#0072 And after they ate he took the wine and said “We make the finest wine, as good a wine as you can get anywhere in the world.”
Links relevant to today’s posting…
Scriptures relevant to today’s posting…
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.
8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Matt: 23: 1-12 (NIV)
Today my post features an article from my new book. At this point it only has a working title; but the thrust of it will deal with why Christianity needs a new narrative—one that will present God and Jesus in a more accurate light. In this article the discussion gets to the issues of “us-and-them” and hierarchy in the Church; both of which exist in Christian communities largely because of the traditional narrative.
Hierarchy: another dimension of the “us-and them” paradigm
Out of the impetus of figuring who’s right and who’s not right, hierarchy has emerged. Hierarchy or the ranking of people based on external parameters in a very real way comes as the natural evolution of the “us-and-them” paradigm. Hierarchy assigns gradations of separation and/or degrees of acceptable alienation between persons. This practice within the religious vernacular is known as clergy or priesthood. The intent of priesthood is to organize and keep order within the body of believers. To this end certain men are set apart to perform special tasks that have been pre-determined as being God’s work. Though reasonable sounding as this is, what’s tended to happen is that those within the ranks of the priesthood have been esteemed as being more holy than those who are not—who are only members of the group. And the holiness factor of those inside goes up as their rank or office goes up. Think of the military structure where the enlisted personnel eats and sleeps away from the officers; or the big business structure where management makes the most money, and benefits and arguably puts out the lesser amounts of effort.
Priesthood acts like a system of channels or a series of filters that serves to sway God’s authenticity and truth in a set direction or to truncate it or restrict it altogether. It makes the worship and the conceptualization of God into a static enterprise. It moves God back from His place of being up-close and personal with each of His children (believers) and puts Him up on a throne way off in the distance—separated from us (in our perceptions of Him) by space and time and it puts a bunch of middle men in-between. When Jesus was here, He worked hard to make His Father accessible to any and all who wanted such access; to put Him up-close-and–personal in each of our relationships with Him. The main thrust of Jesus’s mission on the earth was to present His Father in the light of unconditional love to all of humanity. It was for this purpose He came and NOT for the purpose of salvation which is the center of the traditional Christian narrative. To the paragraph’s opening salvo that priesthood acts like a system of channels and filters which diverts and diminishes mankind’s relationship with the Creator let me offer Martin Luther—founder of the Protestant Movement as a case in point. The movement began when he posted a document on the door of the church; it’s become known as “The 95 Theses”. He was a Catholic priest who began seeing things about the Church and its doctrines and practices as being incongruous with that which he had read and studied in the scriptures; especially the New Testament. In the end, due to the fact that the Church and its existing structure of doctrines and priesthood were not designed to integrate or even consider new ideas, there was no other fate for him and his concepts than that which happened. He was arrested as a heretic and many of those who read his ideas—which were not sanctioned by the Church—and saw truth in them felt they had little other choice than to split away from the Church and to organize under a new system of beliefs (religion) and around Martin Luther. This group of people became known specifically as Lutherans; but in a broader sense they began the whole Protestant Movement. And from this first iteration of protesting the establishment there came a veritable chain reaction of other subsequent protestant groups which, today are referred to as denominations.
Without getting into any of the specific doctrines which caused such an upheaval in the Church when Luther posted his 95 Theses on the front door of the Wittenberg Castle church; I want to talk specifically about the framework of the Church in which the upheaval took place. Once the Lutheran denomination got up and going the spirit of dissention was destined to continue because Luther’s focus was totally on the faulty beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church; but he failed to see the structure as being a problem. Because this first protestant movement was viewed as a success; those subsequent movements would proceed in Luther’s footsteps and continue along the doctrinal trail—ignoring the structural component. This began a pattern of using a business model that today can be seen in virtually every protestant church; one that is based on the hierarchy of priesthood and operates inside a framework constructed from an” us-and-them” blueprint.
If you have a question or thought about this or other postings please feel free to send them in. Thanks for reading.
TBC: Sunday, March 13, 2016