Friday, June 8, 2018

Violating the Third Commandment

Once in a while someone pops up to take a shot at the kind of Christian witnesses who proclaim the message that we are "...saved by faith in Christ, not by works lest any should boast." Why this message makes some brethren angry, I will never understand, but it does.

We keep rejecting the message of righteousness by faith. 1888 was the first time and there has been resistance every time since to it's proclamation.
I saw it int the 60s and 70s. Righteousness by faith was always a little too loosey-goosey for some of the brethren, preferring the stick to the carrot a little too fondly I think. The authoritarian wing of the church has never quite trusted God to keep the troops in line simply through the power of a deep relationship with him. Like the Roman church, they think we need to insert some "leadership" between ourselves and the Almighty.

They need centralized power and strict rules with strict enforcement or they fear all sorts of rule-breaking horror will break out. They measure hemlines. They tell us how deep could be the water we could wade in on Sabbath. Any deeper than the knees and we'd be considered swimming which would be a sin, I was told. They had big discussions about whether it was moral or not to roller skate to music.They didn't just give a hard time to champions of righteousness by faint like Morris Venden. They tried to run Ron Halvorsen Sr. out of my little town. The same sort of folks even criticized HMS Richards Sr. for being too excited about righteousness by faith and felt he should spend more time preaching on the law. Even poor Del Delker was attacked for singing with young men with guitars and banjos. They went after anyone who placed any emphasis on righteousness by faith or who questioned church authority or encouraged young people, thereby endangering their authority.

Ron Halvorsen Sr.
What a group of Keenites from the church I grew up in did to Morris Venden was Satanic and these people believed they were doing it all for Jesus. As though Jesus needed them to act as some kind of security force. For the same "crime" of not emphasizing the law, they also went after Ron Halvorsen Sr.. Both those men filled the church to the rafters. I never left a sermon by either of them that I didn't feel that I was going home to heaven one day. This group of "saints" hated both men. Why? I believe it was because both men appealed directly to the members without deference to that good old boys network of power brokers. I fear that what one dear saint said to me once is true, "What we need in this church is a visit from the Grim Reaper." 

James and Ellen White
We have a serious problem in the church and it isn't with the likes of Morris Venden. After the manipulation by Elder Butler at 1888 GC meeting to suppress the message of righteousness by faith, James and Ellen White wrote that they no longer had confidence that the GC administration spoke with authority for God to the church. Shortly after James died the GC wrangled an invitation to Ellen to go to Australia. She did, but when she came back, she was no less the warrior for Christ. God had already burned down the GC's power base in Battle Creek and forced it to move to Silver Springs. On her return, Sr. White led a minor revolt at the 1903 GC and the members of the church created the union conferences to divest the central administration of much of its power. Ellen said angels walked the aisles at that conference. With this new "unity in diversity" model the church spread around the world like wildfire until our tiny church had the second largest parochial education system in the world, a huge medical work, a massive publishing work and the largest mission work in the Protestant world.

HMS Richards Sr.
Since then, the authoritarians keep trying to recover their power. They use manipulation, bullying, "working policies" and subterfuge to try and accomplish what they think God wants. And the membership keeps resisting. Why? Because they know Christ and they recognize the enemy when he is among them. We may love our children

I believe it's a clear violation of the second commandment that is happening here at the end of time. There's a reason God put that command early on the list. The second commandent is not about cussing. It's about thinking to speak for God when He has given you no such authorization to speak for Him. To invoke his name in vain just to justify your own ambition and lust for power, is a mighty sin. It's the very sin that brought down Lucifer.

Jesus' followers are the meek, the kind and the unassuming. That doesn't mean they won't get up on their hind legs and fight you when you seek to rule God's church or to turn it into an image of the authoritarianism of the Beast. We imitate Christ. He is our master. When you ask yourself, "What would Jesus do?", remember. That might involve flipping over the money-changers' tables and cracking a few whips. And our role model in that was NOT a member of the Sanhedrin at the time.

God bless us all. Unity in diversity is the way forward! We follow Christ, not jumped up middle managers. No one must place themselves between us and Him. I would not want to answer for that before the judgment throne of God.

Yours in Christ,

Tom King

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