By the time all is said and done I think most people will think I am a church hating, christian bashing , rebellious and bitter woman. I’ll cop to the rebellious part but that is about all.
There are two things from my teen years that I have never forgotten. Both of them were bumper stickers that my extreme left-wing liberal foster mom had on her volkswagon bug. The first one was kind of a response to Jerry Falwell and the other i think to religion in general. Those two bumper stickers have shaped my mind and my thinking especially in regards to things like spiritual authority , giving man undue honor and the church in general.
The first one and certainly the most powerful for me—QUESTION AUTHORITY—What a thought. If you don’t question authority you never know what you really know, only what others tell you. The word is full of instruction to look, to seek, to test and to prove the things in this world and in your church by Gods’ standards, not our own. But we don’t. We don’t ask. We don’t question. We don’t rock the boat. And here starts my bash of pastors and religious authority.
I grew up without a dad and with a mistrust of men in general. It is possible that that fact has kept me safer in certain things than not. I don’t recommend distrust, but there is something to be said for healthy caution of people and their motives. I have known those who think and believe that every big decision in their lives needs to be run by their pastor for his approval or his prayer. Sorry he’s not my daddy. My experience ( only mine personally ) is that they really don’t care very much unless you are one of their chosen frozen.
We give pastors way to much power in our lives, most of the time, most of us don’t bother to require them to earn it or deserve it. Not one of us would go to a guy with our precious car just because he “said” he was a mechanic but we the sheep will follow any man who says he is a pastor. And I don’t care where pastors are schooled in theology and doctrine. Do they care? Are they loving? Do they themselves practice what they preach? Do they warn you against saying anything that questions their ultimate knowledge and authority? Will they sit with you, eat with you and pray with you? Do they change the Word in any way? Do they ignore you when you point out an error in the scripture they quoted? I could go on and on and on. Question Authority, Question anything that you don’t know for yourselves that anyone else teaches you. Question everything and then compare it to the Word of God. Does the teaching, does the pastor, does the church line up with the ultimate authority of God and His Word?
The Word is very clear about respecting and giving due to all authority. But in His Word God also warns us of following false teachers and prophets. He warns us not to be deceived. He warns us constantly of making men into idols and glorifying the created rather than the creator. He warns us about following men rather than Himself.
We need to heed those warnings because let me just tell you, there are those out there who will use the Word of God to manipulate and to use and to hurt in order to gain power and prestige. That fact is true in every facet of society and yet we still expect it to be different in the church. Why? They are still people , human, sinful and just plain wrong sometimes. And sometimes you just have people who are weak, who maybe didn’t start out bad but who let pride and the need for power and approval become their motivation. Not every bad church or pastor is malignant. We have to leave room for grace and knowing that not even the best pastors cannot possibly be perfect people for every single person in their congregation.
I have always questioned and rebelled somewhere in my life, not always to the betterment of myself for sure. But that habit of rebelling against things that are not right, that habit of questioning my authority so that I can find the whole truth is now serving me very well, as long as I keep that submitted to the Lord that is !
If we are truly created in the image of God, then we have intelligence, we have brains, we have curiosity to learn things on our own. We need to use those things to make sure that those who we give authority in our lives measure up to what the Word of God says. We need to submit to God-given authority, not to man-mandated authority.
There are far to many of us out there who are broken and bleeding, dis-illusioned and discouraged from years of blithely allowing others to think for us. I for one am going to question and debate and read and study to find the answers for myself. The biggest thing I am going to do is make God my God instead of a pastor.
By the way, God is not afraid of your questions and anyone who is, you might want to think twice about.