Monthly Archives: August 2014

Part Five of: Collectivist Ideology Masquerading as the Orthodox Christian Ideal

“But if the only people in your circle are those who [sic] the wind blows your way, you run the risk of being pushed in directions you really don’t want to go.”

(Community:  Your pathway to progress, North Point Ministries, 2008, p. 17)

To begin, this question is deceptive because according to the group metaphysic to which the author(s) of this manifesto subscribe, there is no “risk”, there is only certainty.  Meaning, since your existence is only legitimate, efficacious, and actual as a direct function of the collective, you will pursue life and act in accordance with the dictates of the group.  There is no “risk” because there is no individual will.  Once you are in a group of “those the wind blows your way”, there is no maybe about it.  You will exist as a function of that group and do what that group does.  Period.  And you will then summarily become guilty of metaphysical insufficiency and moral depravity because this group of barbarian nomads is decidedly not the group which the author(s) of this primer declares is the only right group.  The assumption behind this question is that those people “blown your way” are indubitably an evil influence.  The only “good” collective is the church collective…specifically, the protestant reformed church collective.

In other words, you are either a member of the group they are espousing, or you are a member of an apostate group by default and bound for hell.  Never mind that YOU, in this metaphysic, do not exist at all and therefore it is impossible to argue that YOU will be eternally punished (for as the group rises, so the group falls…there is no individual suffering because there is no individual).  But remember, all the inconsistencies are forever punted into the cosmic abyss of God’s mystery.  All logical contradictions are only contradictions because you have not been given the grace to perceive God’s “real” truth, because you are epistemologically incapable of perception because you, individually, are totally depraved as a function of your root metaphysic.  So, in other words, shut the fuck up, do what your told, and leave the hard questions and paradoxes for the group leadership to understand, which has all divine authority over you, because they alone are standing in the stead of God.  Which literally means that they are God to you; there is no difference as far as you are concerned.

Nervous yet?  Sure you are…as you should be.

And finally, and most obviously, the idea that “the wind” indifferently blows people your way is a rank rejection of the reformed view of God’s sovereignty.  According to their determinist philosophy, not only does nothing happen which God does not ordain, but nothing happens which God does not specifically ordain for a specific purpose, which may or may not remain a mystery (well, at least in whole, for it is always a mystery in part) to those who are merely the vehicles (extensions) of His divine Will.  This means that it is then, by philosophical definition, impossible for you to randomly fall into some group by happenstance, blind fate, or even free choice (which you already know they categorically deny…even though they lie, or are ignorant, and say they don’t).  And again, this idea that things happen just because they happen even though God is “in control of all things” (and how often we are treated to that little gem of irrational thinking) is merely another paradox punted into oblivion, left to the pastors to apprehend for you.  You just gotta believe.  The acceptance of things as true which cannot possibly be true in any measure of human reality is a badge of holy faith, sure to bring the blessings of God immeasurably to all those who believe.

But of course since the root of reality is found in assertions which are mutually exclusive it makes it extremely dubious that you can or will possess the epistemological sufficiency to apprehend said blessings when they occur…but that’s not really your concern, either.  Your job again is simply to believe, by hook or crook, no matter what the consequence, and to never assume that you should ever know why you believe nor think that you should, nor have any right (because you are totally depraved) to, observe some kind of logical, and pleasant, outcomes of your faith.  For if the outcomes were logical then the belief would be logical, which means it would not be contradictory, which means it wouldn’t require much faith (again, these are the doctrinal assumptions of reformed “scholars”).  In other words, irrational faith will lead not to a logical outcome, but an irrational one, by definition.  And so any blessing derived from your faith will not be rationally observed.  Thus, you need to have that same blind faith to accept that the consequences will make sense, and be blessings to you, even though you cannot understand these blessings for the same reason you cannot understand the contradictions which form the root of what you are supposed to believe by faith.  And the reason is simply because you can’t understand.  Ever.  Because it is your very SELF which is depraved, wicked, flawed, and insufficient, and thus is categorically and perpetually exclusive of the morality and truth of God, by nature.

So the natural outcome of the reformed epistemology is belief for the sake of belief, and nothing more.  Thus, the ability to concede rationally and efficaciously impossible ideas is the pinnacle of collectivist enlightenment.

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“Simply put, your progress spiritually hinges on your willingness to enter into structured relationships with other believers…

…God works through relationships and that’s what this group is all about.  It’s about being part of a community.  It’s about doing life with a consistent group of people for the sake of spiritual progress.”

(Community:  Your pathway to progress, North Point Ministries, 2008, p. 18)

Since “spiritual progress” (whatever the fuck that means) is the only relevant progress, according to the “orthodox” Christian dualistic metaphysic, your worth, existentially speaking (meaning, as a function of your very being), is a direct function of not only relationships with other believers, but structured relationships”.  Of course, this naturally begs the question:  Just what does “structured” mean in this context?  Because this word simply appears out of the blue, never mentioned in the preceding pages, and is given no attention once it is submitted.  The reader thus is left with the conspicuous absence of any meaningful definition of “structured”.  Nevertheless, I do not mind hazarding a guess…and truly even more than a guess, I would bet money, and I mean real money, that “structured” means “authority.  Which means a hierarchy of rulers, culminating in the Senior Pastor who possesses the full mandate of heaven to compel your behavior.  “Structured relationships” then is merely a euphemism…a Christian collectivist code for the massively unbiblical and downright villainous reformed doctrines of Authority and Submission.

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“Discussion: 

1.  Tell the group about one or two of your friends.  Why did you choose them?  What was the basis for your connection?”

(p. 19 of preceding citation)

My criticism of this section of the primer will not deal directly with it as it is stated.  Rather, I wish to discuss briefly the underlying authoritarian premise behind relationships amongst people in collectivist organizations, most conspicuously observed in the modern American neo-Calvinist movement:

No secrets.

That’s the rule which is the foundation of your relationship with the group and everyone in it.  But why is your life to be an open book to the group which claims proprietorship over it?

By now the answer should be obvious.  Your life is not your own, of course.  It belongs to the collective.  It IS the collective.  Any attempt to harbor a life of your own is likened to sinful deception and will get you labeled a subversive, and your personal life will be targeted mercilessly, and you will be hounded for information; and if you are not forthcoming and obedient, you will be summarily dismissed, ostracized, or worse, depending on how much destruction they think they can get away with.

