Anne Rice Quits Church

In another post, bestselling author Anne Rice told you her story – how, through historical research, she became convinced the facts support a real Jesus who rose from the dead. She explains how and why she left atheism to embrace hope.

Then, in 2010, she left the church. She said:

“For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian … It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.

“My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn’t understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been or might become.”

Many have asked my thoughts about Anne Rice’s departure from the Catholic Church. Let me tell you my own story of struggling with quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious church people.

When I was 12, my mom went “bipolar.” Manic depressive with mild schizophrenia.

Except that for a year and a half, nobody knew that’s what was wrong with her. We just knew she was impossible to live with.

The fights, the arguments and contention would start as soon as I got home from school every day and stretch past bedtime.

Our entire family was bedlam for a year and a half.

Mom would swing from being your best friend to your worst enemy at the slightest provocation. I’d come home from school and find she’d tossed boxes of my stuff in the garbage. She’d say embarrassing things to my friends.

She insisted dad wasn’t really her husband. She said he was a man who looked just like Bob and she was sentenced to live with him until the ‘real’ Bob came back. When he came home from work she would hurl accusations at him. My brother and sister and I would complain bitterly to him about how she was treating us.

It was almost impossible to not get sucked into some kind of conflict every day. Home was the most dangerous place a kid could be.

My dad was taking her to doctors and counselors but nobody seemed to be able to arrive at any conclusion. Meanwhile, people watched us with a judgmental eye.

My dad was an associate pastor at a very large church in Nebraska, 2000+ members. Dad started getting heat from his boss, the senior pastor, Mr. G, who didn’t like the fact that one of the pastors’ wives was “out of line.”

Mr. G quoted the scripture that says a pastor should be in control of his family and told dad if he didn’t straighten out mom’s problem, he might have to leave.

Dad pursued answers and eventually got mom to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist diagnosed her with a chemical imbalance and bipolar disorder.

That trip to the psychiatrist was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Psychiatrists and psychologists, in Mr. G’s opinion, were the new high priests of a secular order that would dismiss all human ills as curable illnesses. Psychiatrists didn’t have the courage to call evil by its real names – SIN and DISOBEDIENCE. They existed to give people like my mom an alibi. Mr. G declared Mom insubordinate and rebellious.

Literally on the same day the diagnosis came back, Mr. G and Mr. J, the pastors of our church, visited our house to deliver the news. We all sat in the living room as they announced, “We’ve asked your father to resign from his responsibilities. He’s no longer qualified to be a pastor.”

I listened without much comment. I was 13. My older sister, however, was livid. At 18 she’d formed definite opinions about what had transpired. She started sobbing and retorted angrily to Mr. J: “If people knew what YOUR daughter does when she’s out at night, they’d be forcing you to resign too.”

Mr. J said, “We’re not here to talk about me or my family today, Robin. We’re here to talk about you.”

Earlier that day, dad had been brought before the Board of Elders to hear their final verdict. One by one, they agreed with Mr. G: “Bob, you’re not in control of your family. We’re sorry, you have to step down.” Mr. G demoted dad and announced to 2,000 people the following Sunday that dad had “resigned” so he could “attend to problems with Betty and the family.”

The next months were painful indeed. Few knew the real story. Some gathered around us. Most only knew something disgraceful had happened though and kept their distance. We felt like pariahs.

Dad couldn’t hang with his same friends anymore. He wasn’t invited to lunch at work. They shut him out of staff meetings. They hadn’t cut his pay, but he did lose a tax deduction. Less money to go around.

A couple months later I got into a fist fight at school. Came home with two black eyes. Bad report cards and complaints from teachers. All this added to the mounting case against dad.

He would come home from work every night and sit on the couch and sob. Mom told him it was all his fault for being such a cruel tyrant.

Dad followed through with the psychiatrist’s advice to get her on a prescription drug. Literally within a few days, mom transformed from defiant and combative to quiet and cooperative. The bizarre behavior stopped completely. Not only that, she went from being angry and defensive to feeling deep remorse about her erratic behavior.

Soon it became clear that Mr. G torpedoed dad simply because mom had a medical problem – a chemical imbalance – and that mom’s behavior wasn’t “sin” or “rebellion.” It was a well-understood mental illness. She couldn’t help herself.

Dad was hurt and humiliated and felt abandoned. He desperately wanted to bail. A lot of people told him he should quit his job, especially our relatives who understood the scope of the situation.

Dad thought about pulling up stakes, moving elsewhere. He decided to stick it out. To argue his case and vindicate himself.

Few men had the balls to stand up to Mr. G, but dad did. As mom’s condition improved, he said, “Mr. G, you made a wrong judgment and you need to apologize to my wife.”

Furthermore dad made Mr. G write her a letter of reconciliation, because by this time mom had become terrified of Mr. G. He had, after all, the ability to singlehandedly destroy dad’s career.

Nine months after dad had been demoted, he was reinstated.

Two weeks later dad was diagnosed with cancer.

Had dad cut and run, he would’ve been in a newcomer in some new environment, maybe even starting over in a brand new city, surrounded by strangers.

But since he’d stuck it out and vindicated himself, we were surrounded by a faith community that lent us help with dinners and financial support and prayers and encouragement.

Dad had major surgery. He was cancer free for a year and a half, then it came back. Treatments were unsuccessful, and as it became clear that he wasn’t going to make it, Mr. G secretly mailed a letter to everyone else at church. He explained how this summer might be Bob’s last and it would be really nice to raise some money, so Bob can take a trip to the West Coast.

$10,000 came in. In 1986 that was enough to not only take dad to California, a place he’d always longed to visit, but it was enough to get all of us to Alaska and Hawaii too. Dad experienced a 5 week “last hurrah” with his wife and kids that July.

That October, he died. I was 17.

I can’t tell you how many things I’ve wanted to quit, and didn’t, because dad wouldn’t throw in the towel and walk away from a bunch of quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous people.

And say what you want about ’em, when you’re in the oncology ward with terminal cancer, those are the same people that will probably be with you as you pass from here to the other side.

They will still have their faults and you will have yours, but… blood is thicker than water.

A faith community can become just as close and even closer than your biological family. It’s why they can hurt you so easily.

But there’s no such thing as a real community, or even a real relationship, that isn’t vulnerable. Painfully so sometimes. During our special vacation to California, dad told me that getting rejected and blamed for a mess he had no control of had been worse than dying of cancer was now.

Peter asked Jesus, how many times should I forgive my brother? Seven times?

