DECEMBER 30 2017
LAMENT FOR THE CHURCH. (1)
My sorrowful ‘end of the year’ message.
Last week I was listening to Handel’s Messiah and the aria, “he was despised, rejected by men, a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief.”
No wonder. How would you feel when your Creation, your very finest work of art, is destroyed? How would you feel when the church, your very own people, is the leading agent there? Jesus himself tells us that we, his children, have to suffer with Jesus: no crown without a cross. Instead….
Of course we cannot expect the world to know better but for the church to reject its Saviour by destroying her creation adds insult to injury and most surely calls for LAMENT, LAMENT, LAMENT.
Look at the Protestant church: utterly depressing. Just imagine: Franklin Graham is now a Trump prophet. “Never in my lifetime have we had a President of the US willing to take such a strong outspoken stand for the Christian faith like Donald Trump,” tweeted Franklin Graham, the son of the evangelist Billy Graham. The Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress sees a divine hand at work: “God intervened in our election and put Donald Trump in the Oval Office.
For weeping out loud, for shedding tears by the bucket: that’s what the Conservative Evangelical Church now stands for. It embraces a man who is the human embodiment of the question “What would Jesus NOT do?” Trump is the very opposite of all what Jesus stands for and the very opposite of what the church at large should stand for but does not: the true Jesus is despised and rejected by church and nation. The majority of North American church people believe in Rapture, the falsehood that encourages the Rape of Creation, the destruction of God.
If that is not depressing, then what is? Yes, LAMENT is in order.
That’s why today denominations are doing more harm than good. Their emphasis is exclusively on personal salvation with heaven as the goal.
Here is what my Bible tells me, and it could not be more different.
(1)There is no such thing as ‘personal salvation’. The ‘me with God in heaven’ is pure paganism.
(2) The heaven heresy has poisoned every church and almost all church members.
Am I too harsh here? I know sincere believers who are ‘heaven believers’, so let me not judge them, but when they purposely molest the earth, and embrace TRUMP, the liar in chief, a true disciple of The Evil One, then I have no doubts.
Here’s what the Bible says.
When Jesus explains the Gospel to a leader in Israel, Nicodemus, as recorded in John 3, he makes two radical statements.
In verse 13 Jesus plainly and convincingly states, “Nobody has ever gone to heaven except he – Jesus – who came from there, and in verse 17, “God loved the cosmos so much that he bartered the life of his only son – Jesus – to buy it back from Satan.
History repeats itself: the church is falling into the same trap as before Jesus, but this time it is worse.
The Old Testament Jewish religion emphasized the Torah, with the church officials, the Scribes and Pharisees, adding their own requirements for salvation. When Jesus criticized this, they killed him.
Today it is worse: the pagan-based heaven belief has made the church a willing helper of the evil one – Satan – and that same church is now in the process of killing creation, effectively killing God.
The biblical Truth is that we must love with all our might, with every fibre in our body, our origin and ultimate destination. Our origin is, as Genesis 3: 19 tells us, “Soil we are and to soil we shall return”. God fashioned us from the earth and to this same earth we will return in eternity. (See my previous series on IMAGINING ETERNITY). The earth is our origin, the earth feeds us, the earth clothes us, and the earth is our final destination. God made the earth, that’s why it is holy.
The day of quibbling about church teachings and presenting sermons is over. All we need to know is that Jesus replaced all laws and all confessions and all doctrines with the Love Commandment: love even one’s enemies and love creation. That means hands-on action, especially in our times of rapid Climate Change.
However, today the message of the church at large is that Jesus died to save sinners and sinners only. With hymns, almost all of them, this message is reinforced every Sunday repeatedly.
That’s why I write that all denominations have become useless and all sermons a copout: a hindrance to salvation. It is still possible to influence a gathering of saints on the local level, but it is impossible on the denominational scene, as it would involve rewriting all hymn books, and scrap all confessions and all church doctrines.
Why such revolutionary words?
There was a time when churches had their place but that is no longer the case. It is now time to LAMENT and pray MARANATHA, Lord come quickly. Today only one pronouncement reigns supreme: “God so loved the world that he bartered his beloved son to buy the cosmos back from the great deceiver, the prince of lies.”
That love must be reflected in our life and life-style, invalidating all human prescriptions, a prerequisite for entering the New Creation. That simply means that, unless the local church initiates and implements such a life, reflecting “love for the Cosmos”, the use for churches is over: hence my painful title LAMENT FOR THE CHURCH, because it fails to do so.
This makes loving Creation the new piety, is the visible confession, is the most effective way to evangelize, is telling everybody that this is Our Father’s World.
Real conversion – metanoia = total reversal – will not happen. In my own church already dissent is happening and people are leaving, believing the unbiblical RAPTURE scenario. It pains me no end and causes me to identify with Jesus by becoming a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
This past week I also listened to the St Matthew Passion, in which Peter said three times, “Ich kenne des Menschen nicht”. And then the rooster crowed, revealing the bitter truth.
