I recently made a slew of posts on Facebook addressing Christian culture, the value of Torah, and the power of challenging our foundation. Here they all are, compiled.
I titled this blog the way I did, not because I was ranting—but because it was perceived that way. For some, these words will be strong and jarring. But, I assure you, while they are strong and challenging, my tone and disposition is one of empathy.
The issue with the Christian Church/Christianity is not the people, but the culture. People beget culture and culture begets people. Shrugs.
Christianity, aside from its fundamental falsehoods, fosters an environment where people are inclined to pretend, are shamed, hide, are fearful, unconfident, etc. The culture encourages people to flaunt spirituality, righteousness, and traditions as cloaks of confidence. The culture allows you to dismiss contrary ideas without ever exploring the idea in the name of guarding your salvation. The culture encourages people to live in shame under the guise of humility. The culture encourages people to distrust themselves in the name of wisdom and trusting God.
Having left Christianity, I have found the concessions I used to make, I no longer have to make.
I can trust YAH and myself.
I can mess up and not be ashamed.
I can be confident and it doesn’t mean I’m prideful.
I can be unconfident and it not mean I don’t have enough faith.
I can come as I am to YAH and His people and my value still be in tact.
Long story short—there’s a lot less pretending outside of religion. I’m still unlearning the systems of religion—for sure. So, I don’t ever mean for this to sound like I know everything and you should listen to me. If it challenges or offends you in any particular way, feel free to explore why.
What’s so interesting about this is so many Christians are sharing it, but when I and others point out fundamental flaws in this religious system, it becomes about, “Oh no, the church has failed you! My church isn’t like that! We just need to focus on Jesus. Maybe you didn’t have a good experience.”
Why is it Christians can jokingly say Paul would correct the Christian church in America, but feel the need to refute when someone (who isn’t a Christian) says the church needs correction?
Christian culture (cont’d)
When I start talking about the shame, fear, pretending, etc., that’s present in Christian culture, I get similar responses. Most of the time, people think it’s an anomaly. “Maybe they went to a church that was very condemning and strict.” It’s not really about that. Two things I want to point out.
1. People show up broken to the church and the culture exasperates or conceals the issue. It is not necessarily the cause of peoples’ various issues.
2. We don’t know what God wants.
These two are the bread and butter for Christian culture. Together, they make a dangerous mix.
People show up to this system—to the pastors, churches, denominations, conferences, Christians—broken. They’re looking for a remedy. They’re looking for a remedy to the self-hate, their so-called sin nature, their fleshly desires. Then, they’re given Jesus. They’re told Jesus loves you and just wants you to follow Him. You just need to give up those things that Jesus doesn’t like. Simple enough.
What are the things He doesn’t like? They’re told sexual promiscuity, lust, stealing, lying, judging, cheating, killing, smoking, revealing clothing, cursing, certain friends, pride, certain past times. The list goes on. So, their journey begins.
What happens when people are not able to give up their “fleshly desires”? What happens when even though they’ve been going to church, praying, fasting, and the desire is still there? The response many get (although most don’t approach anyone because they’re afraid to admit that it’s just not taking) is pray more, study more, worship more, fast more. Whatever the Christian disciplines are, do more of them.
Then what happens? During the time that it’s “not working”, they feel the need to pretend because it SEEMS like so-and-so over there isn’t struggling with anything.
There is an element of the culture in Christianity where people want to cast off suffering as though it devalues them or their place with God—as if it diminishes their spirituality.
This leads me to the second part. When a person is backed into a corner like this one, they have no choice but to create their own set of beliefs and practices (that are already in their wheelhouse) and say this is what God wants from me. That way, they can alleviate themselves from the constant pressure of “still haven’t arrived”. This can be observed at every level of this system. From church, denomination, individual—there are a list of to-dos and to-donts from some obscure list in the New Testament that says THIS is what we should be focused on. If you’re doing this, you’re alright.
But it doesn’t stop there. The culture requires you to add to the Word. Now, certain clothing, style of music, lingo, gospel artists, situations are exactly what you need (or don’t need) in order to please God.
All because we can’t simply admit that we don’t know what God wants and we’re not sure if we’re meeting His expectation.
In this kind of environment, sin of all sort is able to prevail. Their is no sense of true identity. It is simply the identity I conjure up and feel comfortable being and am validated by others in this system. These laws we create help cover our deficiencies. Adhering to them help us feel like we have forward motion. They help us feel like we’re “impacting the kingdom.”
This does not simply exist in the so-called “condemning churches.” This is present in the majority of churches that do not have a proper footing in Torah first.
Torah, the deep process of healing that it offers, will rid you of self-hate, shame, condemnation, negative fear, doubt, worry, distrust, etc. The list goes on.
If a church’s foundation of Scripture and life is not built on Torah, it is a rootless tree pretending to be something it is not.
