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Archive for the ‘Ekklesia’ Category

by Jim Gordon

Does it not seem strange that in the christian church world we are told we are to love others, yet when we come to a difference of opinion or a change in views in our beliefs, christians can be the first to throw a stone?

We hear about fairly well-known individuals within the church system say they have changed their views and no longer accept some of the teachings they grew up with in the church. They are not necessarily saying they are walking away from God but they are walking away from many things they have been told about God they no longer accept.

When this happens, usually other christians are the first to judge and condemn these individuals rather than try to accept them and find out exactly what is going on. Their first thought is they are leaving their complete belief and faith in God.

Many times, this is not what the person is saying anyway. Leaving religious teachings of the church is not leaving God. In fact, many times leaving some of these teachings behind is just the beginning of a deeper walk with God.

I grew up in the traditional church setting and I had many good times there. I met a lot of nice people and learned many things about God. The thing is the church as we know it was never what God intended. Church is not a place or an organization, it is the people who love God and love, support and encourage one another.

The church today seems more like a corporation with the CEO and board of directors. I know there are a lot of good people within the church system. They love God and want to live their life for him. Yet for my wife and I, we became disenchanted with the religious system and felt there was a better way for us to live for God, which was outside the walls of religion and the human-led system of church each week.

We felt that since the Spirit lives within us there is no need for a middle-man (pastor) to lead and teach us. If the Spirit of God actually lives within us, why do we so often depend on a human being to lead and teach us?

I certainly do not want to make anyone feel bad if they are still a part of the institutional church. They are like I used to be and feel that was the best way to show love for God and learn about God. I would not tell anyone they should leave the system, although for my wife and I we certainly do believe it was the best thing for us.

Whether you are in the church system, questioning the church system or have left it, the main focus should be to love God and love one another. Doing so fulfills all the law and the prophets (as Matthew 22:35-40 explains). Of course, we know that the law no longer needs to be fulfilled but at the time Jesus taught this he was living under the law. Now that grace has been applied, we no longer live by the law but by love.

Leaving the institutional church or changing and deconstructing your religious views and interpretations do not mean you are leaving God. Rather than jump on board with those who judge and condemn, take a little bit and find out more about what is going on. Then remember we are all at a different place on the path as we follow Jesus. Pray for one another, encourage and support one another but do not beat one another up as we each try to follow Jesus as we feel led.

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by Jim Gordon

Growing up in the church system I was always taught that the pastor was the authority on anything spiritual. After all, they had been ‘called’ and had gone to college to be taught everything about God and the bible.

I remember how impressed I was by pastors. If I had a question about the bible I could make an appointment and go in and talk with the pastor. I figured he would have all the answers.

As I got a little older, I became infatuated with some of the big named evangelist. I would listen to them, send them money and if at all possible, go to their crusades. I can remember thinking if I could only be like them. They were super-spiritual and knew all about God and had the answers to all spiritual questions.

I really thought that was the way to learn about God, by going to church, reading the bible and getting all the wisdom of the pastors and evangelists.

Fortunately, I got to a point where I realized the pastors and evangelists were no different than me. They did not have all the answers and they were not super-spiritual like I had always imagined. I came to understand that people are people. None are closer to God or more special to God than another. Yes, some are more knowledgeable due to more time reading and studying but no one is higher up or more important in God’s eyes.

Now days I really do not care much what men and women say, it is just their opinion. They are humans like the rest of us. We can certainly discuss things and get insight from one another, but God loves each of us the same. The Spirit within us can guide and teach us without the help of any human being. If we believe the Spirit lives within us, why are we more interested in what another human says? Why not learn how to hear the voice of the Spirit from within rather than the thoughts and traditions of men?

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by Jim Gordon

We hear the word fundamentalism often in the christian world. I actually grew up as a fundamentalist but never realized that was what I was because I never put much thought into all the different terms and labels. I just loved God and went to church because that was the way I thought we lived the christian life.

When I looked up the word fundamentalism in the dictionary I found the following definitions: 1. a conservative movement in theology among nineteenth and twentieth-century Christians. Fundamentalists believe that the statements in the Bible are literally true. 2. in Christianity the belief that every word of the Bible is divinely inspired and therefore true. 3. a religious movement characterized by a strict belief in the literal interpretation of religious texts, especially within American Protestantism and Islam; the beliefs held by those in this movement; strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles.

Now that I know what fundamentalist means, I no longer believe I would be considered one. My views, beliefs and interpretations have changed so much over the years, especially since leaving the organized church. For some reason I never felt comfortable asking questions while in the organization. I just took what the pastor said as gospel truth and never questioned anything. Being outside the walls of religion I can let all those questions come out and seek truth from the Spirit of God rather than from a pastor.