Our denying Jesus and his creation, has resulted in us not hearing the warning signs of the rooster’s crowing, so we now have the melting of the ARCTIC, the floods, the fires, the earthquakes, and in the USA unrestrained environmental destruction encouraged by the ‘CHRISTIANS’ who believe that pre-tribulation RAPTURE will happen, meeting Jesus up in the air before the shit hits the fan.
LAMENT FOR THE CHURCH: the terrible truth.
The terrible truth is that we too don’t want to know Jesus, as this means unconditionally loving his creation. Not wanting to know him is all-pervasive in the church, because Jesus came for the sole purpose to restore creation to its original state of perfection and rightful ownership. The church denies this or pays mere lip service, in effect canceling or, at best minimizing Jesus’ entire mission.
The Roman Catholic Church is no better.
Both Pope Francis and Pope Benedict made pronouncements on the LORD’S PRAYER.
Pope Francis said that God does not lead us into temptation as the Paternoster suggests so that line ought to be changed.
His predecessor, Pope Benedict, when he still was Cardinal Ratzinger, also once commented on The Lord’s Prayer.
Let me deal with him first. Pope Benedict was a New Testament Scholar. He once elaborated on an obscure Greek word: EPIOUSIOS, which only appears in the Lord’s Prayer, and has been –wrongly – translated as DAILY. Pope Ben recognized this, concluding that it literally means SUPERSUBSTANTIAL, that it exceeds something that has substance, something that has form or shape. I can understand that the church did not want us to pray, “Give us this day our ‘supersubstantial’ bread, so knowingly it stuck to the wrong translation.
Prof. (Oxford) Dr. Diarmaid MacCulloch in his classic book “CHRISTIANITY, The First Three Thousand Years”, also comments on this word. He writes, “If we can assign any meaning to EPIOUSIOS, it may point to the new time of the coming Kingdom.”
Of course he is right because the entire Lord’s Prayer is geared to the Coming Kingdom: it’s first and foremost request is, “Thy Kingdom Come.”
That kingdom points to the return of God’s original kingdom, The Garden of Eden, which we despoiled, a fact becoming more evident by the day. Jesus was born, lived and died, not to save sinners, that too, but primarily to restore that Kingdom. See John 3: 16 again. That’s why we must see the entire Lord’s Prayer, in the light of the Kingdom.
This means that the next line, “Thy will be done on earth” means that in everything we do, we must see the earth as God’s. So having an ATV or snowmobile for fun goes directly against God’s will. Taking a cruise on the Rhine today is purely a polluting enterprise and goes directly against God’s will.
That’s why the next line in the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our DAILY BREAD” totally distorts the meaning. It has nothing to do with us having sufficient food. It has everything to do with the Kingdom. It should read, “Give us the wherewithal to constantly pursue the aims of the Kingdom, the welfare of creation.”
That’s why “FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US must also be seen with the KINGDOM in mind. Reading it in that context we ask the Lord to FORGIVE US OUR SINS AGAINST CREATION, which we do this all the time, every minute and every day. Not only must we ask pardon for ourselves, but also for our neighbours, as we are a human community, all affected by world-wide pollution.
In that Kingdom context the next lines must also be read. Pope Francis objects to the line: LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION. Of course God does not do that. So the current Pope wants a change. That’s good. I like the man, but the change must affirm the Kingdom goal. The trouble is that the RC church sees the Church as the Kingdom, not the new earth to come.
It is in the KINGDOM context that we must read, “LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION”, to which Pope Francis objects. Today we constantly are exposed to temptation. Every newspaper ad, all of TV, every shopping center is there to lead us into temptation: all induced by the Evil One, who really is in charge of creation, as 1 John 5: 19 tells us.
One more little change: Ridderbos in his THE COMING OF THE KINGDOM prefers “deliver us from the Evil One”, which makes more sense because Jesus really believed that “the evil one” was in control then and now.
Oh, the church.
It simply boils down to the fact that the church has separated itself from the very earth from which humanity has been taken. It totally has lost its ‘earth affinity”.
Today we live in times where two matters stand out.
(1) Women assert themselves and attain parity
(2) The church is unaware that it is on the wrong path.
THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM.
The root of the problem is that Pope Francis and all churches and denominations are caught up in that NATURE/GRACE system. This heresy finds its origin in the Socrates/Plato discourses, and has resulted in honoring heaven at the expense of the earth. It sees the church/heaven as GRACE and the earth/human action as NATURE and the twain do not meet. That also means that the entire Lord’s Prayer is interpreted in that light. “Lead us not into temptation” and “deliver us from the evil one”, must also be seen as kingdom related, as everything else. The evil one – our great enemy, now in charge of creation – wants to destroy God’s creation, and the church, seeing it as nature, not touched by God, has become a willing ally.
I love the church. For close to 90 years I have been a member of the church. I pay my pecuniary dues, I love the minister and my closest friends are found there. But it has strayed away from Creation, has distorted the Kingdom idea, has denied Christ’s real sacrifice, and so my heart-felt cry has resulted in my LAMENT FOR THE CHURCH.
More about that next week in the New Year 2018.