I have stated in more than one post about my frustration with Organized Religion. I don’t like the judgement so many Christians have for others, when they, themselves, are not sin free. I think it is just an example of the time we live in, everyone wants everyone else to believe and think just like they do. I am opinionated, I don’t deny it, but I try to be respectful of others as long as they are respectful of me and my thoughts. I have actually had a change of opinion because of a healthy conversation with another person on more than one occasion. What I don’t have tolerance for is when someone argues with me about my beliefs and they, themselves, not only have a difference of opinion but, in fact, have no concept of reality!
I am not completely against finding a new church home. When I am invited to a church, I will do some research and sometimes I will even go visit it. I received a note on social media from a man and he was inviting me to his church. This was new, I had never had a church invite from a complete stranger before, but I messaged him back, thanking him, and asked him some more questions about the church. He explained he was an associate pastor at the church and I discovered it was close to my house. I wouldn’t mind finding a good church close by, so I wanted to learn a little more. I have a few standard questions I always try to find answers to before I even decide to go to a church.
Here are a few of them:
- What is the doctrine of the church? This is the written body of teachings that is generally accepted by the church. I have to know what their doctrine, is it something I can support? Is there anything in it I don’t believe in? A church is like any other organization you are going to be part of, if you don’t support their teachings, you shouldn’t be part of their teachings.
- What is the church’ statement of faith? This is a statement of shared beliefs. This is, in my own words, the doctrine rolled up into a pretty statement to be understood easily. Again, if their statement of faith isn’t something you can support or get behind, it might not be the church for you.
- What is the Mission Statement? This is the Church’s purpose, reason for being. Who they are and what they do
- How does the church feel about women in leadership? What roles do they allow women to be in? This may not be important to everyone, but it is to me. I had a friend invite me to her church and when I went online to look into the church, I realized they didn’t allow any women in leadership roles. I asked her why and she said it was because it was Biblical based. I asked what verses in the Bible stated that and she couldn’t tell me. I have a problem with that. If your church takes such a stand like this and says it’s Biblical based but does not share HOW they came to that conclusion, how based is it?
- What is the ethnic makeup of the church? Again, it isn’t for everyone, but I want a multi-cultural Church. Sadly, in Kansas City, there isn’t a lot of multi-cultural churches.
- How many offerings does it collect during a normal service? I get annoyed at churches that take two and three different offerings. It’s a preference thing.
Once I have those answers, then I will proceed. I started asking the questions about this potential church. He asked if he could call me to discuss. Sadly, I was still thinking this was about the Church invite and nothing more, so I agreed. He seemed annoyed by my questions right off the bat. He asked why I needed to know the Mission Statement and Doctrine. He was telling me it was a good church and that should have been enough for me. I should have stopped the conversation right there, but I didn’t. I kept talking to him with the thought I could help him understand the importance of these questions for future conversations he has with others. I was trying to help him! I decided he probably just didn’t know the answer and didn’t want to admit it, so I moved on to ask about the ethnic makeup and activities of the church. He answered them with no problem. Then he started asking me a couple of questions. Did I believe in following the words of the Bible?, he asked me. I thought it was an interesting question but wasn’t sure where he was going, so I answered it honestly. I explained how I believed in the original writings of the Bible but felt it had been adjusted and changed to fit the needs of the man commissioning it, so you had to study before accepting the words as Gospel. I then pointed out study was important anyway because the Bible said:
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” – 2 Timothy 2:15 NASB
Accurately handling the word of truth is the key! You can’t take words that fit where you want them to and ignore other words. As I was breaking this down to him, he sorta blew my comment off and asked if I believed women should be submissive to men. What the h*ll??? Where did that come from? Ahhhh, he wasn’t about inviting me to Church, he was trying to get a date. It was all coming clear to me. Again, I should have just hung up, but now I was prepared to just have some fun. A small part of me was disappointed though because now I knew I wouldn’t be checking out this church. It also was a chance to argue about “wives submit” as it is understood in the Bible. I started to explain to him that in the Greek writing, submission has different meanings depending on the context in which it is written because the language is a pictorial language, very different from English. You have to understand it based on the surrounding text. I tried to explain submission, hupotasso and hupakoe, can mean “listen attentively to”, it can mean “to lift one up”, but it has a military base, meaning that, even if there is a hierarchy of power, we still need to think things through and not just comply because someone said so. Yes, I know I broke this down vaguely and perhaps, one day I will put it in more understanding words for everyone, but for the purpose of this blog, I’ll leave it at that, because the sad part is what was to follow.
He told me he didn’t care what the Greek bible said, he followed the King James Bible. I was confused. I paused, then tried to point out it wasn’t the “Greek” Bible, but the actual writings in the Bible. The King James Bible was commissioned by King James back in 1604. He replied, “I speak English and I follow the English Bible, The King James Bible!”
I was lost. Was he serious? Maybe I was just doing a poor job of communicating, so I decided to take a different route. I tried explaining the Bible was originally written in a different language and then translated to English. I explained King James is just like the other translations, just written in Old English. I know different churches follow different editions of the Bible. Almost every predominantly black Church I have ever been in tends to follow the King James Version, so I understood why he was loyal to the King James Bible, but I didn’t understand why he was arguing with me about the writing of the original Bible.
I was just about done with the conversation, realizing we were just going back and forth, when reality dawns on me…..I paused for a minute. I asked him the following question:
Hey, you know the twelve apostles? Matthew, John, Simon, etc….when they were walking around, talking to Jesus, what language do you think they spoke to each other?
His reply was one of the best I have ever heard in my life……
English of course
I lost it. I couldn’t help it. I think I laughed the loudest I have ever laughed at the time. Then sadness hit me. Here is an associate pastor of a good size local church who honestly believed the Bible was written in English. He believed the apostles spoke English. With such a myopic view of the world, how biblical based could any teachings of his be? This is a true example of one of the things wrong with organized religion today. We have uneducated, uninformed, leaders who have just blindly followed the teachings of those before them and teaching those behind him to blindly follow as well.
So now, in addition to the above questions…..when someone asks me to visit their church, one of my first questions I ask, “What language did the apostles speak when they spoke with Jesus?”