Lesson III: Leave Churchianity

Published by Michael Camp on February 8, 2010 at 4:26pm UTC

Part 3 of "I Survived the Christian Right: Ten Lessons I Learned on My Journey Home"

Lesson 3: Leave Churchianity

Surprise! Jesus didn?t found an institutional church. For that matter, he didn?t found a religion either. He also didn?t expect his followers to set up a Christian version of the synagogue, let alone create a parallel Christian universe where microbrews are banned.

When I worked on a church planting team in Malawi, Africa in the 1990s, I studied the early church and began to realize how unbiblical our modern concept of church is. I came to see that professional salaried clergy, a clergy-laity distinction, meetings in buildings, church budgets, hierarchal leadership, and legalistic requirements, such as tithing, were not present in early Christianity. Frank Viola and George Barna make the case that most of these elements of church were borrowed from pagan culture. That doesn?t make them necessarily evil, just not based on the original, and not the model for Christian fellowship. The word translated ?church? is the Greek ecclesia, which simply means ?gathering? and does not denote an institution. The same word is used for a ?mob? in the book of Acts.

Evangelical churches routinely espouse modern church membership and active involvement as God?s only way of building the Kingdom and creating mature believers. I recently heard a pastor describe his love for the institutional church in terms normally used for ascribing worship to God.

Undoubtedly, there are churches that are healthy places to grow spiritually, but my experience also reveals how prevalent spiritual abuse is found in fundamentalist and evangelical churches. One could argue that the doctrine of the institutional church is largely to blame for abuses. Why? It promotes churchianity?the practice of making belief in Jesus largely focused on the habits and demands of the institutional church (doctrinal purity, religious behavior), rather than on God?s love. Churchianity encourages authoritarian leadership, which is at the core of spiritual abuse. It also doesn?t encourage people to think for themselves. Blind compliance is sure to follow. ?Evangelicals are enamored with power and control. That?s why numbers and measures are so important to evangelicals, and why compliance is next to godliness.?

Don?t put up with churchianity.

Wills, Garry, Op. cit. page 78.
Viola, Frank and Barna, George, Pagan Christianity, page xix.
Wills, Garry, What Jesus Meant, page 78.
Mike Yaconelli, in The Post Evangelical by Dave Tomlinson, page 28.

<< Go to Lesson 2: Beware of Bible Abuse

Lesson 4: Don?t Be Deluded by the Last Days >>

Recent Posts 10

Homosexuality and Christianity: Unnatural?

December 8, 2009 at 5:15pm UTC

I recently became involved in an ongoing email conversation regarding homosexuality and religion with the Assistant Superintendent of the Christian High School I attended. Is homosexuality a choice? Does it occur in nature? It can't lead to procreation

Homosexuality and Christianity: The Cost of Condemnation

December 8, 2009 at 5:30pm UTC

Much of Christianity condemns homosexuality. Is this righteous stand bearing the fruit of good works? Sure. If you cons.

No Transitional Fossils?

December 8, 2009 at 9:56am UTC

Homosexuality and Christianity: The Theology of Hypocrisy

December 12, 2009 at 9:28am UTC

Most modern Christians allow women to speak in church. Some of them even go out to Red Lobster for Sunday dinner! Isn't it about time we got back to Biblical principles... like punishing this abomination by death?

What I Was Taught In Science Class

December 12, 2009 at 10:36am UTC

I went to a Christian High School where I was taught young-earth creationism in science class. Here's what I learned then and what I know now

The word

December 20, 2009 at 1:40pm UTC

In January of 1954, the following letter was written by Albert Einstein to philosopher Erik Gutkind after reading his book, 'Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt'.

Do scientists pray, and if so what they pray for?

December 21, 2009 at 2:20am UTC

A child in the sixth grade in a Sunday School in New York City, with the encouragement of her teacher, wrote to this question to Einstein in Princeton on 19 January I936.

A Student Seeks the Meaning of Life

December 21, 2009 at 2:30am UTC

This excerpt is a letter written by Einstein in response to a 19-year-old Rutger's University student, who had written to Einstein of his despair at seeing no visible purpose to life and no help from religion.

Science and Religion

December 21, 2009 at 7:50am UTC

Everything that the human race has done and thought is concerned with the satisfaction of deeply felt needs and the assuagement of pain. One has to keep this constantly in mind if one wishes to understand spiritual movements and their

Science and Religion, Part I

December 21, 2009 at 8:01am UTC

During the last century, and part of the one before, it was widely held that there was an unreconcilable conflict between knowledge and belief. The opinion prevailed among advanced minds that it was time that belief should be replaced