What is the danger of the “Church System?”

The “church” creates the idea that if you don’t attend their services, you’re outside of the fellowship. That’s what they did to the Anabaptists. They accused them of forsaking the assembly. They accused them of heresy and blasphemy. All the while, they murdered them and exchanged actual criminals for a chance to catch and kill an Anabaptist.

These are the words of Christ in Matthew 23:1-15:

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 

They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 

They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.

But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. 

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

This is the word of our Lord. To those who see, this is what happens in churches. Maybe not everywhere. There are home churches and other congregations that heed the word of the Lord. But it’s the exception.

God wants His people to be separate from the world. That’s you. That’s me. If we have ears to hear.

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9 Comments

    1. Nice comparison with the movie. I’ve never seen the movie, but I’ve compared walking out of the church system like Captain America with SHIELD in The Winter Soldier. Nick Fury wants to try to salvage SHIELD, but Cap says, no, it all has to go. I feel that the church system we have today is–at its core–rotten and has bred its own Hydra to a point where there is little left of the original intent of the early church.

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  1. It should be noted, however, that the Anabaptists also had organized congregations, orders of worship, and even church discipline. The problem is when one denomination or religion claims exclusive power.

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  2. Matthew Henry said this: “1. They would not go in themselves; Have any of the rulers, or of the Pharisees, believed on him? John 7:48. No; they were to proud to stoop to his meanness, too formal to be reconciled to his plainness; they did not like a religion which insisted so much on humility, self-denial, contempt of the world, and spiritual worship. Repentance was the door of admission into this kingdom, and nothing could be more disagreeable to the Pharisees, who justified and admired themselves, than to repent, that is, to accuse and abase and abhor themselves; therefore they went not in themselves; but that was not all.

    2. They would not suffer them that were entering to go in. It is bad to keep away from Christ ourselves, but it is worse to keep others from him; yet that is commonly the way of hypocrites; they do not love that any should go beyond them in religion, or be better than they. Their not going in themselves was a hindrance to many; for, they having so great an interest in the people, multitudes rejected the gospel only because their leaders did; but, besides that, they opposed both Christ’s entertaining of sinners (Luke 7:39), and sinners’ entertaining of Christ; they perverted his doctrine, confronted his miracles, quarrelled with his disciples, and represented him, and his institutes and economy, to the people in the most disingenuous, disadvantageous manner imaginable; they thundered out their excommunications against those that confessed him, and used all their wit and power to serve their malice against him; and thus they shut up the kingdom of heaven, so that they who would enter into it must suffer violence (Matt. 11:12), and press into it (Luke 16:16), through a crowd of scribes and Pharisees, and all the obstructions and difficulties they could contrive to lay in their way. How well is it for us that our salvation is not entrusted in the hands of any man or company of men in the world! If it were, we should be undone. They that shut out of the church would shut out of heaven if they could; but the malice of men cannot make the promise of God to his chosen of no effect; blessed be God, it cannot.” So not sure if that’s accurate but it gives a little insight.

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    1. Good insight. F.B. Meyer says this:

      “Hypocrisy is hiding under a cloak of religion the sins which the ordinary moralist and worldling would condemn. It is very injurious, because it hinders men from entering the Kingdom, Mat 23:13. It is punctilious in its exactions, because while it strains out gnats, it swallows camels, Mat 23:23-24. It expends itself on outward ritual-the Pharisees would not enter Pilate’s hall on the day before the Passover, but they murdered the holy Savior.”

      The woes are directly linked to the desire for position over others. While it is true that some are given as evangelists, and others as teachers, etc. that describes talent from God, not a status above others. In fact, Paul warns against this asking how one part of the body can disrespect another part?

      The early church fought against the same thing that is rampant in the “chuches” today. In 3 John 1:9-10 we read:

      “I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority.
      So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.”

      Now, some will key on the “does not acknowledge our authority” part. But, if that were the interpretation–i.e. John’s authority–why would it be “our?” And, such an interpretation would conflict with the first part where Diotrephes “likes to put himself first.”

      Another part of that people will point to is that Diotrephes was “putting people out of the church,” which shows there were actual churches. What they’re revealing though, is their modern day bias. The church, or, more accurately, the congregation of believers, was a group of believers. They met in homes. They lived in community. They didn’t have some building with pews and a nursery schedule. They didn’t have a steeple with bells that rang for the call to worship. Diotrephes would have liked that. People who like to be first enjoy the spotlight. They enjoy making others bow the knee to their superior widsom or knowledge or authority. And they end up shutting up heaven from people, making them feel worthless or disgusted with true Christian community.

      All hypocrites do this. If you begin seeing through their “church” facade, you wonder if it is all just a sham. It’s not. But so many see the dog and pony shows that pass for worship and conclude that it’s just one of many religions that give people an excuse to get together and socialize.

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      1. It’s amazing how much of the gospels actually speak against what the church is doing! Power, titles, and fake, shallow connections…all condemned. Yet talk to any pastor and they fail to see this warning. Instead they see non church attenders as sinful. I commented on a blog yesterday and without this lady knowing my story, she just busted out the “you are in rebellion against God” stuff. I could say the same to her because she chooses to sit in a pew on Sundays and participate in the shallow connections and idol pastor worship. I get rather tired of the rhetoric. I can almost quote them verbatim! Come up with some new material!! Lol.

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      2. Yes! It’s interesting because in Revelation, when Christ writes to the “angel” of the various congregations, and thus to the congregations, as well, there stands the only mention of the Nicolaitans. They are also closely linked to those who follow the error of Balaam. Balaam’s name essentially means swallower of people, or destroyer of people. Nicolaitan means conqueror of people.

        While some suggest that the Nicolaitans referred to in connection with two of the congregations were a sect that followed Nicolaus, an elder appointed in Acts, there is no indication of what that might have meant. Some suggest a licensious cult, others a cult that punished the body. But those texts are outside of the Bible. If we simply go by what the name means and compare that with what Jesus is known to hate, the meaning suggests that the Nicolaitans were those who lorded authority over the layity with unilateral authority. Jesus hates that. We are to hate that, too.

        Obviously, those who follow the doctrine of the Nicolaitans don’t like such an insinuation. They, like Demas in 2 Timothy, love this present world and, like Diotrephes want to be first. Or, like the Pharisees, they will kill Christ to preserve their influence, believing that they are doing good.

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  3. I’d like to learn more about this part of the passage: “For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.” I read it a few times and wasn’t sure what it meant. That’s a powerful passage. But hey, when you “forsake the assembly”, that’s all one seems to care about.

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