Why I Go To Church

Why I Need the Church and the Bible

Some people wonder why they would ever need the Church or the Bible.  Why not just go for a walk on the beach or climb a mountain and meet and worship God there?  Can you not experience God as well or perhaps even better in nature than at Church or from reading the Bible?  I do not doubt for a minute that you can experience God in nature, for I have done that myself.  Nature has a way of opening the human spirit to the Divine.  Our experience of God while in nature often seems more real than anything that we may experience at Church or from reading the Bible.

I have found that when I wish to travel to a place, I want to know everything about it. I will read everything I can about it, and I will try to find people who have been there and are able to answer questions about that particular place.  I find myself filled with questions.  What is the best way to get there?  What should I see?  What should I avoid?  What should I wear for clothing?  You see, I do not want to be surprised.  I want the best trip possible.  I especially do this when I go for a hike in the mountains, for I do not want to get lost.  The harder the climb, the more research I do.

Going to church and reading the Bible are like the research one would do for a journey unto a very high and often dangerous mountain.  For me, it seems only natural to talk to as many people as possible who are on or have made the journey.  I once went to Africa and climbed Kilimanjaro.  I called everyone I could find who had made the climb, even complete strangers, and asked them about the mountain and the trails.  I wanted to be ready for anything.  I wanted to make it to the top.  When Christians gather at church, it is mainly to talk about the journey and to study the map.  They consider their map to be the Bible.  The strong and knowledgeable ones among them who have been on the journey a long time do not attend church solely for themselves, but also to help the young and weaker ones among them.  They want everyone to get to the top.  They share with them the trails to avoid and the ones to take.  They make sure that the young ones know the map and the right and best guides who can help them on their journey.

Let me say something about the map.  It is true that sometimes people get the map mixed up with the real territory.  When that happens, people often spend more time reading the map than moving on in their journey.  I know some people who are always reading and talking about the map, but never seem to get too far along on the journey.  They seem to have confused reading the map with the journey.  This is truly sad because it confuses people about the reasons for the journey and the purpose of the map.  Of course, on the other side of the coin are those who feel they can do okay without a map, compass, or a guide.  These folks often end up in a briar patch lost, cold, and hungry.  They often spend a great deal of time backtracking and wandering around aimlessly.  However, some of the stronger ones seem to get along fairly well without the map, but when asked where they are, they often do not seem to know.  The little ones and weak ones without the map and compass often just die or quit.

Because the journey is often long and hard, the map at times can be quite hard to read.  It does have a lot of details about the journey.  It is there to help and is very important.  However, it can be confusing to someone not too skilled in map reading.  When the journey gets difficult, it is then a person needs to remember the training in which the guides taught him about how to use the map.  It is even better if travelers have cell phone, so they can call a guide for further directions on how to make best use of the map.  We always need to remember that the map is a piece of paper that only reflects the territory.  It is not the territory.  We also need to remember that the map was made by a lot of people who have made the journey and left us their story about it.  When we read the map, remember that those who wrote it were all on the same journey, but not all used the same trail and all did not make it to their destination.  Like in nature, some trails are better than others and a bad choice can cause you to lose your way or even perish.  Yes, some died on the journey without making it to top or back home.  This is another reason why we should study the map; we want to know that we are on the very best trail.

If you are not a member of a church, let me suggest that you find someone, maybe some of your friends who are on the journey and ask them about the church they attend.  Ask them if they study the map and if its members are excited about the journey.  If they say yes to both questions, you might want to check it out.  You can also begin the journey by getting a Bible and start becoming familiar with what it teaches.  You do not need to understand everything—just start reading it.  A good place to start is the Gospel of John.  If you do not know of anyone who is able to help you, you can write me, and I will be glad to help.  I often have map reading courses at my office or even in people’s homes.  If you would like to attend one, let me know.  You can reach me at lyleduell@gmail.com

The Truth on Religion and Violence

The Truth on Religion and Violence

The following is a reply to a young man on social media who was commenting on a post having to do with faith in God.  In the comments, there were a number of posts written by the new atheist type criticizing religion for the violence throughout the world.  Some went so far as to say that religion is the cause of most wars and most of the violence around the world.  Before beginning let me share with the reader that I don’t make any apologies for religion.  When religion does something wrong, it deserves the same criticism as the non-religious.

