Dear Church: I Left And I’m Not Going Back

I left because I started to ask, “why do we do what we do?” “What does Scripture say?” Finding the answer to those questions is what led me here.​

Christians don’t know what to do with those who leave the church.

I’ve seen a few typical responses. These are either reactions to or explanations for people leaving. These responses indicate something about the foundation and dynamics operating in the Christian Church.

These will be in no particular order.

  • Indignant. Some are incredibly angry that a person would not agree and align with their idea of the importance of church or traditional Christian ideals.

This indicates there is a foundation of control upon which Christianity is built or the conduit through which it is practiced.

  • Control. Some are frustrated that this person is no longer able to be controlled.

This points to how powerless people in religion feel and their need to cover or compensate for this powerlessness. This is evidenced in various doctrines and traditions.

  • Fear. Some are afraid that you’ll be lost or “the devil’s going to get you.”

This shows how many have been shamed and scared into life with YAH.

  • That’s none of my business. Some don’t feel they are mature enough to relate and converse with someone who may be grappling with their faith and religion. So, they avoid it altogether.

This points to the social system embedded in the Christian church and how people see their roles therein.

  • Longing. In a phrase, “I wish I could do that. I wish I was strong enough to do that.”

This points to the exhaustion of people in religion. Many are tired as they run on the hamster wheel of religion, but it keeps you codependent upon its system. So, you can’t really leave (you can, but you feel like you can’t).

  • Devalue. This is the belief that you are of no value or importance if you are not a part of this belief system anymore.

This points to the incomplete system of validation the Church has set up. People look to pastors, church community, no other Christians to validate themselves. Anyone who does not adhere to this value system immediately and innately loses their value.

Your response to this shouldn’t be to cover up or justify how you or your church normally responds. My encouragement to you if you’ve read this through, is ask. Figure out why people are leaving the Church and Christianity as a whole. Don’t make assumptions.

I left because I started to ask, “why do we do what we do?” “What does Scripture say?” Finding the answer to those questions is what led me here.

People are leaving a system they once felt so strongly about. I felt I had to defend this faith. I felt a responsibility and a weight that many feel today.

I’ve been hesitant at times to share more about my beliefs before I left because people use that to explain away why I left. They’ll say, “You just weren’t doing it right. You just weren’t serious. I’ve always been certain about _. I’ve always known that! You were just at the wrong church. Not all churches are the same.”

I’ve reached a place now where I’m okay with the conclusions people will draw. I think one of two could happen if people started being curious when people leave.

One. They will start to look at what the Church has been doing for so long and make radical changes.

Two. Others will start to leave — much like an exodus.

This is what I think some pastors or Christians are fearful of. They’re afraid to look within. They’re afraid to question and challenge. What if I find out something I don’t like? What if everything I’ve built my doctrine on falls apart? Where would I go? What would I do?

It’s okay to not have the answers to those questions. So, if you do find yourself in that place, feel free to reach out to me!

He is good.
Everything will be okay!

Parables and the Torah, An Introduction

Many of us have become those with no ear to hear. The Church (or those who so claim) is sick because she is disconnected from the Way (Torah) that the Way (Yeshua) taught of.

Have you heard the account of Joseph? In case you haven’t: Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers after he’d revealed he’d had a dreamed that he would one day rule over them. This account can be found in the book of Bereshit (Genesis) chapters 37-50. This is a very popular account taught on a many of occasions. It provides encouragement as ministers extract principles and lessons from Joseph’s experience. “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” “Your setback may be a setup for victory!” “What the devil meant for evil, God means for your good.” “He makes all things work together!” The list goes on.

Another perspective people tend to take when reading Joseph’s story is a very “me-centered” perspective. “Sometimes, you can’t tell everybody your dreams.” “Some of y’all got some haters acting like they’re your friend.” The emphasis quickly becomes Joseph or ‘us’ reading the story. Every other person becomes an extra in the story of Joseph. If we read Scripture this way, we will always walk away with a partial understanding or none at all.

Joseph’s story has little to do with dreams or personal victories. Joseph, like others read about in the Bible, is a small piece in the major scope of Scripture. No one’s story is ever just about them. To some extent, I think we know that — in a very general sense. However, I don’t think we know that within its proper context.

If we continue reading Joseph’s story, we find that his experiences positioned him to help all of Israel. Additionally, he was able to reconcile and be one with his brothers again (which nullifies the me-centered, hater sort of perspective). See, every account, parable, and ‘character’ will always relate back to the grand picture of YAH’s relationship with Israel.

We have to begin reading all of Scripture in this light. Let me demonstrate the importance of this.

Preachers know that Yeshua (name Aramaic and Hebrew people called the Messiah) used parables to deliver deeper truths to the people listening and will use this approach to illustrate ideas they’ve extracted from a text.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with using illustrations to help people understand the deeper truths.