As a member of the group in good standing you are obligated to disclose the deepest and most intimate aspects of your existence to people whom you may have only recently met.  How often have you been in a new church “home ” or “care” group and scarcely three or four meetings go by before the moderator begins to speak about the importance of “accountability”?

Incidentally, accountability is merely the protestant form of Confession.  But at any rate, ideally your accountability “partner” will be a member of the same care or home group, but must at least be a member of the same church.  By no means shall they be someone who attends a different “local” church; or worse, one who does not regularly attend church at all.  The purpose of keeping accountability “in house” ensures that your “areas of sin” or “struggles” are owned exclusively by the leadership of the church, tucked away for a rainy day, so to speak, brought up in case of church disciplinary actions or for convenient manipulation.  A great example of this is the outright blackmail of former Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) pastor, Larry Tomzcak, by SGM president C.J. Mahaney, whereby Mahaney threatened to go public with some very personal and intimate information concerning Tomzcak’s son.  The vicious evil of this kind of rank criminal behavior by church leadership, that is, the using confidential information to manipulate the behavior of church members and/or subordinate employees, should cause us all to shudder in fear and set our jaws in anger.

The moral is: think long and hard before agreeing to “be held accountable”.  You better believe that if you ever dare to threaten the reigning status, power, and wealth of the ecclesiastical authority you motherfucking will be.

But the point of a question like the one excerpted above is to surreptitiously teach you that there should be no pretense of self-ownership; which means that there shall be no pretense of any personal (read individual) context.  Once the group is made aware of the intimate details of your life, the group is at liberty to compel your responses in any and all contexts whereby those details have occurred (e.g. work life, family life, personal thoughts, dreams, desires, lusts, emotional struggles, even hobbies, likes, or sundry interests).  And remember–and this cannot be stated often enough–the point of suggesting you cough up the secret details of your life is for leverage, period.  There is no other rational reason…and there is certainly no Biblical reason for any of the people in these churches to know your personal business, period.  Full stop.  They are entitled to know nothing beyond what you freely choose to share; they haven’t the authority to demand to know what you fucking had for breakfast let alone your deepest emotional struggles.  And further, might I add that if the group is the only legitimate manifestation of your existence because it is the only means by which God has given to pursue your “spiritual progress” (again, whatever the fuck that means), and your spiritual progress is the only progress which matters, then your personal life, including your emotional struggles, is irrelevant.

Lay that shit on them the next time they ask you how your “quiet times” are going.  Or…you could say, “They are still very quiet, thanks, and I would prefer to keep them that way.” And conclude it by muttering (audibly, though) something to the effect of “nosy git”. 

And sure, you may lose your accountability partner, but on the upside you’ll finally get a bunch of pretentious tools to mind their own damn business for a change.

 

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Getting Your Thoughts: A request for your ideas and counsel

Last week I received this very honest and despondent comment from someone on the comments thread of another article.  I have kept even their pseudonym anonymous because I did not obtain direct permission to publish this as a separate post, and given the nature of the comment, I simply thought it considerate.  (I know that I don’t ask permission from other commenters to publish their contributions in articles, but the nature of those comments, compared to this, is usually quite different).

I have added my response to the body of the article, but I would love to get your counsel and opinions and ideas as well, because you have all, I think, experienced similar things, and each of us offer unique and personal insights which may very well be extremely enlightening to both this person and the rest of us.

And so, my brilliant readers, one and all, please add your two cents, or even a tithe, to this fellow victim of the philosophy which kills and wrecks, but which will never ultimately vanquish.  I say up the individual!  And let them who cry out for life and the God-ordained right to pursue the interest of the SELF without fear or shame or harm be validated, elevated, promoted, and affirmed, both by us and by the Divine, who continuously observes the distinction between Himself and His children, whom He loves because they are uniquely THEMSELVES, and their LIFE is theirs to live; and this the most beautiful gift!

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I am a survivor of a calvinist takeover in my church, and a husband who has became a narcissist. This has been a slow fade for about 10 years. He started attending a mens bible study which was teaching biblical manhood. He was taught that men were the head of the house, and their job was to make the wife and children submit. Even if the wife protests, she really does not mean it because she desires and want to have someone rule over her. Of course, this was packaged with a beautiful bow. It made the men think that having a family was like being the CEO of a company. The family did not have feelings or opinions, but they were to be managed like a company. I would try to express my feeling, hurts etc., and he would justify his behavior, twist and turn his words, lie, tell half truths, and finally say that I am unforgiving which means that I am the one with the problem. I would go away, pray, read my bible, cry out to God to change me and help me forgive him. I have even asked him to pray for me that I would be able to forgive him. The whole time he was guilty of the accused action , but he would never never never admit it. He let me suffer for years. How could someone say that they love you when they are willing and causing your suffering. I began to think I was crazy. I lost myself. I became depressed and gained a lot of weight. I was involved in a church that had a calvinist pastor who lied when he was hired. He knew the church he was going into was not reformed. The church ended up splitting, we left, but the abuse continues on. My job (according to this theology) was to never talk bad about him to anyone and to make him look good. I did my part, but I have recently found out that he threw me under the bus to my kids. He turned them against me by using brainwashing and subtle hints to accomplish this. If he wanted them to clean their rooms, he would not just tell them he would say, “Your mom is so tired, and you should not make her do all this work blah blah blah.” My kids were convinced that I was complaining to him, but I never did. He is a coward. This theology tears people and homes apart. They may look beautiful on the outside but the victims are just shells because the narcissist has snuffed out every bit of life from the family.”

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Welcome to the blog, and thank you for sharing. I know how hard it is to talk about these things and how difficult it can be to put into words. I think you will find many understanding voices on this blog; almost all of us, like you, have witnessed first hand the destruction Calvinism can wreak upon a church, and not the least of the fallout is the obliteration of individuals and their families, as you well describe. Indeed, the individual and the ones they love most are a purposefully chosen target of this vile doctrine.

I am terribly sorry for what has happened to you. But know this: you are not alone. Many of us have had our families and our psyches wrecked by this deceptive philosophy, and for as many as it spits out and destroys, that many are able to rise from the swaths of smoldering ashes it leaves behind as it attempts to cast the individual into the abyss of oblivion; an objective which it cannot ever truly or finally accomplish, as its foundations are dry sand, and brittle are the pillars which bulwark its assertions.  For its assertions need only a speck of the light of reason cast upon them, and the rest of the philosophy quickly flames and withers.  It burns bright for a moment, but it is the fire of mere kindling; for there is no substance to sustain it, so it is quickly snuffed out, offering neither lasting heat nor light.  Of this I am convinced.

