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by Jim Gordon

We hear the word fundamentalism a lot 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.

Fundamentalism

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 am letting all those questions come out and seeking 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 and 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 His likeness and are loved by Him.

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 that lives within us. Learn to hear his voice and let your life be a daily communication of his love to others.

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by Jim Gordon

I have read many articles about church abuse. It seems many Christians have been through bad times in the organized church and they have become angry and frustrated with the system. Certainly understandable.

For me, I cannot say I went through anything I would call abuse in the system. I grew up in church and was very active over the years. I truly felt I was doing what was pleasing to God and I earnestly was trying to learn and do what He would want me to do.

When I hear all the abuse stories and all the troubling times in organized religion, I do not always understand. I know there are many people in the modern, organized church that truly love God and are trying to please him. I also realize there are many people who were unduly abused in various ways during their church life, and that is very sad.

For me, after several years of being unsatisfied with the system and feeling there certainly had to be more to it than what I had been part of, I stopped attending a traditional church. Obviously, this has to be something you feel is right for you. I do not think it is a good thing to tell people they should do the same. This is a choice that each believer has to make for themselves. I came to this conclusion after many years of seeing things, questioning things, reading things and just being completely frustrated with the system of organized religion.

I have no regrets in leaving, although I have no regrets for being a part of it for so many years either. I did learn a lot and made a lot of good friends. Of course, because of the years involved there are many beliefs and ideas I need to detox from now.

For now, feeling the system is wrong, my wife and I have decided to walk with God outside the walls of the organized church. Not that anyone is intentionally trying to do what is wrong but the whole modern-day organized church is off base. Granted, the system is the only thing we know. It has been this way for years and we grew up with it and thought it was the way it should be.

We have it engrained in us that to assemble ourselves together is to go to church on Sunday morning and sit through a scheduled program. Nowhere does scripture tell us that assembling together has to be done in a particular way, at a special time or in a set place.

churchnotabuilding

We are told that the pastor is the spiritual head and the one we learn from and come under authority and guidance. Of course, God tells us that Jesus is the head of the church, which is his body and the Holy Spirit is our teacher and we need no one to teach us other than him.

We are taught that we are saved by grace, but we need to live by the law to be pleasing to God. Reading through Paul’s teachings it is easy to see that we live by grace. Now trying to live under the law is a curse (Galatians 3:10-13). Jesus fulfilled the Old Covenant Law for us because we could not do it. Jesus did the work, Jesus died and ended the Old Covenant. Upon his resurrection the New Covenant began and we now live by grace. The New Covenant tells us to love God with all our heart and love others.

The Law was a tutor to show us that we were completely incapable of keeping the law and living a perfect life. Only Jesus was able to live a perfect life. For us Christians, a tutor is no longer needed because we have come to Christ and depend on his work and grace.

We are taught that the Bible is the true, living, inerrant word of God. John 1:1 tells us that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. To me that says that Jesus is the living Word. The Bible is the inspired words of God, but we are not to look to the Bible as the all-powerful, inerrant source of what God has to say. We should look to Jesus who is our all in all, our very life.

We are taught to tithe although that is not taught under the New Covenant. Giving as we see a need and as we feel lead is now done out of love, not tithing to the church as a requirement. I personally feel the church today is more of a big business than it is a religious organization. Tithing is pushed because the organization needs to have the bills and the salaries paid.

We are told we are poor sinners saved by grace and that we are weak, unrighteous worms who are unworthy of God’s love. Yet the bible says we were originally created in the likeness of God. We cannot live a perfect life in our humanness but because of Christ and the work he has done, we have been restored to fellowship with our Father. We are now the house of God and we are holy and righteous in his sight because of Christ.

People want to put themselves under the authority of a pastor or the elders of the church, but God says we are all kings and priests and Jesus is the head. We all have something to say when we come together to build one another up. There are no levels of authority among believers. We are all equal parts of his body and have equally important functions to fulfill in encouraging and building one another up.