Jesus said, “Seventy times seven. That’s how many times you should forgive.”

What do you forgive people for, anyway??

For being quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15.

After the potluck dinners have ended and people start throwing chairs at each other, it’s so easy to pull the plug and run. So many marriages don’t work out, it’s so easy to just live with someone and see how things turn out.

It IS easier.

It’s easier at first.

But when a series of relationships fail, they rip your heart to shreds just as much whether you were married or not. It just seemed like not ‘committing’ yourself lessened the risk. If your “common law wife” leaves you after 10 years, how is that any less painful than if your legally married wife leaves you? Just because it’s ‘unofficial’ doesn’t make it less perilous.

I’ve had to make multiple passes of forgiveness about Mr. G. A few years later when more fiascoes erupted, I had to let go again.

A few years after that, it occurred to me that my dad might not have even gotten cancer in the first place had he not endured two years in such a toxic, unsupportive, humiliating environment. That’s speculation, but still I had even more forgiveness I had to do.

A year ago I realized I needed to confront yet another layer of unforgiveness within myself. I had made a conscious choice to let go of the past, when I suddenly felt God saying to me, “The Father’s Heart is going to be poured out over Mr. G and his church.”

The day you forgive anther person is the day new blessings get released into their life. The day you forgive another person is the day you stop being a victim of whatever they did to you.

Dear Anne Rice, I greatly esteem your writing and your scholarship. I commend you for your adroit case for the historical Jesus. I appeal to you as a brother and member of the imperfect body of Christ, that to exit and publicly denounce them is to embrace quarreling… hostility… and public disputes.

From an individual view it’s all justified. But isolation makes islands of all of us. When we who were mistreated gather together in opposition to those who did us wrong, we inevitably become like those whom we judge.

A few years ago I visited an old college buddy in Washington DC. He was an exquisitely smart, seminary educated man who’d been a pastor in a Protestant evangelical church. He’d recently converted from Protestant to Eastern Orthodox.

Eastern Orthodox??? Most Americans don’t even know what that is.

I was dying to hear his explanation. “I don’t know what Peter’s going to tell me, but it’s sure gonna be interesting.”

I wasn’t disappointed. We sat up late three nights in a row exploring his decision. I don’t have time for the whole story now, but one of the points he made was this: “Protestants have ‘splitting off’ in their very DNA. As soon as they disagree, they leave First Baptist Church to go start Second Baptist Church. Then some of those people split off and form Third Baptist Church and on and on it goes.

“Catholics and Orthodox people don’t automatically do that. They prize unity. I have a bishop over me and he’s like a father to me and my wife. We live in community and in covenant together. He’s responsible to look out for us and we choose to be in a trusting mutual relationship.”

Whether you’re Protestant or Catholic or Orthodox… or if you’re on the outside looking in… I want to encourage you: living the nomad life is less demanding in the short term but lonelier in the long term.

As you make forgiveness a way of life, when you choose to live in community, you earn a kind of compound interest of grace. Months or years do not always reveal the fruit of that. It grows evident over decades. Community is the only place where you truly learn to forgive and learn to love.

The only way we exorcise our demons – both figuratively and literally – is in committed relationships with other people. Those around us are mirrors. They show us our faults, and we theirs. As we bathe those faults in mercy and forgiveness we become the people we aspire to be.

Perry Marshall

–> Subscribe to the “Seven Great Lies of Organized Religion” email series

615 Responses to “Anne Rice Quits Church”

  1. Hillary Ulsch says:

    I didn’t have a question. I just wanted to comment that your testimony is very moving and is such an encouragement to the Body of Christ. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

    • Bob Riley says:

      Good Morning, Perry!

      On 2/6/2011 12:39 AM, you wrote:

      > Many have asked my thoughts about this. Today, let me tell > you my own story of struggling with quarrelsome, hostile, > disputatious church people:

      That was an excellent, moving article. Thank you.

      Having been raised Roman Catholic (and leaving the Roman Church in my early 30’s for emotional reasons), I have studied and pondered the life and message of Jesus for many years and in some ways, have come down in a different place than you have. However, I agree with you 100% that just because “church people” can be at times flawed in their thinking and actions (like all other humans), it really isn’t a reason to abandon or reject them. The same thing is true or marriage or other committed relationships (not that some dangerous marriages shouldn’t end).

      Having said that, I believe that in time we will emerge from our respective “air tight” religious bubbles of certitude and embrace ALL others of ALL faiths and of no faith. We are all in this together, for our common benefit, I believe. See what Jesus had to say about this in his dialog with the woman at the well in Samaria – but also see my caveat about some of John, below.

      To be honest, there is much in the Synoptic Gospels and in John (especially) that I think (rightly or wrongly!)didn’t come from the lips or example of Jesus. But the Gospel writers were in my opinion well-intentioned men of their day who wrote from the mentality of the ancient world. Jesus was enlightened, they were not. So they wrote about an enlightened remarkable human being – but in many ways couldn’t have understood him and his message at their stage of development. I think the CORE of his message can be found in the Sermon on the Mount (and the Luke version, of course) and in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (which interestingly appears in the parables of the Buddha some 500 years earlier, albeit in a different form – but the message is IMHO the same – It is a universal message).

      Anyway, thanks again for that excellent article. I think (and hope) Anne Rice will in time calm down and learn more patience and tolerance of human frailty.

      Peace TO and THROUGH you,

      Bob Riley
      Albuquerque

  2. I just want to thank you very much for this article. I have been a ‘Lone Ranger’ Christian for awhile now, and have justified it by saying I have not made a ‘connection’ with any Church and especially so with the people in them.

    Funnily enough, I was drawn to this site because of Anne Rice going back to faith and thinking it’s not impossible for such a logical, academic person (like me) to come to faith and celebrate it. I then saw this and it almost justified my decision to just be a Christian and not be part of a Church.

    Thank God He has led me here — you are too right and I have been lovingly nudged by the Spirit to forgive and commit so I can finally make the ‘connection’ that my soul is longing for.

    God bless you, Sister!

  3. Josh says:

    Perry,

    I agree that community is a great piece of what God designed in His Kingdom, but I don’t think enduring pharasitical constructs to try to get it is necessarily what He wants for us. Too many very godly leaders I know are saying the ‘church age’ is over (confirming what’s been in my heart for a while) so sticking around to prop it up isn’t helping move to the next phase/season.

    Personally, I also left because of unnecessary drama and judgement after helping start a church and have had to do a lot of forgiveness, too. But trying to go back to ‘church’ has just been an empty experience on every front.

