Thursday, July 24, 2014

Prisoners of Our Own Assumptions

The various institutional Christian churches have been ensnared in a multitude of dogmatic traps, some for nearly 1,600 years. These are traps that have followed from unchecked assumptions that have defined church dogma. This problem has dramatically limited the efficacy and influence of the church throughout the ages and has occurred because we have simply ignored obvious lapses in logic associated with many ancient teachings of the church. The purpose of this piece is to initiate a dialogue regarding these issues in the hope of returning the church to the path that was clearly and specifically defined and demonstrated through the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher (1768-1834), a German theologian, philosopher, and biblical scholar, wrote about a subject he called hermeneutics (which is Greek for a theory of translation or interpretation) in which the interpreter’s understanding is critical to comprehending the text. This concept of the interpreter being part of the process of interpretation was advanced under Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) when he developed the idea of the hermeneutic circle. Under this concept, our understanding is limited by our prior prejudices. To break free of this system, we must embrace an old concept brought to us by Socrates when he said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates’ life was dedicated to challenging the assumptions of those who thought they knew the truth. If we are to learn the truth, we must follow Socrates’ path except, instead of challenging others, we must challenge our own beliefs. Many are so lost that they do not know they are lost, and I would posit that the church has fit into this category for many centuries. What makes this job of self-reflection so difficult is something cognitive scientists call “motivated reasoning.” What happens is that we unintentionally limit the power of logic, reason, and evidence to change our minds because we have allowed ourselves to be controlled by emotion and group loyalty. In this trap, we end up using logic and reason to confirm what we already think we know rather than using it to discover the truth. This means that when we encounter evidence that is contradictory to what we believe, we begin to seek rationalizations to confirm what we already believe instead of allowing this new evidence to change our minds. This trap is what keeps us stuck with lies rather than finding new truths.

What should be obvious to all, though, is that if the status quo were working, the world would not look the way it does. The same problems exist today that existed in Jesus’ time. Jesus came to help those who were controlled by the cultural dictates of their day by confronting the lies they had accepted as truth. Those in power were so afraid of confronting their wrong assumptions that they removed by Crucifixion the One who came to bring them salvation. If we are to complete Jesus’ work, we must follow His example by challenging the accepted norms of our day. As Christians, we are no different than the Sadducees and Pharisees in that we have been taught and embrace many assumptions that are wrong. Until we analyze and challenge these assumptions, we will not find God’s full truth in this world. The following are seven assumptions some Christians make that are wrong and thus affect how we engage with God and each other.

1.     The Bible is inerrant.
2.     Jesus said you must be a Christian if you are to be “saved.”
3.     You must go to church and tithe in order to find God.
4.     God is to be feared.
5.     Evil is powerful and to be feared.
6.     Certain sins are unpardonable and this is why hell is eternal.
7.     God condemns certain people and therefore expects us to help Him by judging others and their behavior.

There are more assumptions than these but in this article I want to concentrate on these seven.

The Bible is inerrant. This assumption may be the most damaging to our relationship with God because it affects how we interact with God as well as each other. Bart D. Ehrman, a professor at UNC, has written many fine books exploring various textual discrepancies and inconsistencies in the Biblical texts. His exhaustive and irrefutable scholarship proves that the Bible is not inerrant but this assumption remains. The simple fact that there are many dozens, and perhaps hundreds, of different widely accepted versions and translations of the Bible should lead one to ask which translation is the one dictated by God. It is interesting to note that the concept of Biblical inerrancy is of recent origin. An excellent book that categorizes the progression in Christian thought on how the Bible should be viewed is The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible by Jack B. Rogers and Donald K. Mckim. This book shows that most of the Christian patriarchs believed the Bible was “inspired by God” rather than a literal dictation. The Bible was created to collect texts that, when read, would allow the reader to experience the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. However, one consequence of God’s gift of freewill to all of His creation is that God will not impose His will on others. This means that when an author had no fear and was listening to Heaven, then God inspired what was written. But the reverse was true too. When the author was filled with fear and could not hear Heaven clearly, God did not inspire what was written. Rather, the author’s fear allowed the dark to come and trick the writer into thinking God was speaking when it was actually the dark. This simple rule explains the passage in the first book of Samuel where Saul said that God told him to kill the Amalekites down to the last woman and child. This was not God speaking and is just one example of why God sent His Son to this world.

