and take their names.

Speaking of which, if so many of today’s pastors can’t even stand up to obvious attacks against Christianity and one’s calling, and stand up for the people they are supposed to be serving, and instead teach their congregants to stand down without a fight, which also involves standing down against clear violations of the American Constitution, does anyone really think these compromised authoritarians are fighting unseen spiritual enemies? If they refuse to stand up against petty tyrants—those in the process of seeing just how far they can go to restrict or even eliminate Christian freedoms—how can they possibly stand up against unseen demonic forces?

AUTHORITARIANISM AT ALL COSTS

And therein lies the rub. For the Christian authoritarians to be in charge it means the Lord Jesus can’t be. Now, please don’t get me wrong here. The Lord is in charge anyway, everywhere, in an overall sense, but He allows the possibility of being voted down. He never forces Himself upon anyone. Does Hebrew history reveal anything with greater destructive spiritual impact than this one primary fact? —That God is sovereign but the Hebrew nation rejected Him repeatedly? Why then is it so difficult to see Christians doing the same?

It’s different in one sense, however. The Israelites never made rejecting God a traditionally accepted practice. They always knew it was wrong, that is, whenever they actually had a mind to think about it. Also, the prophets, when they weren’t dead, never ceased to warn the authority thieves of their illicit behavior.

For Christianity, though, and I am certainly speaking in general terms, clergy dominance did not only become an accepted tradition, it became foundational policy to trumpet at all times. Once the people were thoroughly cowed (sound familiar?) the big boys let up, but still insisted on building and maintaining the outward structure of control. It is in part why most church formats all look the same: There is a restricted area up front or raised platform with platform thrones and sacred pulpits, and down below or beyond there is the mass of powerless nobody little people all lined up side-to-side in lateral rows staring over the back of each other’s heads dutifully supporting their betters. One group is very small, compensated, and overtly respected. The other group is very large and must find their own way in the world. Does this look like Christian fellowship? Does it look like the spiritual interacting of the people of God? Does it even look like Scripture? Why do theaters, concert halls, opera houses, Roman basilicas, and ancient pagan temples have the exact floor plan?

DOMINANCE AND SUBMISSION

The greatest trick the devil ever perpetrated was convincing a few prideful bigwigs to elevate themselves over everyone else and demand subservience. Why? Because in the process it removed 99% of Christians from viable ministry. It turned a massive untold number of believers into passive non-workers so those who wrested control could have full control. Remember, however, though it might be hard to understand now, the original Christians were world-changing devil-busters filled with the power and love of God who wreaked havoc on the devil’s evil kingdom and rescued millions of people from his clutches. They attacked hell en masse and took no quarter. They knew what their purpose was and achieved it every day. They were the direct opposite of passive pew-sitters allowing the few in charge to do whatever they want. Is it any wonder, then, that the history of Christianity is filled with the abuse of power? Is it any wonder that evil at the top grew without restraint? Who was rightly checking it? Who was holding them accountable? Who is holding them accountable at present? I am being very kind here. I could go on. It would be somewhat akin (to an infinitely lesser degree) to the Lord’s rebukeathons against the Scribes and Pharisees. There is no end to the subject matter.

Whereas once false Christian potentates ruled with an iron thumb, murdered masses, persecuted real believers, and demanded even their own people to grovel before them, the greater aspect of today’s abuse involves a mass misallocation of funds. Most of the money given is spent unwisely and inappropriately. It is spent on the accoutrements of this world and comparative little is given to those who need it most. Not only have the great bulk of Christians been relegated to the sidelines, their individual ministries are rarely or never supported, and certainly not financially. Meanwhile, a few have no end of funding. Some of those in the clergy class know the money allocation state of affairs is inherently incorrect and one-sided (because they still have the modicum of a working conscience) and consequently reduce their takings to what may be termed a sensible amount. Others, however, go whole hog. They rake it in like gangbusters and have a ball. There is often no end to their excess. They always have a tendency to spend it on the wrong things, which mainly involve their personal lives and the material trappings of their fiefdoms. They will also send assistance elsewhere, often far elsewhere, but neglect faithful brother Jones and supportive sister Smith sitting right there in the congregation.