    I think it comes down to having the vision for a new model and just seeing so little come from the current model (3 songs, a bad mix of motivational seminar/sermon and everyone figuring out where they’re going to lunch afterward to find real community) that I can’t stick around waiting for the leadership to be open to not being the ‘answer’ at all times.

    I appreciate your heart and am grateful for your encouragement as well. We’ll find the Kingdom sooner when we figure out how to love each other (ie: forgiveness and stopping our judgement), so thanks for being a leader in that pursuit.

    My best,
    -Josh

    • John Barilla says:

      Perry, I appreciated your heartfelt recounting of your father’s dilemma in the church and your plea to help keep the fabric of the church together, despite its many flaws. Nevertheless, I think Josh hit a chord with me – and I think many other believers. Protestantism of all stripes today has mostly been reduced to Josh’s cynical description: “3 songs, a bad mix of motivational seminar/sermon and everyone figuring out where they’re going to lunch afterward to find real community”. That is just what I call “country club Christianity”. Is Christ to be found anywhere in the churches today. I think that issue is debatable. I want to believe that the church is just in a state of declension – as it has been many other times in history – and will rise again from the ashes. But frankly, I am not sure. I too am outside the camp right now, watching and praying and waiting to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. We live in difficult times and we are right to hold ourselves and the church to a higher standard than we see right now. After all, the salt is tasteless, what good is it? Something is definitely brewing in the cosmos right now, presumably at the hand of God, and judgment will soon come to the house of the Lord, as it has before. The new wine cannot be put in old, corrupted wine skins. To all those who truly hunger and thirst for righteousness, I say, hang on, the kingdom is coming. God is not slack concerning his promises, but perfectly on time.
      He always waits until iniquity has bloomed to its fullness before the hammer of justice is made to fall. But when it begins to drop, it will fall quickly; first on God’s people and then on the rest of the unbelieving world (that’s the pattern judgment I see throughout the Bible). So I think we should all put on a cloak of humility, watch and wait for the Lord’s leading, remembering that He does nothing without first revealing it to His prophets. Presumably then, we shall all be forewarned of what lies ahead.

    • Ryan Healy says:

      Josh – I agree very much with your comment, especially the first paragraph.

      I have not gone to church in 5+ years now and am thankful to be free of that tradition.

      God’s church (ekklesia) is different than going to church. One is the body of believers, the other is a building where certain people go for their particular brand of religion.

      Acts 7:48 says, “However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands.”

      And Hebrews 13:12,13 says, “Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate, Hence, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.”

      Often, to hear a true word from God, we must go outside the camp (man’s church) where we will undoubtedly bear the reproach of church-goers.

      This is the real issue: Are we hearing God’s voice and being obedient to it? If He tells one to go to church, then that person should go to church. If He tells another to leave the church, then that person should leave the church.

      Either way, we should still meet and talk with fellow believers on a regular basis. Even though I have not gone to church in 5+ years, I regularly meet and talk with believers, even when their views are different than my own.

      Thankfully, Christian community is not bound by Sunday school and religious hierarchy.

      Ryan

  4. Sophie says:

    This is powerful. Thanks.

  5. David Dell says:

    I am sorry but just have to make my comment on this article as I am so shocked and appalled. How can a Christian Community around your father his ‘faith community’ as you called it be so utterly ignorant, non supportive and intolerant of personal and human frailty. This or that example is not in my minds eye ANY demonstration of Gods love or support or Christian Fellowship.

    I think, no I know for sure, that faced with that kind of inhumane yes not even un christian but inhumane attitude and the social and faith based dictatorial-ism demonstrated by this Faith Community … I like Anne Rice would have had no alternative but to hold my Faith and my ‘fellowship’ with God to myself and left that so called Christian Community. Never have I been so shocked as I am right now to see this article as being evidence of a loving caring, humane and christian group as God would have wished to have seen.

    In this case I have to say ‘Thank God’ my Faith and my Spirit and my own personal devotion and community demonstration of Gods love and desire does not NEED to be nor is.. based in or around a church group or ‘faith community’ such as this.

    Blessings to you.

  6. allison kunle says:

    mr perry,i read with keen interest your comment about anne rice’s decision to quit church, and the back-up story of your family and all.very touching and insightful to say the least.maybe anne is misguided or just angry, but i believe her decision,though unjustifiable,has perspective!my concern is whether the “church” truly enjoys the community life or fellowship exemplified in the early church or a mere gathering of intimate strangers who, naturally, seek to relate somehow and then come up with rules tagged “biblical” in order to validate whatever they enjoy as “christian”!mr perry it is very difficult for some of us to see the church as “church” when it is radically not different from most secular institutitons known to man.this becomes more interesting when one discovers that “church” to the Apostle Paul and his kind was not necessarily a Noun(Place or Institution)strictly speaking but significantly a People,called-out ones irrespective of where they are or converge e.g where two or more are gathered “in His name” there i am in their midst”.the emphasis is not on a special place but on a special people.Unfortunately, History and those who sought to remain relevant in it have transformed “church” into a a kind of Mutant.whether we like it or not any good student of history who is unbised knows that the church as structured today is a sad simulation of its original structure.Call my mindset ‘old-fashioned’and im happy.The world has changed a lot,mr perry,so i passionately understand the passion of those who would frown at my flow of thought.People often say we should go back to the faith of our fathers, but our fathers are dead! And they lived 2000years ago.This is a contradiction becos people would consider my line of thought obsolete but desire to go back to the faith of our “dead” fathers.They probably desire this “faith” because there is a “knowing” in them that says,”something is wrong!” even if they cant readily place their hands on it.I wish i could do some exegesis on history but for lack of space and time it is a historical fact that even though we discourage it all the time, man has always thrown the proverbial baby away with the bath water!!!That is my own summary of church history.We threw away the good stuffs with the bad stuffs all in the name of “change” or “necessity”, or reasonableness. Now, to many, the truth is only an ideology which must not encroach on their reality.It is only good for arguments but “Life must move on”(sad).Mr perry, some cultures are worth preserving and even worth dying for.Some did. Sometimes i wonder why we give up on some practices so soon.is it truly because “change” is inevitable or man was not courageous enough to ward off secular influences?Anne’s decision has a perspective that we do not or will not look into because “life must continue” at all expense!!i do not validate her decision because her motive may be wrong but i concur with the fact that a fundamental substitution of THE BODY initiated and validated by papal authority and ill motives has been established, and unfortunately now enjoys historical longevity.Out of Church gathering or building should not necessarily mean out of fellowship.The former can be possible without the latter becoming impossible.It’s just a matter of understanding.Therefore, if Anne Rice feels compelled to enjoy fellowship with believers severed from the ritualistic sunday gatherings(provided she is convinced in her heart & is not unforgiving),then who cares if she has fellowship in the office,a garden,her room, a party,a prison or even in hell as long as they gather “in His name”.It is more about “His Name” and not “The Place”. Mr Perry can you and the 21st century church live with that?Even King David once said “…If I make my bed in hell, you are there”Psalm 139:8.WOW!!!
    Concerning the issue of the reaction of Pastor/Mr. G to the diagnosis of your mum’s condition at the time, i personally do not have any grouse.I believe in scientific solutions and proven intelligence because (1)i went to school,(2)i use it everyday and (3)they are testable and provable. But there is a caveat here.Can “chemical imbalance” or some psychological theory explain the cause of homosexualism?Or, better still create an “alibi” for sexual perverts?Maybe psychiatrists can explain why some people (serial-killers) are always just itching to kill just for the sport? Whether we like it or not some issues are only traceable to SIN and DISOBEDIENCE.To this extent mr perry i find your position for the “bipolar” stuff incapable of general application.And if you are a fan of the Bible that should not affect you much,should it?i understand the fear of people like Mr G.,maybe not the way they went about it. The excuses professionals give for such abnormal conditions may vary depending on the diagnosis but are similar in many respects.Secular intelligence is often man’s way of not only solving man’s problem but also a way of saying it is not entirely man’s fault i.e blame it on a provable cause which man “can’t” control rather than hang on to some “spiritual” and spooky rationale.We generally dont have the history of accepting the truth about what we cannot explain.Man has an incurable GOD-COMPLEX!That is modern-day idolatry:worship of human intelligence.Yes all these are at best my bizarre opinions,but which is not.i may be guilty of certain extremes but i’m only trying not to be guilty of “spiritual imbalance”.It is better to err on the side of caution Mr Perry but that is after you have applied caution!In all, that is my message:Caution, Caution,Caution!!!yours
    In His Body
    Allison Kunle
    A true Nigerian
    A patriotic African

