Grace, mercy and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I thank God for your inspirational testimony, your scholarship and your quantifiable passion for the saving Gospel. You have greatly influenced me through the insight you share by your teachings. You have also inspired me to follow the path of love in all things, especially when dealing with those who are inimical towards the glorious Gospel.
Over the years, your teachings have opened my eyes to the reality of how the Church (especially the Western Church) is so different from Apostolic and early Patristic days. I have grown increasingly exhausted of how the Western Church “does” church. Thanks to your teachings, I’ve come to the realization that the flaw of the Western Church transcends mere external (and many times non-essential) perspectives in doctrine.
In my estimation, the very core of our problem is that the Western Church almost completely replaced its didactic essence for one that was more akin to the religionist spirit of the pagan society of the Greco-Roman world.
When I try to read the New Testament outside of the interpretive lenses that I’ve inherited, I see a completely different community than what we experience today.
As you know, the greatest difference between the Apostolic Church and the over 40,000 Christian denominations in America, is that in the early centuries we tried to follow a rabbinic (or even Eastern) model of discipleship that revolved around the Pastor-Teachers of the Church.
Today, the Western Church is made up of consumerist devotees, each thinking that they “know” the depths of the Christian Faith because they took a discipleship course or went to catechism when they were kids.
I don’t think the Church needs another emotional “Great Revival.”
I believe, the time has come where the Church needs a practical Reformation that is essentially different to the Protestant Reformation that revolved around a university model, and was led by reactionary “scholars.” Interestingly, in many ways we kept the same religious “blinders” and exclusive attitudes that the medieval Roman Catholic Church espoused at that time.
Oftentimes we make our Faith about temple attendance and club membership, rather than trying to follow the discipleship model of the Apostolic Church.
In fact, I would dare to say that the recent national misfortune of sanctifying homosexuality, in many ways is the result of our failure to be a religion of disciples.
I would say that much of the world is inimical against Christ Jesus because they know that the essence of the Gospel contains ultimate truth. On the other hand, much of Western society’s rejection of Lord Jesus, is based on its ability to recognize our fakery in our claim to being more “enlightened” than the adherents of other religions. The world sees our hypocrisy in our claim to being “Christians.”
If we truly followed Christ, we would place at the forefront Christ’s command to love one another as he loved us. (John 13:35).
Perhaps the world would respect us more if they saw that we actually believed and followed Christ. The world sees us as a bunch of inimical religionists who although cannot agree among themselves as to what true Christianity is, they have the audacity to demand from the world an adherence to a basic moral code that we theoretically espouse.
For instance, the re-definition of Marriage by our secular government is a tragedy that has inspired many Christian leaders to take a public stance, as they should. But while Gay “marriage” is a travesty, a greater travesty has been the over 50 Million abortions that have been committed in America since 1973.
It is true that Gay “marriage” is an abomination, but in my estimation, it is not as great a sin as the over 50 Million murders the American Church has allowed to be committed by our national selfishness.
For over 40 years, the American Church has sat relatively comfortable in its cushioned seats singing “Amazing Grace” and “Here I Am To Worship,” while the blood of the innocents are spilled every Sunday in abortion clinics all across the nation.
Every Tele-Evangelist and Mega-Church pastor out there is acquainted with the enormous buying power that the Christian Church has. If we truly wanted to, our Christian leaders would have the power to bring the entire country to a halt, akin to what Gandhi did in India.
But the reality is that even if our current Church leaders wanted to take a true stance against unrighteousness, that they would soon find their “Worship Centers” and temples empty, their books unsold…and their “flocks” running after other shepherds who will keep them comfortably numb in their consumer-oriented spirituality.
When Jesus gave us the “Great Commission,” he did not send us to make “devotees” of all nations, but rather, “disciples.” As you know, every disciple is a devotee, but not every devotee is a disciple.
While devotees come in different ways and hold to different levels of commitment, disciples literally leave everything in pursuit of their Master. (Luke 14:33) I have met very few persons to have left everything in order to pursue the enlightenment of the Gospel. (Eph. 4:17-24) Perhaps you have?
In fact, the Western Church is just as dark, or worst off than the world. We are a people filled with hate, with doctrinal arrogance, and with prejudicial treatment towards one another, simply because we have external differences in custom and tradition.
I am oftentimes stopped by Evangelicals who although are not disciples, dare to accuse me of idolatry simply for wearing a crucifix. I find it extremely sad when Evangelicals ask me if I am a Christian, even though I wear a clerical collar as a sign of my ministerial vocation. Sadly, no one ever “asks” me as to why I wear a crucifix- if they did, they would understand the Evangelical reasons as to why I wear one. But who actually wants to become a disciple?
I am increasingly becoming convinced that we need to return to the Biblical discipleship that Christ intended for his Church…and that as long as we continue in our emphasis on consumer-oriented devotion and the espousal of an inimical spirit against each other and the world, the Western Church will continue to be seen as an obsolete, fractured system of external religiosity and superficial philosophy- with or without the crucifix.
I believe, that you personally hold the power and knowledge that can influence a re-discovery of our core existence as disciples of Christ. The Church should enter into a serious discussion as to what it means to be disciples, and to what the role of the congregational Pastor-Teacher truly is.
The Western Church is so devoid of a discipleship model to emulate that we might just have to look towards the Messianic movement (and the religions of the East) in order to re-discover what it means to be a religion of disciples.
I believe that unless we recapture what it means to be a religion of disciples, we will never truly know our beloved and glorious Rabbi- Jesus Christ. Thank you for all you do for the glory of Christ and the enlightenment of Christians around the world.