God knew that the dark had manipulated those in this world to hold beliefs that incited fear and created separation from Him. To correct these wrong assumptions humanity had adopted, God sent His Son, Jesus. Jesus’ mission was to demonstrate to others (rather than just tell them) how one could live in this world totally imbued with God’s love. This is why some of what Jesus said is logically incompatible with parts of the Old Testament. This incompatibility is also why a Christian heresy called Marcionism (circa 144 CE) believed there were two gods – a lower lesser god who appeared to the Old Testament writers and then a higher God who appeared to Jesus in the New Testament. How can “go and smite unbelievers” (1 Samuel 15:3) or “an eye for an eye” (Leviticus 24:20) be reconciled with “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:45-48) or “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34) absent convoluted logic? Yet we Christians conveniently overlook these obviously incompatible statements in order to continue to embrace this tenant of inerrancy. The concept of inerrancy provides security to many because then no analysis is required but there are negative consequences from this decision. One such consequence is that the reader never tests for him- or herself the underlying truth of principles that have been taught for centuries or millennia. What has happened is that the dark was able to inflict lies on Old Testament writers many millennia ago and then we adopted these lies as being true just because they happen to appear in the Bible. This circular logic is no less fallacious than the logic used by a Texas governor in the 1920’s who reputedly said, “If the King's English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.” My purpose in using this quote is not to impugn those who have a sincere belief that the Bible is inerrant. It is to point out that we are the products of what we have been taught. I assume that this Texas governor grew up reading a red-letter edition of the Bible and was taught that those were the exact words that Jesus used even though the English language did not exist when Jesus walked this earth. Those who now believe the Bible is inerrant (or infallible) are basing their belief on what they have been taught as well. Part of the problem, though, is that these scholars are also defending a basic tenant of Evangelical Christianity. The concern is that if they acknowledge that the Bible is not inerrant (or infallible), then their whole belief system will crumble and the members who have been taught this “truth” will leave the church or denomination. This concern generates fear the dark uses to hurt everyone. My proposal is for us to release the fear and let God assume control. God can handle the toughest problems if we will just give Him the opportunity because God’s love can and does conquer all fear. The solution, though, involves change and most are deathly afraid of change. This is where faith comes in. We have to overcome our fear and generate the faith that God will protect us as we release those wrong assumptions that are hurting us.

Jesus was very clear that He had to go (return to Heaven) so that God would send to the world the Holy Spirit who would become the “comforter” to all. While our understanding of the Holy Spirit is vague, the Holy Spirit is clearly not envisioned as a creature of reason or logic. Jesus referred to the fruits of the Holy Spirit as love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. None of these traits is a rational or logical principle. Collectively, they are feelings brought to us by God through the presence of the Holy Spirit. These feelings are the gauge of truth God gifted to this world. This means that when we read the Bible and experience one or more of those feelings, we have found truths brought to us by God. When we read passages that invoke fear, hatred, or other negative emotions, the Holy Spirit will not come because they (the angels who make up the Holy Spirit) cannot come to confirm a lie. Love is incompatible with fear and in God there is no fear. Anyone regardless of his or her state of education can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit when he or she has faith, no fear, and selfless love. Those are the conditions necessary for Heaven to come and Heaven will always come when one puts him- or herself in this state of being of Heaven. This is because these feelings signify that the seeker has joined with Heaven at that moment. The gifts of the spirit are the same feelings felt by all who are in Heaven. This means that when one experiences one or more of these feelings, the seeker has bridged the gulf the dark seeks to create between this world and Heaven. When those feelings come, the seeker has created within him- or herself the state of being of Heaven. This is the challenge for all because Heaven is always here and at each instant can be embraced or rejected. That is the choice God has given us and He will not influence that choice by violating our freewill.

