Welcome to episode 58 of The UnSunday Show. This is the concluding part of what I introduced last week concerning how modern institutional religion requires pastors to be something we don’t see in the New Covenant scriptures. Church tradition tells us that Timothy was a pastor, carrying out the duties we see modern institutional church pastors doing. They insist that Paul’s directive to Timothy to “preach the word” is one indication that Timothy was a pastor, meaning that like modern institutional religion, Timothy got behind a pulpit week after week and did expository, verse-by-verse preaching of the Bible.
But is that what Paul meant when he penned those words to Timothy or is this another instance of us imposing our modern church practices back onto what we read in scripture in order to justify what we do? Was Timothy a pastor? Let’s talk about it.
Welcome to episode 57 of the UnSunday Show. I received a note from David, one of the listeners to this podcast, who asked for my take on Timothy as a pastor and how the function of modern church pastors differs from the function of their New Testament counterparts. I flipped the order of this to talk about the differences first and then next week, I’ll be taking a look at Timothy while continuing to build on the differences.
Comparing the differences between how modern institutional church pastors function and the function of pastors in the New Testament is like comparing apples to oranges. One of these is not like the other. So let’s talk about it.
Welcome to episode 56 of The UnSunday Show. Let’s talk about institutional church and the ekklesia because one of these is not like the other. Did you know Jesus never used the word church? And yet the word church is all over our New Testaments. How did it get there and what does it imply? This episode is a bit of a rant as I talk about a couple of differences between church and the body of Christ, the ekklesia.
Welcome to episode 55 of The UnSunday Show. Let’s talk about obedience. Doesn’t that sound fun? I’ve found it to be true that in almost every institutional church setting, the topic of Christian obedience in one form or another, dominates the landscape. It’s peppered throughout sermons to varying degrees (most of the time, overtly), it’s written into our church membership contracts (yes, those are contracts), it’s presented as the final solution in counseling sessions, it’s used as an enforcement tactic when church leaders threaten you with excommunication, it’s used as a guilt tactic to get you to confirm to church rules and dogma and to submit to church staff, and it’s at the center of most, if not all, discipleship groups and discipleship curriculum. Wow! I think that’s the longest sentence I’ve typed so far in 2021.
In short, we’ve made a mess of “Christian obedience”. Definitions of obedience and to what or to whom we should be giving our allegiance will vary from group to group and denomination to denomination. But rest assured that in almost every definition, Bible verses will be taken out of context and used to prove that you don’t measure up, diminishing the work of Christ on your behalf, who has already made you obedient from the heart.
Welcome to episode 54 of the UnSunday Show. Let’s continue talking about pulpits and institutional religion’s obsession with the pulpit and how it’s been elevated to such a place of prominence in institutional Christianity. Charles Spurgeon said this concerning pulpits:
“The moment the church of God shall despise the pulpit, God will despise her.”
This quote is one example of several that I share in this episode to show how the system of religion has elevated the pulpit, and the person behind it to a harmful status at the expense of a healthy functioning of spiritual gifts by every member of the body of Christ. In the process we’re left with a crippling view of the body of Christ.
Welcome to episode 53 of The UnSunday Show. This is part one of two on the subject of pulpits and institutional religion’s requirement of keeping the pulpit at the center of its Sunday events. I have a lot to say about this but my laptop battery ran down as I was recording this and I wasn’t near my charger, so I stopped where I was, making this part one of two. Part Two will drop next week.
Welcome to episode 49 of The UnSunday Show. Let’s talk about faith. In the letter to the Hebrews we’re told that without faith it’s impossible to please [God]. That sounds a little daunting. Does that mean I’m responsible to fabricate a certain amount of faith every day to make sure God is happy with me? What if I fail in my attempts at faith? Is God displeased with me? How do I know when I’ve succeeded? How much faith is enough faith? How do I know when I’ve done enough? In the letter to the Ephesians we read that faith is a gift. But how can it be both a requirement and a gift? That seems like a contradiction.
This episode centers around Galatians 2:20 where Paul said:
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Welcome to episode 46 of The UnSunday Show. In Galatians 3:1 Paul asked the Galatian believers, “Who has bewitched you?” This bewitching was a result of the Galatian’s mixing of New Covenant grace with Old Covenant law. Or as Paul put it, “Having begun in the Spirit, are you now made perfect by the flesh?” He described this thinking as “foolishness” with the result of having “fallen from grace.”
We’re no different today because we blur the lines between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant and we think everything in the Bible is meant for us so we mix law and grace together all the time. Look around. It’s everywhere. Yes, we began in the Spirit, but it’s up to us to finish strong in order to keep God happy with us. In other words, grace alone isn’t enough. What’s needed is a mixture of grace and rule-keeping. Having begun in the Spirit, we need to be made perfect by our own efforts and determination.
Add to that 2,000+ years of religious tradition that tells us we can never do enough and we have a recipe for disaster. That’s the topic in this episode of the UnSunday Show.