I do not believe in the American church. I realize this might surprise you but I am pretty sure Jesus would not believe in it either. It is not that I am mad or angry at the church (though many are justified in feeling that way)
My journey started shortly after my divorce and I saw the ugly under belly of the American church. It was more about image and status than power of the Holy Spirit moving through a people. As an evangelist, I became concerned because I saw evangelism in most cases was about “brand awareness,” not about expanding the fame of Jesus. Far too many were building kingdoms for their own purposes.
It forces me to take a long hard look at Jesus, the apostolic church in Acts, and early church history. I had to ask the questions, yes the hard ones. I wanted to know the Christology of the early church. How did they see Ecclesiology? This journey would cause me to question everything I was raised to believe about church as we know it.
One of the harsh realities is I found that our concept of “doing church” was more Catholic in nature than apostolic. The idea of having pastors was just adapted from the priesthood role in Catholicism. The liturgy I found in my Assembly of God might have looked different but from a bird’s eye point of view, it really was very much the same.
The Quest for truth
I had made a decision. I was going to find out about the Jesus of the Bible. I was going to go where the text leads, not where the Sunday School class told me. What I found is that Jesus was much stronger on some things like prayer that I was being told and He was not as strong on other things like prosperity. Our Christology is a product of the Reformation that was actually a product of the Catholic Church. This should make us very uncomfortable.
The foundation of our faith as evangelicals is not as solid as some would lead us to believe. The Jesus I was hearing preached in churches was more about joining the Assembly to make the organization better. The Christ in today’s church is far more organizational than biblical.
The call to surrender was central to everything Jesus preached. He did not seek to “heal the soul” (inner healing) but told people everywhere he went to repent. Repentance means to change your mind in order to change your life. He did not seek to make the soul whole; He wanted to destroy our fleshly ways. Paul said so in Galatians 2:20.
As I took a hard look at the early church writings, I found that they referred to the soul as the enemy. They seems to believe everyday, they needed to die a little more in the soul to be be more like Jesus. It was at this point that I realized the damage that psychology had done in the churches of America.
How Gnostic is your church?
Andrew Philip Smith had the following statement to make in light of the condition of the American (or British church in his case),
Gnostic cosmology and psychology are identical in purpose, or at least interlocking. Cosmology describes the universe from an external perspective, psychology from an internal perspective. Essentially there is no difference between the two.
This second century cult was the earliest introduction of psychology into the theology of the faithful. They were among the first to consider us to have a body, a soul and a spirit. Apostolic teachings saw you as one reality. They did not believe you could be whole in your spirit but not in your soul, for example.
The Gnostics believed that seek to bring the soul into line with the spirit. It was a mystical wedding or what some called “the rite of the bridal chamber.”
If we are to be honest about our teachings that we hear in churches week after week, we would have to admit that most of our ministry is concerning the soul realm. Very little of our messages are about the spiritual things of scripture.
It could be said that while we will fight against the flesh and soulish issues all our lives, we should not focus on them in our preaching but realize the soul will not be with us in the age to come; the Kingdom of God age.
The answer: the Apostolic Church
I went to probably the best bible college in North America and I can tell that the class on Acts was quickly covered. We went through the 28 chapters in class every other day and outside of the doctrine of initial physical evidence; the class was just another history class. Most people I went to bible school with can’t really hold a discussion about what is means to be apostolic.
When we realistic that about everything we think we know about church life is a scam, it is critical to understand the lifestyle and beliefs of the first century church. If we do not, many will find their faith to be a fraud. The key to overcoming the counterfeit is always experience the genuine. Those who don’t will become apostasy.
As the years go by, I see many coming to the reality of the fraud we have been told to be “biblical church.” People are waking up to the reality that we are to prepare people for the coming age, the Kingdom of God; not help leaders of a religious organizations build themselves a rich and famous lifestyle.
The quest for a biblical Christology and Ecclesiology has not come easy. Many people have cut me off for asking the harsh questions about our view of Jesus and the Church. They did not like that I saw the fruad we have been brainwashed to believe in…. as I was in bible college.
It is my hope that many will be awaken to the Apostolic church and take the time to study what was it like being apostolic. We are not yet apostolic people but we are becoming apostolic.