And you must further understand that by simply questioning the lies…by seeing, though perhaps not altogether articulating, the contradictions and observing the massive discrepancies between what is taught and what is observed, you already know more than those who abuse you. You are already beginning your journey to recovery. Don’t stop. Don’t give up. And never forget that what you are rejecting, having witnessed its very real destruction and felt its very real pain, has nothing to do with the Christ they pretend to promote. It is a lie. It is unworkable. It is death worship. NEVER forget this. No matter how cleanly packaged and scrubbed the philosophy may be presented to you, it is no angel of light. On the contrary, It is an evil which rejects both God and man, and those who demand you concede its rule over you have NO interest in YOUR life; indeed, they reject it out of hand. You exist to be exploited and consumed for THEIR good pleasure, nothing more. And even if they themselves are too intellectually lazy or vacant to apprehend the depths of its evil, the reality is that by that very small, first glimpse of its dissonance, you have shown that you are absolutely not.  And though that first glimpse may seem small, you are already intellectually and philosophically and theologically and morally miles and miles ahead of those who sell their souls to Satan, and exchange truth for lies just to acquire a little comfort, a little momentary power.  They exchange perpetual heaven for brief flash of self-importance and the illusion of metaphysical superiority.  But you are NEVER obligated to participate in their make-believe; the cartoons which pass for legitimate interpretations of reality.  On the contrary, reason and morality demand that you reject it as patently false, and pursue, happily, your SELF as the only legitimate, God-affirmed metaphysic.

You are on the right track. Just never forget that YOU are good and YOU are SUPPOSED to exist as YOU, and that YOU and the pursuit of YOUR own life are necessary to truth, reason, and reality. YOU have nothing to be ashamed of. YOUR reflection in the mirror is God’s perfect will for you. Pursue that, and LIFE, even life eternal, shall be your reward.

Blessings to you,

Argo

Why Love Cannot Be Removed From Theology; and Why “All things are possible for God” is Not a Rational Defense for “Orthodox” Christianity’s Evil Doctrinal Contradictions

“This reminds me of Wade Burleson’s post & statement, “When love trumps theology”. For crying out loud, if theology isn’t in line with love THEN dump the theology, for heaven’s sake.”

– Commenter A Mom

This is a response by me to a selection from a comment by A Mom on the thread of the article “Part Two of Marxist Collectivism Masquerading as the Christian Orthodox Ideal”.

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Right. Great point. If love ever needs to trump your theology, which presumably is the backbone of your entire existential philosophy (metaphysics all the way to art), then there is something fundamentally wrong with your theology. Theology should be rooted in the infinite value of human beings (because if God does not find utter pleasure in His relationship with His children then why create them?); that is, assuming we are interested in rational theology, and not bullshit; not mysticism.

But what Wade is really doing is cementing his ability to flip the doctrinal and therefore epistemological script on anyone, anywhere, anytime, for any reason he chooses.  At the foundation of Wade’s theology is this:  YOU are nothing until HE decides, as God’s proxy, that you are something. He will tell you when to care for people, and he will tell you when to reject them.  And why will he tell you?  Because he must.  Because it takes someone with the divine gnosis to interpret the impossibly “paradoxical” doctrine.  To “human” wisdom, the underlying doctrinal assertions are rank nonsense (and this is a function of your perfect epistemological failure, which is a function of your status as a metaphysical reprobate):  You are. You are not. You have worth. You are worthless. You deserve justice. You deserve hell.

And when do you know the difference? You don’t.  Because you can’t.  So Wade will tell you.  And incidentally this is why I consider the occupation of a pastor or priest to be a farce; a fake; a fabrication; a made-up job; a deception.  Being a pastor or priest in the Christian church is merely the western equivalent of the tribal witch doctor.  It literally has as much actual value.  Pastors and priests destroy reality in favor of a universe where they alone define ALL the terms that matter; and there is no rational nor efficacious integration between who you REALLY are and who they say you are.  This is a great evil, and its destruction is apparent by even a cursory glance at church history.  For every good done to one person in Christianity since Augustine, thousands are slaughtered, enslaved, or psychologically wrecked.

If there is a time when love must trump theology, then presumably the converse is also true: there must be a time when theology trumps love. But this is nothing but yet another attempt to integrate mutually exclusive absolutes, which is the sum and substance of ALL Calvinist doctrines (well, all Protestant and Catholic doctrines, really). Love is rooted in the absolute value of human beings; it is not conditional precisely because it speaks, again, to the absolute value on the metaphysical level of each and every person. Theology is the study of God’s purpose and interaction with His Creation, which is really only relevant insofar as He relates to humanity. And if love is the expression of the absolute worth of humanity as a function of their very existence, then it is easy to see why love cannot be separated from theology, as you, A Mom, rightly observe. Love is the the underlying moral theme within a RATIONAL theology.  Indeed, love’s expression is the utter purpose of theology in the first place.

To posit then that there is ever a time when we must trump theology with love, and/or love with theology is really just another mystic deception. It’s more nonsense. More “paradox”. More contradiction. And these in service to the absolute power of the God-proxy; the authority representing God to the barbarian masses.  The pastor, priest, king, governor, pope, fuhrer, etcetera. 

God loves you, but YOU are depravity. So He can only really love you in spite of you. Which means He both loves you and hates you at any given moment. He both accepts you and denies you.  You have total worth to God but only because He overlooks your total worthlessness. Hmm…how exactly does this work?

It doesn’t.  It’s a bunch of bullshit.  And you need to understand this and believe it. 

But Wade, I submit, believes that I see contradiction while he sees  “all things are possible with God”, and that’s why he is “called” by God to lead men as a divinely mandated authority and I am not. Why he declares divine enlightenment and I still stumble in the darkness of mere “human” wisdom. And yet he never understands that this is nothing more that his his own rational failure, and has literally nothing whatsoever to do with the false notion that God has given him some kind of special insight and me none; as though reason is different between the human and divine. Reason is reason, period. Whether divine reason or human reason, the conclusions must be consistent. If they are not consistent then they are not reasonable, period. And if they are not reasonable then they are not possible, they cannot exist, nor be efficacious to anything which does exist. And therefore God cannot create them, and they are impossible, for God and for men.