This is why the Bible cannot be inerrant. It was written by humans who experienced the normal human emotions we all experience in this world. At times we create the conditions necessary to feel God and at other times not. When one allows fear to be present, God cannot be felt or heard. My purpose here is not to attack the Bible, which is the most important book ever assembled, but rather to suggest that we need to examine and possibly reject certain passages that the Bible contains that are inconsistent with the lessons Jesus’ life demonstrated. We have to get past our fear that if any minute detail of the Bible is wrong, then this will lead to a collapse in our faith in the Bible itself. This concept is well stated by David Allan Hubbard in an article he wrote that was entitled The Current Tensions: Is There a Way Out? that was contained in a book entitled Biblical Authority edited by Jack Rogers. The following is a quote from that article addressing why inerrancy was embraced by so many in the evangelistic community:

Where it is proposed that the divine character of Scripture is established by the inerrancy of even the minutest detail and that this in turn must become an essential item of faith, any negative evidence from scholarly investigation – whether scientific, historical, archeological, or literary – has the possibility of placing faith itself in jeopardy… Faced with the conflict between a doctrine of “literal” inerrancy and the conclusions of respected biblical scholars that seemed to contradict it, they felt forced either to give up their system of belief or to give up their sense of intellectual integrity. Where literal inerrancy is made the chief defense of the truth of the gospel, a collapse in the belief in the definition of inerrancy may lead to a collapse of the trust in the gospel itself… Where inerrancy becomes a creedal issue – which it never did for the Reformers – the other items in that creed may be victims of doubt when inerrancy is called into question.

This is why defenders of inerrancy fought (and fight) so hard. For them, they had been tricked into believing that Biblical inerrancy and infallibility was a life or death issue for their denominations and for faith in God. But God did not bring this fear to them. Their spirited defenses, though, are good examples how the dark is adept at tricking us. Faith that God can handle this confusion is the only solution that works. This is why Jesus told His apostles to shake the dust off their sandals and move to the next town if the people in one town did not want to listen. Ultimately God had (and has) the problem handled because love never seeks to control another. Jesus could use this approach because His livelihood did not depend on His maintaining and growing a church that was paying Him a salary. There is a reason that God has given us rules to follow and, when we do not do so, there are always negative and unintended consequences.

Jesus said you must be Christian if you are to be “saved.” This assumption comes from the Great Commission, which Christians have interpreted to be a command from God to proselytize institutional Christianity to the world. What we Christians frequently overlook is that when Jesus said those words, He was a Jew living in a Jewish community. Let us examine those words more closely. Matthew 28:16-20 reads as follows:

All power in heaven and earth has been given to me, and where my father sent me, I too send you. Go therefore teach all the nations, and baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
 And teach them to observe everything I commanded you, and behold I am with you all the days, until the end of the universe, amen.

The first sentence confirms that Jesus was the Son of God and had been given power from God. When Jesus walked this earth, though, He did not try to establish a new religion. In fact, it was just the opposite. He said that he was the completion of the Law and not its destroyer. He came to reform the errors that had been embraced in the Jewish culture and its religion not to destroy or replace their core beliefs. The Great Commission is therefore a command for His disciples to “teach all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”  We know from the Bible that God is a God of love. This means by extension that love is the essence of both the Son and Holy Spirit. This then is a command to spread unconditional and selfless love to all by teaching them “to observe everything I commanded you.” Jesus’ life was lived to be an example for us to follow. The command is to teach others about Jesus’ life and His mission by spreading God’s love selflessly because it is in this manner that God’s love becomes known to all. Jesus’ teachings, however, must be taught by those striving to learn His lessons. There is no hypocrisy in love because hypocrisy is another form of fear. When Jesus suggestions are followed, Jesus’ prayers for this world will become answered. The last part of the last sentence quoted above confirms that Jesus will be with those who are striving to follow His suggested approach. When Jesus was in this world inside a body, He was always in Heaven because He refused to allow the lies the dark put in front of Him to stand. When we embrace His approach, the result will (and in fact must) be the same.