I believe fundamentalism leads more to separation, condemnation and being judgmental. It seems to me being so set on specific doctrines, beliefs and interpretations can prevent us from asking questions, learning, accepting and loving others.

Are my thoughts a popular way of looking at the christian life? Of course not! I grew up in the organized church from a very young age and spent nearly sixty years in it. I also used to think everything depended on my works such as attending church, tithing, doing good works, reading the bible and believing it was perfect, completely literal and the only way God spoke to us today. There are many people still doing all this and they sincerely love God and think this is the way we are to serve God. Yet being outside of this setting I have seen what is for me a better way. A way of depending on the Spirit within to teach and guide us. A way that loves and accepts others even when they do not see things the same.

Today the term fundamentalist christian seems to have more of a meaning of being hateful and not being accepting of others views. Completely different from what Jesus taught and what God is like.

Jesus was not a fundamentalist, he was not even a christian. Jesus was the personification of the Father who is a God of love. Even those writings from the old testament where men wrote from their beliefs, ideas, interpretations and what they thought about God were shown to be wrong when Jesus arrived. He showed us that God is not a god of vengeance, hatred and murder but a God who loves all of us.

We are to love God and love one another. Loving our neighbor does not mean just loving those who live next door, or loving those who believe like we believe. Our neighbor is everyone else in the world. Seems to me most fundamentalist reject those who see things differently and prefer to stay away from those who do not believe the same.

I would rather be known as a follower of Jesus rather than a fundamentalist christian. The way of the law and following rules and set doctrines of men have come to an end. The way of loving one another because of the grace of Christ is the new covenant way. I have actually become quite tired of using labels at all. We are all human beings who are loved by God. We should all be treated with love, respect, acceptance and have the same rights as everyone else. God did not create some people better than others, we are all created in the likeness of God and are loved by God.

There are so many topics and beliefs I grew up learning in the fundamentalist church that I no longer accept. I certainly have not lost my belief in or love for God, yet the many interpretations that were taught by men and women in the institution I now find wrong and not like Christ.

Rather than adhere to a set of rules and institutional-taught beliefs we are to submit to the guidance of the Holy Spirit who lives within us. Learn to hear the voice of the Spirit and let your life be a daily communication of the love of God to others.

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by Jim Gordon

Looking back over the postings of Done with Religion, we started with a few posts in May of 2010 and another in February 2011. Not until July of 2011 did we start regular and continual postings on this site. Since then we have had eight years of continual writing at Done with Religion. The time has sure flown by but it has been fun learning and meeting new people along the way.

Over the years I have seen a change in my views, beliefs and interpretations of what I believe the bible says and what God meant for the Church. Church being the body of Christ, not a building or an organization.

My views and beliefs changed a little over time while growing up in the organized church. Yet after my wife and I walked away from the organization I have seen even more changes since being outside the walls of religion.

I think it is easy to get set in our ways, to live within the box of organized religion and stop thinking for ourselves.

I believe that the Spirit of Christ lives within us and we will do much better to focus on hearing directly from the Spirit rather than the many different voices of men and women trying to tell us what God wants us to do. There is nothing wrong with getting ideas and opinions from others, but never put your full trust into people. We have the Spirit living within us and we should be constantly listening for that still, small voice to guide us in our life.

I believe we will be constantly changing and adjusting our beliefs in this world. Living for God is something that is alive and constantly changing as the Spirit reveals new truths to us as we are able to accept them.

Over these eight years we have seen changes in views and beliefs as well as changes in writers. Two new regular writers and one guest blogger have been added and they have made a very good addition to the views, insights and writing styles of Done with Religion. I look forward to the next eight years and I think it will be interesting to look back at that point and see what God has taught us and how he changed us as we seek to show his love, grace and freedom to others.

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by PK LANGLEY, Guest Blogger
https://www.patheos.com/blogs/frustratedgrace/2019/07/quit-church/

I Would Quit Again

I’m not going to church anymore, I quit. God told me I don’t have to go and I listened. If you think God told you to go, then I suggest you go. I’m pretty happy about the fact that God released me. My life has been a lot less complicated since I stopped going. What happened to me after I stopped going to church was part of my deconstruction. It has been a wild ride, but one that I would take again gladly if given the opportunity.

I Was Afraid

The first thing that happened to me when I quit church was fear. My heart was afraid that God would be mad at me. I was afraid of falling back into sin like those who stayed behind told me I would. There was a fear of losing community. My loneliness from not being in active church life cemented those fears. Part of me was terrified I had made a mistake. I had taken a bite out of the un-churched apple. I had left, and had sealed my fate.