However, it quickly becomes an issue when the message, Scripture, and illustrations are filtered through our culture that is already counter-Scripture. I came across a post on Facebook once that shows the juxtaposition of Hebrew thought and Western (Greco-Roman) thought. Here are a few examples:

  • Man-centered universe (W) vs. God/tribe/family-centered universe (H)
  • Freedom orientation (W) vs. Security orientation (H)
  • Life analyzed in precise categories (W) vs. Everything blurs into everything else (H)
  • Rugged Individualism (W) vs. Importance of being part of group (H)
  • Worth of person based on money/material possessions/power (W) vs. Worth derived from family relationships (H)

My desire in writing these blogs about the Torah is to strike curiosity in your mind about Scripture. This is enough to bring someone closer to truth. I walked very devotedly in Christianity for 20+ years of my life. So, I know the ins and outs of the objections of some of the things I may present via my blog. This is to say, I understand. My blogs are never to shame readers who may still consider themselves Christians. Instead, it is to challenge your perspective and encourage you toward deeper truths. For something is only as strong as it is challenged.

Some will say knowing the culture of the Hebrew people is unnecessary. “We’re not meant to be Jews.”

First, we need a better understanding of the concept of culture, especially as it relates to Scripture. Mostly, we understand culture to be the traditions, foods, music, holidays a group of people hold to. While we can certainly identify those things in Hebrew culture, what we observe of Israel and their interaction with YAH recorded in Scripture is not simply “their culture” — especially not in the same way we understand culture today.

So, what’s the difference?

The Torah (first five books of the Bible) contains a way of life. Even more — it is THE WAY of life. It is literally how life/nature operates. It reveals the character and nature of YAH. Hebrew culture is built on, recorded, and encompassed in the Torah.

When Yeshua said, “I am THE WAY, the Truth, and the Life,” He was making Himself equivalent to the Torah. He was saying I am the Torah — the written ideas of YAH — made flesh

“Aleph Blessed are the perfect in the way, Who walk in the Torah of יהוה (Ps. 119:1)!”

“Your righteousness is righteousness forever, and Your Torah is truth (Ps. 119:142).”

“For the command is a lamp, and the Torah a light, and reproofs of discipline a way of life (Prov. 6:23).”

Many of us have heard the verse, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).” Many of us have been taught the Bible is the Word of God. But, Scripture says that Yeshua is the Word. But, what is the Word?

In the Greek, the word for ‘Word’ is logos. Logos means ‘divine utterance’ or ‘expressed idea.’

We’ve been taught it means Yeshua is the ‘’expressed idea God had.’’ This is true, but incomplete. What is Yeshua the expressed idea of? What idea did God have? The Torah! So, to understand Him apart from the Torah, within the context of our culture, is to barely understand Him at all.

So, how can we expect to understand what He taught if we are unwilling to study the very ideas from which He taught? 

Second, the culture we are engulfed in today is a syncretism of various ideologies that make YAH pluralistic, dualistic, and watered down. A lot of the traditions — if not most — observed in Christianity are due to a mixing. They have been observed due to many concessions and manipulations made by the early church (when it linked with Rome’s government) in order to “tame” the pagans of their time. (Read more about it here: http://hoshanarabbah.org/blog/2014/05/21/how-the-church-divorced-itself/). So, the very theology many of us defend was not originally ours to begin with.

The messages many of us extract from Scripture is counter-Torah or are incomplete applications of Scripture.

When Yeshua told parables, they were always directly related to the Torah. It created a picture that derived from the foundation. If those that heard were not truly connected to the foundation, the root, then “they did not have ears to hear.”

Many of us have become those with no ear to hear. This is not really our fault. We’ve passed down information gained by those with a genuine desire to know YAH and commune with Him. Regardless, the problem in Christianity is we’ve assumed there is little relevance to what Yeshua taught (Torah) because “it was just their culture.” Nah. It wasn’t just culture as we understand it — it was the way of life! Their whole culture is built on the Torah. The Torah is the foundation of Hebrew thought.

Problematically, the Church has divorced itself from anything Hebrew and has lost proper interpretation and foundation of Scripture. How do you know?

  • Unless we learn the Torah, we will read the account of the woman caught in adultery and think its central message was about not judging or the grace of God. 
  • Unless you learn Torah, you will read about the Pharisees and think that Messiah’s opposition to them was because He was doing away with “the Law.” 
  • Unless we learn Torah, we will read Joseph’s ascent into governmental authority and think the story is about accomplishing your dreams.
  • Unless you learn Torah, you will continue to think that Messiah did away with the Torah rather than the law. (There is a distinction; ‘under the law’ doesn’t mean what you may think it means).

It is time for us to truly understand and apply Scripture. 

Many have found themselves drawn to study the whole Bible without knowing why. Many have felt the need to start over. There is a reason for this. YAH is providing foundation for His people. YAH is providing healing for His people. Healing will come from a proper application of Torah. Guaranteed. 