    • Dean Smith says:

      I would like to first thank Mr. Perry for his willingness to post things of such a deeply touching and personal nature. I would also applaud him for seeing that we are not ‘in the world’ to escape it, but to ‘let our light shine’ within it. I am pleased that his father chose to bring his own light within out to his community, and, apparently, with G-d’s blessing. I would also like to thank Ms. Kunle for her obvious commitment to scriptural authority and willingness to ask ‘hard’ questions ….. it is with such sincere questions, in humble reliance upon the authority of the scriptures that each of us, as well as the body as a whole, grows stronger. I would ask of Ms. Kunle two things 1) to please refrain from calling her opinions bizarre (when one truely is convicted of an opinion, one does not consider it to be bizarre), as that is an obvious deflection of criticism and 2) I would like for her to take into consideration the fact that fellowship, at least in this imperfect world, implies commitment and commitment is not had outside of a ‘community’ by whatever means you may chose to define it. It would seem to me that the actions of Mr. Perry’s father were in keeping (at least in terms of the how dissagreements were handled) with genuine biblical principles … seeking reconciliation and restoration even in seemingly impossible circumstances and at personal expense – not seeking to find the ‘perfect’ community, but seeking to bring the community one is in more inline with the Father’s wishes by affecting the individuals with whom we have (and have chosen to have – under G-d’s direction and will) relationships – is that not what our Lord exemplified?

      With gratitude to the one who Called me by name,
      Dean Smith

    • Dele Agbeyo says:

      This is a moving factual story. The illnesses have some physical and scientific interpretations. The solutions were equally based on scientific facts. My problem is, where in the story does God or spiritual intervention become manifest. In other words, do humans really nned to serve God? Man seems to have answers to most of our afflictions. Rice may be right afterall in quiting the church. It requires a big leap of faith to believe in an afterlife as there seems to be no scientific or logical proof/evidence that life exists after death. I was a student president of scripture union in my school days, devoted and church going. The one day we were taught in biology about evolution theory, I went back to read gensis and compared this to what I learnt in my biology lesson, doubts crept over me and I began to question some aspects of my christian faith. The bible story of Adam and Eve in a garden and indeed most of the bible stories appeared to me as mere collection of some jewish fairy tales. I have never thereafter felt or be the same again. What do you say to this experience?

      • perrymarshall says:

        I read Genesis 1 just slightly differently than some and it matches modern science exactly. See
        http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/genesis1/

      • Miguel Romero says:

        There wasn’t humans witnesses of Creation, and anctient believers didn’t need modern scientifical explanations to progress spiritually.
        To my knowledge, jews religious scholars regard Genesis as mostly simbolic, starting with the very name of Adam, which apparently means something like “humanity”. Is a very old message, for a very old people, and for us the most important is not the form, but the meaning.

    • darrell evans says:

      Don’t be too harsh on Mr. Perry Allison my friend. He is after all, doing what our Lord gave him the “Unction” to do with this site we are dialoguing on in “His“ name I might add. I say this with all ingenious sincerity because it‘s “His Will” that is done here on Earth, as well as in heaven, and it’s all about the Love & Forgiveness that our Lord God Jesus procured for us at Calvary. Aside from that, well written and thought about Allison Kunle my friend in Christ Jesus and but for the “Patriotic” thing, I would agree in most part. ( Patriotism; The virtue of the vicious!) And one other statement where you said; “Secular intelligence is often man’s way of not only solving man’s problem but also a way of saying it is not entirely man’s fault i.e. blame it on a provable cause which man “can’t” control rather than hang on to some “spiritual” and spooky rationale.” I find that maybe you have overlooked something very important yourself my friend. It’s that, “Christianity IS a “Spiritual” event that happens “Within” a person, ergo “Emmanuel” God is “With” us! No man can duplicate the “Church” Jesus alluded to when He said; Matthews 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this ROCK I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Our Lord was alluding to the “ROCK” being Peters “Heart” and subsequently everyone else’s heart who Loves our Lord Jesus. 2 Corinthians 3:3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

      The purpose of the establishment of these United States of America was not to escape religious tyrannical despots, who were want to kill in the name of “Jesus”, or some other deity, but to promote the precepts and doctrines of Jesus the Christ our Lord and God to the indigenous people who were dwelling here before our coming.

