I recently had my brother over to watch the hockey game and we got to talking religion, a very common thing around my house (ask my wife). I was telling him about what I was doing with a group I started and he let me know how his life was going. We got to talking church politics and religious structure and he made me realize something, the matrix of reality. I will explain how this all unravels.
The church has become a matrix, we have become 2 or 3 dimensions removed from the original incidents of Christ’s life. The church is interpreting Christ in light of those 2 or 3 dimensions after His life, ignoring the original because we cannot see it anymore. A good analogy is that of a tree removed 2 dimensions. You start off with a real tree, actually growing from the ground. Let’s say they all disappear (the trees) and they are replaced with plastic ones. People become used to that after a while (since generations will continue on). Plastic one’s become a hassle and they are replaced with computer imagery (looking more realistic). People are none the wiser since it is still a tree, it resembles the original form, but all in all it is a fake. This is the matrix and I truly believe we have entered this train of thought with Christian ideologies and interpretation of scripture.
The reason I say we have a Matrix because, unlike a tree, beliefs and ideas are easier to sculpture to our purposes (they cannot be seen). Ideas within the church have changed from bygon to bygon and one look at church history tells you of how incredulous some ideas and ideologies have been, an example crusades. The church, as a structure, promotes a structure and not really faith in God at times; they push ideas and thoughts passed down from a denomination and everything has to fall in line with that dogma. What we have is a matrix, we have a structure (an idol), teaching based on a denominations dogma, based on one man’s findings (ex: Luther), based on errors in church history, based on the monks and holy people before them, based on Roman Christianity, Based on disciples of the orginal disciples, based on the original followers of Christ, based on Christ’s life, based on the OT. Have we become removed from the true intentions of Christ’s life? Good question.
What we need are some examples from modernity.
(1) The Sinner’s Prayer: I have no clue where this came from but I do know the church has adopted this as a ‘sign’ that someone has been ‘saved’. They build fantastic theologies upon it that result in questions like ‘once saved always saved’ and ‘grace vs. works: works is not that important to salvation’. I applaude the charade, I really do. Is there a basis for any of this in Christ’s teachings? I have found no where in the teachings of Christ where one prayer defines your salvation. Is this to be called faith in Christ? Even when Christ’s teachings don’t even back it.
(2) Church Services: The services we have these days find no scriptural basis. We have a worship part (always at the beginning), then an offering and even some meeting people, then some testimonies or ‘prayer’ for problems out there, the preaching of the word, then an altar call (end prayers and music), then good-bye. Maybe it’s just me but isn’t this a European idea of church, loosely based in Catholicism? Firstly, Public offering (giving), prayer, and fasting are all shown as ‘non-signs’ of sincere faith. The altar call, as sincere as we make it seem, is you praying for my salvation/healing…oddly enough, faith can only be done by the individual…so that prayer right there should be prayed by the person in secret where only God can here. What do we really got? A damn fine show of godliness that forgoes scripture for the structure.
(3) Spirituality: Spirituality is slowly coming to be defined as actually singing songs to God, I think they call it ‘worship’. True people that are spiritual will love worship services and whole-heartidly participatory. I have seen this trend grow, a close look reveals less a faith in God and more to prove your love for God (to the higher-ups). Spirituality is not singing songs, that may be part of it, but it’s not even the cornerstone. Spirituality boils down to something so simple we do it all the time and is the true determinent in eternity. ‘Do unto others as you would have done unto you’. ‘Love God with all of you and love your neighbor as yourself’. ”In as much you did it for one of the least of these my brothers, you did it unto me’. Jesus makes a great case for spirituality being an everyday way we effect the lives around us, for the good or bad.
(4) Exclusivity, ‘this is our club you heathen’: Something slipped into the church a long time ago and has refused to release it’s paws of oppression, exclusivity. The church actually believes they are ‘going to heaven’ and the people outside the church are ‘going to hell’, why? They accepted Christ into their hearts and the others didn’t (usually exemplified by a simple prayer). The church then finds fit to exclude the people that are not with them, to not even really try help them. They self-justify from scripture but they are so off-kilter it’s borderline in-humane. The words of Jesus talk about defining who goes to heaven and who goes to hell, but I am damn sure that is not for us to assume. Jesus is harshest on a few people, the main group called Pharisee’s, and why? They make it harder for someone to get to heaven than for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle. Whereas Jesus is called a drunk and is found hanging out with prostitutes, drunks, and other shameful humans…he calls them friends. When did church miss reading this?
It’s funny because I mention a lot of interesting idea’s and some church folk will agree or disagree, all I am doing is pointing them back to Gospels. For those who do agree, do you do it only in ‘word’ thus fooling yourself, although appearing to be holy all the while. Let’s just say I pulled the curtain on the ‘Wizard’ himself, a tin man, a lion, and a man made of straw saw the same thing. So what do you think…the Matrix really there?