For example, I would wager that Wade does not realize that the possible things which the Bible declares God can manifest must possess the possibility of existence in first place. Which means that their manifestation in reality cannot contradict that reality, by definition.  Because the sum of mutually exclusive ideas is zero, even if the idea is protestant “orthodoxy”.  Which means that should these ideas somehow be manifest in realty they would literally equal NOTHING. Contradictory ideas then cannot possibly exist, and so they cannot be a part of the “all things” which are possible with God. God cannot make to exist that which cannot possibly exist. Because to say that God can make to exist that which cannot exist because its existence would immediately contradict to a sum of zero means that you are really attempting to argue that God can create NOTHING. Which is yet another contradiction in terms. God creating contradictions which manifest as NON-contradictions is itself a contradiction, and on and on this goes, ad infinitum. But the truth is that God cannot claim to create a contradiction; you cannot claim to know the “truth” of a contradiction, because as soon as a contradiction is created and manifest as actual it is no longer a contradiction. If you can know it, and observe it, and reconcile it to your own existence, it isn’t a contradiction. So the idea that God can create contradictions so that they are actual and efficacious and are part of the “all things” which are possible is really simple nonsense.  Subterfuge.  Deception.  Obfuscation.  Lies.  Which is why all people, religious and irreligious alike, are morally obligated to reject any idea which cannot be defended rationally; which cannot be consistently held to the standard of reason.

The only purpose then of such nonsense and lies like “when love trumps theology” is the same old saw:  Keep people perpetually ignorant. Keep them always on the cusp of truth, perhaps, but never actually there. Destroy reason as the benchmark of truth and you destroy a human’s ability to understand anything. Do this, and you destroy their ability to pursue their own lives. Thus, via the kind of deception and contradiction the church incessantly peddles, human beings are hooked to the ruling mystic like an alcoholic is hooked to his hooch.

Individual Evil is Only Realized in a Group, Which Then Demands an Absolute Authority (Part Four of: Collectivist Philosophy Masquerading as the Christian Orthodox Ideal)

“But the truth is, no matter how independent or influential you feel you are, the people you surround your self with will impact your future.  All you have to do to test this statement is take a look back.  You’ll likely discover that many of the things you now regret were done in the company of those you considered friends.  Typically, we don’t get into trouble on our own.  We usually have company.” 

(p. 16, “Community:  Pathway to progress”, North Point Ministries, 2008)

Okay, this is both patently false and presents an obstacle to the premise of this book, namely that the “community” is the the only effective vehicle for positive and righteous existence.

First, it is just not true that “typically, we don’t get into trouble on our own”.  I think this can be unequivocally denied.  Sure, we may be influenced by “peer pressure”, but we must make the decision to engage in behavior.  If we have reached the age of reason and observe right and wrong by the understanding that since we are born for the express purpose of living, LIFE of SELF and OTHER is our greatest moral obligation.  And to arrive at this conclusion takes nothing more than the cognitive ability to make the conceptual distinction between SELF and OTHER (other people, the environment).  The point being:  we are all on the hook for our choices and subsequent actions.  “The devil made me do it” is not a reasonable explanation for why people commit evil acts.  “It’s not my fault, its society/my parents/my company/my wife or husband/God did not give me the grace to perceive my sins (C.J. Mahany)” is nothing more than a full on abdication of our very lives.  If we are not individually responsible for our choices, then we cannot have a rational definition of LIFE; that is, if we don’t really commit the acts we commit, because the impetus is traced to a causal force outside of us, then we admit that we don’t really live at all.  We are all dead men walking.  There is no US to us…no YOU to your life.  And discussion about anything else is purely academic…irrelevant to functional reality.

And…ah….could it be that this is the very point this excerpt from “Community” is trying to make?  I believe it is. YOU are never really to blame for your “sins”.  It’s always your nature merely filling the vacuum that the group creates for it.  So, while on one hand they will explain that you are evil, it isn’t because YOU decided to act on any independent or individual belief, as though you can know anything at all, or exist as an autonomous agent, but rather it is merely your nature, which is attracted to the evil influences of the collective like a positively charged particle is attracted to a negatively charged one; as the moon is drawn inexorably to the earth. The moon and particles don’t really THINK, they just fill the space created for them by the collective environment outside of them.

So, while on one hand the author(s) of this book attempts to appear sympathetic to your history of failure (for failure in the “orthodox” Christian metaphysic is utterly presumed) and absolute existential inadequacy and impotence (for even when you think you are a success you are a “spiritual” failure; and the “spiritual” is the only thing that matters, remember), what they are really prescribing is that same old bugaboo, the group metaphysic.  This segment of the book merely reinforces the fact that according to their metaphysic, all relevant morality and existence is always a function of the group.  “On our own” we don’t really possess any value, which means anything we do “on our own” or “in our own strength”, to proof-text the Bible, is meaningless and irrelevant, which means that we, “on our own” cannot really be described as existing at all.

And finally, I question whether or not the author(s) thought through the wisdom of inserting this section into the book.  On its face, and to the less informed reader I would think that it appears to be nothing more than a rank contradiction to the efficacy and importance of the “community” so categorically subscribed.  I mean, at first glance this is how I interpreted it.  I thought,  ‘Why advocate adherence to the collective and the hive mentality if trouble is best avoided by being alone?’

And then after a more careful examination of the paragraph and in light of the overall context of the book I realized what I already knew:  that there is no such thing as alone in the group metaphysic these people believe in.  Alone you have NO value; no meaning; no relevancy, and therefore no truth.  Thus, alone cannot be defined as any manifestation of your existence, period, if this makes sense.  YOU as a legitimate agent or even meaningful concept is categorically denied in Christianity today.  There is only ever the collective.  It’s just a matter of what collective into which you happen to find yourself integrated, since you WILL, as a matter of existential certainly, be fully integrated into a group, where you WILL be its direct extension.  What the promoters of this book are doing is merely attempting to cull you from your “immoral” collective and bring you into their “moral” one.  And who gets to make the distinction?  Who gets to decide which group is the good one and which is the bad; and which we praise and which we waggle our fingers at and cry “shame!!”?