      This was a comment made back in the year 1619; “Prayer being ended, to the intent that we had begun at God Almighty so we might proceed with awful and due respect toward his lieutenant, our most gracious and dread sovereign [King Charles I], all the burgesses were entreated to retire themselves into the body of the church….” John Pory, Proceedings of the First Meeting of the Virginia House of Burgesses, the first representative assembly in the future United States.

      New England
      Again in 1620; Having undertaken for the glory of God, and “ADVANCEMENT OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH” and honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these present, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God and one of another, “COVENANT” and combine ourselves together in a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid…. From the Mayflower Compact, in which the settlers of Plymouth agree to establish a majority-rule government.

      In 1621 [The Pilgrims] were not acquainted with trade nor traffic… but only had been used to a plain country life and the innocent trade of husbandry. Governor William Bradford of Plymouth, on how the Pilgrims were ill-prepared for the demanding life in New England.

      And in 1622 with our Lord intervening again, helping us get the building of America on it’s way. In the process of this, enter Squanto, an American Indian who was a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation!…. Squanto directed them how to set their corn, where to take fish, and to procure other commodities, and was also their pilot to bring them to unknown places…. What could now sustain them but the “Spirit of God” and His Grace, our Lord Jesus Christ?…

      We have to be guided, but not from other men who are as blind or unknowing  as ourselves.

      We need “Super Intelligence” to guide us.

      It’s there, and available, it’s just that a lot of the little children are too haughty & arrogant to humble themselves to learn about them.

       1John 2:1 ¶ My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous: (Because our Lord knew we could NOT STOP our vain thoughts from occurring over and over again ourselves, ergo the unlimited forgiveness Jesus mentioned to Peter in; Matthews 18:21-22 ¶ Then came Peter to Him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
      1John 2:18  Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
      Luke 18:17 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little “CHILD“, shall in no wise enter therein.

      And so the world became thus, without Him and the Love & Forgiveness He brings to those who bless Him and keep His precepts and Doctrines!

      Matthews 3:9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
      Matthews 23:25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
      Matthews 23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.
      Matthews 23:13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
      Matthews 23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
      Luke 2:8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, “We have Abraham to our father“: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
      Matthews 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
      Matthews 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

      Our Lord Jesus however, in His Great Wisdom, made it so simple, that even a “CHILD” can understand our Fathers heavenly Logic in His precepts of “Love” and “Forgiveness”… thank You Lord Jesus! “Love” and “Forgiveness”… “Love” and “Forgiveness”… “Love” and “Forgiveness”… thank You Lord Jesus for Your Gift of “Perpetual Forgiveness“! Selah.

      Thank You Lord Jesus, Yeshua haMessiah Sar Shalom. Numbers 6:24-26: YAHWEH bless you and keep you. YAHWEH make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. YAHWEH lift up His face upon you and give you SHALOM. In the name of SAR SHALOM – our Lord Jesus the Christ, the Prince of Peace.

      In His Peace I wrote to you and in His Peace I leave you with Allison my friend in Christ Jesus, not the Earthly kind of peace, but the unrelenting eternal Peace Jesus brought to us through His Gift of personal Salvation.

      Amen! Thank You Lord Jesus!

    • Haim Shelyakov says:

      What a profound response! It is a meditation. Thanks.

  7. Jerry rodriguez says:

    a very interesting article, dead on to feelings i have been relating to for awhile:

    “your meetings do more harm than good” is a passage that has stuck to me for a few years. i do acknowledge that the loner christian is a tough act to follow through.
    Ccongregating is necesary to stimulate faith and keep the “ilussion alive” in a way however for me that does not equal church. it simply equals good friend/friends who are in christ : “whenever two or more of you invoke my name, i am amongst thee”

    athough a bit harsh, have you not considered the fact that the people who helped your dad for the trip did so out of guilt? i mean, did they all know/ were friends with your dad? did they respond to the offering collected in church just the same as they would have done with any other person? its nice and all that they visited your father and money was collected for his cause, but these are the same people who quietly saw your father struggle with your mothers condition and called it a sin from her part and your fathers part

    I guess gods forgiveness is strong in you, but personally i would want nothing to do with these people.. i rather have one good friend visit me than a congregation of hypocrites who do things out of guilt and feel no particular interest for you rather than to make themselves feel good about “how good, thoughtful and holy” they are… we all know these people… the forced smiley lady/guy who always greets you at church even if they know nothing about you, and dont acknowledge your existence in the outside world or dont bother to really befriend you/allow themselves to be trully befriended and it remains a superficial and plastic relationship

    being nice does not equal being a nice person and forgiveness does not equal exposing yourself to circunstances that will continue to hurt you.. as anne pointed out it gets tiring, and petty human issues take the place of what really matters : our relationship with god

    conclusion: 2-12 people is ok but more than a dozen is definitely a crowd

    • perrymarshall says:

      Jerry,

      I just don’t need to take on the burden of figuring out [JUDGING] why any particular person helped us out.

      Maybe they did it out of guilt. I rather doubt it but what if they did? What difference does it really make? What benefit is there for me to sit there and second guess what they were thinking?

      I invite you to think of this business of guessing peoples’ true intentions as so much unnecessary baggage. I think most people help a guy who’s dying of cancer simply because they want to help. Certainly not because he’s in a position to ‘pay them back.’

      • shanidexter says:

        That’s a very good point that Perry makes. When reading many of these comments in favor of people living a private Christian life without a church in order to stay away from a “quarrelsome” church congregation, it made me wonder, what if God had thought about us like that?

        We are utterly flawed and sinful – over and over again we commit the same old sins against Him. But over and over again He forgives us, so much so that He has promised us a place in heaven with Him through Christ! What would have happened to us if God had given up on us and decided to distance Himself from us?? But He didn’t, and He doesn’t. So why do we give up on our fellow Christians, who are as sinful and flawed as we are?

        I hope the “lone Christians” out there come to realize this truth. When you are feeling angry, frustrated or even disgusted with your fellow Christians for their shortcomings, try to see the picture in the perspective of God of you and your own shortcomings when living your Christian life. I hope that will help you forgive whatever shortcomings of your fellow Christians and continue your journey of Faith together with them.

  8. Dave Ware says:

    Hi Brother,
    You have blessed me today, I have gone through so many things as a Christian, including excommunication from a denomination, not for any mortal sin but because I chose to stand up to a Bishop who was tyranical. Many other stories I could tell you, in all these things I have fixed my eyes on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. Sometimes it is hard to forgive, but the greatest blessings come from those hard choices. You have stirred up my thoughts as to how I can move forward in faith and forgiveness. To bless others with the grace God has poured forth on us.

