Functional Apostasy

9 May, 2017 § Leave a comment

Why are there so many religions?
Why are there so many denominations within Christianity?

Proponents of Christianity have fielded these sorts of questions for some time, to varying degrees of intelligibility, and, to an extent, I will answer these questions and offer the biblical citations of my thought process but ultimately I want to deal with the problem of functional apostasy within the Church.

Functional Apostasy is essentially the answer to the above questions and all of their delineations, but before we define what functional apostasy is, we need to understand what the Bible says about the Church.

The Church, literally, the assembly, is a fluid gathering of people who have believed in The Way; the teachings of Jesus on how to be reconciled to the Father through belief in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, resulting in repentance for their rebellion against the Father and baptism to signify being put to death with Christ and raised with Him to newness in life; identifying as adopted by the Father, in servitude to the Son, their King, and sent by the Holy Spirit. (For more information start here).

In short, we are people;nothing more, nothing less. People who have been saved from the penalty of sin, are being saved from the power of sin and will be saved from the presence of sin–a whole bunch of us. Now, where that is true, a gathering of people being saved from the power of sin will be errant from time to time and in need of correction both individually and corporately. This is where functional apostasy enters the scene. Unlike your run of the mill apostasy where someone has denied some core doctrine of the faith or is living in open sin which results in Matthew 18 intervention, functional apostasy is systemic in nature.

Now, let’s define functional apostasy.

Functional Apostasy is the belief that the Church is anything other than you and me on our journey to the Father with the Holy Spirit as our guide and the Bible as our road map. It is the belief that the internal structure of the gathering can be built on anything other the foundation that Jesus is the Christ as Jesus lays out in Matthew 16:16 or that the feast of communion is anything less than about declaring that as much as it depends on us, we are one with God and man as Jesus prayed for in John 17:21 or that our one function is anything more or less than to go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them everything Jesus has commanded us just as Jesus spelled out in Matthew 28:18-20 and in Acts 1:8. It is any deviation from that path set before us.

If you want to know why we need the New Testament it is so that we can read books like Galatians where they were instantly caught in a cycle of functional-church-wide-apostasy. What was the deviation? They believed that there was another way to tell who was really a believer other than to get into their lives and find out. It was the belief that you have to do something other than obey Jesus to signify that you are a believer in the Way–and that my friends is functional apostasy; the belief that we need more than the Bible, and more than the Spirit of God and His ministry of reminding us of what Jesus has said to live the Christian life.

Why are there so many denominations within Christianity? Because at some point somebody decided that the church is more than you and me on our journey, as I’ve said; that the church exists despite its members and is the ultimate authority for truth, which usually comes down to meaning that what they teach is the result of another fallen man or woman who did the hard work of working out their own salvation with fear and trembling but still fell short of the glory of God. What has resulted then is a whole following of that believer in an “I am of Paul, I am of Apollos,” fashion that is essentially building believers up into their figure who is a pale comparison to Christ and as a result their disciples fall in the same ways that they personally fell and find it difficult to believe the same things about God that they struggled with personally. These distinctives were then codified and one by one history marks the start of another fracture in the body of Christ because of their functional apostasy.

Why are there so many religions? Because, eventually, the end result of functional apostasy is faith in someone who is not God. Romans 1:18-25

Romans 1:18-25
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

It starts as a deviation and then gradually, over time, your denomination becomes the gateway for your children or your grandchildren or their children to go hell because of the entropy of the full knowledge of God and the continued acceptance of anything other than what the Bible teaches as profitable for doctrine, reproof, for correction or for training in righteousness.


What is a Missional Church? Part 2:Feast

24 November, 2015 § Leave a comment

Welcome to part 2 of What is a Missional Church. You’ve joined us in the middle of a series. If you want to catch up check out Part 1: Foundation.

Generally when people hear about missional communities their brains explode trying to figure out how they can add it to their mosaic of religious practices. It is enormously frustrating for believers who are under the illusion that they are already massively involved in church programs to hear that it is not enough. This is where the Pharisees of Jesus’ time found themselves; busy doing everything but obeying God in all of life. A missional community is a family of servant missionaries on mission in all of life to see the knowledge of God’s glory cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. This brings us to Feast.

