Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Problem with the Church of Christ leadership

I was warned as a child not to delve too deeply into the Bible. Much later, a CoC teacher summarized the attitude thusly: do not search after wisdom too diligently, lest you become blinded by too much light. Take as an example Solomon who pursued wisdom and ended up destitute in his age, like Icarus, he got too close to the sun. Yes, they are actually teaching not to read the Bible too much, or seek after the things of God too much. Strangely enough they have a very good point, keeping away from too much Bible IS good for everyone's protection. How could that possibly be good you ask? Not long ago a former Church of Christ minister and elder, a great scholar and gentile, dedicated man said with grave concerns: "I hope I have done enough for heaven. I hope God forgives my sins." This is what happens to people who are too serious about the Church of Christ.
I refute the notion that we should abstain from pursuing God with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength, entirely and passionately with everything ounce of energy I have. If I come off as hating the CoC or being too radical that's not too hard a price. There is no life apart from Christ, and there is no boundary to how much we should seek after Him. We must know Christ, we are called to know Christ. Only recently have I been able to see the way out of this problem.

If salvation depends on being baptized correctly and staying saved by good works then salvation is ultimatly a works based theology. And if you tell someone that they have to stay saved then of course people will ask 'how'? Well, the answer comes, avoid sin. How again? An elder board is appointed to answer that. What kind of sin? The minister preaches on that. There is no definitive answer to this because that's not how you are saved or stay saved, so the fighting starts. Elders spend meetings arguing on how harshly they should censure their members sin. Churches split, members become upset at being singled out and leave. From top to bottom the problem with the Churches of Christ boils down to the problem that man cannot keep his salvation and everyone knows it somewhere in their heart. As a result all the offices in the church are perverted. Not every person fits this perfectly, and it doesn't mean they are in any way bad people- it just means they are trapped people. Trapped by the necessity of their own vigil.

The problem with Elders
Who should watch over a church living by the rules? The men best able to keep the rules of course. Men who are really really good at not sinning are the chief cornerstones of leadership, they sin like any human, but their sins are small and less frequent than others. Their job is to purge the congregation of sins. This is an act of kindness and necessity from their point of view, if you have to keep your salvation continual rebuking is the safest course of action, so as not to condone sin. Fear sets in as being the purgers of sin. Fear of not being good enough for heaven, fear of being judged harsher as a teacher, fear of letting others slip away. They are the father in the family they set the tone for how the church will think and feel.

The problem with Ministers
In a group where self discipline, dedication, and abstinence from sin is king who better to show the world and the congregation the virtues than the man who dedicated his vocation to preaching. Who is his boss? A group of law keepers dedicated to purging the church who couldn't even be bothered to take up the holy vocation of ministry themselves. The main problem here? Isn't it obvious?

The problem with Members
They are conditioned the moment they set foot in the door not to follow after God, but to please Him by following the rules. Alas, too often they succeed at getting rid of the worst sins and a pride sets in.

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