    Thank you,
    Dave

  9. Albanus Alain says:

    This is so confusing, to called one a Pastor but has wife? That’s not even in teaching of Roman Catholic nor the Orthodox. The thing is, from my point of view anyway, since the progression of Protestant, there have been too many congregations, each with their own believe of what’s truthful or not and then accuse the other long established faith community to be wrong (Catholic). Then, it even got worse by the creation of own rules, interpretations of the Bible, and ways in administering the believe. No wonder those who are looking for the knowledge become lost in faith on the progress.

    One will always be what one wants to be, everyone has their own ego and hunger of power upon others. But if one can open one’s eyes and supressed the wanting of forcing one’s own thought of truth, learn to accept what have been done by some people in order to make this world a better place without forcing others in any means at all, learn from what teaching behind those kind of people and how they can become such a person. Can’t you see who is really inspiring?

  10. Nina Ganci says:

    Anne Rice, thank you for telling us your story, you have worded it beautifully. I too have seen and experienced what you and your family went through, and came to the same conclusions that you did. Thank you, for being so honest.

  11. Leonardo says:

    Hi Perry,

    And you think you have problems.

    “Huston, we have a problem”!

    [SNIP]

    • perrymarshall says:

      To everyone, especially Leonardo:

      I just deleted about 5000 words of your copy-and-paste rambling. Valid issues you raise but this is no way to have a discussion. Make your point and say it succinctly so that there’s a realistic chance of someone responding to you. If you have a question, ask it. But don’t ask 20. Besides it didn’t sound like you even had a question. It sounded like you’re just venting.

      If you want to post endless diatribes do it on your own blog, not mine.

      Perry Marshall

    • Suzan says:

      That would be Allen Ginsberg and William S Burroughs and the movie ddcaeited to their memory is Good Will Hunting.

  12. Don Every says:

    None of us can make a blanket-judgement about staying or going from a ‘church’. Only God knows what is right and by fellow-shipping with Him, spirit to Spirit, we can know just what to do. The principle of speaking out when necessary and is as viable as keeping quiet and ever forgiving the continuing abuse of power in many places.
    The answer to all of this and so much more, is to know Father as the ever-loving One He is, be at peace in any circumstance, letting Him do the organising of His ongoing, perfect plan, and doing the things He gives true faith for. The rest is His business. Nobody has to put up with abuse for the sake of harmony, keeping people in power, or covering for abusive people and their empires.

  13. Perry,

    A great article. Your father showed exceptional humility and courage in the face of hypocrisy akin to the Pharisees. Unfortunately judementalism is one of the church’s greatest enemies. When I first became a Christian, I became very judgemental…it’s easy to slip into it as you feel your behaviour is better than those around you, or others. When I went through a divorce, I realised I could no longer throw stones, and I stopped going to church as I felt judged (or actually I feared being judged).

    In the long years that I spent outside of the church, I held on to my faith in Jesus in spite of being in an academic environment (I was studying for a Ph.D. in chemistry) and surrounded by atheists. For me the logic for belief in Jesus and God was compelling in spite of the arguments presented by my colleagues, but I just didn’t want to go to church and adopted the attitude of many that it is possible to make your own home the church, and that you don’t need fellowship with other Christians.

    Then, after years of not going to church I wandered into a Baptist church on a Sunday morning. After so long I found myself cringing at the hand clapping, and at the cheesy preaching, but I left there with a peace that I hadn’t experienced in the many years since I’d been a nomadic Christian.

    Since that day I have been attending church. I was thrown out of one church because of my views on marriage and divorce, and the church I am currently going to embraced me, warts and all, even if they didn’t agree with me (and as time has gone by, I have found my views coming closer to theirs). I am very lucky to have found a community which is as close to the early church as I have yet encountered, but even if I hadn’t, I would still go to a church because the presence of the Holy Spirit is stronger.

    There is something that happens when a group of genuine believers gets together to worship, pray and fellowship that can never be found in the solitary Christian state. For that reason I would encourage Anne to look again at the church, to look at other churches, and find somewhere she feels comfortable, and ignore the inevitable faults of the people who attend and the institutions themselves, and instead focus on the shared wonder and love for Jesus and the Father…that is what church should, and sometimes is, about.

    Orson

  14. Nancy Benstead says:

    Thanks for the article and the comments that once again urge me to ask “Why are Christians the only ones who are right?” Why do you all believe that you are the only ones who can do the right thing? Why do you have to be a Christian to forgive or help your neighbors? And if I hear the phrase “well it’s in the bible” once more I am going to scream.
    I believe that spituality is a personal thing and there is no need for opulent churches. How is that justified? Why are they tax-free when their doors are locked to the needy and hopeless among us?
    I grew up in the world of organized religion and you will see that I am a very disatisfied customer. The hypocracy that goes with it is not my cup of tea.
    Thank you for your time and best wishes to all.

    • ahmed41 says:

      YOU ARE 100% RIGHT, SIR

    • Mary Alice Tanner says:

      Nancy, I really feel your question deeply. “Why are Christians the only ones who are right?” My answer is simply, “They are NOT the only ones who are right.

      God created all. There is one God for us all. Even the groups that have the understanding that there is divine life in all things, rocks, mountains, water, wind, fire, and speak to them all, also speak or pray to the Great Spirit, the One.

      The “lone Christian” is not really alone and most of us know it. I am very comfortable living my spiritual life outside the organized religions. My faith that each situation will always comeout to the best possible solution for those involved. I believe that because we each have lessons to which we have to respond. Our lessons are presented to us in different forms until we really,REALLY, learn them. Some people choose to learn their lessons in the chaos of a church. More power to them. I did not choose that route. Free Will is a gift from our Creator.

    • Miguel Romero says:

      Well, actually you are right. There are right and wrong people (sorry for the jugdgement) everywhere. And it is sort of foreseen in the Gospel: “When did we see you (in distress) and (helped) you? When you did to any of those little”
      It is not a matter of belonging to avisible group, but to admitng a call from the heart.

  15. Poch Suzara says:

    Jesus in the bible said: “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believeth thou this.” John 11:25-26

    Can any of you faitheists explain in simple language this horror: What are the millions of faithful and devoted Christians including our own loved-ones doing dead and buried and rotting in the lifeless cemetery if there is life after death?