Where The New Covenant Lead

I quit the church initially because my eyes were opened to the New Covenant. Picture a step like that of Indiana Jones in “The Last Crusade” move, when he took a “leap of faith” across a great chasm, to find his aim; the cup of Christ. He stood there overlooking a plunge to certain death and put his foot out, leg straight and true, fully intending to take a step when he could not see where his foot would land. When his foot was stopped by a bridge he had not seen, he sighed with relief at finding his footing.

In the same way, leaving the church felt like that fearful step into the unknown. My family of forty years would not go with me. In fact, they would all turn their back on me with the “left foot of fellowship”. I was alone, but the spirit of God would show me that I could depend on our union.

I Tried To Find A Church

At first, after I quit my “home church”, I looked for a church that believed as I did. It’s no different than someone who chooses Baptist over non-denominational. When your eyes are open to the fact that tithing is complete bullshit, you can’t sit and listen as someone fleeces the sheep. There were other doctrinal issues that had pushed me out to try to find someone, anyone, who was walking in truth.

The further I went out, the more pillars began to crumble in the institutional church building. While hoping to find a body of believers that knew the truth and were walking in it, there were understandings breaking through my heart every day. Every church I tried to connect with was a complete disappointment. I couldn’t eat what they were serving anymore, my appetite had totally changed for the better. I felt like I had unplugged from the matrix and there was no turning back.

Church Came To Me

God was with me, and even though I had quit going to church, church started coming to me. I was living in an apartment and the smoke detector went off, leading me to call maintenance. A man showed up with his son to take care of fixing the smoke detector and the son noticed my guitar. One thing led to another and the young man ended up weeping and crying as I witnessed the love of God to him. We had experienced marvelous encounters, and none of them were inside a building.

The Wind In My Sails

A week later after the smoke detector surprise, three gay men who did not live at our complex, came in late at night to use the swimming pool. We went down for an evening swim, and we started talking with them. The love of God poured out between us, and there were tears. Every time I looked for God outside of the confines of a church relationship, I was not let down.

When I would start missing the fellowship that I had become so accustomed to inside the building, there would be a beautiful spontaneous expression that would be like a wind catching my faith sails. Whenever I was weary, God moments breathed upon my soul and I kept going.

The Ties That Bound, Loosed

Every time I had another epiphany about God outside of the church, I would become stronger. At times, it felt like learning to walk all over again. I always felt God with me, in me and through me. No longer did I need a pastor to show me how to live, I was spirit led all by myself and thriving. I began to find others that had left the church and were doing fine. Some of them were like me, trying to find their footing after thirty years of service. My life lost its co-dependencies and I started really walking in a spirit led life. My life was evidence of a spirit led life outside of the church building.

Demanding God?

That’s what’s scary for people. When you go to church, it pacifies some guilt that is embedded systematically by religion. It’s those twisted scriptures that really don’t mean what they say they do that twist the proverbial guilt blade. The, “Don’t forsake the fellowship of the brethren” verse is a good one. Other verses are used by the modern church as tools to keep people coming. If you told people they didn’t have to go to church, would they stay home? Today, where we battle for every second of time we can get, who wouldn’t stay home if they realized God wasn’t demanding their attendance?

They Did “Church” Different

When we go back to the beginning, you know that place around the time when Jesus rounded up a bunch of misfits; there was no building. At that time, there were no pastor’s in pulpits or apostles claiming they were more important than the seated pastors. There were no congregations, no tithe demands backed up by promises that God blesses the cheerful giver. Believers came together, loving God and each other in simplicity. People were going “from house to house” in spontaneous fellowship. That was what Jesus asked them to do, wasn’t it? Today, we have complicated and mechanized that beautiful relationship that Jesus perpetuated while he walked the earth. Puppeteers tell parishioners that “their reasonable sacrifice” is to attend church, and they not only believe it, they promote it defiantly as well.

I Was A True Building Disciple(r)

I promoted the institutional church agenda for thirty years and I know how we convince ourselves that “it’s true”. We parrot the same verbiage that we have swallowed. When someone refuses to listen, it becomes pointless to try to convince them of anything other than their truth. My life in ministry demanded that I was hard-nosed and defiant to anything that “threatened MY truth”. Now that I am on the other side of having my ears washed out with the soap of reality beyond religion, I look at those I have left behind with sadness and a desire to ask them to listen. It is for my brother’s and sister’s still in captivity that I write about life outside of institutionalism. Those who want to quit but are afraid.

