The Illusion of Religious Systems (Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman)
"We are so quickly captured by a work-driven religious culture that it devours the very love it seeks to sustain."
"That's the problem with institutions isn't it? The institution provides something more important than simply loving each other in the same way we've been loved. Once you build an institution together you have to protect it and its assets to be good stewards. It confuses everything. Even love gets redefined as that which protects the institution and unloving as that which does not. It will turn some of the nicest people in the world into raging maniacs and they never stop to think that all the name-calling and accusations are the opposite of love."
"...If you do what we want, we reward you. If not we punish you. It doesn't turn out to be about love at all. We give our affection only to those who serve our interests and withhold it from those who do not."
"The problem with church as you know it, is that it has become nothing more than mutual accommodation of self-need. Some need to lead. Some need to be led. Some want to teach, others are happy to be the audience. Rather than become an authentic demonstration of God's life and love in the world, it ends up being a group of people who have to protect their turf. What you're seeing is less of God's life than people's insecurities that cling to those things they think will best serve their needs...
"Religion survives by telling us we need to fall in line or some horrible fate will befall us."
"Institutionalism breeds task-based friendships. As long as you're on the same task together, you can be friends. When you're not, people have to treat you like damaged goods."
"Any human system will eventually dehumanize the very people it seeks to serve and those it dehumanizes the most are those who think they lead it. But not everyone in a system is given over to the priorities of that system. Many walk inside it without being given over to it. They live in Father's life and graciously help others as he gives them opportunity."
"The groupthink that results from believers who act together out of their fears rather than their trust in Father, will lead to even more disastrous results. They'll mistake their own agenda for God's wisdom. Because they draw their affirmation from others they'll never stop to question it, even when the hurtful consequences of their actions become obvious."
"I want to expose the system of religious obligation in whatever ways it holds people captive, but that's not the same as being against the institution. Don't let the system threaten you. As long as you react to it, it still controls you."
"Jesus didn't leave us with a system he left us with his Spirit - a guide instead of a map. Principles alone will not satisfy your hunger. That's why systems always promise a future revival that never comes. They cannot produce community because they are designed to keep people apart."
"I'm convinced that most Christian meetings give people enough of God's things to inoculate them against the reality of his presence."
"Religion is a shame-management system, often with the best of intentions and always with the worst of results."
"Who would choose to be raised in an orphanage? Our hearts hunger for family. That's where children learn who they are and how they fit into the world. Institutions are like orphanages revolving around the convenience of the staff. You survive best in it by following its rules, but that's not how Jesus connects you with his Father. For that you need a family and brothers and sisters who can respond to you in the moment, not wait for a meeting or to schedule a seminar."
"Not all structure is wrong. Simple structures that facilitate sharing his life together can be incredibly positive. The problem comes when structures take on a life of their own and provide a substitute for our dependence upon Jesus. When Jesus ceases to be the object of our pursuit, our touch with his body will fade into emptiness."