If I were to tell you that communion is supposed to be a feast you might pressure wash my face with the coffee from your red star bucks cup. For me growing up, I had heard of “love feasts” and only ever been in one church who practiced this, but the communion part was as it is in any church; a cracker and a shot of grape juice. I won’t go into the gruesome details of the symbolism of the stage in the passover supper that Jesus enacts communion because that is another long article for another day, but the bottom line is that when God in the flesh desired to put into place an event specifically designed to remind us that His death made it possible to have union with God and man, he fulfilled the feast of passover which foretold of this event and revealed what passover looks like for the AD believer. Theologians and church secretaries have struggled with the “As often as you do this…” clause of Jesus’ command for thousands of years, even going as far as carrying the elements to the sick and in prison whenever it was that they decided “as often as you eat/drink” meant.

I believe that we have been asking the wrong questions about communion. We ask, “How often,” when the question ought to be, “When should we not claim to be one with Jesus?” When the Apostle Paul deals with communion He never admonishes the Church for taking it too often, (Hint: it was daily back then. See Acts 2:46). No, Paul warns against unbelievers and those who intentionally hold bitterness in their hearts towards a brother or sister; in other words, those who are not one with God and man. (See 1 John for more teaching about oneness with God and man). We also ask the question “How much,” which I believe to be irrelevant as well. We acknowledge Paul’s admonishment to the church for the manner in which they took it which was heaping curses upon themselves, not because of overdoing it, but because they thought that communion should be more of an experience, so they made it a private affair inviting only those who they considered influential in the church to their private communion parties and would drink to the point of drunkenness and think that they were experiencing some sort of Holy Spirit high. We tend to focus on the part where they neglected the poor and stuff their faces and ironically have decided that the problem was how much bread and wine they were partaking in not that they decided that some are more deserving to be one with Christ than others who appeared to suck off the church. What we believe about God ought to influence what communion looks like. If we really believe that our God is a generous God who gives good gifts to his kids then why do we remember him in as austere a fashion as possible? Our celebrations ought to make harikrishna’s look like a bunch of kids shaking maracas and babbling nonsense. By examining our hearts to see if we are one with God and man and by examining what we believe about how generous God is we will come to the point where we celebrate with generosity which will overflow into our everyday lives.

One Note | Educator, Educate Thyself

2 June, 2013 § Leave a comment

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2

I love words. Words can mean so many different things in a host of variations, but also mean one very specific thing when in a specific order. This verse from scripture is one of my favorites because I see it so totally passed over so much. Consider–Jesus is God and Man but for his mission here on earth he gave up, or as some would put it, ignored his Godly abilities to be our perfect example in life and in His death. This is exactly what Paul has done here. Paul did not in any way know nothing about the law and the prophets and about life in general. In fact, he was basically a doctor in the law, but he says, I resolved to know NOTHING, but Jesus Christ crucified. I believe that we have lost that singular focus in our churches today in the fact that we require a master’s degree at the least to be a pastor. This isn’t normally a passage preached in the context of pastoral expectations, but maybe it should be. Maybe we should care more about the gospel than about the letters at the end of a man’s name–maybe.

Searching for Good in Good Friday

6 April, 2012 § 4 Comments

 “He (God, the Father) made Him (Jesus, the Son) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” II Corinthians 5:21

As a child I often wondered why the day that we commemorate the death of Jesus is called “Good Friday”. The truth is that the result of  our rebellion called sin is death (Romans 3:23).

Recently I finished the first in Suzanne Collins‘ series, The Hunger Games, in which a post apocalyptic North American polity commands twelve districts who at one point in history had rebelled against the capital district. The punishment was that once a year each district would offer up a tribute of one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to be entered into a televised gladiator event that lasts until the last tribute stands undefeated. The punishment for their rebellion was death.

Pay attention–it is not that far from the truth. God, our creator, who loves us, came into this world in very like circumstance. Man has rebelled and turned his back on the Father. Remember that “At the heart of all sin is the vain ambition of angels  and men to be God and to think, speak, and act accordingly” (Sin | Image Series Part 3). The penalty for man’s rebellion is death.

Consider this passage, for in it’s commandment lies the reason that goodness results because of Jesus’ death.

“5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8

Jesus was sinless because He was fully God yet liable to death being fully man. Remember that God is three in one and that every attribute that He has is magnified by infinity. The third member of the infinite trinity came to die as the representation of fallen humanity so that  in his infinite death, death itself was satisfied, and in his infinite life he was raised again and conquered sin and the grave.