Ask Yourself Ask yourself if you have ever wanted to sleep in. Have you ever heard the alarm go off on a Sunday morning and wished you could stay in bed another hour? Was there a time when you felt God nudge you in a direction, one that you excitedly shared with “leadership”, to find that they wouldn’t support you? Have you ever allowed yourself to question whether we are doing church right? Have you wanted to change church the way it is currently done? Did you want to quit? Questions lead to answers, if we allow ourselves to explore them. Religion is afraid of those who will ask questions, and are brave enough to discover the answers. My answer was to leave the institution and it was the right answer, for me. Can you be brave and admit that you have questions like I did?

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by Jim Gordon

The institution of marriage is such a great comparison to life with God. I think a lot of the time we miss some good points about marriage that directly relates to life with God. To many times we do not associate marriage with Kingdom meanings.

Actually, marriage is a shadow of spiritual things. Ephesians 5:31 and 32 state for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. The church being mentioned here is not a building or an organization. The Church are the people who Jesus brings together. It is not a weekly meeting but a living organism made up of those of us saved by grace. And though the verse mentions man and wife, I believe marriage is the union of two people who commit to each other in love.

One of the things I have been thinking about recently is how we are one with God. It is hard to imagine that our God lives within us. Jesus said when he left the earth, he would send us another comforter. Through his Spirit, he came to make his home within us and he is constantly with us.

We always think of God sitting on a big throne, way off in heaven somewhere and that one of these days we will go to meet and live with God forever.

The thing is, that is not what the written word tells us. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, God’s physical dwelling place on earth. The Spirit dwells within us and will never leave us nor forsake us.

Now it is not saying we are God but we are one with God. The best way I have found to make sense of this is to think of marriage. When two individual people fall in love, make a commitment to love each other and live together the bible says the two shall become one.

Does that mean that the spouse becomes their partner, that they somehow become the same person? No, both people remain individuals yet they live as one. Same with us and God, we are still the person that was created yet because God loves us, God’s home is now within us and the Spirit of God lives within us. We are one with God.

In John 17:21 Jesus is talking with the Father and asks that they may all be one, even as You Father are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us so that the world may believe that You sent Me. Seems to me it is truly a marriage made in heaven.

We do not have to wait to a future time when we live with God in some far-away place. We are now living as one with God right now. We are the temple, the dwelling place of God and each of us are equally important parts of the body of Christ.

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by Jim Gordon

Does done with religion suggest that we are done with God? For those of you who have followed our postings for some time, you know better. Yet when people hear done with religion they often times think that means done with God.

So many people associate religion, Christianity, church and God all as the same thing. Christianity is a religion and going to church and participating in the religious activities are part of people trying to follow rules and commands to be a better person.

For us here at Done with Religion we see things differently. Religion and the things people normally think of when they hear the word is a man-made way of trying to know God and earn his love. They are still trying to obey rules and follow the old covenant commands that were part of the covenant that Jesus fulfilled.

We are done with religion. We are done mixing old and new covenant teachings. We are done trying to do things to be good enough to earn God’s love or to pay him back for what he has done for us. The new covenant or agreement that went into effect at the resurrection is one of grace. Jesus restored our fellowship directly with God and there is nothing we can do to earn it or pay him back.

We believe the Church is made up of the people, a community of believers who walk daily under the headship of Jesus. It is not a building people meet in once or twice a week. We believe the Holy Spirit of Christ lives within us and guides us. There is no longer a reason to look to religion as a means to get closer to God. We no longer need a middle man or pastor as a mediator. We no longer choose to sit in an organized meeting being quiet and listening to a chosen few talk. We are all priests, we all have something to say and something to do. We no longer do anything out of obligation but out of love for God and our fellow mankind.

We also know there are many within the traditional church system who are there because of their love for God. The church is all we have known and many still feel that is where they need to be. For them they need to stay within the system and worship God there, but still understand what church is and is not.

Yes those of us who have come to see the system as a flawed way to God, we are happy to be outside the walls of religion. To be clear, if you are within the church system, love God and are serving him out of love and grace that is good. If you have left the organized church and you look to the Spirit for guidance and teaching and you understand that you are the Church, do not feel guilty. Do not let anyone tell you that you are wrong, or fallen from grace or backslidden. You are an important and necessary part of the body of Christ (the Church) just as much as those who attend a church building.

Whether in an organized church or outside the walls of religion, it is important to realize the difference between the old and new covenant. Many church systems teach a mixture of these and this should not be. A good book to read that explains the difference is Clash of the Covenants by Michael Kapler. If you are within the church system check out the differences so you will know if your pastor is teaching correctly about who you are in Christ.

Yes, we are done with religion. We have made a choice to leave the church system and walk outside the walls of religion. No, we have not left God. We love him and depend on him daily. We realize we are now his Church. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We no longer depend on rules and commandments to guide us since we have the Spirit living within. It is now a life of loving God and loving our fellow human beings and living in unconditional love (not always agreement) with all people.

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