Monday, January 4, 2016

On Vetting Church Contracts

Before You Sign On The Dotted Line . . .

I wonder how many members of Homestead Heritage who have signed the 136 page Confession for Baptism and Communion twice a year to be considered for communion have taken a closer look at the sources. I was surprised recently to learn where some of the material comes from. In the section titled "Playing Christianity" And The "Power Of The Gate" we find this:
The Holy Spirit has further convicted me (as a director for religious and civil liberties of the National Council of Churches, Dean Kelley, once warned) that many in today's world "do not find it congenial to contemplate strictness, let alone live under it . . . .The indispensability of strictness seems to some an ungracious and abrasive prescription, if not incomprehensible. Yet it is simply the necessary corollary and projection of seriousness in what one is doing."23 Neither do I confuse strictness with harshness, mislabeling as "harsh" every stand based on conviction, while mislabeling as "love" and "tolerance" every willingness to compromise all conviction and principle. (p. 89)
 Who is Dean Kelley? He is listed as a recommended "religious resource" by the Church of Scientology whose religion he defended, and is also an apologist for the Branch Davidians. In fact he claimed the Davidian children "were found to be healthy, well-adjusted, and non-traumatized" in complete contradiction to the report by Bruce Perry, M.D., Chief of Psychiatry at Texas Children's Hospital who actually treated the children. Kelley also "championed the rights of . . . the followers of the Rev. Jim Jones, who died in a mass suicide. He maintained that 'one man's cult is another man's religion.'" Dean Kelley was mentioned in a memo that Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, a colleague of sorts, considered "embarrassing" and said he was "witnessing dear colleagues act as collaborators and shills for a variety of masquerading organizations."

I must admit I'm a little uncomfortable with a church covenant that quotes a "religious resource" of Scientology and a defender of People's Temple, and the Branch Davidians. It gets more perplexing as the section in Confession for Baptism and Communion continues.
I firmly reject the current view of a false tolerance that implicitly affirms the belief that many contradictory views may be true and that God does not offer a single, consistent  view of truth. I believe God does have a single, consistent view of truth and that He is able to reveal it to His people (Isa. 8:20; John 14:6; 17:17; 1 Tim. 3:15; 2 Tim. 2:15; 3:15-16; Eph. 1:13; 4:11-15, 21; 1 John 4:6; Rev. 22:19). The blessed Holy Spirit has also opened my eyes to see the tragic truth that "many there are, apparently, who confuse a church with a lodge or a social club."24 Furthermore, those in the "lodge" or "club" will view "serious" discipleship as "ungracious," "abrasive" and even "harsh." In fact, social club Christians will see Biblical discipleship as so "incomprehensible" that any "serious discipleship," such as Jesus and the apostles commanded and practiced . . .becomes, both in their thinking and in their propaganda, pretzeled into the personification of evil (as also was done under Communist apparatchiks in the U.S.S.R. and China). (pp. 89-90, quotes from p, 123 of Dean Kelley's Why Conservative Churches are Growing)
It seems odd to quote a man who believes that "one man's cult is another man's religion" to validate your position that "God does have a single, consistent view of truth . . ."
I am also convicted of the crucial importance of what has been called the four "minimum maxims of seriousness" or "strictness," all of which should mark the church. First, all who are "serious about their faith" will "not confuse it with other beliefs/loyalties/practices."25  (p. 90)
Like not confusing it with the "beliefs/loyalties/practices" of the Scientologists, People's Temple, or Branch Davidians who Kelley supported?
Like a serious marriage, serious faith has an unfashionably "exclusive" quality that cannot be adjusted to accommodate less serious standards. Second, I fully concur with Dean Kelley that those serious about their faith "make high demands of those admitted to the organization that bears the faith, and do not include or allow to continue within it those who are not fully committed to it."26  (p. 90)
Like the high demands made on those in Scientology, the People's Temple, or the Branch Davidians? Kelley also "noted with regret that he could find no evidence of a thriving, 'high-demand religious movement devoted to justice, freedom, beauty, respect for others.''' (Source)
Third, sincere faith does "not consent to encourage, or indulge any violations of its standards of belief or behavior by its professed adherents."27 Fourth, those serious about their faith "do not keep silent" about its seriousness, "apologize for it, or let it be treated as though it made no difference, or should make no difference, in their behavior or in their relationships with others."28 (p. 90)
Neither Scientology, the People's Temple, or the Branch Davidians apologized for the seriousness of their faith, nor would Kelley expect them to.
I agree with these maxims fully and pledge myself to conform to them for my own life, helping my brothers and sisters to do the same, all in accord with the place that God has given me to occupy in His Body. I will always and only see to do this in the Spirit of Christ's love, making myself abidingly vulnerable to the correction of others. (p. 90)
I can no longer agree with maxims penned by a "religious resource" of Scientology and defender of the People's Temple and the Branch Davidians who Confession for Baptism and Communion further quotes, saying
I am convicted by God, in other words, that, as Kelley noted, voluntary organizations, such as believers' churches, "have only one means by which to preserve their purpose and character, and that is the power of the gate--to control who may enter and remain and on what conditions."31  (p. 92)

Most of the members of Homestead Heritage will never even research Dean Kelley. I've been told that the limited number of adults who do have internet access are required to install Covenant Eyes so that their Internet usage can be monitored. Even adults' smart phones are passcode protected by the ministers to lock down the browsers. How can people make informed decisions if they can't even research what they're signing their names to?

Quoted material from:
Adams, Blair. Confession for Baptism and Communion. Elm Mott: Colloquium Press, 2005.

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