Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Attitudes Toward Churches and Spiritual Leaders

This past Sunday, this line from my pastor's sermon stuck with me:

“Unresolved anger towards one spiritual authority leads to a bad attitude towards all spiritual authority." -- Rod Loy

Often, we see people who had a bad experience in a certain kind of church (progressive, Evangelical, Pentecostal/Charismatic, etc.) react to their bad experience with complete and total suspicion of anything and everything they were taught in their previous church. 

Someone who formerly went to a prosperity gospel church may end up seeing every discussion about tithes and offerings as an abusive attempt to promise financial blessings in exchange for giving to the church.

A person who found their previous church falling into what is known as "progressive Christianity," where the authority of the Bible (especially as it relates to human sexuality) was minimized or questioned, may be leery of their new church's programs or outreaches that touch on legitimate issues of social justice (such as ethnic reconciliation, assistance to the disadvantaged poor, etc.), claiming that the church has "gone woke" or fallen for a "social gospel."

Someone who came out of a church caught up in the New Apostolic Reformation (also known as NAR, an extreme neocharismatic expression that says churches need to be under the governing authority of modern-day apostles and prophets in order to truly experience God's best), may now suspect and accuse a normal Pentecostal/Charismatic church of being associated with the NAR simply because they talk about the fivefold ministry of Ephesians 4, practice the gift of prophecy in worship services, or use some of the same songs in worship as their former church.

Rather than simply reject the particular bad doctrine/teaching/behavior of the church they have left (often having left for good and valid reasons), they now are suspicious of and reject any church expression that has any overlap whatsoever with what they were taught or experienced before. 

But that is not the proper way to look at things. Each issue has to be studied for itself in the light of Scripture. Just because a church was aberrant in one area doesn't mean that everything they believed and taught was completely wrong. After all, the Protestant Reformation took place because of serious corruption and abuses in the Roman Catholic church of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance period. But that doesn't stop Protestants from believing in the doctrine of the Trinity or from practicing baptism and communion.

So make sure you don't allow past issues with spiritual leaders, churches, or other believers to keep you from enjoying healthy relationships with others today.

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