FOLLOW THE LEADER, NOT THE CLERGY HANDBOOK

One may wish to remember the Lord’s example. If He did not allow any extravagance for Himself (or pretty much anything), where do such Christian leaders get their authorization? Again, it’s not from Scripture but from a false Christian tradition. And if anyone might be thinking the actual problem is not the clergy barrel as a whole but only a few bad apples within it, why don’t other Christian leaders call them out? One denomination doing this to another doesn’t count. That’s often just religious/political backbiting and posturing. Each denomination believes it has the best interpretation or expression of Christianity and thus rejects the others. They do this to protect their status as distinct Christian cults and will always protect their own even if their own are guilty. It’s called protecting the brand. The higher up the ladder you go, however, the more corrupt it becomes because they have more power to shield the guilty. The corruption then spreads downward through their corrupt policies.

A better example may be the polyculture associated with Christian TV. Apparently all these different people with all their different backgrounds and all their different doctrines have no problem with one another. Have you ever seen anyone on Christian television openly rebuke and call out the frauds among them? Is it because there are no frauds? Is it because they think it’s not “Christian” to do such a thing? The truth is that many are chicken, compromised by the same process, and don’t want the spotlight shining on them (or all weapons turned in their direction). They are all drawing from the same money well. Therefore they forego any possibility of being a corrective force. It proves they collectively have no interest in reform. This is absolutely no different than the dynamic played out among the ancient Hebrew prophets and evil kings. Those connected to the kings knew they better keep their mouth shut. The prophets, however, said to hell with that and refused to be silent. Have you ever seen an actual prophet in this sense on Christian television?

Imagine much of the power of that medium being wasted because many of those in control are no different than most politicians. The latter ilk are often compromised entirely and are usually controlled puppets, world class rip-off artists, or both, and this is why they talk but never act unless it’s in favor of their lobbyists et al. Sound familiar? How much money and support has been going to Washington forever? And things keep getting worse for the country. Meanwhile, Christian television, multiple mega churches, and scads of ministries all across the nation have a preponderance of money, equipment, and locations to preach from with their congregations in full support, but the country keeps going to hell. Maybe it’s because their stuff is in the hands of the wrong people. You can’t expect someone who refuses to clean up his own act to clean up larger venues. How long will we keep going through the motions to nowhere while souls are not being reached with the real Gospel? The people who could do the job and are doing their best with what they have routinely get mothballed, blackballed, or disfellowshipped in a complete reversal of the actual intent of fellowship. The ones who should get disfellowshipped are the faux controllers and their supporters. (In reality this has actually happened, though in reverse, in the sense that it is easier for one or a few to leave. See Luke 9:5.)

Since those interested in truth and reform always amount to a small minority, the controllers believe it is better to kick out a few, render them inconsequential, or cold-shoulder them into oblivion. This has caused all those who remain to fall into the clergy worship trap which renders them powerless. Perhaps this is why you can never count on them to come through when spiritual effort is most needed. The powerful spiritual DNA is gone because they removed it. The great frontline soldiers with all the grit and determination were seen as way over the top for the sensitive spiritual reality rejecters. And the leaders like it much better when Christians are simple-minded and docile who never, ever challenge them. They fight anyone else. The only ones left are thus easily controlled. It’s the religious equivalent of putting strong little boys on Ritalin to neuter the strength God gave them in order to make them behave and fit within a contrived, inhumane round-peg-in-a-square-hole system in which all must be coerced into silence and servitude.

This is how the elite in charge have transformed Christianity. Instead of developing dedicated disciples per the Lord’s direction they contrive collectively constrained converts under clergy control.

