Chapter 1, Part Bible church, ‘Whole Bible Christianity’
Israel transformed God’s kingdom to man’s kingdom by holding to a form of religion but denying the power of it (2 Timothy 3:1-9). The church, which started out with a good foundation in the first century, has sadly done the same thing. Organizations do this. They start off okay, but drift into self-protection and failure to speak the Word, just like Israel did. Dogma, tradition, and complicated theologies eventually substitute for the simple straight talk from God.
Some things I say in this book might sound like unfair blanket statements. Until you realize that all who claim church membership or have a Christian name tag are not all in the Body of the Christ. Around the year 325 A.D. the Roman emperor Constantine made his version of Christianity the official religion of the empire. Everyone had to convert. Or else. This conversion was often nothing more than slapping Christian labels on pagan practices and being anti-Jewish. The slapping was literal in some cases because he chiseled off idol’s names and re-chiseled on ‘saints’ names. He tried to switch the real Sabbath to Sunday, and ‘Christianized’ pagan feasts that have come to be known as Christmas and Easter. If you wanted to get the empire off your back and do some business, you had to at least look like a Christian on the surface.
Constantine’s pragmatism reared its ugly head again in the revivals of the 1800’s. Preachers and evangelists of this time thought they should reduce the biblical message to ‘whatever gets them in the door.’ So they watered down the Bible to make it more palatable, and comfortable. Perhaps we could even say ‘ear tickling.’ This is where raised hands and going forward came from, which some famous evangelists of the 20th century raised to an art form.
The result is that we have a large population of church-goers conditioned to expect this and perpetuate it, as if it really means salvation. The enemy’s tares of “seeker friendly, spiritual but not religious” teachings were sown under the cover of seeming to advance the Kingdom. But when we sacrifice truth on the altar of expediency, we fill our buildings and not our hearts.
You may recognize that Constantine’s version of “church” still exists today. When I mention the church (little ‘c’) in this book, I’m including everyone who wears the name, even though most don’t truly play on God’s side in the game.