There is no control in love and this is precisely why God has given us the gift of freewill. Control is another form of fear just as is imposed uniformity of thought.  Love cannot be selfless if the one giving love is attempting to control the recipient. Most lessons well learned are those taught by example and this is what the Great Commission was about rather than proselytizing in the name of institutional Christianity. If Jesus did not try to convert others to a religion, then why should we? By definition, love in its pure form is selfless. Not only should we not proselytize to others, we should respect and honor their different beliefs. God is so great that no human mind can come close to understanding all that God is. This means each system created by humanity has a portion of God’s love that can be shared with others. Institutional Christianity does not have an exclusive conduit to God and Jesus never said it did. Logically, how could it when Christianity did not even exist when Jesus walked this earth?

Much controversy and misinterpretation have followed Jesus’ statement that “No one comes to my Father except through me.” When He made this statement He was speaking after the Transfiguration as the complete embodiment of God’s love in this world.  So He did not mean that you had to be a Christian to find God. He also did not mean that you had to specifically believe that He was the Son of God. Rather, He meant that the path to God is attained by living a life imbued with God’s love just as His life demonstrated. Jesus never asks us to do anything that is impossible or something that He did not do. We just have to believe that we can follow His example and begin.

You must go to church and tithe in order to find God. Here I have combined two principles because part of the problem with the institutional church is that, for it, they are inseparable. The church is living in the world and needs resources to survive. It therefore has combined giving with God’s instruction to us on how to find Him in this world. These irreconcilable differences are precisely why Jesus specifically instructed His apostles not to take money in service to God because God’s love cannot be bought or sold. How can any form of love be bought or sold?

The institutional church has become mired in this world and is suffering the consequences of this decision. A recent article ( categorized some of the problems that clergy are having. A minister devoted to helping other ministers asked the following question: “What lies are you tempted to believe in ministry?” The following are some of the answers he received from pastors that demonstrate that the gauges pastors use to judge their successes are from the world versus from God:

I have a small church, which makes me a bad and ineffective pastor.

My addiction has no effect on my congregation.

More speaking opportunities at ministry conferences means I’m a legitimate pastor.

The size of our buildings, budget, and attendance are the only viable way ministry success can be measured.

If I pastor better, God will love me more.

I can please everyone and be faithful to my calling.

If I preach better, my church will grow.

My physical health and wellbeing are not spiritual matters.

I don’t need help.

I don’t have time to rest.

God’s grace is big, but it’s not big enough to cover what I’ve done.

My personal identity is directly related to my ministry performance.

Perhaps the most telling statistic brought out in the article is the following one: Fifty percent of pastors say they are unable to meet the demands of their job and are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living. The ministry has become a vocation and this is precisely why Jesus warned his apostles not to take money for spreading God’s love. Paul was a tent maker and each apostle had a way to survive other than being paid to spread the Good News. Money taints the message because when money is involved in any exchange, fear is present. The one taking the money feels control from the one giving the money but the problems do not end there. The one giving the money believes he or she has done what needs to be done by supporting another in God’s work when each person is called by God to serve. This means all have been hurt through the exchange. The ministry was never meant to be a “profession.” It is a calling that should be embarked upon by everyone because all are worthy in God’s eyes. There is a reason Jesus never took money in His ministry.