Not you.  Not me.  Not anyone IN the group, for the group doesn’t get to dictate its own definitions of, well…anything.  The group is merely the group. Full of totally depraved windbags and assholes who together merely prove the metaphysical point:  that the formal manifestation of the SELF is really the GROUP.  And from this is illustrated the ethical point:  It is in the group where your totally depravity attains relevancy and meaning (for the individual, total depravity is without any efficacy, as the individual cannot be defined as actually BEING anything at all).  So, it is only via the group that people realize the actuality of their absolute sin nature; their full on rejection of God and their categorical commitment to works of evil.  You do not attain any goodness from the group, is the point.  No, the group is where the consequences of your total depravity are made manifest; made relevant, made fetid and offensive to God.  The group must from that collective place be led…and by this what they really mean is compelled by FORCE, under the guise of “spiritual” authority (“Authority always equals FORCE”–John Immel).

For how can he who is totally depraved be led?  Being led presumes a relationship where both parties are equally cognizant of the concepts used to communicate; where TRUTH by both parties is understood and reasonably arrived at via the inherent cognitive abilities of each; the understanding of the metaphysical singularity of SELF and the inherent right to pursue SELF, thus.  The totally depraved man cannot actually think; cannot actually understand.  His depravity is absolute (though many Christians say this isn’t true; they are either liars or they are ignorant…or both, as is often the case).  Which means that he can make no distinction between right and wrong, truth or lie.  He cannot conceptualize anything because he cannot even recognize himself or his world as being distinct from pure, infinite evil.  Thus, and again, he must be forced…compelled by violence and fear into “God’s righteousness”, like an animal.  Or worse, a devil.

And this, of course, I realized is exactly what this excerpt is arguing.  The group ALWAYS leads you and me into debauchery.  So why advocate a group at all then?  Because the group is the introduction…the doorway into what they are really advocating, which is the same thing ALL collectivists advocate:  the robbing and murder of the individual in service to the government.  And this is most easily done when individuals are gathered.  And by government I mean the authority of those who proclaim themselves, by themselves, to be the mediator between “god” (or whatever Primary Consciousness) and man.  And in Christianity today who are these mediators?

The authority.  The called.  The pastors.  The priests.  The “men of God”.

And that’s why you see so many churches popping up in so many affluent areas of this country.  Are you educationally or intellectually challenged?  Lazy?  Like to opine about this and that and the folks at the family gatherings are getting tired of and bored by your spluttering monologues and you endless rants about how much you hate liberals, and Obama, or the the moral failures of the youth in this culture, or how everyone is on their fucking phones all time and no one wants to have a conversation (when smartphones were actually invented so people and especially kids wouldn’t have to talk to your boring ass)…yes, are you this kind of person and desire a comfortable income with little to no effort?

Or even better, you want to get rich?

What do you do?

You start a church near rich people.  It is literally as simple as that.

And when all the smoke and mirrors and spiritual piffle and Christanese buzzwords and pseudo-psychology and trite social commentary are removed, THAT’S really why this book was written.  It’s not for you, it’s for them.

 

 

 

 

 

Part Three of: Collectivist Philosophy Masquerading as the Christian Orthodox Ideal

What’s Your Story?

…each person will share his or her story in 10-15 minutes.

…Keep in mind that no big presentation is required.  You are simply expected to introduce yourself.  A great way to do this is to identify three key people who have played significant roles in your life, three events that have effected you, and three places that are special to you. “

(p.11, 12, “Community:  Your pathway to progress”, North Point Ministries, 2008)

Notice in this introductory blurb concerning how best to introduce oneself to the newly organized “care group” (in Sovereign Grace Ministries, I noticed that this title was perfectly ironical) the three suggestions for doing so are examples wherein the person explains how he or she was affected by his or her world, and not the other way around.  Meaning, the person regaling the group with their cliff-notes autobiography are advised to present themselves as the product of their environment…as an effect and not a cause.  They are not counseled to discuss their hobbies or interests, or their past decisions or current desires, or the choices they have made and the consequences of those choices reaped, good or bad.  No, what they are asked to do is explain the three ways they have arrived at that place (the new group), at that time (of the group’s choosing) by the influence or will of OTHER:  OTHER people, OTHER places, or OTHER events.

In other words…

The “people” who have influenced you never includes YOU as having anything to do with the why or how of that influence.

The place…they are not interested in your observations or how you interpret the environment, or what it means to you or how you willfully experienced it.

The event…they are not interested in hearing about your impact on the event, how your presence and existence defined it and gave truth to it for YOUR life and YOUR context.

And this is deliberate.  This is the setting of the stage in your mind for the group metaphysic they are soon to explain is the only real and efficacious hermeneutic for reality; and then they will demand you categorically accept this hermeneutic in order to be approved by God and welcome in His “community”.  This will eventually be followed by either an explicit or implicit (but fully presented and fully expected and fully required) demand that you subordinate your beliefs, opinions, will, time, and property to the “authority” of the pastoral leadership.  For since no individual in the group is capable of defining truth or morality alone by metaphysical definition, the pastoral leadership will be presented as those who represent, by divine gift and insight, the sum and substance of the moral and epistemological (truth understood) value of the group.  This is for no other reason than to secure power over you and as many as they can “evangelize”…that is, cull from the herd of the unwashed, brainless, hopeless, cosmically-rejected masses for the purpose of exploitation.

This is and was the operating procedure of Sovereign Grace Ministries to a bulls-eye, and the consequences were and continue to be a full on disaster.  And in America right now we have literally thousands if not millions of SGM-like disasters teetering upon the precipice.  And the more we remain blind to the collectivist philosophy which places them there–that Satanic catalyst for every horror and human catastrophe ever wrought upon the earth, from the Garden of Eden until now–the higher and higher the precipice rises.

Now, I understand that at this point I may still seem to be reaching a bit.  Exaggerating; taking myself too seriously; quibbling; nitpicking; exacting.

You might think so.  But then, we are just getting started.

*

“Most of us charge hard after progress.  We seek it in our careers, in our kids, in our marriages, and even in our tennis games.  We work hard, read books, attend seminars, and take lessons, all in an effort to make today better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today.  But what about our spiritual lives?”

(p.15, “Community:  Your pathway to progress”, North Point Ministries, 2008)

Presently we will observe, as an absolute certainty, that individual progress in our autonomous lives is mutually exclusive of and contradictory to our progress in our “spiritual” lives, which is collective.  This is merely a further manifestation of the fundamental parsing of man’s singular metaphysical SELF, his existential oneness, which is the prevailing and orthodox metaphysical theme in Christianity today (most egregiously noted, presumed, and preached in the neo-Calvinist/Reformed movement) and since the days of Augustine.