I think an important fact for us to remember today is that no matter if you are ‘in church’ or outside the walls, we should be looking to each other in love and not fight and argue amongst ourselves. Whether you are going to church, you are going for the Lord, or if you do not go to church, you are doing so for the Lord. Accept each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, pray for one another, encourage one another and stop looking down on people who see things differently than you.

Even those outside of Christianity need our love not our condemnation. Jesus loved those who the religious leaders of his day did not want to have any association. We want our Christian church, Christian schools, Christian dating sites, Christian this, Christian that, whatever we can do to be separate and apart from the non-Christians. Yet we were told to go into all the world and show the love of God to all those that are around us.

YouaretheChurch490

I truly feel that being a person in Christ is a daily lifestyle. Being the church is a 24/7 way of life not a Sunday only thing. God said that He is building His church and that He no longer lives in buildings made with hands. We are the church, we are God’s house, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, we are the body of Christ. We function together as equally needed parts of the body under the headship of Jesus.

We need to adjust our way of thinking and realize that church and Christianity are not a religion. It is a lifestyle we live day by day. Jesus is our life, it should be no longer us trying and doing, but resting in what Christ has done for us. We are in Christ and it is him living in us day by day that makes the difference. We may be the only Jesus a lot of people will ever know.

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by Jim Gordon

Many people seem to look toward those who take authority in the Christian world. So often we look up to those who are in leadership positions. We put our faith and trust in the pastor of our local church, or the evangelist who comes and speaks during revival services.

We tend to think that those who are in authority and leadership positions are more knowledgeable about spiritual matters, and able to lead others to God better than the normal average christian.

The truth is we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and we are all capable to be leaders in the sense we can encourage and help build up those with whom we have contact along the way. Each of us are kings and priests in God’s kingdom and no one is more important or on a higher plain than anyone else.

Christian leadership is no more than brothers and sisters in Christ who have lived and experienced more in spiritual matters lending a helping hand to those who are still maturing in their walk with God. There is no position of authority in this type of leadership. It is done out of love and compassion for one another and the desire to be used by God to encourage others in their walk with Him.

What I see so often in allowing people to take authority over one another is that it places an intermediary between God and man. Fortunately, not all people in leadership positions think this way and they are serving out of true love for God and for helping their fellow believer. Yet so often we hear of people in authority that demand our allegiance. They insist we listen to them and follow what they teach or else. This is a great misuse of authority in the christian world today.

ServantLeadership

I do not believe there are offices of authority and leadership in the sense we hear about it today. Those who have been given positions of leadership in the body of Christ are not in a higher standing than anyone else. They are to lead by example out of love for those who are still learning like everyone else. They are to be encouragers by example, helping build up their fellow believers into maturity.

Ephesians 4:11,12 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers to equip his people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up.

The true meaning of leadership by God’s standards is servanthood. Thinking more of others than you do yourself. So often it seems like just the opposite with men and women thinking they are the ones with authority and knowledge.

Matthew 20:25,26 but Jesus called them to Himself and said, you know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.

What I believe is the final authority among Christians is the Holy Spirit who lives within us. The bible can be used by the Spirit as a guide and help, but the bible is only a tool the Spirit uses. Apart from the Spirit there is no final authority in any person or book.

Although we can learn from the bible and we can learn from one another and their experiences, it is the Spirit of Jesus from within us who is the final authority and the head of the body known as the Church. The Church is not a building, not a denomination or an organization, it is each of us who are equally functioning and necessary parts of the body of Christ.

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This post is part of the June Synchroblog in which numerous bloggers around the world write about the same topic on the same day. Links to the other contributors are below. If you enjoyed this article, you will also enjoy reading what they have to say about the topic of Authority.

Authority for Believers – Soulcare Ministries

Who Gets To Say What Is Right Or Wrong? – What God May Really Be Like

A Surprising Source of Spiritual Authority – Glenn Hager

Is it the Bible or Jesus that is authoritative for Christians? ANSWER: Yes – Jeremy Myers

Surrendering Our Authority To Jesus – K. W. Lesley

Under Who’s Authority – Layman Seeker

authority? – Metler

The Age of the Spirit – Liz Dyer

 

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by Jim Gordon

Sunday after Sunday for many years my wife and I have ‘gone to church’. We sat in a pre-planned service, being entertained, listening to one person tell us what God was saying and looking at the back of the head of the person sitting quietly in front of us.

