The Cult of Fundamentalism and “Church Clubbing”

Written By Thomas Perez. March 10, 2014 at 8:29AM. Copyright 2014.

after-service-coffee

Introduction

Not to long ago I cited the following…

Quote – “I have not been in a church building since 2003 – I never will go into one. I just can’t stand it. I can’t stand it when my spirit and the Holy Spirit jumps inside me, getting all annoyed at the silly perverted mainstream propaganda of “accept or burn” or the “be ready for the rapture routine!” How anti-Biblical can they get? I call it anti-Biblical because they teach it as factual theology. And when folks do that, they miss teaching the Scriptures as a whole properly. Its like teaching someone only addition and not the other principle – the principle of subtraction. Or only teaching Multiplication and not division, etc. Or learning & experiencing only ONE faith and nothing else. And please don’t mention Jn 14:6 or Eph 4:5 because I will tear you apart.” – Unquote. Perhaps I should not have mentioned the wording “I will tear you apart” but we are dealing with social media, so be that as it may. 

An individual once equated church gatherings as a place to hold “club meetings.” I couldn’t agree more. Thus the inspiration for this article. This particular article sort of corresponds with another article I wrote some time ago entitled, “Our Voices Cry in the Wilderness” – a declaration, or exposure so to speak. An exposure pertaining to the “Cultism of Fundamentalism and mainstream Christianity.” Before I venture to go any further, allow me to explain the definition of a cult.

The Meaning of the Word ‘Cult’

According to Merriam Webster; “a small religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion. A religious group that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous: a situation in which people admire and care about something or someone very much or too much: a small group of very devoted supporters or fans.”

There are some minor variations concerning the definition, but I think Merriam Webster serves the explanation well. This particular definition includes the wording a larger and more accepted religion.” Doesn’t that raise a red flag? What is the meaning of an “accepted religion” anyway? Who gave them the final say on all authority concerning religious matters? We must take care and realize that, any true definition of an accepted religion can be subjected to questions. And since they can be subjected to questions, that in turn tells us that they too can be put to the test. In other words, they are not to be the only final “say all and end all” accepted religion. Webster’s definition is obviously based upon a perception. However, you and I both know that individual perceptions do not represent all of humanity as whole – but only a percentage. History tells us this.

Judaism was the accepted religious norm of the day in the Middle East during Jesus’ ministry until He came with 12 percent of the pie and grew it into a world wide faith – out numbering Judaism today. The same can be said of the Reformation. The Roman Church was the norm of their hay-days until voices were heard crying (even before the Reformation) for change, freedom, holiness and obedience to Holy Writ – another small percent – and thus Protestantism was born into the world. After this came all the others; Presbyterians, Ana-Baptists, Baptists, Pentecostals, Evangelicals, Non-Denominational churches, esoteric organizations – like the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints (Mormonism) and the Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah Witnesses & their Watchtower Societies, and yes even Fundamentalism.

But again, this acceptance is based upon certain criteria’s of what many would consider orthodoxy. However, many scholars today now refer to orthodoxy as “proto-orthodoxy” – meaning all orthodox-cal creeds were once divided and did not reflect other sects of early Christianity. Moreover, and unfortunately; many so-called esoteric writings were destroyed by the established church (rising orthodoxy). Fortunately however, we now have many fragmented documents and even whole books of perticular belief systems at our disposal – via – the Nag Hammadi Library; which includes: the Apocrypha, various Christian Apocrypha’s, the Pseudepigrapha, Gnostic texts and other Gospels, that existed during the early rising of authoritative church orthodoxy. These esoteric writings became the small percentage.