The worldly and fallen flesh of man’s body represents individual progress; while man’s unseen spirit/soul represents the “real” man…his “spiritual” progress.  This is the non-material man…the “true” man.  The part of man of which he only experiences as a second-hand observer.  The part of man which is fully integrated into the collective of God’s people.  The relevant and eternally (assuming you are actually elected to salvation, which, by doctrinal definition you can’t ever really know) binding part of your singular SELF.  Which is a contradiction, I know.  But understand that all of reality according to the Platonist Christian group metaphysic is really based upon that which cannot be observed “in the flesh”; which means it cannot be observed at all, period.  This is the root of the false interpretation of Hebrews’ “faith is the hope of things unseen”:  What you observe in the here and now with your fleshly senses is not in fact reality, but is merely a “shadow” of reality.  Reality lay beyond the body, which is simply another way of saying that it is impossible for YOU to apprehend it in any way, full stop.  Thus, you must have faith; and “faith” thus defined is, when all the logic is parsed out and taken to its only rational conclusion, a complete concession of and submission to the existential hermeneutic (how you interpret ALL of reality) of the “divinely called leaders of men who stand in god’s stead as your authority”.  Which is simply another way of saying that you exist and were born for the express and ironic purpose of DYING…that is, dying for the “greater good”, or the “good of the community”, as dictated to you by your human authorities, who are those men serving as proxies for the Primary Consciousness (e.g. God’s Will/God’s Plan for Your Life (Modern American Protestantism), the Workers Utopia (Soviet Union, Cuba), the National Ideal (North Korea), the Economic Ideal (Jeff Davis’s Confederate South), the Union of States (Lincoln’s Federal North), the Racial Ideal (National Socialist Germany), the Collective Good (American Liberal Progressive movement), the Natural/Divine/Traditional Morality (American Conservative Christian movement).

Indeed, the great dichotomy and irreconcilable chasm between your body and soul is probably the greatest contradiction and fallacy of reason in the history of religion.

*

“And what does progress from a spiritual standpoint look like?  Admittedly, spiritual growth can be a little hard to measure.  Because God is involved in the process, it’s a bit mysterious.”

(p.15, “Community:  Your pathway to progress”, North Point Ministries, 2008)

Keep this self-admittedly nebulous declaration in mind.  This is the fundamental equivocation which forms the impenetrable defense of  this doctrine and group metaphysic against all denunciation and criticism from anyone for any reason in any context.  The root philosophical premise–that is, the essential premise of the entire philosophy–is that there is no actual or discernible distinction between man’s SELF and God’s Sovereign Will.

This is important.

It allows these collectivist mystics to punt ALL of their many and serious contradictions into the great cosmic abyss of God’s mystery.

It is easy to understand then just why they immediately, in the introduction, before they move on to anything else make this clearHow this all works is a mystery at the end of the day.  How you can both be you and the group (NOT you) is simply a contradiction you’ll have to accept because to deny it is to deny the power of God to “make all things possible”.  This is rank deception and, again, is intended to nip any and all metaphysical or doctrinal disagreement in the bud.

Because the “truth” ultimately boils down to mystery, they can move the plumb line for truth anywhere they require in order to maintain control.  If you zig, they zag.  I call it Whack-A-Mole philosophy.  You can never pin them down because there is no benchmark of reason in their doctrine; and this is because their “truth” is not a function of reason, because reason they rightly assume is an extension of observable reality, which they do not concede is a legitimate reality.  Rather, real “truth” is a function of the utterly exclusive and unknowable (to you) realm of the “spirit”.  “Spiritual” progress then requires that you forsake reason as the necessary presumption for truth and abandon your senses as an efficacious bridge to reality, and instead wholly subordinate your mind to the mystics who claim a clairvoyance that you as an individual cannot possibly possess.

It is amazing how many otherwise educated and erudite people simply nod in agreement when they are fed this cold porridge.  They are told that they–no matter how successful or prosperous or educated or admired or powerful or revered in the community they are (usually much more significantly so than any Pastor, who is usually intellectually unimpressive and educationally nascent)–yes, they are told that they do not really know anything at all, and that their success is in reality a laughingstock of farce and completely discarded by God–who supposedly loves them with an immeasurable love–as pure piffle at best, and wicked arrogance at worst.  And these people think that this is just the most profound and breathtaking wisdom to which they’ve ever been exposed.  Incredible.

It would be utterly comical if it weren’t so deadly and so indicative of the danger this “Christian” movement represents. Even the most astute among us seem unable to resist its guile.

Stay tuned for part four.

 

 

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Part Two of: Collectivist Philosophy Masquerading as the Christian Orthodox Ideal

Yesterday I mentioned the primer, “Community: Your Pathway to Progress” and I gave you a small preamble (thanks, John Immel) to my examination and criticism of this gem of Christianity-as-channeling-Karl Marx, which essentially preaches the gospel of collectivism both forthrightly and with child-like giddiness.  Today I will begin my formal critique of said primer, offering my thoughts as to the underlying metaphysical and epistemological contradictions, deceptions, and outright lies which form the offensive thrust of the nefarious objective:  to control individuals for the purpose of acquiring power.  Which is really nothing more than the right to destroy anyone and anything in the interest of pursuing an entirely false, irrational, and impossible standard of “truth” and “morality”.  A utopia which, being wholly without reason and demanding the wholesale removal of LIFE in order to be realized, is actually nothing at all.

However, before I do that I would like to comment on a little remark by someone down in North Carolina this week as we were discussing the collectivist particulars of a certain paragraph in “Community”.  She said, “I don’t care about that.”  And went on to explain that if she finds the doctrine at her church odious or irrational she simply ignores it, and goes about the business of church presumably as if nothing disagreeable were really taught from the pulpit at all.

My opinion is that this is a very dangerous approach to church at worst, and renders the “church-going experience” utterly irrelevant at best.  If you find yourself in disagreement with the doctrinal ideology of the church “body”, why on earth remain?  You are setting yourself up for inevitable failure in more ways than one by tacitly affirming the beliefs by your participation and yet functionally rejecting them.  Believe me, the “church” makes it a point to discover those who approach the doctrine this way.  They do not consider such members friends, nor people to be trusted with any modicum of responsibility.  They may suffer your presence while the tithing remains consistent and/or you aren’t causing any problems (that is, challenging their “authority”), but you will never experience the kind of spiritual growth, friendship, and support one would presume is the only real benefit of such a collaboration.

