#0006 A cultural rift in the Church (part VI)

Can the hierarchical church redesign its structure and rethink its approach? Is it absolutely necessary for it to do so? Many of the traits affiliated with the original doctrine-based group can be traced directly to the hierarchical structure and its culture of hierarchy. I don’t like to get into the scriptures in the Book of Revelations because it can get pretty dicey in there; but it does offer a few symbols that might prove helpful for us in this discussion. In Revelations hierarchy might well be metaphorically depicted as a dragon… 

1 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.

 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.

3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads.

4 Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born.

Rev. 12: 1-4 (NIV) 

Before we get into this scripture, I want to present a few more thoughts about hierarchy. As we were saying in Part V, hierarchy is the frame on which the church has, for years been hanging the skin and persona of Jesus. On the outside, it looks like Him, but is what’s going on inside compatible with that image? Within this image of Jesus is the interior environment where all the important and divine stuff Jesus talked about is supposed to happen. For centuries and centuries the debate among the Christian churches has been focused on doctrinal issues. There are few debates or concerns around the concept of church social/spiritual environments. In the end, these environments are more important than doctrine. Think of it like this…the Church is called to bake a cake; the ingredients of the cake are the beliefs, or doctrine, if you will; and the interior environment is like the mixing bowl. In this analogy you can have all the correct ingredients on the table, but until you get them into a bowl and mix them together, nothing will ever happen. It’s only when they are all prepared correctly and thoroughly mixed together, is the mix ready to be placed into a cake pan and into the oven. Inside the oven, a new condition is introduced—heat (the Holy Ghost) and inside the oven is where the magic all happens, the cake bakes. In hierarchal environments the so-called mixing process doesn’t allow for a blending of the ingredients—they remain separated; so with any application of heat, there will still be no baking. In real time, this appears not unlike a congregation sitting, facing forwards in row after row of pews; while a chosen few perform for them on stage. Not much blending—not much baking is likely to take place in this environment.

In his prophecy in the Revelations scripture, John describes some situations having to do with the Church and what is going to happen to her. I say her because the symbol often used to represent the Church is a woman. Jesus refers to the Church as His bride in prophecies throughout the Gospel of Matthew. This depiction says that the woman or bride (the Church) is carrying a child and it’s safe to assume that the child belongs to Christ. The reference to “moon” is also referring to Christ. In Revelations, everything is symbolism, which means that the woman isn’t an actual woman (i.e.: Mary), nor is the child an actual child (i.e.: baby Jesus). Just like the dragon must be symbolic (because there’re no such thing as dragons), so must be everything else. You can’t work both sides of the street—going between literal and symbolic—just to make the scripture fit your desired interpretation; but many Biblical experts do just that. So if the woman is the bride of Christ and He is the child’s father, the child has to represent an entity or something that will be a byproduct of the union between Christ and the Church. Those who believe that the church (as it appears today) is the woman depicted in this scripture might say that the child represents the gospel, salvation or something along these lines. I don’t think either of these fit the bill, nor does the Christian church of today fit the profile of the woman. From the information we have, though we can deduce two things: the Church John is rendering as a woman has a function beyond just getting persons inside its walls in order to insure each one’s salvation; and this function most likely involves pro-action on the part of these persons…something more than being members of an audience who sit in a sanctuary on Sunday mornings. Whatever the entity is that’s about to be birthed in the scripture; a red dragon is getting ready to pounce on it and devour it. Before we become too concerned for the child’s safety, let’s read the next verse to see what happens… 

 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.

6 The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.

Rev. 12: 5-6 (NIV) 

The child gets snatched up to God and the woman is able to get away from the dragon and she flees into the wilderness for a period of time. The dragon is thwarted in his plan and this seems a good thing; but I find it intriguing that he doesn’t seem at all interested in devouring the woman (the Church); either before or after she births the child. We are going to jump ahead to Revelation 17 now where we see what happened to the woman; or do we? 

3 Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns.

4 The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries.

5 The name written on her forehead was a mystery:




Rev. 17: 3-5 (NIV) 

Is this the same woman, or a different woman? If she’s a different one, it’s a pretty safe bet to think she too symbolizes a church. The major difference here is that instead of being threatened by the red dragon (now described as a scarlet beast); she is riding on his back. We know the beast is the dragon because he has the same 10 horns and 7 crowns on his head; but the woman symbolizes a different church. Let’s consider the differences between the women as they are depicted by the symbols. The first woman clothed in the sun, has the moon under her feet and is wearing a crown with 12 stars in it. On top of this—she is pregnant. She and her unborn child are threatened by the red dragon and it seems like he wants to eliminate, if not both of them, at least the child. We presume this woman authentically represents the bride of Christ. The second woman was dressed differently: The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She isn’t pregnant and she’s described as a prostitute, in fact it says she is the mother of prostitutes; so even though she isn’t seen as pregnant here, she has birthed many children—all whores like herself.

As churches, the first Church—clothed in the sun with the moon under its feet can mean only one thing—this is Christ’s authentic church. Clothes of the sun represent the glow of righteousness and love of the Father. The moon tells us its foundation is Jesus. The child represents the Kingdom. The second Church is in cahoots with the Evil. This church is power-hungry and has its own agenda; it does whatever is necessary to serve that agenda. Many other churches have split off from it; but the essence of each of these is the same as the original. This sounds like the Catholic Church fits the role of the mother of prostitutes and all of the various and sundry protestant Churches are the daughters. I’m not trying to cast aspersions here; it’s just what it reminds me of. What is it that makes the two women so different? If we can figure that out, maybe we will better understand what John is getting at. My thought is that the dragon represents the hierarchical structure—the same structure that creates a wrong spiritual environment. It’s an environment designed to keep church-going people at arm’s length from each other—the same environment that keeps people from blending their souls together so that it becomes a mix that God can put in a pan then bake into a delicious cake.

Just one other point before we wind up todays posting. Verse six refers to the women (the mother of prostitutes) was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people. 

 6 I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.

Rev. 17: 6 (NIV)

Who are these people? They must be people from the second side of the rift—from the sheep group, right? But who specifically are they? It sounds like they are non-church-going people; but it says they bore the testimony of Jesus. How could that possibly be, if they weren’t going to church??? 

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