Sunday, September 28, 2008

A cultic form of legalism........

Recently, I read this article by Terry Rayburn over at Grace for Life. 
Whoa, it sure hit the nail on the head in so many ways that related to my past church experience, and I thought I'd share it. 
A lot of folks are uncomfortable with calling certain churches a cult. Not me. The truth is these churches are turning themselves into cultish, cult-like organizations by living under the curse of the law. Bewitched, that's what Galatians says. Wouldn't you say, bewitched is pretty strong language?! 
Anyway, I am not fond of using the term cult to describe my former church or any other church for that matter. I find it to be a crying shame! Nor do I bring this topic up in any judgement. However, I do take this legalism very seriously, and must say it is destroying good people. Yes, destroying!! 

Here's a brief quote....."There is a form of legalism which is so subtle that most people wouldn't even notice that it's legalism at all. And yet it is extremely powerful. I mean “extremely powerful” in the sense that it is causes Christians to be fake, phony and stifled."

This was my experience, and in coming out of it, I learned all those I thought were my friends, no longer are my friends. I did not desire to lose relationships just because I left a church. But, sadly that is what happened. 

I appreciate Terry's advice at the end of his article on how to fight this legalism. Here it is:
1. First, walk in the Spirit. 

You be in fellowship with Jesus. You be filled with the Spirit. You commune with the Lord and practice His presence day by day. Without Him you can do nothing. But with Him nothing is impossible, including shaking off reservation legalism. This close fellowship with Christ is the foundation for the next two points. 

2. Be courageous. 

Always strive to be true to Scripture, but always have the courage to put your honest understanding of Scripture above what any person or group has established as politically correct. Even if they shun you. Even if they look at you funny. Even if they wonder about your faith. Die to self, and follow Jesus. Now there's someone who was off the reservation. 

3. Err on the side of love.

You won't do this thing perfectly. Love one another, in Christ. Be humble off the reservation. Don't flaunt your freedom. Don't be a rebel for rebellion's sake. Don't scoff at those who have not come to understand what you have. 

Don't be a grace Pharisee, pouncing on everyone for every single statement that could be seen as legalistic. Even though they may be wrong, graciously give them line upon line, precept upon precept, gently leading them toward the truth, as best you can. 

Perhaps the day may come when they join you "off the reservation". 

And that truly is my hope! That more and more would come to their freedom and Christ and fully live in it!! 


Aida said...

Lydia, I can definitely relate.

The group I used to be part of several years ago became VERY cult like. We hesitate to say that because maybe at one time it wasn't like that. I think we're also somewhat embarrassed to admit that it happened to us.

Control is the major foundation of a cult and if the group is extremely controlling and the emphasis is on the leader and not on God, then it's a cult or at least very cultish.

Jamie said...

What happened to ABBA? :)

lydia said...

ABBA wasn't working right......haven't bothered to fix it yet......

That's a good distinction Aida, about the emphasis or an emphasis on the leadership - that was the case in my old church. I think it's automatic when you put yourself under rules, and right living, the leaders teach it, so they naturally begin to feel compelled to enforce it, in the name of maturing their flock, but really it's control!!

Aida said...

That's true and, in my old group, apparently the rules didn't apply to the leader. He was above the rules and could do whatever he wanted.

lydia said...

Ouch, I have seen that too Aida!!

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

Lydia joy,
it's a fascinating subject. My wounds have healed so I hope I can now think objectively!!!
I tend to think differently from you, Dan, may be Julie, Alan. Is it age?
Is it like the Jews who all backed off stoning the adulteress in order of age, leaving Jesus drawing in the sand. You see I don't think it is law. I don't think it is control. i don't think it is just poor or at worst evil leadership.
I really believe the problems may surface as these things....but the more I unravel this Genesis 3:5 hook up thing....just in my own life...forget the rest...the more I see the insidious power of it. CS Lewis wrote a book called "That Hideous Strength"..I think it is in Ecclesiastes or Proverbs where it says about "a fly in the ointment". That's literally all it takes. And that perfume bottle is finished.
Just put a room of people together...maybe last night, they were even in a Josh Mills meeting...but if those individuals are not quite clear on who they are in Christ.....within a very short time you can watch as things deteriorate.The same group pressures of performance.The need to reach a concensus,,,even if it goes against everything God has shown you.(The problem with democracy right there). Undue deference to leading personalities who are gifted with group management naturally...but are far from knowing how you do it in the Spirit.
So you see what a miracle it is that any church anywhere lasts more than 2 minutes.
Ofcourse we are learning more about what it means to live and move in the Spirit. What a gift to us is praise...because God presences Himself in that and we can re-orientate ourselves again.

Here is the radical thing that I believe. I believe there is only ONE CULT, in reality ...and it is the cult that Satan tricked us to join in the Beginning....but as we
"abide in His Word then we are truly His disciples and we shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set us free."

lydia said...

You know what, it's true, anything that is not the truth, in that we who are saved and in Christ and fully perfect in God's eyes, and living in true freedom and pure grace, or seeking to move more fully in it at least, you could say is a cult in a sense, since apart from Jesus + nothing, one is believing in lies, the enemies plan for us and not walking in the liberty and truth that God wants us to live and walk in.

As for the rest of your comment, you totally lost me........