If you (Christian) see my posts, it’s okay for you to disagree. You might even feel offended. However, it’s not okay for you to read my posts looking for something to disagree with or an opportunity to discredit.
Granted, I don’t feel like most people do this. Honestly, the people that reply are likely the people who are available for open dialogue–which I appreciate.
If my posts about Christian culture irritate you, fine. But, don’t let that irritation stop you from seeing the truth in my words.
Truthfully, I’ve heard Christians rebuke the culture of the Christian church vehemently while I was still apart of it. This rebuke was allowed because it was coming from someone “on the inside.” The moment someone “from the outside” rebukes, it is met with “othering.”
Many Christians “other” differing views and in doing so remain stagnant in their understanding. This does not mean I have everything right. However, the only way I or you are going to discover truth is if we go through this process of reasoning and challenge. If there is an invisible bottom line that we hold, our verbal sharpening is for naught.
What is the point in having dialogue or exploring certain ideas if your plan is to walk away believing what you already believe? Come into these conversations with the intent to discover truth even if it’s something you’ve never believed before.
In Christianity, I think many of us were taught to hold so tightly to the truth almost in fear that it could so easily be ripped or plucked out of us. Think of the parable of the seed and sower (not sure if that was the title). Some seed was snatched while others took root, but withered. Many know the illustration.
My words are meant to challenge what your ground is. What soil are you planting in? What has been planted? What has taken root?
Additionally, the pushback or ignoring of what I’ve presented is evidence of another issue within the culture and it proves what I’ve said before.
Christian culture facilitates people running from Light. We’re so fearful of judgment. This fear is gripping. It grips us to our practices. It grips us to our doctrines. It grips us to our fig leaves. We’re so afraid that if God looks our direction, He might not like what He sees.
When You understand Torah: that you need to be judged, that you need to present yourself before Light (YHWH/YAH/God), that He needs to look you over, that He’s lovingly looking over you, that He believes in you, how He sees you, there will be no need to run. These conversations become a lot easier to have.
These ideas may not seem connected. But, there are always things planted so deeply that we cannot see unless we examine our behavior. Upon deeper diving, we discover the seed that was originally planted.
More on Christian Culture…
What makes Christian culture so damaging? It lacks vulnerability.
The inner journey of many is to come in, learn the culture, do as they’ve seen, stand on what they believe. This does not sound bad. Quite honestly, it doesn’t look bad either.
It seems like I can find a problem with anything. How can standing on what you believe be a bad thing?
When you stand on what you believe as a means to feel or appear confident without acknowledging where you are unconfident, you enter dangerous territory.
Many of those sermons that seem to have been taught with such anointing, were often taught from the few pockets of confidence that an individual has. Many are standing on the little confidence they have and will not come off of it. This is fear.
This is because somewhere in their belief system or pathology, they cannot afford to be vulnerable. They cannot afford to be unconfident. It almost feels like being unguarded.
When you are vulnerable, it almost feels like you’re in a weakened state. With all the trauma many Christians (like any other human) are carrying around, it makes sense that they’d form systems and beliefs that keep them guarded from facing those painful, unconfident areas.
Many of us are afraid of the truth of who we are. So, we don’t search deeper. We recite our staple verses and ignore anything that feels contrary. Any revelation that shows us how we truly see ourselves can almost always be written off as “the devil is attacking me.”
This is fear. Scripture says, “The fear of Elohim is the beginning of knowledge.” Fear is not inherently a negative thing. This is understood when studied from the Hebraic perspective. There is fear as in being afraid. There is fear that means something else. This is what I’m talking about. Fear is foundation. Fear is what you stand on. Fear is what you have allegiance to. Fear is root.
To have the “fear of Elohim” is to have Him be your root. To have the fear of Elohim means you’ve undergone the process of challenging your foundation to the extent to where all that remains is Him/His Torah.
This requires vulnerability. This requires slowing down in life–not simply creating pockets of time where you are to “hear from God” or “spend time with God”. It requires being sensitive to what He is challenging in you day in and day out. As you submit yourself to that process, you will find it easier to face those painful spaces and you will become whole.
Excerpt from the article,
“HEBREW THOUGHT COMPARED WITH GREEK (WESTERN) THOUGHT: A KEY TO UNDERSTANDING SCRIPTURE THROUGH THE EYES OF THE AUTHORS”
“It is particularly difficult for Westerners—those whose thought-patterns have been influenced more by the Greeks and Romans than by the Hebrews—to piece together the block logic of Scripture. When we open the Bible, therefore, since we are not Orientals, we are invited…to ‘undergo a kind of intellectual conversion’ to the Hebraic world of the East.