Real Christians are thus largely off the radar. They don’t fit so well once gaining maturity. It’s the same thing with the country. The elite in charge vote themselves excess and merely patronize their “constituents,” especially at election time. America used to be a great country filled with strong moral people but is now inhabited by a seeming majority of selfish, apathetic, and dependent unawares without a clue or the gumption or ability to right the ship. The real patriots who can right the ship are constantly under attack which makes it difficult to mount a charge. And then there’s the quite successful divide and conquer strategy which always seems to rear its ugly head in times of spiritual progress.

The same has also always been the case in Christianity. A few Christians get it right and attempt reform to the Lord’s original standard but sold-out authoritarians crush them to the best of their ability with the silent support of the majority. The guilty party has obviously decided on planet earth as their heaven which renders spiritual graduation into eternal life essentially undoable. They may have a rude awakening upon casting off their mortal coil.

They likely will not see what Stephen saw when his time came.

© 2020 by R.J. Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

WAIT. WHAT? Foiled By a Loose Cannon

         Many years ago I was working as the lead carpenter on a residential job in a relatively upscale section of a large city. The homeowners were a respected middle-aged couple. He was a professor at a local university. She was from England. The state governor lived nearby.

         The professor was a good guy, relatively happy, and bookish. Because of his job he was rarely home and I never talked to him much. She had a strong English accent, a proper manner, and was well educated. It was one of the reasons we had good conversations. I was relatively well-read and knowledgeable of the classics.

         Due to the way I was motivated as a witness for the Lord, I had slowly begun to talk to her during breaks about spiritual things and we eventually had some limited conversations about Christianity. They were Christians, of the Protestant variety. I had an idea to invite them to church like I did with so many people I witnessed to, but I figured it would be a difficult thing to accomplish in their case.

         I was going to a large Spirit-filled church at that time. It was known by one visiting teacher who spoke there on occasion as “The Church of What’s Happening Now.” It had gone through a big growth phase a few years earlier and had been transformed from a small old-school Pentecostal church to an innovative and wonderful place due to a large influx of newly born again university students and younger people. Many of these were set free to use their youthful expertise to make some powerful positive changes. It was a great place to be.

         The day came when I suggested we get to know each other’s Christian traditions better by actually attending each other’s churches. She was open to the idea. It took a long time to get to this point. I was always one to move slowly because I knew how the enemy could disrupt a good plan at a moment’s notice. She asked her husband about it. And what a joy it was when she told me they were agreeable. I was just a young carpenter on a job site and they were up there in the social ranks. I could not help but see the hand of God.

         We agreed to go to their church first. My wife and I met them there. I cannot remember the denomination, but it was one of those upscale places where everything was relatively quiet and low key amidst high-end adornment and a very traditional setting. The place was very tastefully decorated.

         The service was somewhat monotonous compared to what I preferred and was used to. There was certainly no moving of the Spirit of God. It was intellectually-based. But my wife and I were thoroughly polite. The older couple liked us. Afterwards, as I recall, we shared a small meal on site and got to know each other a little better. There were smiles all around. I appreciated their wonderful attitude and the way they embraced a young couple interested in finding common Christian ground.

         It might have been the next week when they were to reciprocate and visit our church. My wife was in the choir so it would be just me in the pew. It turned out her husband the professor couldn’t make it. Maybe he didn’t want to. This was, as everyone knew, a large Spirit-filled Pentecostal church pretty much on the very opposite end of the spectrum from their much more traditional format. I’m sure it must have invoked some difficulty for them.

         I met her out in the vestibule and she was polite and smiling, and somewhat upbeat. I believe she really was interested even though the place was never something she would choose on her own. Again, she was from England, was used to a high church format, and moved in some high circles. It was so cool that this was actually happening.

