Understanding your disciple’s fear is difficult enough but it is even more challenging when he has a fear of people. A fear of people is a powerful and deceptive lens, which transforms the truth to appear as a lie and a lie as the truth.
Jesus exposed the motives of the religious leaders of his day when he observed: “Everything they do is done for men to see.” (Matthew 23:5). Religious systems are based on pleasing and impressing others, which places a fear of people in the heart of its followers. It was a fear of people that (1) blinded the Pharisees, Sadducees, Priests, and Elders from embracing the love of Jesus and accepting his deity, (2) necessitated that they discredit the miracles that were before their eyes (Luke 6:6-11) and, (3) required them to nullify or modify the scriptures (Matthew 15: 21:23-27; Luke 11:37-53; Acts 7:51-53). A fear of people in a religious context is especially disorienting because it is taught that all we are doing is for God, but in reality many things are being done to please people.
A couple of observations:
- A fear of people will cause your disciple to be apprehensive of your relationship with him since you are a “people”.
- Getting to know the religious background in which your disciple was raised will help you understand how he relates to people and any misconceptions he may have of God. (Lutheran, Methodist, Mormon, Muslim, Catholic, Non-denominational, Baptist, etc.) Just recently I visited the home church of one of my disciples which gave me new understanding into his perspective.
- Teach your disciple to love God and the Bible in such a way that he lets it mean what it says and not what he wants it to say or what others have told him it says.
It seems through some mode of unclear thinking you have conflated the Pharisees with “religious systems”. What has made you conflate the two? And where does that conflation occur in the Gospels? The greater problem here is the suggestion that religious systems (I.e. Christian denominations; some of which are ancient) will distort one’s view of God, and that Lewie Clark will be able to correct all of these big bad religious views. The suggestion that Lewie Clark, who has been around for little more than a half a century, will have the wisdom absent in traditions that have been around for hundreds and some thousands of years and have been held to by the Church’s most pious and brilliant theological teachers is sheer folly and hubris. The intellect of Lewie Clark does not hold a candle to the likes of Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas and this cynicism, skepticism, and bitterness regarding Christ’s Church are shameful in light of their piety. Rather than criticizing the Church for which Christ died and for which these great men lived to serve, you would do well to listen to her wisdom and refrain from suggesting your novel ideas that “religious systems” are inherently problematic. I would certainly like to know where that teaching is found in Christ’s words. If your understanding of the Gospels were historically informed rather than an exercise at looking into the well of history and seeing your own face, it would be easily observed that Christ nowhere condemned the religion of ancient Israel for being a “religious system.” He nowhere condemned the religious gathering in the synagogues and his disciples were a part of the synagogues and temple cultus in Jerusalem until they were recognized as a distinct sect many years after the resurrection. And then they abandoned all those unspiritual acts of religion, right? No. They established a Church that was modeled largely on the form of the synagogue itself. They appointed leaders (as distinct from some so called Christian movements in which men “appoint” themselves). They practiced a right of initiation called Baptism. Central to their meetings was the Eucharist which had replaced the Passover meal and was practiced weekly. It was this meal put in place by the one who said, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves” (John 6:53). And they sang songs and hymns and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19). Sounds awful “religious” to me.