    Now Jesus in the same bible says with great pride: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

    Crucified on the cross, however, Jesus cried out loud: “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Mark 15:34

    Could any of you bible scholars and readers – explain what’s really going on here? Earlier, like in Matthew 3:17, God openly declared: “This is my beloved Son,
    in whom I am well pleased.” What’s happening here?
    A change of heart? What kind of loving Gods
    are these supernatural beings? – the
    Savior of mankind! Poch Suzara

    • Robert Rhoades says:

      Answers:
      A) You quoted Jesus from John 11:25,26. It says, “though he were dead, yet shall he live”. Most modern scientists will agree that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. The “energy” or spirit that animates our bodies will not cease to exist after we die. And there is yet to be a resurrection. If you can believe that all the atoms in the universe came from a point smaller than the period on this sentence, why is it hard to believe that God has the power to resurrect the dead?
      B) John 14:6 refers to having faith in Jesus and does not contradict Mark 15:34. There on the cross Jesus was quoting from what we now call the Old Testament, Psalm 22.(cf.) There you will see that Jesus was fulfilling scripture as well as relying completely on God.
      C) Jesus was God’s “beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” No one else could please God as Jesus did. Jesus bore our sin, became sin, on the cross in our place, (1Peter 2:24) because he loved us so.

    • Marie Tu says:

      Poch:
      It is unlikely, if you have read the verses you quote, that you have not read the last chapters of the same Gospel accounts. Christ died, and He rose again on the third day. In John chapter 10, Jesus told you that He, being the good Shepherd, gave His life for the sheep. (v 14-15) He then states: “…I lay down m life that I might take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have the power to lay it down and I have the power to take it again.” As Paul summarized in 1 Cor 15, Jesus died for our sins according to the Scriptures, He was buried and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures, and was seen, ultimately by hundreds of men and women after His resurrection, who saw Him, heard Him, touched Him.

      You do not understand God because you do not know Who God is. God created a body for Himself in the person of Jesus, in which He presented Himself to humanity, taught correctly about spiritual matters, and then presented His body as the payment for men’s sins; the sentence handed to us for our lawlessness was paid by that loving God on our behalf. When Jesus cried out that He felt abandoned by God, He was quoting from Psalm 22, in which David through the Holy Spirit wrote of the death of Messiah for the sins of men. Jesus referenced that psalm and validated its prophetic significance to Himself.

      What God offers through Christ is forgiveness of our sins made possible by justice being met in Jesus. When we receive Him for Who He is – almighty God and Lord – and trust His sacrifice instead of our own goodness for reconciliation with God, we receive everlasting life. Then, as He said, “And this is the will of Him Who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son, and believes on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”(John 6:40)

      Because Perry’s blog and this post are not really about this discussion, please feel free to email me directly if you would like to discuss this further; mbtx7@yahoo.com.

    • tony surber says:

      hello POCH SUZARA ! You asked if anyone could answer your questions.perhaps you have replies already to those questions. if not, or if you still wish to persue answers to your questions, i may be able to help.but first, i ask if you really seek answers, or if you are simply wishing to convince others of things which you know yourself , are not so. for example; if you know full well that you are right in some “belief” that there is no GOD, then why does it bother you that the rest of us do believe ? unless you are somehow trying to lie to yourself ? in other words “if there was no GOD then why would you feel led to even care what the rest of us think concerning him ??” you yourself are in fact, just one more testimony of belief in GOD .

    • Ryan Healy says:

      Poch – I want to address your first question in particular. A more accurate translation of John 11:25,26 is: “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who is believing in Me, even if he should be dying, shall be living. And everyone who is living and believing in Me, should by no means be dying for the eon. Are you believing this?'”

      Jesus was not suggesting believers would “never die,” but rather that they would not die during the eon. A discussion of the eons as revealed in the Bible would take pages. 🙂

      Ryan

      • Miguel Romero says:

        Poch, if science is so right, why is it unable to make a coherent explanation of the universe, and instead have two systems -relativity and quantic- which point in opposit directions? Why the standar model has flaws and fails to explain the existence of matter, and has to propose the existence of an aditional bosom -the Higg one- to face that, meanwhile there are no proofs of its existence?
        I apologize for being comtemptious, but I really become anger when a “liberal-scientific” first claims that there isn’t an absolute truth, and then starts to make absolute statements in the name of science which, due to its very nature, is unable and self denied to reach an absolute truth. And, thus, cannot stablish anything meaningful in that kind of matter.

  16. Nan Heidt says:

    Contention, selfishness – all of that, but what I had a problem with is false teachings…you’d think a Baptist church would be relatively harmless. Not…..

  17. Danny says:

    Dear Perry,

    when, after six years, I left the first church I had been committed to, I was devastated. But it had been turned into a cult-like mess by a pastor and his wife who’d become very controlling and their theology was very worrying (to say the least). We worked towards reconciliation after that but it was good to move on, however painful.

    Leaving the next church I’d become a member of was also painful. But I asked God, ‘will you be able to guide me onwards if I leave’ and I felt the answer was ‘of course.’ And I had to leave the controlling, manipulative and emotion driven environment behind. And I had to learn to start saying ‘no’ to controlling people. The pastor and his wife turned that church into a near cult after I left and a 135 people left because they wouldn’t be manipulated anymore. I know of a couple that stayed for a number of years, they felt God told them too and they were able to do good in that time. When they felt it was time, they left too.

    I took a break from church membership for a while but then I was with for a church for nine years and it was quite ordinary and peaceful compared to the first two. But eventually I began to long for a more organic church experience. I joined a house group and quit the big evangelical church. By then, it had become painfully clear that I was always going to be the odd one out in ‘corporate’ church, as I was creative, a thinker and philosopher and simply stood out in every possible way, from the way I dressed to the style in which I worshiped. A lot of the time I was only gladly tolerated. One of the few odd ones that might lure in the more unsavory lost souls.

    I was with a house church for five years and learned a lot. But after four years we started developing repetetive behaviorisms that came out of not being able to grow further (in number as well as in what we could learn together).
    We took a break and never came back together again as a house group. One couple found a church full of young couples with children, which is something they needed at that point. I am with another house group now.

    I’ve read your article and I think you’re projecting things from your experiences onto others, generalising things.

    The danger is that you might (without meaning to) put guilt trips on people by telling them that there is no other option than staying. This can lead to destructive situations!

    God is our constant. And we are part of many communities throughout our journey.

    You seem to implicate that Anne Rice will only sit with people who complain about (people in the) church and has become a loner. But God will continue to be with her as she continues her journey and she will meet many others along the way and will learn, grow and love.