Please do not ms-interpret what I’ am conveying. It is not the people per-SE, it is its ideology of exclusiveness, the ideology of Fundamentalism that must be stopped. One way to stop it is to question it. But when questions begin to surface, many good people who are held sway by the cult of Fundamentalism often find it quite difficult to leave when they begin to question various doctrines and methods of conversion. Many of them often decide to stay. They stay perhaps because they think they have no other alternative. They stay perhaps due to the possibility of being labeled as an “unfaithful individual” – “he/she has a reckless spirit.” Moreover, many pastors would opt to use the exhortation of warning, often citing; “be careful, you are treading on dangerous grounds,” or worse yet, “What would Jesus say,” “what would your family say” or “What does the Bible say?” Or, many people stay perhaps due to a certain expectation of alienation that will fall upon them. They will be shunned.

This type of “so called” exhortation or encouragement causes guilt. It is designed to cause guilt. Shunning is designed to alienate the individual in his thought process concerning God and what He would want, or accept of you. The acceptance is now made null because you have been shunned by God and the local congregation. You are therefore backslidden. You are not right with God. Other citations include: “You just need to work through your bitterness,” “You were never really a Christian,” “If you’re not currently attending a church, you have walked away from God,” “You need to work this out with trembling and fear,” “I wish people could remember how good Jesus’ love for us really is,” “you are hurting Jesus,” “You’re hurting the church,” “We need unity, not division,” ‘Be careful you don’t lose your faith,” and “I’ll pray for you.” Shunning is exclusiveness demonstrated to its maximum power. The nullness or emptiness of your now shunned life demonstrates that God has abandoned you. You have fallen from grace. 

However, and most people don’t realize this, shunning is demonstrated the second you walk into the door of a Fundamentalist or esoteric church/organization. You may cite “How is that possible?” “How can shunning take place in a persons life when they are just visiting the church/organization for the first time?” The answer is simple, It takes place the moment they give the alter call. If you are not known to them, they naturally assume that you do not know God. But of course they would have to dig a bit deeper to see if that is so, according to their definition of knowing God. After all, the visitor can be a born again Christian just passing through town and decided to worship with the choice of their denomination. But if not, the visitor is faced with a crisis of alienation. An alienation to God.

This alienation then presents a feeling of exclusiveness – the visitor feels excluded, guilty, and ashamed. But once the alter call is accomplished, then the “clubbing” has begun. You are now a member of the family of God. Naturally you feel honored. I know I did. You feel honored that you are now a part of a social group. A part of a body. A part of something good. A part of the church – the church of Christ. But in order for them to do this, they must plant seeds of self loathing and guilt. This is accomplished by the oracle of the sermon.

The Oracle of the Sermon

The sermon is presented by means of several factors, the factor of the message, the factor of sin, the factor of guilt, the factor of mentioning specific bad activities, judgment, and the alter call. For the Fundamentalist, the need to express the conscience awareness of sin (wrong doing) and the judgment for wrong doing is most important. For the Fundamentalist, this is accomplished by explicitly mentioning specific sins (or things they would consider sinful and evil). They would often do this by presenting testimonies or short stories pertaining to specific sins; I.e., they would cite; “maybe some of you were backslidden during the summer,” “looking at all that flesh,” lusting after that woman, man or both,” “buying that porno DVD, or viewing lewd acts of lasciviousness online,” “Going into that chat room for all the wrong purposes,” “Having a little too much to drink,” “partying and forgetting to go to church,” “or maybe you are not saved,” “but you WANT to stop doing these things.” “Come let us reason together saith the Lord.” This is then coupled with music usually set to the tune of the song entitled, “Just as I’ am.” Naturally, anyone would feel a sense of guilt because we all have done these things. The Fundamentalist would cite that “it was the Holy Spirit convicting you of your sin.” They would cite John 16:7-11 without any eschatological reasoning to back this consensus up. Once this is swallowed and the “Sinners Prayer” is uttered then you have made all things new with God (again, please see the article “Our Voices Cry in the Wilderness”)

It is a program – a well rehearsed program. A well rehearsed “Roman’s Road to Heaven” – they will usually use that tactic of engraving to process the alienation. But I have my own “Road to Heaven” in which I share with folks – it is un-alienated. It is unbiased. It is one of complete acceptance. It is my “Reconciliational Road to Heaven” – its my form of Universalism so to speak. Yes UR believers can share the Gospel very easily, without the fine print of…“accept or burn.” Of course some folks might jump and attack me because I said this. But this article is not about the finer points of soteriology, but of Fundamental cultism and the damage it can do. So let us keep our focus. Believe me when I say, I debated it all.