Forty days after the Resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven to sit down at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us. This is why we call it “Good Friday”. Because Jesus made it possible for humanity to be reconciled to God.

Sin | Image Series Part 3

30 March, 2012 § 2 Comments

Let’s face it, sin isn’t a very popular topic to cover. However, when considering that great image in which we have been created it is needful for us to also consider the great trouble that we are in that places us in the paradox of being created in a perfect image, yet also being fallen.
At the heart of all sin is the vain ambition of angels (Isaiah 14:12-14) and men (Ezekiel 28:1-10) to be God and to think, speak, and act accordingly. They say that to be mimicked is the highest form of flattery. Well, God didn’t see it that way. He deemed it rebellion and condemned those who rebelled to eternal death–both those angels who rebelled with Satan and the race of man–represented by and communed through Adam.   In Paradise Lost John Milton deems Adam’s fall to be fortunate because of the grace given to man to become right with God (John 1:12) as opposed to Lucifer and his angel’s fall which is void of that grace. This is the overarching predicament we find ourselves faced with when we consider the image that we have been created in. Thus, we are created in the image of God yet marred by sin–both in nature through Adam and by our own volition.
1And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.8For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:1-10
 We do not have to live lives dominated by sin. Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead declaring His deity so that we might accept Him as our substitute and essentially communicate to Him that we believe that He is God and we are not.  Placing your life under the control of the true and living God would be the most important thing you will ever do. What must you do to be saved? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, that He died for your sins and rose from the dead according to the scriptures and you will be saved.
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It Takes a Lifetime | Image Series Introduction Part 2

23 March, 2012 § Leave a comment

Prophet Jeremiah, Russian icon from first quar...

As it was mentioned before, one cannot fully know his or herself if they do not know the God whose image he or she bears. Therefor I start with a disclaimer:

| The discovery of one’s self is a personal journey; I am only covering those aspects that apply to everyone.|

In other words, only you and God know the intents of your heart, and no man made system will ever come close to owning that knowledge.

One thing that you should consider when contemplating the intricacies of what it means to be human is that it takes a lifetime of discovery. Consider that and contemplate discovering God and you won’t be close as to how much we can be certain of; only things He saw fit to tell us, and yet He calls us to know Him!

“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23-24 NKJV)

If we are called to know so great a lover, judge and righteous One who made us in His image how can we escape learning about ourselves and what all it entails to be made in the image of God?

The Beauty of a Letter

9 March, 2012 § 2 Comments

Saint George Preca has been likened as a succe...

Imagine this…..this is the reality of today’s busy world so breathe deeply and slow the beat of your heart down to become a listening spirit who has ears to hear.

You walk to your mailbox to fetch the mail.  Inside you find the usual bills and junk about credit cards etc.  Weeks and weeks pass and then on one usual hectic day you check the mailbox again and there is a letter with a different marking… suddenly feel your heart beat a little faster than its status quo.

The letter you have is a hand written letter from a dear friend, we’ll say a female.  Inside it is written personally by her own hand.  Just think, this girl has taken the time to write everything out the old fashioned way on paper and in addition has added little drawings on it too to decorate.  It probably took her 45 minutes to complete the whole thing.  The effort that has gone into this has been taken for granted until now… that you have thought all this through.  The joy that now springs from reading the heart of your friend and acknowledging that she also took the time to also carefully fold it and put it in an envelope and subsequently walked to the postbox to mail it, all of this because she thought of you.

Receiving a letter is a blessing because the receiver experiences the joy of knowing that he/she was thought of as valued person, deserving of that person’s attention.  To me it is worth more than $100,000,000 because it’s invaluable – like receiving a picture made from the hands of a little child, not quite Leonardo Da Vinci but meaningful.  Letter writing is a method of revealing your heart to those you love.  On that note the apostle Paul valued his letters to his beloved churches that he planted that had become corrupt.  As quoted in Galatians 6:1 he says “See what large letters I use as I write to you in my own handwriting”

In our fast paced society where it takes nearly no thought to send an e-mail, a long hand written letter seems burdensome.  It’s tempting to think that there is something better I can do with my time.

What are you going to do with your time…………….?

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