As for the system part: What exactly is wrong with organization? What exactly is wrong with structure? What exactly is wrong with “systems” and systematic teaching? And if nothing is wrong, why suggest that there is a problem with religious systems and why not tell all of your sect that they need to attend a Church with Elders who have been legitimately appointed? The Christian Church from the time of the Apostles themselves have had no problem with order and structure. Their leadership had clear structure with appointed leaders (not self appointed; Acts 14:23 & Titus 1:5). They had a set form of creeds and order in meeting (I.e. they had regular components and an ordered sequence to those components). Small Church creeds in the Pauline corpus are universally recognized by NT scholars. Paul’s emphasis on order is clear from his direction to the Corthinian Church (1 Cor. 14:17-33). What in the world is this passage if not an emphasis on order? There was also a universal order of the Church through universal church councils (Acts 15). All of this is abundantly clear from the Apostles themselves. What could possibly make you think that you are right and that the Holy Spirit inspired Apostles are wrong? You have simply put forth the popular post-modern distaste for organization without the slightest justification for your position (other than making the false suggestion that Jesus condemned “religious systems”). Along with this, the practice of teaching the theological content of the one faith of the universal church in an ordered way has accompanied every great teacher of the Church from the Apostles to the Apostolic Fathers to the Bishops of Nicea to Augustine to every great reformed tradition (Luther, Calvin, Anglican, Reformed Baptist- I.e. Spurgeon). Since the Apostles’ Creed taught by the early Church, these great teachers of the Church created a universal catechesis by which all were taught the faith which is universal and not particular to each individual (As St. Paul said, “There is ONE faith” just as there is one Spirt, One Lord, and one baptism (Ephesians 4:5)). As Paul warned the Corinthians who were dividing into sects around different personalities (just as your sect has done), Christians are to have “the same judgment” and “the same mind” without division (1 Cor. 1:10; Paul had just warned against schism, schismata). This means that the Church universally confesses the same profession of faith. From the time of the Apostolic Fathers, the Church has universally confessed the Apostolic creed. This was in the 100s AD. From the time of the council of Nicea, the Church has universally confessed the creed of Nicea. All of the greatest teachers of the church have taught and made this confession, and you would criticize the practice for being “organized” or “systematized” as though order were some inherent evil? Catechism has always been important in the Christian faith because truth has always been important. Truth has always been important because Christ, Who is Truth itself, has always been important. Not only is Truth of the utmost importance, false teaching is supremely dangerous. The Church from the time of the Apostles have always warned vigorously against false teaching and the division its causes. They did this because schism or division can eternally separate someone from God. Paul makes this frightful reality clear in Galatians . He writes that those who practice the deeds of the flesh such as “division” (dichostasiai), “separation into parties” (aireseis) “ will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:20-21). The latter word is used interchangeably with schismata by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:18-19 as the Corinthians church was dividing and grouping around various personalities (as your group has done around you). In the early church, it was recognized that divisions occur through contentious teachers who introduce their own novel doctrines. By doing this, they separate their followers by putting forth their own idiosyncratic teaching in opposition to what the Apostles and universal Church has always taught. This prideful effort to be “uniquie” or “distinctive” results in heresy causing division from the larger Church. The poison of such false teaching is that it separates adherents from truth (Christ Himself) by binding them to lies. The source of these lies are demonic. Paul makes this clear in the warning regarding being led astray by “deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1). By accepting lies, heretics reject fellowship with the truth and instead have fellowship with demons. Heresy and false doctrine have one source: the father of lies and his demonic hoards. Your teaching against “religious systems” such as the Church is false. It has never been taught by the Christ, the Apostles, or any great teacher of the Church. It has been introduced by your imagination through the influence of the liar and his hoards. You have happily accepted this lie nursing your bitterness and cynicism. You should turn to the truth of the Scriptures which teach through St. Paul that “the Church of the living God” is “the pillar and support of truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). Those separated from the Church have been separated from the pillar of truth. This is the true faith, not cynical suggestions against the Church.
The Church for which Christ died is happily an organized body. Christians are religious people. And Christianity is an organized religion. If Lewie Clark invents some teaching from his own imagination and starts some sect with no ties to what has been taught in the Church for 2000 years, may God have mercy on those who follow. May they remember the words of Paul that those who separate into divisions will not inherit the Kingdom of God and that those who lead astray do so by “smooth and flattering speech” (Romans 16:18). You have been warned privately and have continued your path of false teaching against Christ’s Church. Now you are warned publicly. If you do not fear men and do not fear the Truth, let this be answered rather than fearfully erased from your website and conveniently ignored.