Yesterday I found this meme posted by a friend on my Facebook newsfeed:
“So you don’t want to go to His house on earth, yet you expect to live in His mansion in heaven??”
Okay…hmm…where to start…
Here’s a good place:
This is bullshit.
That’s a good summary…if nothing else, that’s all you have to remember. Even if you NEVER went to church again, ever, and never did, it has no bearing on your salvation. None. Nada. This is a lie intended to keep the billion-dollars-a-year industry of organized Christianity in business, period. Whether church officials are conscious of it or not.
What this is, is merely the usual fare of emotional blackmail we are fed by the ecclesiastical authorities. Church-going is mandatory because justification (salvation) is progressive. You must be constantly and regularly plugged into the collective Christian hive mind where the Pastoral or Priestly authority can micromanage your life, claim a divine right to your property and labor (the “tithe”, though the concept is bastardized for selfish gain), and where you receive regular infusions of “the Gospel”…because that’s what you still need. You must, as my former head pastor over at the soft cult of Sovereign Grace Ministries used to say, “preach the Gospel to yourself every day”. Because that’s exactly what Jesus taught…the saved STILL need saving. Suuure…
By the way, I love the irony of always appealing to the object and absolute truth of the Word, by which they (erroneously) mean “the Bible”, and yet NEVER actually teaching anything that’s in the Bible. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so destructive.
And THAT is precisely why it is implied that church attendance is “proof” of salvation…which is just another way of saying that if you don’t go to church regularly, then you can’t be saved.
Of course, rarely will any Christian be honest with themselves or you and openly admit this. They will demur and say of course that’s not what they really believe…but then why the meme? Why are these kinds of facile statements so popular? Why am I the only one as far as I can tell who called this meme out as bullshit and implying something unbiblical and unreasonable?
That’s easy. Because this is EXACTLY what Christians believe. Church attendance is “proof” of salvation. To eschew church is to declare to the world that you likewise eschew Christ, Himself. Because church, as the meme says, is God’s house on earth. How can you say you love someone and yet never pay them a visit? You can’t. Christ doesn’t live in your heart…he lives in Church, you see. When you leave church, you leave Him. Stay gone too long, and you’re no longer in a relationship with Him. You’re no longer saved. Justification is progressive…you get a serving of it when you come to church. And just like a meal you’ve eaten, eventually you need to return to the table. Just like the well you drink from, you must return when you’re thirsty. The whole “he who drinks my water will never thirst” that Jesus counseled…well, again, irony. Those who worship the Bible don’t actually follow it.
I will say this unashamedly: This is an outright satanic manipulation of the doctrine of Salvation in general and the Gospel in particular. By declaring, even implicitly, that the Christain must be re-saved by endless repetitions of the Gospel message at church on Sundays is to make the believer a NON-believer at root. You must continue to RECEIVE the Gospel because you are unable to actually BELIEVE it. Its power is finite, available only in doses, and your sin nature absolute. You are not taught, you are exposed…not informed, but inculcated. This DESTROYS the Gospel by stripping it of reason…which is its very TRUTH. Its power. Instead of being a philosophy which can be articulated and defended on objectively rational grounds, it becomes relegated to the “transcendent” realm of God’s Unknowable Mystery. It becomes a hammer of the Spiritual Authority (Pastor or Priest Class) to compel your obedience to “the Church” by threats of ostracism, spiritual failure and hell…it is emotional blackmail and pshychological abuse in perhaps their most pernicious incarnations.
One commenter who took issue with my interpretation of the meme explained that Church was a “house of sinners” not a “hotel of Saints”.
Do you see what I mean? The church, where ostensibly believers in Christ gather, is called a house for SINNERS! This, my friends, should shock and scandalize you. This is a “Christian” who openly admits that the saved are STILL full of SIN! That despite the acceptance and devotion to the Gospel, Christians are and remain spiritually unchanged. They are sinners…which is precisely how the Bible describes non-believers. There is no difference then from one who accepts Christ and one who doesn’t. Salvation has nothing to do with the Gospel and YOU believing it. Your belief is completely irrelevant. You are saved by “going to God’s house…for SINNERS…regularly, to receive your weekly injection of medicine. To get your Gospel fix. Stay away too long, and it wears off.
So what then separates the believer from the non-believer? The believer is he who has been effectively blackmailed, threatened, and cowed into pledging himself, his family, his property, and his time to the Church Collective as ruled by the ecclesiastical Authority. That’s it. No truth. No love. No real existential change. Just fear, fear, and more fear. Come to church or go to hell. And THAT’S the only thing that that meme can possibly mean. Period.
Here’s more irony for you: Go to church and you will hear endless warnings to stay away from the “world”…that the devil is in worldly things. But the truth is that if you really want find the devil, just look behind the podium. The devil is always where God is placed furthest from His children…and the furthest distance from God is a doctrine which says that humanity is by nature incapable of really knowing Him. And THAT’S church, in a nutshell.
Oh, sure they will tell you that you come to church after you “believe” not to get “re-saved”…not to re-crucify Christ, which is exactly what they do, by the way…but to become sanctified. To learn how to “walk or work out” your salvation, as if that’s some big mystery that you only discover after you devote yourself to belief; that somehow there is this giant separation between what someone believes and how they act according to that belief.
You see, you can be saved, they say, but unless you go to church you can’t really know what that means, so you can’t really act in accordance with your salvation. Which means that for all practical purposes you aren’t’ really saved.
But, see, as the BIBLE SAYS faith without works is dead…if you claim to believe something, but never act according to it, then you don’t really believe it. What this means is that to believe something necessarily means that you ALREADY understand how you must act in accordance with it. There IS NO fundamental distinction between belief and behavior…they are corollary at the epistemological root. If I relevantly and rationally belive that I would like to be an opthamologist, then I understand the behaviors in which I must engage in order to validate that belief…go to school, study hard, do a residency, cultivate a profitable patient base. Similarly, to believe in Jesus is to understand how to act in order to validate that belief…and it’s not obedience, it’s simply the CHOICE to believe driving the corollary behavior. I act because I ALREADY know how because I understand what I believe. I don’t believe, and then OBEY a demand that tells me where to go every sunday so that I can be TOLD how to act in accordance with my belief. That’s NOT belief, that’s slavery.
If I have no idea how to act according to a belief, then I don’t actually know enough to believe. And thus, to say that one must attend church in order to know how to act in accordance with salvation is false logic. I cannot CHOOSE to become saved until I understand what that means; and to understand what that means is to understand what I must DO from that CHOSEN belief.
And so, no, you do not attend church to learn how to act according to salvation. To know how you must act according to your salvation is a prerequisite for actual belief. You attend church, as the meme implies, because that’s what saved people do. Church attendance thus = salvation. That’s the real point of the meme…and what Christain orthodoxy implicitly teaches. Thus, salvation is not a function of faith, but of obedience. Not of freedom but of Authority. Salvation obligates you to a collecitve, which is ruled by an ecclesiastical authority which demands that you regularly offer up your time and resources to itself. After two thousand years of Christ’s wisdom, we’ve boiled down salvation to blind obedience and the abject sacrifice of the individual to the collective ideal of “Church”.
Enjoy the meme.