Each week we sat there, not having the opportunity to say what was on our minds, no chance to talk and get to know our brothers and sisters sitting all around us. We were told this was good fellowship, meaningful worship, and that we would be learning more about God each week. More like learning more about that particular doctrine and belief about God from the perspective of the pastor.

Truthfully, we were getting so tired of this religious social club environment. We were not getting anything out of this experience and we certainly were not putting anything into it…..other than our money when the offering basket went past. We have become tired of the religious enterprise with its pre-planned services, the CEO and board of directors, along with the gimmicks and programs designed to ‘bring the people in’ especially when we were told to go out into the world.

church-people-or-building

We are finding that true community is believers living their daily lives with one another by caring, loving, assisting, encouraging and building one another up. This is what is known as the Church. It is fellow believers living daily for Christ, not a once a week trip to a building and sitting there for an hour.

We are followers of Christ going about our normal daily business living with Christ as our head rather than a pastor. We live as one with Christ, letting his life and love touch others each and every day. We assemble with our brothers and sisters in Christ any day, anywhere. Sunday is not the Lord’s day but every day is the day the Lord has made. God’s house is not a building where we gather with people of similar beliefs. God’s house is us, His people, those of us who have accepted His grace. We are called to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves, not just those who believe like we do.

It has been good for us to stop being part of the Sunday morning crowd at the building of our choosing. It has us looking to God more, listening for His voice and allowing the Spirit to teach us rather than one man. It has us loving and accepting people as they are, not just those who believe like us. The Church is meant to be a community, living, loving and caring for one another each and every day.

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by Jim Gordon

As I was reading over a few articles recently, I came across one that was about the eight most controversial topics in the church today.

I read through the article and had to agree, these are eight things that can be very controversial. And as we all know we can basically take verses from the bible and show why we believe the way we do in regard to each topic.

I am not going to go into my views on these topics, but just for information here are the topics the article listed as most controversial: gay marriage; abortion; women in leadership; type of worship music; spiritual gifts; baptism; politics from the pulpit; and alcohol.

Obviously, there are many more topics in the church today that can be very controversial. We as Christians are never going to agree on any of the listed topics yet we are entitled to our views and interpretations.

The problem comes in when we decide to stand and defend our view by judging others, condemning others and fighting amongst ourselves to prove our point.

John1721

What bothers me is the way we divide up the body of Christ based on our personal views on various issues. I personally do not believe that the body of Christ was meant to be divided. Jesus prayed in John 17:21 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.

Yet today we seem to be divided against one another according to denomination, doctrine and various other topics in our world. We divide over LGBT issues, race, gender identity, equality for women, inerrancy of the bible, politics, universal salvation or eternal hell. Come up with a topic and we will find a way to disagree over it.

The bible mentions in Galatians 3:28 that there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. This is the way it should be today. We are all one in Christ Jesus no matter what our personal beliefs and interpretations.

Jesus said, by this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. He was talking about a godly love for fellow believers. Jesus also said love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you and love your neighbor as yourself. Sounds to me like he is saying to love all people.

We are not going to agree on everything. We are not going to be in complete harmony on all issues, yet we can love, respect and treat each other with a godly love that comes from the Spirit that lives within us. Rather than judging and condemning others who see things differently, accept them with their differences and let of love of God flow out to touch those around you.

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by Jim Gordon

As I look over various postings on social media, it does not take long to realize there are a wide variety of opinions in the christian world. Various biblical interpretations and views on christian doctrine, gun control and a wide variety of issues of our day.

The sad thing is that so often I see the opinions expressed get turned into arguments, name calling and sometimes what seems to be down-right hatred toward one another.

ArguingoverDoctrine

It is sad that we who are christians and supposed to be known for our love for one another get so caught up on arguing over doctrine and interpretation. Why is it we cannot accept that we all have a different view and opinion. We all have a different way of seeing things and interpreting the bible.

As I was in a waiting room the other day, a lady walked in and I heard her tell the receptionist that she was recently widowed. That got me to thinking how a major change in our lives can change our priorities.