You are now a part of their church, or rather I should say, “their cult.” Again, do not ms-understand me, I’ am using the term cult with regards to Fundamentalism and any other organization that employ methods of alienation, not the Body of Christ – the Church. Exclusiveness is not a part of the ministry of God or His Holy Spirit. Exclusiveness begins with a misplaced alter call. Once that is accomplished, the visitor then becomes their member – thus displaying a new form of further alienation – alienation from those outside that specific church denomination or assembly. This includes the so-called sinners (the so called unsaved), those of other denominations, faiths, and those of esoteric beliefs; namely those whom the Fundamentalist would call “cultish.” An ironic sense of logic and illicit poetry wouldn‘t you say?

Once engrafted, it is often very difficult to leave when you sense something is elusive. It is difficult to leave especially concerning matters of doctrine. This is so because you have become indoctrinated by their particular belief system. But when many are alone questioning, like all good truth seekers do, many would become disconcerted with the answers given by their clergy. I often said, “questions are powerful truth finders.” Once they begin to sense this “unrest” spoken of earlier, the alienation returns once again. But this time it returns with a vengeance, and it is even followed by excommunication from the church, even by your own family – it is the shunning.

It is also very difficult to leave if you have a click – your own little nest of fellow-believers, or if your family has invested much time into it’s localized church body. “Oh, how often I have seen this time and time again.” From the children’s church, to the youth ministry, and straight up to the adult ministry; I have seen within the exclusive church its sub-categories of exclusion. It is also difficult for those in the choir, because they feel so accepted. But ask them something pertinent to Scripture and you will soon find out that many of them simply do not know anything about the Bible save that which was handed down to them by their pastor or elder. This scenario makes it even more difficult to leave because if they do, they will not be able to sing or “shout” (as some would coin the phrase).

You are then usually given two choices, recant of your erroneous doctrines, or face excommunication – shunning. Many folks then agree to counseling upon the suggestion of the pastors or elders. This is an attempt to keep the questioner in their fold, body, or organization. Moreover, it is an attempt to keep the attendance/membership high. The financial economics of any local body is important to the up keep of the facility – thus the up keep of the pastor. When all else fails, then they will alienate you, least you affect the other members of their body (note I said their bodies, not the Lord’s) and cause others to follow your recklessness.

They don’t want to lose money.

Motives, Motives, Motives

However, many would cite; “Thomas you are too constrictive, churches do a great deal of good” Yes that is so – but at what expense? Look at the expense of the soul first before you critique the manner in which I’ am presenting this article. To reach the poor, the orphan, the aged, or the homeless; one need not a facility – there are public, social and governmental facilities that offer the same benefits minus the alienation. Moreover, even Jesus said “the poor you have always, but me you do not.” If we read the Gospels carefully we will notice that when reference to the poor is mentioned it is usually accompanied with non-compliance. A non-alienation. Jesus wasn’t concerned with proselytizing the poor or simpleton. He wasn’t concerned with alienating them – He feed them unconditionally. Whether He feed them literally or figuratively does not matter – I’ m sure you get the gist of what I’ am trying to convey. Moreover, there are various charities that all cater to the poor and destitute – all you need to do to feel appreciated by God is to get yourself plugged into them without the need of feeling appreciated by a local church.

