Month 9:6, Week 1:5 (Chamashee/Teruah), Year 5935:236 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Thursday 1 December 2011
Direction not Label
Making True Judgments and Choices
I read an interesting article the other day in which the author explained why, from his own counselling, he felt there were so many Evangelical Christians were heading 'back' to the Roman Catholioc Church. He identified four main reasons that Protestants were attracted to Catholicism:
"Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment" (John 7:24, NKJV).
What I found even more interesting was that these are reasons also given by many Messianic Jews converting back to Judaism, the reasons many convert to Mormonism and the Jehovah's Witnesses, and even why Europeans and Americans are converting to Islam. And the reason the Prince of the Russ (Russians) converted to Eastern Orthodoxy was primarily because he was overwhelmed by the majesty of the Byzantine rite as comparted to the Roman one.
- 1. A deeper expression of reverence;
- 2. Perceived unanimity in regard to authority;
- 3. A traditionally rooted liturgy; and
- 4. A more robust moral theology.
There is something common to all of these movements and behaviours, namely, the perceived need for an earthly authority that had perceived legitimacy because of its age (in the case of Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy in particular). As one Protestant who converted to Catholicism noted:
The criticism of Protestantism does, at first sight, seem valid, given its thousands of sects (34,000 by one conservative estimate), with a choice reminiscent of Wallmart - and they are still multiplying. That is not so say that authoritarian groups like the Catholics and Mormons don't have splinter groups, because they do, but they are considerably fewer than in Protestantism.
"...it was never a matter of me rationally choosing smells, bells, priests, and popes over worship teams and altarless altar-calls because the former brought me inner comfort, ecclesial stability, and/or clear moral directives. For the whole idea that theology is mine to choose [in Protestantism] - like a pair of slacks that I can have tailored for my own specifications - was precisely the problem. As long as the 'Church' was something that was under me rather than I under it, I was doomed to a life of ecclesiastical promiscuity despite my best efforts to practice safe sects".
However, this is not the main point. Historically, the theology of the Roman Church has undergone considerable change and evolution, and it's still changing. Given the theological promiscuity of the former Polish Pontiff, and his embracing of all religions, it's hard not to conclude that the Catholic Church is, in fact, New Age. His German successor is pretty much pursuing the same line with one hand while maintaining Catholic conservatism with the other. Indeed, it is my belief that Catholicism will be the penultimate unfying system that brings all belief systems together into a One World Religion, excluding the one true faith.
But why is Protestantism so fragmented? The reason, I believe, is because it is Torahless - it has picked and chosen the mitzvot (commandments) it has wanted to, just as its mother had before it. The reason Protestantism is vulnerable to re-absorption back into Catholicism is because it is lawless.
There is a process underway in the ecclesiastical world as we speak and believers are either moving in one of two directions: they are either moving back toward the paganism which spawned every false Christian and Messianic system, or they are moving toward the Final Gathering and Restoration of Messianic Evangelical Israel:
What principally interests me is not where people are in their spiritual journey but in which direction they are moving. We must not dismiss people because of their labels but judge them on the basis of whether they are pointing and moving to Yah'shua (Jesus) or pointing or moving to Satan. Those Protestants who slip back into Catholicism, or Messianics who slip back into Judaism, are heading in the wrong direction, and need to be warned to turn back. Those who are stagnant, static fence-sitters need to be urged to make a choice, and those who are moving in the right direction need to be encouraged and discipled in all emet (truth). This is what I consider my primary task to be (after bringing souls to Messiah) and is what we in this ministry are about.
The spiritual forces in the world are tugging at us in both directions and we must make a daily choice as to which direction we are going to move in. It's not a question whether there is a 'church' above you or under you doing your thinking for you, but whether you are dailing growing in Messiah in a fellowshiop where there is the most emet (truth), ahavah (love) and harmony. We are where we are either because we are blind or because Yahweh has put us there to grow, but He may move us on. The important thing is to listen to Him and obey. He is our Father, not some Pope, Priest, Rabbi, Pastor, Church, Messianic Assembly, Association, Ministry or Denomination.
May you be an encouragement to others trying to discern the emet (truth) hidden in the confusion and be a brother or sister to them along the Way. Remember, the object is not, in the first instance, to make them 'messianic evangelical' but to help them along the next step of their journey. So long as they are pointing in the right direction and are moving, they will make it home.