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Posts Tagged ‘false doctrine’

Uh, it is so hard to be a Christian at times.  It’s been a long three years of learning since we began to really pay attention to problems in our former church.  Last night we had a meeting with one of the pastors from the church we currently attend.  The pastor could tell based on what we said that we have many hurts from our former church.  He said something interesting, that someone had decided to leave this church recently.  The man stated, “I am leaving here, but these are the things I have gained from this church…”  It was a disagreement, to be sure, but it was also a list of ways God had used the church to help him grow.

I do think we did experience good things in our former church.  There was fellowship with other believers, there was some good teaching (a few pastors in particular).  We did have some great times in our small group, made life long family, life long friends.  We also did learn from some people who despite the church had a habit of studying the bible.  Some lacked discernment (obviously we did and by the grace of God began to realize there were problems, how otherwise I do not know…blind I tell ya).  At any rate, we did gain things, we did grow.

However, there was false teaching there.  Most people preaching/teaching it had no intention to teach falsehood.  They had bought into it and didn’t know.  I know we all have, at times, had an uneducated concept of one thing or another about Christ or salvation etc.  I do believe there are those who just make mistakes and haven’t studied and know no better.   There are others who are deceived and despite being taught truth, they are convinced this or that teaching is the truth and is better.  There are others blinded by their own pride, their own agenda.  I think our former church was (and likely still is) filled with some true believers, some believers who are mistaken, some who are deceived.  Then it also has many who think they are believers but aren’t because the teaching has led them astray.  Then there are those who have come in and are being appeased, but are not in the faith.  Every church has some of this, but not outright deception. 

I believe our former church doesn’t just have doctrines with which people can agree to disagree, and can debate about.  I do believe there is more to it, and that is where the hurt lies.  No matter how nice the lead pastor, no matter how much you believe he has good intentions, he is teaching falsehood.  Spiritual formation as it is taught in our former church seems to be works based.  All the “seeker friendly” stuff is about filling the pews, and misses the mark when teaching the gospel.   The preachers spent too much time off message, and that is where my pain can be found.  There are people still going there, and even if they are true believers, and even if there is some growth, I cannot help but believe it is stunted.

And yet, God can use a bad thing for good.  Beauty from ashes.

So there I go again, thinking of my former church and realizing how stupid we were.  We were blind, and it hurts.  It hurts when others cannot understand things, and do not see the false teaching for what it is and challenge it.  It hurts to know their kids are in the church and are buying it all, eating it all up.  And then they wonder why they leave the church and don’t ever come back?  What are they being offered?

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We have visited one church enough times to begin to believe we may have found our church home. We’re still a bit careful, and don’t want to trust foolishly. Yesterday we were introduced to a couple who used to attend our former church. They actually were “disfellowshipped” and were the only family to ever have that happen in the church’s history. Because of them, we knew to walk carefully when we were presenting our information. This couple, I’ll say Mr. and Mrs. Watchmen, were VERY active in our former church. We actually sat very near to them every Sunday (you know how people get their favorite spots), but we don’t recall ever speaking with them directly. We knew them by face, and they knew us by face, but not by name. About four years ago Mr. and Mrs. Watchmen were in a small group or sunday school class and began to make “trouble.” It was mostly Mr. Watchmen because he’s naturally more bold, but as we spoke yesterday, I could tell Mrs. Watchmen shared his experience and feelings on the situations. Mr. Watchmen had noted compromise when it came to outright Biblical truths. People were allowed to be on the elder board of our former church though they were teaching things contrary to basic doctrine. He also noted problems with the Warrenite “40 Days” book and DVD series every small group was required to go through in our former church. Mr. Watchmen said he was actually asked to leave by an elder when his small group was having the supposed “open discussions” about the 40 Days materials because he was sharing his observations. We do not know all the details of the events in Mr. and Mrs. Watchmen’s situation at our former church, but from what we heard yesterday, they basically stood up and stated the truth and their problems with the mishandling of scripture and use of materials by Rick Warren, Rob Bell (Noomas in meetings at church) and other things. The core of it all was the emergent leanings, the unity at all cost rather than sticking with the truth in scripture, and the unwillingness of the leadership in church to deal with the problems. Everything was kept hush hush.

Our recollection of the entire issue was one meeting at the very end of a church service. It was mentioned that a man was having problems on doctrinal issues. He may have been right about doctrine, but his way of bringing things up was considered “unloving.” It was mentioned that he had been in meetings for over a year with the pastors, and he would not repent of his unloving attitude. It was mentioned the church had also been in contact with a pastor of a former church this couple attended, and Mr. Watchmen had caused similar problems elsewhere, so this was a pattern. We were told Mrs. Watchmen was not the one undergoing church discipline, she had not been a part of her husband’s actions. Then there was a vote. The church voted Mr. Watchmen out of membership. He was not allowed even to set foot in the church until he reconciled. We were to treat him kindly if we saw him, but were not to treat him as we would a member of the church. Mrs. Watchmen was still considered a member. My husband recalls we had to leave, so we did not participate in the vote. I know that if I did vote, I likely voted the man out of fellowship as I respected the elders and leadership. They stacked the case, did not allow the man to speak to the congregation, so we only heard one sanitized side of things. Some time later, it was presented to our congregation that Mr. Watchmen had gone through the reconciliation process. In speaking with them yesterday, it is clear the only reconciliation was that Mr. Watchmen said, “If I have been unloving, that was not my intention, I am sorry.” He says he told them he still recognized the doctrinal deviations were problems and would not claim otherwise. This is not a reconcilliation. Mr. and Mrs. Watchmen seem to still be feeling some hurt from this event long ago. In fact, Mrs. Watchmen says the feel shunned even to this day because leadership including pastors have refused to speak with them in public places when they run into one another. This actually happened recently, and over three years later, one of the pastors still wouldn’t speak to Mrs. Watchmen. Terrible.

When we shared our story, they said that we are an answer to their prayers. They still love the people who attend our former church and continue to pray for the people there. They completely understood our situation, and it seems we would have been headed for the same treatment had we not just left. I cannot imagine the way it would have felt to have been mentioned by name in my church and disfellowshipped in that way. It’s evident, based on our conversation yesterday, that what the pastors and leadership presented to the congregation about Mr. and Mrs. Watchmen was only part of the story and may even have been a twist of the truth (which is a lie). We know when the pastor mentioned us to the congregation (not by name) the story he shared about our meetings was definitely a twist of the information. He may have misunderstood us and our intentions, but at any rate, we were presented as people speaking “lies from the pit of hell.”

Sometimes misery loves company. I will say it was nice to find someone who knows from experience what it feels like to stand up and be slapped down for it.

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