Were we Sold a Rotten Box of Goods as the Gospel? Part 2.
In order for this process to progress the laying aside of all my preconceived religious beliefs had to be laid aside as to not influence my understanding and interpretation of the scripture. That included all my religious instruction from preachers, teachers, bible school, conventions, conferences, all the doctrines even to the very nature of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit as this was what was neatly packed in the denominational boxes. The end result was that I ended up with my religion strewn all over the place as I tried to separate truth from denominational error, totally dependent on the God's appointed teacher the "Holy Spirit." Does that mean I have everything right now...No, why....because I am a finite human and God's ways are infinite, far above my ability to understand Him and I will, as long as I am alive, be on a journey to know and understand Him better as He reveals more of Himself to me.
I found the experience analyzing my accepted religious beliefs both exhilarating and debilitating, both encouraging and discouraging, I was both hopeful and despondent.
My exuberance came from the realization that what I was told by doctrinal professionals and believed to be truth, when looked at through the life of Christ I could see a lot of error mixed in with a smidgen of truth making what I believed to be denominational hog-wash, nullifying the grace of God. My sadness came from the knowledge that the same package that was sold to me was sold to my family in the Community of the Redeemed. My verbalization against religion is not against the people of God in its clutches, but the use of the gospel in peddling a package deal of supposed denominational truth, when it was mixed with lies polluting the Gospel of God's Grace.
When I criticize religion, please understand, I do it because it has deceived my brothers and sisters in Christ the same way it deceived me, and because I care about the Community of the Redeemed too much to remain silent.
When I criticize religion, I am not looking for an argument.
I have heard all the arguments and was in agreement while in my religious stupor. I have worked up the courage to let go of long-held beliefs that was my security, but the letting go hasn’t come easily. It’s been with tears and prayers while wondering if I might be taking a brave step in the wrong direction as was I informed by my religionist friends.
When I criticize religion, understand that I am not just looking for an excuse to sin as accused by some over zealous by some grace-hating religionists.
I am looking for freedom. When I sin, I do it without excuse because that’s the nature of sin. But religion has taught me that all sorts of things are sinful, with supporting verses that the...out of context...scripture clearly says it is sin. I now realize that many of those “sins” simply weren’t sins. Remember that story in the Bible, when the Apostle Peter had been told all his life that eating unclean food was sinful, but then God told him to take it and eat it because it was not sinful? That’s often how it is for me with what religion calls sin, except I don't hear a booming voice from heaven.
When I criticize religion, know that I am not against nor ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in fact, I am promoting the Gospel in more reality than I ever did.
I am just getting a glimpse of what the Gospel really is, and it is good news indeed even better than what I had ever dreamed minus the bad news of religion. Therefore when I realize that a stale, moralistic religion marketed as the Gospel, strangled in tradition, rituals and religious politics, my heart cries for freedom for my brothers and sisters caught it its web of deceit. I remember all too clearly the bondage of that false Gospel. And I so desperately hungered for the reality of the true God.
When I criticize the religion, don’t think that I don’t value Scripture because I do not believe all the religious understanding and interpretation that I was taught.
I do, and for that reason determine to read and wrestle with its most difficult questions. For most of my life the Scripture has been used as a weapon to keep people in bondage, instead of as Good News to set people free. I now depend on the Spirit of Christ to make the written word come to life for me, thus able to abandon much of what I was taught as truth by religion. I will get some things wrong, for sure. But that’s not because I have “a low view of Scripture”; it’s because I still am looking through a glass darkly, while learning to understand with my religious spectacles removed.
On times when I criticize religion my words are reckless and stinging, understand those words are not against religious people but against the system that has captivated those people.
Please know that I will always need the the people in the Community of the Redeemed, The Community of the Redeemed should be the first glimpses of the Kingdom of God in all its goodness here on earth. I long for the day when God's people are finally free of religion's deception, and run toward Jesus as He runs to meet them as the father ran towards his prodigal son and received him with open arms.
And until that day comes to fruition, how can I remain silent?