I’ve been out of church institutions for a long time but I still have an ear to the ground and take an interest in what goes on. It’s something you can’t avoid when involved with Christian forums. To an extent you see more of what’s going on because there’s a much wider range of theological traditions being represented. When we are part of a church our view seems to be much more limited and focused on that one church or denomination. I couldn’t have imagined the number diverse and contradicting ideas that are all being presented as “Christian” until I joined my first forum. That made me realise how sheltered and naive I’d been. That eye-opening experience helped me to see how vital it was for me to take active steps to make sure my beliefs had the right foundation.
The church system encourages dependency on “clergy”. Many people are happy enough to fulfil a weekly religious requirement where someone else tells them what to do and believe. Others want more than dry formal ritual and look around for someone offering a different, more exciting religious option. But still they cling to dependency on a “professional minister” who they can follow no matter what they say or do – acting on the assumption that those professionals have a God appointed authority (as the professionals often insist).
Extreme examples of this can be seen with some of the celebrity preachers and their excesses. Some of the examples are so extreme I’ve become convinced they serve as a dividing line – a kind of “line in the sand”.
I first started to see this with Todd Bentley and the “Lakeland Revival”. Around the same time I became aware of John Crowder and his “new mystics”, where drug related terminology like “tokin’ the ghost” was being used to describe their alleged spiritual experiences.
Strangely such blatant evils seem to be easily swallowed and seen as legitimate by many people and I’ve become convinced these things are no longer a matter of deception.
Deception requires subtlety – a “sleight of hand”, even a degree of truth wrapped around a seed of error. These present day movements don’t bother with the wrapping. There is no subtlety. Surely ANYONE with a desire for truth will see through them and recognise them for what they are.