Commonsense Christianity

Commonsense Christianity


Should You Question Authority?

posted by Carolyn Henderson
Contemplation, oil painting of girl thinking in autumn by Steve Henderson

The more we think, the less readily we believe what we are told. So it is in the best interest of people who want to control us, to frustrate us from thinking. Contemplation, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, sold. Licensed, open edition print at Great Big Canvas, iCanvasART, and Framed Canvas Art.

Should you question authority?

You bet.

Generally I avoid words like “should,” “ought,” and “must,” because they are frequently misused to manipulate people into doing things that they don’t want to do, as in,

“You should go to Sunday School.”

“You ought to tithe regularly to your local church.”

“You mustn’t question everything you’re told or people will think that you’re difficult.”

But if a person is questioning human authority in light of divine teaching — which all free-thinking people should, should do —  these three dictates won’t influence him, because he’ll stop, consider, and, in the case of a serious, thinking Christian, crack open his Bible and research:

God’s Word, not Man’s

“Is Sunday School even mentioned in Scripture?”

“Isn’t tithing an Old Testament decree?”

“The Bereans of the New Testament — they checked out everything the Apostle Paul said. If they checked out the Apostle Paul, what’s to stop me from questioning the words of my pastor? or Joel Osteen? or Dave Ramsey? or Joyce Meyers, James Dobson, Bev Moore, Rick Warren, Tim LaHaye, Pat Robertson, Billy Graham or Carolyn Henderson?”

(I Declare: I was in the same sentence with famous and notable Christian celebrities!)

Dependent Christians

Many Christians are a mass of conflicting notions, convinced that they are valiantly and independently “living for the Lord” at the same time that they worship all things military (“Yes, Sir!” “No, Ma’am!” — a lifestyle not notably conducive to the freedom of thought and existence that it purports to protect); are convinced that the U.S. was founded on Christian principles when a quick gander through its capitol city shows artwork mighty short on Jesus Christ but excessively tipped toward gods and goddesses that were worshiped when the Apostle Paul dialogued with the Athenians; and unquestioningly accept whatever their church board of elders — with the pastor as its head — hands down as law.

In Matthew 20: 25 -29 Jesus tells his disciples:

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.

“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

I’ve never been in a mega church, but I’ve always wondered —

How much are the leaders of these churches paid?

And how, specifically, do they serve — humbly — the people who write the checks?

Yes, Sir. No, Ma’am.

In our church-attending days, we interacted with a number of good, Christian families who were extremely inflexible in the raising of their children: a critical indication of successful parenting was in how readily the progeny obeyed everything they were told to do — with no questions, comments, or editorial opinion allowed.

Bold Innocence oil painting of child standing on ocean beach at sunset by Steve Henderson

When we gently and wisely teach our children independence, we create a future of thinking, confident adults — the kind a truly free country needs. Bold Innocence, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, sold. Licensed open edition prints at Great Big Canvas. iCanvasART, and Framed Canvas Art.

At some time, however, children turn 18 and are loosed onto the world, at which point one wonders, “How will these children ever say ‘no’ to someone in authority, because they have absolutely no experience of doing so?”

Well, maybe that’s why we have so many submissive Christians, who not only accept everything they are taught about Jesus (“He has a PLAN for your life to be prosperous!” “You show your love for Jesus by giving time and money to His church!” “Listen to the small group leaders when they teach about this Bible passage — if you rely on your own interpretation, you could be wrong”), but inhale the national corporate news (especially the “fair and balanced” stuff) and actually think that democracy consists of marking little boxes, every four years, with x’s, and that the politicians who get into office will listen to, and obey, the voice of the people.

Tyranny — Bit by Bit

“Experience has shown, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”

Thomas Jefferson said that, and while he’s not an official evangelical Christian sort, he had a fair amount of commonsense, which quite unfortunately does not necessarily correspond with a belief in Jesus.

Christians, I know what Romans 13: 1-7 says, with modern translations interpreting Paul’s words to mean submission, or subjection, to secular governing authorities. Take a look at this link, and free yourself from the belief that you must submit yourself to human institutions with the same obedience that you submit yourself to God.

Scripture calls for us to “Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” (Isaiah 1: 17)

We don’t do that by splitting our worship — giving half to another human being or his institutions, and the other half to God. Render respect to those due respect — so that all may go well with you — but never allow your obedience to any man to supersede your obedience to God.

Thank You

Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity, where I encourage all of us to be submissive to God — we are His children and His servants. We belong to him.

We do not, however, belong to any other human being. Slavery is a man made institution, and it takes many different forms. Let’s not willingly hold our hands out for the shackles.

Posts similar to this one are

Christian Leadership and Ordinary People

Thriving on Spiritual Abuse

The Misfit Christian (all Christians are misfits, but when we join together in a group, we have a tendency to pressure one another to conform. Don’t. I wrote this book to encourage people to grow up and into the strong, confident Christians that they are meant to be. If there are no or few reviews on the book, it’s because I don’t pay, or market, people to write them. Use the Look Inside option to read what’s there, and if you like it, buy the book based upon its merits, not external perceptions.)

 

 

 



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  • http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonsensechristianity/ Carolyn Henderson

    You know the interesting thing about church authority, Scale Lily, is that it’s quite voluntary — in the same way we theoretically elect our political leaders, and are thereby not under their authority so much as they are supposed to be under ours, so it is in a church situation. Pastors, as we have them today, are not a concept found in the Bible, and elders are elected not so much on Biblical precepts as they are at the behest of the pastor. So we are not under these people’s authority, in the way a slave is under a master, but too frequently, we act as if we are.

  • Scale Lily

    If anyone hides behind the cloth or refuses to be questioned then they have already made declaration of ill intent. It opposes scripture so they are not teaching it.

  • http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonsensechristianity/ Carolyn Henderson

    When churches meet our needs and do not control us, then they are performing their function, because the church, really, is no more or less than the believers who join together to guide and help one another. Big or small, when the leadership takes over to do all the guiding and leaves the voice and wisdom of the little people out, then the only growth that happens is in numbers of people attending, not spiritual growth in the individual. It is up to all of us, in whatever situation we are in, to be discerning and wise, speaking up when we see something wrong, and not allowing ourselves to be lulled into complacency.

  • April @ 100lbcountdown

    Funny you mention a mega church. I just started attending the largest church that I have felt comfortable. But I find that I have more questions and the ability to find answers here, than I ever had at any of the smaller churches. Although the ministers were more attainable, at this particular church, I find that there’s more accountability, more checks and balances and less to hide behind. Although you can’t always lean on your own understanding, it is up to you to read the bible, and start asking questions. At least that’s what I think.

    Your co-host from Creative Style Linkup ~~April~~

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