Ultimately, the church is within us all and resides in our hearts. God is a feeling of love and we do not have to spend thousand of dollars to become educated in the nuances of theology to help others find God. That is one of the lies brought by the Enlightenment when reason became accepted as the path to all knowledge. The problem is that God specifically designed this world so that we can never comprehend His breadth. Science only “discovers” very small aspects of God’s genius. While God is everywhere in this world, we will never be able to understand His presence with reason. Faith is the way to find your Father and you will know He is there when you feel the fruits of the Spirit. When the institutional church understands this and reforms itself, it will thrive in the ways of God and not the ways of this world.

Until this world returns to what God intended it to be, though, the church must continue to survive in a hostile environment. As such, it will continue to need resources to survive. The challenge for each church is to use the least amount of resources necessary to sustain itself and channel everything else into helping others. If the church has ministers working for free, then those ministers will be free to speak the truth to those who control the church. Each pastor must decide whether to give up the church of man and join the church of God. The decision is whether to serve God and, through God, serve man[1] versus serving man in relation to God. A better way of stating this principle is, who is in charge - God or man? Institutional Christianity’s current state perfectly demonstrates what happens when man tries to be in charge.

God is to be feared. This concept comes courtesy of the dark through writings contained in the Old Testament. Here are some of the citations: Job 28:28; Ps. 19:9; 34:11; 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; 1:29; 2:5; 8:13; 9:10; 10:27; 14:26-27; 15:16, 33; 16:6; 19:23; 22:4; 23:17; and Isaiah 11:2-3; 33:6. I would counter all of these writings by asking where Jesus said His Father was to be feared. I am not suggesting that some of these writers never experienced fear in God’s presence, rather I am suggesting that God does not want us to fear Him. Why would our Father want to be feared? Fear is not based in love and is therefore incompatible with God. Does anyone believe God experiences fear or that Jesus did? Fear is used by the dark to divide and is therefore not compatible with the light.

If we are to move closer to God, we must learn to eliminate fear from both our prayer lives and our actual lives. The idea that God is to be feared is based, in part, from the sections of the Old Testament I have cited above. This concept goes unchallenged because of the principle of Biblical inerrancy. The dark has used this circular logic to keep us from breaking free from lies brought down through the centuries. This is precisely why we must challenge some of the principles that we find in the Bible. An excellent example of a writing that was inspired by God is the 23rd Psalm, which I have set forth below:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
 He guides me along the right paths 
for his name’s sake. Even though I walk 
through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
 your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
 You anoint my head with oil; 
my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
 and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

The Psalmist is very clear that, when you walk with God, you will have no fear regardless of your circumstance. This is the message Jesus brought to this world through the manner in which He lived His life. There is no fear in God and thus no fear in ourselves when we walk with God after breaking free from the strictures we have unwittingly embraced. Strictures that were brought to us to hurt us courtesy of the dark.

Evil is powerful and to be feared. Evil is an interesting concept. Atheists believe there is no God because of the evil they see in this world. Also, atheists frequently ascribe to God the actions of those who say they are working for Him. [2] The problem is that these people who believe they are serving God have been tricked by the dark just as we all are by evil in this world. Most of these negative actions are based in judgment, which is precisely why Jesus said that only God should judge.

On another front, many scholars are so afraid of evil that they want to make it a passive concept by defining it as the absence of good. But evil is very real and active.  So the conundrum with evil is to recognize that it does exist but then give it no power. Since evil thrives in fear, the way to render it impotent is to live solely with love. It sounds easy but it will be the biggest challenge of your life. God’s essence is love while evil’s essence is fear. This is why the two are incompatible. Jesus demonstrated through the way He lived His life that love can be embraced regardless of what evil puts in front of you. Evil can only thrive in the dark because it cannot be honest. Who knowingly wants to hurt him- or herself by constantly feeling hate, anger, resentment, greed, judgment, etc.? So how does evil control the actions of so many? By tricking us into following its urgings. Evil is very cunning and knows that it can never show itself or its ability to trick will be lost. One major trick is our culture’s embrace of alcohol.[3] You cannot feel Heaven’s presence when alcohol is in your system because it alters your brain chemistry. You have also made yourself very susceptible to evil’s provocations. The current concern regarding women being raped at college is an example of evil’s influence when alcohol is present. Interestingly, though, there are few suggestions that alcohol use be tempered. The result is that the different factions fight over how to deal with the problem instead of confronting its cause. Evil is very smart and always tries to manipulate us in ways that keep us from confronting the real problem.