But even if they don’t find out…and even if you don’t care that they will never consider you a fit nor moral servant of Christ, and one whose salvation is likely dubious at best, you will still do more damage to your life and your family than benefit.

You may acquire some friends, even some who are doctrinally like-minded as you and reject the theological interpretations of the “elders”, and you may experience some tangible benefits such as a place to harbor your kids for an hour and a half every week or some valuable home-schooling connections or a golfing buddy or two.  But these benefits will only come at the cost of how you define reality.  That is, they will occur only in spite of who you really are.  And that is no kind of life.  I submit that there can be no true friendships, no truly edifying experiences or tangible benefits which come from mixing mutually exclusive assumptions about the worth of your life.  Your social life and your spiritual live with be a farce…a mere illusion of what you really think is going on.  Attending a church wherein the leadership presumes that you are not really yourself, and therefore have no value as an individual human being, and thus have no right by metaphysical definition to your own body or property can only end one way, sooner or later:  disaster.

And the irony is that the person of which I speak once attended Sovereign Grace Ministries for many years, and left only relatively recently amongst the morbid and fetid chaos, hypocrisy, and abuse.  And having been a fifteen-year member of Sovereign Grace Ministries myself I can say this:  Doing what this person is doing…the willingness to sweep the doctrinal disagreements under the rug did absolutely nothing to benefit that institution, its pastors, or laity.  It merely prolonged the suffering and human destruction, and promoted the full-on illusion for years and years past the point where it stopped being fun.

In short, if the church you are attending does not have a working definition of YOU, it means that they cannot possibly have a working definition of God.  So what exactly are you expecting to get out of it?  If you say relationships, I say they are based on lie.  If you say tangible benefits, I say they cost your soul.  You must continue to deceive both yourself and all with whom you share the sanctuary every Sunday morning, not to mention your children, who are presented, at best, with the strange and irrational and confusing dichotomy of a mommy and daddy who tell them not to believe the doctrines they are taught, and yet continue to willfully place them in classrooms with teachers who possess many kinds of authority, spiritual and educational and corporeal, who teach those very doctrines as being from God.  Think twice about “not caring” about the forcing of collectivist ideology down the throats of unsuspecting Christians, as rankly observed in this little primer I have next to me in this chair.  It will inevitably return to reap anguish upon your head, just as it has in the past.

Even now I could say to this person that we will never be close friends.  Because I utterly reject the metaphysical premises you either explicitly or implicitly concede by assuming that the church you are attending is just a fine place to hear about God and Man.  It isn’t a matter of getting along.  It is a matter of being able to define just who it is that we are supposed to be getting along with, and in the interest of just what we are supposed to define as God.  I cannot get along with someone who does not concede that they actually matter.  Because that person cannot by logical extension assume that I matter.  And if neither of us matter according to this person’s metaphysical assumptions, then there is no point in being friends because there is no friendship, period.  For friendship is moot.  Friendship based on absolute existential meaninglessness is not a friendship by definition.  And this is why, as much as it pains me to say it, I simply cannot stand being around Christians anymore…well, certain kinds of Christians.  Those who have to pray every meal and those who never miss church and those who have daily “devotionals” and those who evangelize their faith to the checkout girl or the waiter and have fish on their cars.  I just can’t do it anymore, because those are the people who always tow the reformed doctrinal line.  And my root metaphysic according to these church-going Christians is that I am a piece of shit.  And I refuse to associate myself with people who think that my absolute essence as a human being is shit.  And who think that they are shit, too.  We are all a big collective of shit going to hell “but for the grace of God” and the kindly ecclesiastical taskmasters He gives us to prod our blind asses along the narrow road.

Over. It.

 

*

“This study has been designed as an introduction to community.  As such, the focus of the first part of the study will be on getting to know everyone in the group.  Then you’ll spend some time discussing the importance of community itself.” (p.9)

So goes the first paragraph.  Sounds nice, right?  Benign.  Gentle.  Innocuous at worst.  Sure, everyone gets to know each other.  That’s nice.  Everyone matters.  Everyone is special.  Everyone is important.

Uh…but wait.  Are they?  This paragraph…indeed, the entire primer never mentions anything about the importance of the individual to the group.  Never mentions the fact that “group” is really nothing but a concept; a figment of man’s impressive imagination, but not actually existing…and thus, requiring the life of the single human being in order to possess any relevancy at all as a concept.

According to this introductory paragraph, the only thing with any explicit or implicit importance is “the community itself.”  In this short blurb the individual–the only thing which actually exists at all in this entire opening salvo–has been subordinated to the community, which exists as a SELF of its own.  You see, YOU are only important within the context of the group; and by this they mean…well, what kind of important do they mean?

Right.  Spiritually important.  Which means important to whom?  To God.  Which means that spiritually important is the only relevant kind of important.  And since this is a direct function of the group, God can only see the group, never YOU, individually.  For God is a rational God, you understand.  He wastes no time on the pointless–on the functionally non-existent–when He has the group by which is Will and Desire is rendered upon the Earth.

This is merely the initial introduction…the tip of the spear of the group metaphysic I mentioned in part one of this article.  You do not exist.  Only the group exists. You alone are nothing.  Thus, you must sacrifice (murder, destroy, erase, consider infinite nothingness) your SELF and relinquish the sum and substance of your body, mind, and possessions to the collective, which, as I explained in part one, is really the relinquishing of all these things to they who claim the right to rule the group by divine mandate, as the chosen representatives of the Primary Consciousness.  For you protestant Christians, particularly my reformed friends, this means that your pastor or pastors are God as far as you are concerned.  They are the bridge between your metaphysical depravity and God’s metaphysical perfection, which would normally be mutually exclusive.  Without them declaring the standard of truth which is also the moral ideal, to which ALL humanity must integrate itself (the root premise of the group metaphysic), you would be lost forever.  Adrift in a sea of absolute evil.

Still not convinced, huh?  Still think I’m taking this way too seriously?  Still think I should approach this primer like the person in North Carolina and simply care less?  Take a break?  Get a job?  Got too much time on my hands?  It’s all just a mystery anyway so let go and let God; for to be concerned with such things is for the lofty professor, and patriarchs of philosophy’s past who argued over such things and yet never arrived at anything other than paradox, and the ivory tower intellectual who gets paid to write about things that have so little relevance to rote humans living out their boring little lives…articles by the score which almost never see the light of day by any but a very few and very strange people with serious affect problems and no social acumen?  Still think this is little more than hyperbole?