When a person hears that they have a serious health condition, or they lose a loved one all the differences of opinion, biblical interpretation and doctrine seem to become less important. The arguing over our views and opinions all of a sudden lose their meaning.

It is times like this that many people come together and encourage and support those who are going through a rough time. It is great that this happens and it is the way it should be.

Yet it is disappointing that it takes a bad situation to bring people together. Why is it we cannot express our views and opinions and accept there are going to be differences of opinion? Why is it we cannot accept one another in our differences and treat one another with respect?

LoveOneAnother

There is certainly nothing wrong with having an opinion. Having different interpretations of the bible and various views on doctrine is normal and good. We can learn from one another when we reasonably discuss these differences. But when we get offended, when we get mad and feel we have to prove our point, that is where the problems begin.

We need to get to a place in our lives that we can discuss our views, listen to the views of others and accept one another in our differences. People need to see that christian people are a family who can love and accept one another whether we completely agree or not.

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by Jim Gordon

It can be hard accepting the fact that God lives within us. For years we were taught God is in heaven and if we follow the commandments and do good things, one day we will go to heaven and live with him face to face. We have an image of God sitting on a throne in heaven and we are far, far away down on earth.

god is here

Pastors will tell us that God will show up now and then at a special meeting, or when a special service is planned and the Spirit will fall upon us. Yet we know that God is with us all the time and the Spirit fell on the human race two thousand years ago.

The more I read, I am finding that we really have the whole thing backwards.

The Old Covenant has been fulfilled in Christ and we are living under a New Covenant. We no longer have to try to be good enough. The law was a tutor that led us to Christ, but now that Christ has come and restored fellowship between God and people we no longer need a tutor. We are free from the law and we are children of God through the gift of his grace.

Jesus came to live among us and show us the love of God. When Jesus left, he said he would send us the Spirit. God has now come to live within us. Jesus said the kingdom of God is within you. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we have the mind of Christ. Jesus prayed in John 17 that we would be one with God, just as he and the Father are one.

Sounds to me that we are missing the main point. We do not have to wait to die and go to heaven to enjoy kingdom living. We do not have to wait to be united with the Father. We no longer need to look to a human guide, teacher or preacher. We have the living, powerful, perfect Word of God living inside us who is the Spirit of Jesus.

There is nothing wrong with listening to others, getting their thoughts and ideas and being encouraged by other believers, but we do not need to rely on other humans. We have the Spirit within us, teaching us and guiding us in the way he has for us.

We do not have to look up in the sky and speak words to some far-away place and wonder if God is listening. We can turn our thoughts inward and realize the Spirit is right there within us, listening, loving us and ready to teach us as we begin to hear his voice from within.

We are all at different stages along the path we walk with him, and we need to remember none of us have it all figured out. We so often want to fight and argue from the understanding we currently have without realizing that we have not reached completion. There is more the Spirit wants to teach us as we become ready to accept it.

For my wife and me, we have changed a lot over the past few years but we realize we have not come to perfection. We will continue to change over the next few years also. So why argue over doctrine, interpretations and beliefs as if we had it all figured out and everyone else is wrong. We all have more to learn as we walk with the Spirit each day.

We should come to accept each other where we are currently, realizing what we know and believe today will more likely change as we continue to walk under the guidance of the Spirit. We can love each other, learn from one another and accept each other as we are, just like Jesus loves and accepts us just as we are.

KingdomofGodwithinYou

We should be looking deep within ourselves, listening for the voice and guidance of the Spirit rather than putting all hope in others, and to those we think are more spiritual because they have been trained, educated and paid to do so. Remember, we are all kings and priests and have the same Spirit within us. Each of us are equal and important parts of the body with Christ as the head. His Church is not a building, not a denomination but people.

This is not saying we are all God, but the Spirit lives within us and we are one with our Father. It would do us all good to start focusing on this fact rather than what we have been taught in the past, that being one with God is a future event after we die. Kingdom living is now. Listening to the Spirit, being taught by him and living day by day in communion with the Father is a reality that we all need to realize is happening now.

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