We only have to read any newspaper to know that evil can and will hurt you if you give in to it. The challenge is to recognize that God is the only source of power and that this power will protect you from evil if you ask. Evil only has the ability to trick rather than force. This means you can control evil’s influence in your life. This also means that you can control your own level of fear. When you embrace God, you have reduced your level of fear because fear is the source of your separation from God. Evil is sneaky, though, and one of its best tricks is to get us to judge ourselves unworthy of God’s love. This self-judgment is just fear in another form and prevents us from feeling God’s love. Once you know that God’s love is unconditional, there is nothing to fear. At this point, fear will have a very difficult time separating you from your Father because you will know that fear has no power other than what you give it. This truth alone will allow you to conquer fear.

The church prayed for Lucifer’s healing for many centuries, but this practice has been discontinued.  Since prayer is the most powerful “weapon” available to us, my suggestion is that we get the church to return to this practice. God answers every prayer and these prayers will be answered through God continuing to send His Archangels to reach out to Lucifer.

Certain sins are unpardonable and this is why hell is eternal. Neither of these statements is true. I have combined them because, while some do not, the concept of unpardonable sin is the reason we arrive at the belief that hell is eternal. We have embraced the lie that certain sins require eternal atonement. Logically, if this were true, then what sins did Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross atone for? I assume the answer would be all those sins that are pardonable since Jesus did speak of the unpardonable sin. So let us analyze the passage contained at Matthew 12:31-32 where Jesus speaks of the unpardonable sin.

Because of this I [Jesus] am telling you, that all sins and blasphemies may be forgiven to mankind; however, blasphemies against the Spirit shall not be forgiven to mankind.
 And whoever says a word against the Son of Man, may be forgiven. However, whoever speaks against the Spirit, shall never be forgiven, neither in this realm, nor in the realm that is destined [to come.]

This translation is from Victor Alexander but it still does not completely capture what Jesus was saying. The sin of “blasphemies against the Spirit” is committed when one harms another in the name of God. Jesus’ sacrifice atoned for all sins except direct sins against God. The reason Jesus said it was unpardonable is because it was unpardonable by Him. However, nothing is unpardonable by God. This sin requires you to be in the direct presence of God and can only be forgiven by God. This is the sin that Lucifer commits daily and his warped sense of what God’s judgment is keeps him from reaching out to God. The dark has tricked our culture into thinking that God’s judgment can only be fearful. We may not like our mistakes presented to us, but, if God truly loves us, how can this not be beneficial. It is only through exposure to the truth that we can overcome what the dark has tricked us into doing or thinking we are.

On a final note, God did not invent hell Lucifer did. God can (and does) use hell to help those who are tricked into going there to learn to forgive themselves, but it was never a place of God’s creation. If God did not create it, then it is not perfect. Hell is just an illusion the dark created to continue to hurt us. There is nothing we can ever do (or think we are) that will keep us from God’s unconditional love. Otherwise, God’s love would be conditional. We can impose a separation on ourselves because we have freewill, but that separation never starts with God. This fear that we are not worthy is the key to Lucifer’s panoply of tricks working. His first trick is to get us to embrace self-judgment because this fear creates the separation Lucifer is seeking. While some of our actions or thoughts may not be of God, this never changes God’s unconditional love for us. God is our creator and generates more love for us than we can ever contemplate or fathom. 

