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Sighing & Crying… or Fleeing! | Part B

The King James Version (KJV) is mostly used in these lessons. Click here to access the KJV online.
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Twisting the Word of Yah

In university, one of the most intriguing classes required for my degree was Argumentation & Debate. One of the tools of convincing argument, the professor told us, was to state your opponent’s argument for him. If, in your own presentation, you clearly admit the arguments against your line of reasoning, you will be in a better position to demonstrate why those arguments are wrong. Simply denying the claims made against your position is not very convincing. It is much more persuasive to put into words the opposing view and then logically demonstrate why that opposing view is wrong.

This is precisely what the ministers have done in quoting from Ezekiel 8 and 9. They acknowledge that there are wrongs done in the church. There is abuse of authority; misappropriation of church funds; theology professors who teach error; pastors that use neuro-linguistic programming; and church leaders that clearly promote an agenda of reconciliation with Rome … but, they insist, the church will go through. Stay with the church.

An example of this is an article written by Carey Nieuwhof in which he states:

You hear it all the time.

I’m done with church.

I don’t really need to go to church…my relationship with God is personal.

I’ve had it with organized religion.

The church is a man-made invention, not God’s idea.

I completely understand why a growing number of people are bailing on church. Even people who used to lead in the church often stop attending…

… I get it. The church is far from perfect. Life is complex. There are growing options. And the post-modern mind distrusts most things organized or institutional. But as trendy as the idea of writing off the church may be, it’s a mistake.

While writing off the church passes as sophisticated thinking, it’s actually the opposite; what if it’s a simplistic and even reductionistic line of thinking that leads nowhere constructive?1

From there, Nieuwhof goes on to weave an intricate verbal web designed to make Christians believe it is their Christian duty to remain with the church. He claims, for example, “If you’re a Christian, church is not something you go to. It’s something you are. You can’t disassociate from church as a Christian anymore than you can disassociate from humanity as a person. You don’t go to church. You are the church.”2 The problem with such reasoning is that it entwines truth with error. It is true, “You are the church,” because “church” is the ekklesia, or the “called-out ones.” However, it is not true that any denomination is or can be the ekklesia. And yet that is what Nieuwhof is asserting.

He concludes with the entirely illogical assertion: “If you want to get rid of the church, you also need to get rid of Jesus. You can’t have one without the other.” This argument attempts to assert that the called-out ones/ekklesia are the same thing as a denomination.

This is wrong. Arguments such as this are designed to guilt people into staying in a religious organization that the Holy Spirit is telling them to leave. Members are taught that, when they see problems in the church, when they see out right error being preached from the pulpits, they are to “sigh and cry” for the abominations in the church but they are not, under any circumstances, to leave. After all, leaders assert, the church of which they are members is the remnant Church. If they leave, then they are no longer part of the remnant.

Sermons are preached, conferences held, books and articles are written on how to keep established members from leaving and, at the same time, increase church membership. The reasons given sound very good. In his forward to the book, Church Transfusion: Changing Your Church Organically—from the Inside Out, Dave Ferguson describes a three-step “Process that is helping churches make the shift toward becoming a missional movement.” He writes:

During the last twenty-four months I’ve discovered there are at least three critical moves these churches must make to make that shift:

Move toward practices that apprentice people in the ways of Jesus.

Move toward clearly understanding and articulating the mission of Jesus.

Move toward a vision of a movement to accomplish the Jesus mission.3

Fancy verbiage aside, the focus is on controlling and influencing the group, rather than the one-on-one spiritual connection of the individual to the Saviour. Salvation has always been an individual matter. As Ezekiel recorded: “Though these three men Noah, Daniel, and Job were among them, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith Yahuwah Elohim.” (Ezekiel 14:14, 1599 Geneva Bible)

Church leaders, however, focus on the numbers. Naturally! They wish to fulfill the gospel commission. But the need to maintain their economic support system influences their interpretation of this passage of Ezekiel. They seek to get disenchanted members to remain, telling them that Yahuwah expects them to make changes from the inside out.

When Ezekiel 8 and 9 are read in context, however, that is not what the Bible is saying.

Dave Ferguson, in the foreword to Church Transfusion, by Neil Cole & Phil Helfer.

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