         Though I greatly appreciated Spirit-filled gatherings, I confess that I had also developed an embarrassment of Pentecostal excess. This was the early 1980s. I was still connected to some very old school Pentecostal people and traditions, some of which were really silly, and some even a tad dark. There was a thread of redneckism to be dealt with. There was also an anti-intellectual element. It is certainly true that many Pentecostals came from the other side of the tracks and were not necessarily very well educated. But I can also honestly say that I had never met more warm, fun, and engaging people. Most were open to the Lord and were willing to do whatever He required, reputations be damned.

         So there we were, standing in the pews while the choir sang. It was a tremendous choir. So much about this place was so far ahead of the curve. It set the tone for many churches across the country. Long before the word “progressive” was appropriated and used for other purposes, I used to refer to this place as “Progressive Pentecost.” Many great things happened there. There was an openness to many fields of study. It was composed of all ages and races, a truly open and colorblind church.

         I can’t remember exactly what happened next. It seems it was still in the early part of the service. We were all standing. I remember I had worked so hard to get this lady to visit. She trusted me. I had always shown her the grace of God. I was certainly concerned that some excessive thing might happen that would turn her off but was never prepared for what did happen. I was trying so hard to be low-key and normal, maybe a hard thing to do in a full blown Pentecostal service among many hundreds of people. To affect this attitude in my attempt to be cool and not a religious redneck, I happened to have my hands in my slacks pockets as I stood there. I was really hoping that she would be touched by the Spirit of God and had been silently praying.

         In the midst of a little commotion on the platform the preacher suddenly grabbed a microphone and started speaking to the crowd. There was a move of the Spirit and I think he was trying to get everyone’s mind on God and to pay attention. Of course, I would think everyone WAS paying attention. We could all feel the Spirit of God. Everyone was respectful and obeying protocol. But rather than let the Lord wash over us and bless us with some peace and His presence, the preacher, as he was wont to do, had to take over.

         Completely messing up a good thing, he actually started to berate people. He’s walking quickly across the platform and pointing out individuals and then back to the other side, his eyes going from those closest to those toward the back. Everyone was on eggshells. This happened way too much but because of our respect for the proceedings we all thought it was God, that God was anointing him to go off like that. I learned later that was not the case. I got older. I grew spiritually. I eventually figured out that this anointed man of God who did so many wonderful things had a tendency to turn into a complete nutcase on occasion.

         Now, most of us do this. Sometimes we are very tired. We do not get enough sleep. The pressures of life can be very strong. We lose our tempers. We prove our humanity. But in the course of a church service when people really need the Lord, it should never happen or should at least be rare.

         As he was raising his voice and pointing people out I began to get seriously embarrassed for my visitor. I was afraid this would happen. But I never expected what did happen. Why? –Because I had obeyed the Lord and was guided by Him to bring this classy friend of mine to church in hopes of her growing in the Lord, being introduced to something new and great, and possibly getting filled with the Holy Spirit!

         The preacher’s crazy eyes fell on me. He pounced. I couldn’t believe it. “Get your hands out of your pockets!” Wait. What? He had no clue whatsoever what the Lord was up to with my visitor or what I was attempting to accomplish.

         Right away she told me she had to leave. She saw him looking at her also and was shaken. She wasn’t waiting around. She had to get out of there. Still smiling, she began to exit the pew. I followed her out. We talked briefly at the doors but it did no good. She was leaving.

         The entire witness was ruined. All the prayer, effort, and work was wasted. A wonderful opportunity went right down the drain. Right at the finish line.

         There are so many stories like this. The lack of accountability among the preacher ranks has always been the chief reason why such things happen. It is why the Lord always appointed several elders in the early churches and NEVER a single “pastor.” And such sordid behavior is certainly not contained to Pentecostal churches. It happens everywhere, in all denominations, and is continually reinforced and rarely challenged. There are far too many blowhards who do and say whatever they feel like and next to no one in the churches has the guts to speak correctively. Everyone knows what will happen if they do.

         Perhaps we are now in a time when that can change.

         © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.