God condemns certain people and therefore expects us to help Him by judging others and their behavior. This concept that God judges certain races, religions, and ethnicities comes from the Old Testament. If the Bible were inerrant, this would be a problem but the Bible is not inerrant. If all of the concepts contained in the Jewish Bible were both of God and working, there would not have been a need for Jesus to come. Jesus came to this world specifically to correct the lies that we had embraced that were hurting all here. This is why studying Jesus’ life is so important because He came to show us by example.

If God had condemned certain people, then why would Jesus say the following?

You heard it said,
 'Love your best friend and hate your enemy.'
 But, I am telling you,
 Like your enemy and bless those who curse you
 And do good to those who hate you
 and pray for those who exploit you and leave you bare; So that you become the sons of your heavenly Father, He who makes his sun shine on the good and the wicked,
 And brings down the rain on the righteous and the abominable. For if you like those who like you, what are you to be compensated for? Do not even the revenue collectors do this? And if you greet your brothers only, What good is that? Do not the revenue collectors do this also? Be therefore mature people, like your Father in heaven is Mature. (Matthew 5:43-48).

God created everyone here. Not everyone here always acts in conformity with God’s love but that does not change the nature of God’s love for each of them. Some commit certain actions that are far from God but those actions never separate these people from God’s love. This world was not designed for perfection and learning from our mistakes is part of the process of finding our way back home.

We came to this world to learn how to love and this involves learning to forgive other people and ourselves. The real enemy is the dark who influences the behavior of those hurting others as well as our own behavior. This is why Jesus frequently talked about compassion and forgiveness because both are part of the journey to learn more about love. The fact that we are immortal beings means that the time we spend here is just a moment when compared to our real existence. But, if, in this moment, we learn to forgive unspeakable infractions committed against our loved ones or ourselves while here, we will move closer to God. This is the real prize and the reason we have chosen to come into a world where we knew we would be attacked by forces opposed to God.

This world is very difficult for us as individuals as well as for us collectively when we create groups or institutions that strive to serve God. The reason is that those who strive to serve God are always under constant attack from the dark. It was no different for the writers and members of the councils and committees who wrote and assembled the various books of the Bible and it is no different now for those who strive to lead the institutionalized church. All have been attacked and influenced by the dark because of their attempt to spread the love of God. In order to “win,” the dark must attack the powerful and influential institutional churches as well as try to manipulate their dogma to any extent possible. Unfortunately, these attacks have engendered some troublesome doctrinal policies that have ultimately led the institutional churches (and their members) in unintended directions. Now is the time to explore how we got where we are and plan an exit strategy based on embracing God’s love and light.

This article has touched on just seven wrong assumptions that are hurting us. I know more are out there if we just look. My prayer is that we individually and collectively challenge any assumption that is not based in selfless love, faith, and no fear. The result will permit the church to extricate itself from its current state so it can then ready the world for the return of the One who two thousand years ago came to show us The Way. This is how we can help Jesus complete the work He started. When we embrace love in its myriad facets, we join with God. This unity allows Heaven to enter us thus permitting all to work as one in service to God.

Go with God for God is always with you.

[1] I apologize if I have offended anyone by using this patriarchal noun. Obviously, man refers to humanity, which is comprised of both men and women. From God’s perspective, neither man nor woman is above or below the other as both sexes are equal. Each just interacts in this world from a different perspective so that each can learn from the other. 
[2] There is a reason Jesus said: It is not whoever says to me, 'My Lord, my Lord,' 
who enters the Kingdom of Heaven,
 except whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven. Many will say to me on that day, My Lord, my Lord, did we not prophesy in your name
and in your name cast out demons and in your name perform great powers? And then I will declare to them that, I never knew you,
 go away from me, workers of abomination. (Matthew 7:21-23)Jesus was telling us that many would say they were working for God when they were not.
[3] I am not advocating laws that prohibit the use of alcohol. This has been tried and failed. I am saying that each person has to make this decision for him- or herself.