    Not staying in no way makes reconciliation, forgiveness and growth impossible. Staying, just because someone tells you to and not because God guides you, could even (if worse comes to worst) ruin everything.
    Just because your situation was the way it was doesn’t mean you can project that onto other people’s situations. Let go and let God lead them. You have your issues to deal with, it doesn’t make you a specialist in the matter. God leads persons and communities, not clones!

  18. Jon Grewer says:

    A church community can take many shapes. It does not have to look like the modern edifices (either building or organization) that we are accustomed to in these days.

    Certainly we are called to love one another and to gather together in His name but I would hesitate to assert that every person is called to the same thing. John the baptist was apparently called to be alone in the desert communing with God for extended periods and only visited civilization on His orders to do His prophetic work.

    Perhaps too many of us use our anger and unforgiveness to justify the “lone wolf” way. But that doesn’t mean that the “lone wolf” is the wrong way for this or that person. Instead it might only mean that the lone wolf has to learn to forgive as so many of us, both churched and not, must learn.

    As for whether a person is called to be a lone wolf Christian or not, that is between each of us and God. Too many of us are certain we have a strangle hold on God’s will, not only for ourselves, but for everyone else as well.

    Instead let us each work out our own salvation in fear and trembling, trusting God to bring along each person through their individual journey. Also, we should hold fast to loving God and each other enough to encourage, forgive, and especially leaving the judgeing and condemning to God. We presume much when we claim to know God’s standard for anything beyond ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And … Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:36-40) As Jesus said, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    • Joan Kuhn says:

      Amen, Jon! Every time I read the quarrelsomeness displayed in so many letters here I want to say, “Love God and your neighbor.” That’s much harder than arguing. We need to stop all the arguments about doctrine! Who among us can understand the totality of the Source of our being and be so certain that his or her insight is exact truth for anyone but themselves?

      • David Waln says:

        I agree that Loving God and Loving Others is the key to all of this…..And that it isn’t done because it is so difficult. But I think I have found some things that make my efforts more focused and productive.

        As far as Loving Others, I start with the most difficult people first – enemies etc.- and try to see myself in them, or how I could be them. This gives me many insights to change/improve things. Plus, what I learn often makes loving others a piece of cake.

        As far as Loving God, I try to be ‘good clay’. Not too soft, not too rigid. Prayer is reserved for listening. [Mixing pottery metaphors here, I also like the image of becoming an empty vessel.]

  19. Nana ayene says:

    please the matter of churches splitting mostly is greediness but when u talk of the adventist faith,thus the S.D.A its spitting is the work of God.
    but all the way thank God u haven’t given up on God and still believe in Him.
    may God bless u with happiness and strength to overcome all trials. AMEN.

    • Grace Reid says:

      I really enjoyed this article. It has inspired me to look into myself and see others as God sees us all!! Forgiveness and acceptance is so important and our ability to do so impacts on our relationship with God. Just a question though to Nana ayene concerning what you said about the Adventist church…please explain. My e-mail address is gracy4000@yahoo.co.uk. As always Let us all aspire to grow in love for each other.

  20. Ebenezer Tannor says:

    Hi Perry, I’ve been reading your blog for sometime now and it has realy ‘open my eyes’ to certain issues but has also lead me to this…the distrust of pastors. you see, I live in Ghana, and when i look around me, i see so many people parading themselves as pastors when its obvious from their pronouncements they are just out to swindle people of their meager incomes. this has led me not to go to church anymore though i’ve not lost my faith in Christ and still read my bible and try to live a good life. is that wrong? can’t i serve God without listening to a pastor i do not trust?

    • perrymarshall says:

      You need to find a pastor you can trust. They do exist. If you just give up, you let the bad guys win.

      • Tharian Mathew says:

        Yes,I agree with you. But also understand that pastors are also human and as we form part of an imperfect race, it is wise to focus on Jesus and ask him to give you the strength required to go through life. Remember, When you trust in JESUS you are more than a conquerer. I live in India and have had my own share of troubles. I lost my well paid job as a journalist with a national paper which I served for more than 25 years. Then for the next 6 years it was just one job after the other, till finally I settled down to teaching communication skills in an engineering college. There were times when I seriously considered Suicide as the better way out, but a mean streak in me wanted to just battle it out. So I fully understand what you and your father went through. Remember always that we have a God who loves us. And when we totally surrender to him, he will take us to levels we did not even dream of. God bless you.

    • tony surber says:

      but who says that you must find a pastor around the litteral corner from you ? this blog for example, is much of what you need , though i am not saying that it is all that you need . are there other beleivers in your area ? fellowship as a little flock is perfectly acceptable .

    • Mikhail Ramendik says:

      For this specific issue, I would suggest trying churches that have rules and responsibility, where the individual pastor does not have the power to rule on their own. That lowers, although does not eliminate, chances that a swindler holds the post.

      Try the Anglicans and Lutherans, notably.

      (The RCs seem to have the other extreme – a global monolithic organization with intense loyalty within the clergy “clan”).

      • constantino g. sawan says:

        Dear Mikhail,

        I agree with you that the RC is global and monolithic. I take it as a compliment and am honored to be in that organization. I also agree with you that there is intense loyalty within the clergy. I take it that you mean loyalty to the pope down to the lowly priest. All these means only one thing: That the Roman Catholic Church in an undivided Church, well organized, and disciplined. They are so organized that in their liturgy,the daily Mass, the Prayers in Rome and the same prayers throughout the world.There are rules, plenty of them. But a catholic is free to obey or violate the rules and they are not thrown out of the Church or the community for violations of the rules. The Church respects one’s freedom.

        I am not saying that the RC is free of bickering from the inside. There are some who are not very loyal to the pope though they remain within the Church. They won’t get out of the Church because they will not find be legitimacy outside. These factions are very few.

        I would advise our friend Ebenezer to also try the Roman Catholic Church.

        Constantino

    • Ryan Healy says:

      Ebenezer – You wrote: “is that wrong? can’t i serve God without listening to a pastor i do not trust?”

      In my opinion, it is not wrong at all. And, yes, you can serve God without being part of a church structure or having a pastor.

      But I would encourage you to find believers who you can talk with and Bible teachers you can learn from.

      The important thing is to hear God’s voice and be obedient to His leading.

      Ryan

    • Dalibor Sver says:

      Dear Ebenezer,
      Try to meet and get to know the PEOPLE in the church (after all, the church IS people), not necessary the pastors or leaders.
      In your country, try visiting Accra Church of Christ or Kumasi Church of Christ.
      Hope you find the Kingdom of God 🙂

Ask A Question

Questions must be respectful, clear, thoughtful and on-topic - all others will be deleted by the moderator.