The Church (or those who so claim) is sick because she is disconnected from the Way (Torah) that the Way (Yeshua) taught of. As long as we keep applying society’s idea of religion to our lives and study of Scripture, we will never walk in the fullness of intimate communion with Him.

That is all.

Be sensible. Be fools.

Over and out.

The Church: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

This dependence upon the church system is very subtle and marketed as commitment and duty. The Church will not see true change until it untethers itself from its erroneous ideas of “the church house” and return to the actual house — the family.

The society in which we live, in the United States, can trace its roots to Greco-Roman culture–our government, religion, education, hierarchical ideals, architecture, economy, philosophy, sports, etc. Today: This is the source of much of the Church’s ideals, Church doctrine, structure, participation in government, and various practices.

  • It can explain why congregations have typically met in buildings of a particular architectural structure and leadership organization.
  • It can explain the leadership structure and power dynamic between minister and church-goer.
  • It can explain the relationship between churches and the government.
  • It is seen in the growth of mega-churches.

The evidence of Greco-Roman influence is still readily seen in the Christian Church today. But, where did it come from?

Yesterday

In the 4th century, Constantine, Rome’s first Christian emperor, legitimized and legalized the practices of early disciples of Messiah, which came to be known as Christianity and condemned to death those that wouldn’t follow it. He and other Roman emperors of that time harnessed control of the people through religion. He influenced the way in which believers walked out their faith. Interestingly enough, the religion he legitimized (as we knew it then and today) is not the way of life believers were walking during Jesus’ time or a couple hundred years after.

Essentially, Constantine made it legal to be Christian. Many theologians and Christians praise him for this. However, this praise may be given too swiftly. Emperor Constantine and other leaders helped propel the Church in a direction she is still reeling toward. He and others before and after him are responsible for:

  • Sunday being the preferred day of worship. There is significant evidence that for the first couple hundred years following the death, burial, and resurrection of Messiah followers of Yeshua still kept the Sabbath and met on the Sabbath.
  • Christianity became a Roman-rooted religion and divorced itself from anything remotely Jewish or Hebrew (Even the Messiah took a hit with that one).
  • The legitimization of the Trinity doctrine.
  • Celebration of holidays that were originally in no way connected to the faith of the followers of Yeshua (Christmas, Easter, Lent, etc.) The first-century apostles were still keeping feasts and festivals of YAH (Leviticus 23). Check out Zachery Bauer’s video about this subject.
  • Belief that the Torah (first five books of the Bible) and law were done away with in Jesus.
  • Jewish observances (such as the Feast Days) and religious practices were banned and replaced.

Today

Christians and Christian churches have long been protected and “legitimized” in this country–similar to Rome. It is only a matter of time before the government attempts and succeeds at dictating what the Church and Christians can and cannot do to a far greater extent. From whom you are given freedom, with them lies the power to determine the extent to which you experience that freedom.

This is why the current model of the Church is ineffective. They operate tethered to society but desire to effect change in society. It has been neutralized.

Interestingly, the power and authority of their walk lies in the protection from their government. This means, Christians are legally allowed to exercise their faith in the United States and find a security in this.

The Church system has created a “law” of “going to church” for Christians. Christians find Scripture they believe support this practice in the way it’s been taught. This “law” is fostering a dependence upon a system. This dependence is very subtle and marketed as commitment and duty.

Take a look at the Catholic Church. The Pope told parishioners not to worry about coming to confessional amid pandemic — go directly to God. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, if there is no priest available (during moments of grave), a Catholic is to confess their sins to God directly and ask for a pardon from Him.

This emphasis on church has crippled the actual Body of Messiah.

What happens when you can’t assemble in a building as a government-protected assembly?

What happens to your faith when you don’t have a pastor elevated in a pulpit (Greco-Roman practice) bringing the Word?

What happens if the government removes the 501c-3 status of churches and requires they pay a tax? Are you going to call it persecution?

What happens when the government dictates how you will apply your faith?

What happens when the government enacts legislation that is in conflict with your doctrinal belief? What happens when they enforce it?

Tomorrow

The COVID-19 pandemic challenged Christians to consider their connection to church, government, and society. Many, in beautiful vulnerability, described a feeling of being displaced, confused, strange, and the like without having the regular practice of church-going.

Many have spoken up and expressed how the pandemic gave us the opportunity to reconnect with God and family in a fresh way. This is key!

Prior to the church becoming the center of discipline and life, it was the family. This is still God’s elected system. The Church will not see true change until it untethers itself from its erroneous ideas of “the church house” and return to the actual house — the family.

Some resources to review after reading this post:

How the Church Divorced Itself From Its Hebrew Roots: http://hoshanarabbah.org/blog/2014/05/21/how-the-church-divorced-itself/