We shall see.

Stay tuned for part three.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collectivist Philosophy Masquerading as the Christian Orthodox Ideal

This weekend my family and I made our annual week-long trip to North Carolina to visit some friends…a couple and their three children.  Since this vacation is primarily about my wife and daughters getting some time with Mrs. X and her three children, I had a significant amount of time, being relieved of the normal duties of home, to putter around and sort of simply exist (Mr. X works the entire week we are there, and as he and I share very little in common, this is an understandable and acceptable arrangement…so, what I mean to say is that there really isn’t anyone in particular with whom I am expected to interact).  When this kind of situation occurs I find myself slipping happily into hours and hours of thought, staring out into space, twirling my glasses and occasionally closing my eyes.  But this time I was fortunate to be confronted with a specific task, and it manifested itself in the form of a little…well, I’d call it a primer (much larger than a pamphlet but much smaller than a book), which I found in the freebie bin outside a small Christian book store my wife and her friend like to frequent when we come for a visit.  This primer is titled, “Community: Your Pathway to Progress”, and it is published by an organization called North Point Ministries (here).  This primer was published in 2008, so keep in mind that it is a fairly recent periodical, not some throwback from decades ago and thus no longer relevant as indicative of the current American Christian psyche.

As I am always on the lookout for collectivist ideology inserting itself, as it is so often wont, into many organizations and schools of thought, but particularly into today’s evangelical Christian “orthodox” theology, which thanks to the Protestant Reformation provides the perfect host body for such evil, I was immediately intrigued by the title.  Back at our friends’ house I wasted no time in cracking the cover of this little virulent critter and was, to my delight, greeted with what can only be described as a perfect and perfectly concise exercise in modern evangelicalism laundering the ideas of Karl Marx…collectivist philosophy fully committed to what I call the Group Metaphysic.

What this means is simply that the root of human existential essence is not found in the individual person, but is purely a function of the group–the collective–into which a given person happens to find him or herself absorbed.  In this case, it is “the church”, but it can just as easily be the Party, the Tribe, the State, the People, the Masses, the Workers or other Social Classes, the Race, the Culture, the Movement, etc., etc.

Now, this of course is nothing new to Christianity.  Christianity since the days of Augustine has always been wholly devoted to the idea of the absolute denial and destruction of the individual in favor of the group metaphysic.  It is precisely how power over the masses can reside in the hands of either a resident autocrat or an oligarchy:  you tell people that they are literally non-existent without the group and then proceed to serve as the functional head of the group, privy to the ideals and doctrines and ways of the group as prescribed by the Primary Consciousness, having a special relationship with it that the individual members of the group cannot have, by metaphysical definition.  The Primary Consciousness can be, and usually is, or at the very least represents, god…meaning the Divine Will.  Now, in Christianity, God, naturally, serves as this Primary Consciousness.  In Marxism the Primary Consciousness is the “Workers Utopia”; in National Socialism it is the Racial Ideal manifest via the Aryan State; in the modern American Liberal Progressive Movement it is the “Common Good”; in the modern American Conservative movement it is “American Exceptionalism” which is always fused with an implied and impossible moral standard by which human beings are judged good or evil according to how well they adhere to said standard.  For example, homosexuality and homosexual marriage do not fit the moral standard and therefore are antithetical and even harmful to America.  In all of these examples, humanity gets is collective worth–which means its actual worth–from its integration into the ways and means and beliefs of the Primary Consciousness as dictated (forced upon them) by the “divinely” enlightened and appointed leadership (which is somehow in a unique metaphysical position to interpret the Will of the Primary Consciousness…and they never have a rational explanation for just how this is possible).  And naturally this always involves group integration.  Since the Standard of Truth, which is simultaneously the Moral Ideal, is a direct function of the Primary Consciousness and is thus outside of you, the individual, it is impossible for YOU, alone, as an autonomous SELF, to be reconciled to the Standard.  YOU as an individual must be discarded, denied, sacrificed (preferably figurative, but literally just as well), and you must join your fellow man in group integration for the sole purpose of affirming and promoting and propagating the Will of the Primary Consciousness, which is, ipso facto, the Collective Will. Never the individual will.  Never your will.  Never your SELF.  You, as an individual are, frankly, a cosmic farce.  An existential illusion.  A lie.

So like I was saying this is nothing new to Christianity, which has been responsible for countless murders, wars, oppressions, theft and torture in service to this evil philosophy.  However, it seemed to me a rare and fortunate find to stumble upon such a concise Christian primer on the subject that is so gleefully committed to and so flippantly expressive of the utter destruction and pillaging of the very thing Christ came to save:  individual human beings.  Keep in mind that the producers of this primer are self-admitted emissaries of the Gospel.  That is, they are a church of self-described Christians.

Take for example this quote:

“Although a community group is not intended to be a support group, a Bible study group, a spiritual book club, or a social fellowship group, there are elements of each in every healthy group. The fundamental purpose of a community group, however, is for members to intentionally connect with each other so that they’re “doing life together” and growing spiritually.  (p. 65)

So, what does this mean, exactly?  Well, it’s not really that difficult to interpret, so you likely already have it.  Simply put, it means that these Christians are specifically NOT meeting in order to discuss problems, or to learn the Bible, or to share resources, all of which are I submit fundamental components of “spiritual growth”, (in contradiction to this quote’s very last assertion), but to learn how to “do life together”.  This is a rank nod to the group metaphysic…the idea that the collective alone actually exists, and therefore must fundamentally replace YOUR individual life.  “Doing life together” then really means the rejection of life in service to the group, which by “God’s Will” possesses the only just authority over and ownership of you and all you are and all you own.  The author or authors of this primer are openly declaring that the purpose of their groups is not to grow as Christians, and/or to evangelize the world so that individuals become Christians, but rather to become collectivists. To fully embrace the group metaphysic.

In short, it’s not about Christ, it’s about control.  Because control over people and their property is the ONLY real and rational motivation for promoting and securing the mass consumption of collectivist ideology.  And the only reason for control is power.  And the inevitable outcome of this kind of power is the death of man.  And so this ideology is not only not Christian but is, I submit, utterly Satanic.

Stay tuned for part two.