Feeling appreciated by God is all that matters, right? But then again, if you think about it, that would be considered vain, almost narcissistic – you are so right and in tune with God. Nay, I say do it because it is your duty, not because Jesus said so. It is the human thing to do – even an atheist need not the permission of Jesus to do what is good. When churches or churchy type organizations use the poor as a means to cater to your pocket book, it is usually their attempt to keep their ministry, or a particular aspect of their ministry, going. They often cite, “without your contribution people would not be feed” – but in the meantime they are often seen traveling to spread their agenda of alienation through feeding the poor in luxurious cars, planes, and jets; often living in mansions. They even travel more so than most of us would ever do in a single life time. It must be fun to travel through, and by “The People’s Club”  – “The Church’s Club of the Exclusives” all in the guise of feeding the poor, or up keeping that particular life changing ministry – which has now become a major financial asset.

Moreover, they would often choose an individual or group, who they deem worthy, to run particular aspects of their ministries; I.e., their soup kitchens, their shelters or fund raisers. They always will choose someone that is completely sold out to their message. Although the individual thinks he or she are really sold out for Jesus – and are doing His work. While there is no harm in this – since the goal of putting food in a persons mouth, or giving shelter to an individual is accomplished, it is nevertheless accomplished by feeling accepted – and that my friend all started during the alter call  – the alter call of alienation and exclusiveness.

When the poor are gathered they are, more so than not, given the peculiar Gospel message of “accept or burn!” They will conduct that “alter call.” They will often cite, “Jesus loves you” “He just fed you” – and of course the poor, knowing where the food actually came from – via – the church’s location, become hooked, like bait, through the guilt process mentioned above. The poor and the simpleton are like worms on a hook waiting to be bitten by the Jaws of the Fundamentalist. This applies to any church that teaches the aforementioned doctrines of alienation; this includes Pentecostalism, all Baptist ministries, all Presbyterian ministries, esoteric organizations like the Kingdom Hall and Latter Day Saints, etc; and many others, to much to mention here.

Conclusion

A set of principles were set forth in the 18th cent.  A series of philosophical aphorisms, if you will, by William Blake, written in 1788. Following on from his initial experiments with relief etching in the non-textual, “The Approach of Doom” (1787) There are 10-14 plates or etchings. I will only mention two.

Plate 1 – No Principle

The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness

Non-descript vegetation surrounds the text on both sides and on the bottom. In the main image, a male, naked from the waist up, sits on a large stone and points to the right. The background is filled with tree trunks and leaves. The male is John the Baptist.

The phrase “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” occurs in each of the four New Testament gospels; Matthew, 3:3; Mark, 1:3; Luke, 3:4; and John 1:23. In all four gospels, the phrase is used by Isaiah to describe John the Baptist, thus suggesting that John may be the figure in the picture, preaching in the wilderness represented by the foliage and tree trunks. It was common for texts in the late eighteenth century to have a frontispiece portrait of the author, so by depicting John the Baptist instead of himself, Blake indicates that he sees himself following in the prophetic tradition of John, and as such, “the wilderness” becomes a metaphor for the false philosophies Blake argues against.

Plate 9 – Principle 6

The Jewish & Christian Testaments are An original derivation from the Poetic Genius. This is necessary from the confined nature of bodily sensation.

The tablets probably represent the “Jewish & Christian Testaments” mentioned in the text. The figure may be a personification of the “confined nature of bodily sensation.” Thematically, Blake is arguing for the divine authority of the Bible as an original manifestation of the Poetic Genius; “any such authority resides in the Testaments, because of their original inspiration, and not in institutional religions that claim to be based on them.” In Blake’s view, such religions distorted and manipulated original meanings for the purpose of subjugation is wrong. Blake would return to the concept of organized religion corrupting the original Biblical messages in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790), Europe a Prophecy (1794), The Book of Urizen (1794) and The Song of Los (1795). Eaves, Essick and Viscomi see the designs as a repetition of the distinction between inspired testaments and sense experience set forth in the text, but the tablets and their enclosure also suggest the codification of ‘Poetic Genius’ into repressive laws of institutional religion. The darkness has been composed via white line etchings.

In other words what appears to be white may in all probability be black – such as the alleged alienation of the human soul.

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