A “Heretic’s Apologetic”—Not an Apology!

Curiosity  got the better of a friend who said, “I like your blog. You seem to be well-grounded in Scripture (she must mean My Other Other Blog).  But…why do you call yourself a ‘heretic’?”

Off the cuff, “It’s a JOKE.”  Serious answer—it’s really NOT a joke.

I’ve spent my entire life living in the Bible Belt.  A lot of folks here will actually tell you, “You’re going to go to hell if you don’t go to church!” To their mind, it seems, you can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and be knowledgeable about Scripture, but if you don’t “belong to” or “go to” a “church-as-they-know-it”, you’re going to hell. In the Bible Belt, if you don’t “go to church”—in some cases that means every time the door opens—you risk being branded a “backslider”.  I commit “heresy” by challenging their traditional view of church-as-they-know-it.

Our family is on a journey outside the walls of the institutional church, off to discover ways to live out the  “one anothers” of the New Testament without structured worship services, church buildings, programs or a clergy/laity leadership hierarchy. We’ve been in search of authentic New Testament expressions of church for more than a decade, but we didn’t reach this phase of the trip until recently. We have many dearly loved friends who still choose to express their faith through community life in traditional ways.

We believe God will continue to bless and use the institutional church wherever people truly have a heart for Him.  But we also believe there’s a limit to the blessing He can and will bestow in any place where one or a few do all the ministering while the rest sit passively in the pews.  Standing up to sing (whether you raise your hands or not) or recite liturgy “when it’s time to” doesn’t count as active participation in a church meeting.  Someone else has planned when you’re going to do that, what you’re going to sing, and which Psalter or creed you’re going to use.

I’m all for “orderliness” when we come together, but I believe with all my heart that when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 14 he meant “each one” literally brings something of Christ to contribute in a meeting, and that the way Christians structure Sunday morning “worship services” conflicts with the desire of Christ that He Himself  build (edify) His church and reign over its gatherings. Make any claim you want that the Holy Spirit has “led” the pastor and ministry teams to design this week’s service, it’s not the same as Jesus actually leading a meeting through the Holy Spirit while it’s in progress.  In addition, volunteerism in institutional ministries and programs is not where spiritual gifts are primarily to be exercised.

Our journey is not easy. Few travel with us—for now. We had a long sojourn in the desert after we left the denomination in which we had been raised since birth. We tried going back to an organized church. Our experience there was, fortunately, entirely good!   But even while we fellowshipped with loving people we loved —and continue to love—a tug and a call from the Lord remained: “There’s something more. There’s Kingdom work for you elsewhere, and I’m inviting you to join Me.”

We have always met a variety of responses when we try to explain our true thoughts about “church” and this is especially the case now, as  we  adapt to a genuine paradigm shift in the Kingdom. The shift is a ripple at the moment, but it portends a tidal wave that is going to change “church as you know it”. Some people are totally puzzled by our journey and don’t know how to respond. Others will argue outright, insisting that you can’t have “a church” without at least having clergy present. Still others accuse folks like us of being “in a cult”.  To all these, I am—and unapologetically intend to remain—a heretic! But my heresy is not opposed to scripture. Rather, I become a “heretic” by opposing the traditions of man—layer upon layer of traditions that have come about over the past 1800 years. A growing number of people know exactly what I’m talking about—and that number is growing exponentially around the globe!

Am I going to hell for not going “to church”? I’m sure a lot of people out there think so. Others will say, “Good for you. I don’t go either. I get my preaching from TV, or I take a walk in the woods with God. That’s my church.” I think both of these responses are flawed. I know I’m not going to hell because of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I also know sitting alone in front of the TV or a walk in the woods can never be church, because there’s no way to experience the “one anothers” we are called to live out in Christ.  So, all I ask is that you keep an open mind when you visit me here at Rantings, or at Journal from Zarephath.  In Christ, I have room in my heart for you, no matter how you choose to “do church” and no matter what you call me.

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I’ve added a page to provide resources that will help you understand the paradigm shift I referenced in this article.  The tidal wave is coming and in order for the church in the West to survive, a change in our view of “church” is going to be unavoidably necessary. We’re going to have to stop thinking about “how to do church” and learn how to “be the church”. There are many prophetic voices in the world today, speaking a consistent message on the “thoughts of God” where the church is concerned. You can get acquainted with those voices by visiting Resources for Heretics  and Videos for Heretics .

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In the near future, this post will become the content of the “About” page for this blog site. If you bookmark this page, please remember your link may not work once the content is transferred.

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Comments

  1. This post is inspiring. I love how you’ve shown the good and the inadequacies of the institution along with your heart for a truly Christ-centered organic expression of His life. This is at the top of my faves list. Well done.

    • A brother with a heart for the Lord’s eternal purpose like you have puts this post at the top of his faves list? Bobby, if you knew the tears in my eyes right now. Thank you for the affirming words. His favor and His grace abound in your life and soon your desire for authentic body life will be fulfilled!

  2. Leah: I enjoyed your blog. Many of our so-called “christian” brothers and sister throw words like ‘Heretic’ and ‘Cult’ around like they would really be able to recognize the difference. That said, my mind always ask WHY? I need to know the truth. I don’t care what somebody knows until I know they really care. What concerns me the most is, we don’t take the time to get to know one another before assuming that we have nothing in common. Too many believers are related based on common wounds and gaping sores. Honestly, they are alienated like a leper colony from the common wealth of Israel, and they find solice in stroking one anothers wounds from a wilderness safehouse. My position at this point is, I am diametrically opposed to all religion. Religion is Anti-Christ. Anti-Christ is Anti-Anointing. Anti-Anointing is Against Holy Spirit. Anything that is Against Holy Spirit is heretical and blasphemous. Just saying. 🙂

    • I think you definitely hit it with the “get to know one another”…which is the heart of it. The Tree of LIfe is all about relationship, and we have a tendency to be content with the other fruit, “knowledge of good & evil” doesn’t = LIFE. In the same way, apart from relationship it doesn’t mattern what words we use, what meaning we attach to them or what our “spiritual conversation style” is. Paul nailed it in Philippians chapter 2, verses 1-5. (Especially the part about “in the Spirit”). Glad you enjoyed!

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