“Let us turn, then to some of the many examples of block logic found throughout Scripture. The book of Exodus says that Pharaoh hardened his heart, but it also says that God hardened it (Ex. 8:15; cf. 7:3). The prophets teach that God is both wrathful and merciful (Isa. 45:7; Hab. 3:2). The New Testament refers to [Yeshua] as the ‘Lamb of God’ and the ‘Lion of the tribe of Judah’ (Jn. 1:29, 36; Rev. 5:5). Hell is described as both ‘blackest darkness’ and the firey lake’ (Jude 13; Rev. 19:20). In terms of salvation, [Yeshua] said, ‘whoever comes to me I will never drive away,’ yet no one can come ‘unless the Father draws him’ (Jn. 6:37, 44). To find life you must lose it (Mt. 10:39). When you are weak, then you are strong (2 Cor. 12:10). The way up (exhaltation) is the way down (humility) (Lk. 14:11). ‘Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated’ (Rom. 9:13; Mal. 1:3).
“Consideration of certain forms of block logic may give one the impression that divine sovereignty and human responsibility were incompatible. The Hebrews, however, sense no violation of their freedom as they accomplish God’s purposes. Upon a more careful reading of the biblical text one can often observe that the Bible views one block from the perspective of divine transcendence—God says, ‘I will harden Pharaoh’s heart’—and the other from a human point of view—‘Pharaoh hardened his heart’ (Ex. 4:21; 7:3,13; 8:15). The same is often true of Scriptures which deal with themes of predestination/election and free will/human freedom.
“In sum, the Hebrew mind could handle this dynamic tension of the language of paradox, confident that ‘all is in the hands of Heaven except the fear of Heaven’…Divine sovereignty and human responsibility were not incompatible.”
Jesus taught to uphold the Torah and meant to establish its original fundamental meaning which had been corrupted by the religious leaders of His day.
To know Him, we have to understand His Torah. If you do not understand His Torah, you will not understand who came as flesh. If we do not understand His Torah, we are following a religion about Him, but so far removed–which inevitably leads to being removed from His power.
“It has been admitted, by even some in the Christian church, that Christianity is not the religion of Jesus/Yeshua, but rather the religion about the Person of Jesus/Yeshua. For it to be the religion of Yeshua and his early disciples, it would have to uphold that obedience to the Torah’s standards of righteous living is a requirement of Christians today.”
Why did God give the Torah to begin with if He knew it was too hard to do?
I think many look at failing as confirmation that we were simply not meant to do it. This is not the proper view of failure (sin). Additionally, one could just as easily apply this logic to the lives of Christians today. Are we not meant to believe in the sacrifice of Yeshua/Jesus and what it afforded us because we still fail? No.
But we’re “under grace.” We keep using this phrase as a vague spiritual designation that essentially means God won’t hold your failure against you. I’d prefer not to get into the details of things. So, I’m giving a broad overview for you to consider.
Firstly, the proper translation of torah is not law, but instruction or teaching. Torah shows us the nature of God. Torah teaches us how to live in harmony with ourselves, each other, & God according to the natural patterns and invisible laws that govern life on Earth.
To try to do everything in the torah and not learn the heart of the torah is futile. God nor Jesus ever advocated for this sort of surface-level engagement with Torah. Instead, Torah is a mirror that has the power to correct and adjust you. When you are wandering off the path, it brings you back from destruction. Torah does a deep healing. It cannot heal as it naturally does if you are applying it improperly. People will apply it incorrectly if they understand it incorrectly.
By the time Yeshua/Jesus had come, the state of the people of Israel was incredibly removed. The religious leaders imposed a surface-level application of Torah and even added and subtracted from it while teaching others to do the same.
This is the qualm Jesus had with them. I know in Christianity, we’ve been taught that Yeshua was opposing the Torah because it was too hard and legalistic. Instead, Yeshua was opposing the religious spirit/nature of the people of this time that would make futile systems of what is a way of life. They meant to validate themselves and were foregoing the process of healing that happens when you let YAH teach you who He is through His Torah. When YAH teaches you, He validates you.
This is the tone of the Torah. Think of the Ten Commandments–better known as the Ten Words. These are not threats or strict laws given to Israel so that they wouldn’t do anything God didn’t like. Instead, they are written with the tone of validating who they are. “You will not murder because this is who you are.” YAH declares the standard and we walk the path. He adjusts us as we teeter to and fro as our strength is built. This is very foundational.
The Pharisees created systems, ideas, and the like where they could be validated by their own works and not by allowing their hearts to be circumcised as always intended. They were creating their own foundations. They were living as they pleased and declared “this is what God wants from me.”
This is reminiscent of what is happening in Christian culture today. Many are passing down ideas, traditions, and doctrines without challenging them and are saying, “this is what God wants from us.” Many would rather stay doing what they’re doing and be validated rather than ask, “what is it that you want?”
This rant was not done from a particularly negative place. I was excited about my ponderings and decided to share them. I’ve enjoyed and am deeply grateful for all of the engagement. Many people have commented, debated, encouraged, questioned, and it’s been fruitful.
Until next time!