Let me begin by throwing some mud of my own; have not the ideologies of atheistic communism and liberalism been responsible for killing over two hundred million people since the French revolution?  That is more than all the other wars recorded in history.  If you take out the wars caused by economics and power-hungry kings, how much is left to blame on religion?  The belief that religion is the biggest source of war and violence is an atheist myth and propaganda disseminated by them to prejudice people against religion.

The idea of killing people for abstract ideas and ideology are a modern phenomenon with Muslims being the first to practice it on a large-scale in a religious sense.  Even here there are many scholars who point out that the Muslim faith more like resembles a fascist political system rather than a religion.  However, even if you count it as a religion it is the only major religion which has violence as a part of its core beliefs.  By this, I mean it is the only one whose Scriptures (Koran) preach violence.  The Jewish faith and its scripture in the Old Testament have stories of violence in them, but the violence was directed toward a certain ancient nation that no longer exists.  There is nothing in the Old Testament scripture that would justify Israel today committing violence against another nation or religion  except in self-defense.  The other major religions teach love and peace.

You asked me why God has made it so hard to find him.  I personally don’t think God has made it hard to find him.  I think it is Western culture that has made it tough for people to find him.  For example, a materialistic mindset has hardened the hearts of people in the west making it hard for them to see God.  To experience God it takes time and effort which men in Western culture are no longer willing to do.  They expect to find God the way a person would add up two plus two and get four.  Unfortunately, experiencing God is more different than that.  Finding God comes by way of subtraction, and not addition.

Our spiritual neglect has reached the point that our so-called Christian civilization is no longer Christian.  This hasn’t happened through progress in our education or by growth in our spirituality; it’s happened as a result of total neglect of the spiritual.  We have simply ignored God.  It was not long ago that anyone who was considered an informed person would have a working knowledge about their religion.  Today in general, the educated class is totally ignorant of their culture’s religions.  Two years ago, I was sitting at a table with four or five people with PhD’s.  To my amazement, I found that I could not carry on an intelligent conversation with any of them about religion, philosophy or science.  They were specialists who were only well-versed in their particular field.  When it came to religion, they were as ignorant as children.  Over the years they’re getting to be quite many; I have given numerous books to intellectuals to read on Christianity and to my best recollection not one of them has read the books.  It is people like this that criticize religion on Facebook and other social media.  They are as ignorant as rocks when it comes to religion and yet they parade themselves as knowledgeable.

You see, the rejection of religion is not a problem of the intellect.  It is a problem of the will or appetite.  All this intellectual crap that they parade before the world is just a smokescreen to cover up their indifference and bias towards religion.  It is all done to save the appearance that they are honest and sincere.  They fail to accept that the basic condition of mankind is one of ignorance, sinfulness and hypocrisy.  Their arrogance blinds them to God and it justifies God for turning them over to themselves.  They have forgotten God and God has turned them over to be the play thing of their own disgusting selves.

Secular people have even rewritten history exaggerating the depravity of the Greeks and Romans only to justify themselves.  We are in many ways the most depraved generation of humanity that has ever lived.  As the Scriptures say, “there is no one righteous, no not one; there is no one who seeks God.”  As a result the end of western civilization is near. Metaphorically, we are living out the story of Lot in Sodom.

Let me recommend a couple of authors; Joseph Peterson is excellent and can be watched on YouTube.  C.S. Lewis is still relative and is a good place to start for someone who is seeking God.  Start with his book ‘Mere Christianity’.  He is English and I find it easier to listen to him on tape or an audio book, than by reading him.  You can get his book and more on YouTube.

 

From Jesus to Religion Conclusion

Conclusion

“They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die’” (Ex 20:18-19).
In our study, we have seen how the symbols of mediation have separated and distanced people from God. There is nothing new in this book; it all has been said before in various ways and at different times in the history of the Christian movement. I have simply tried to put it in a fresh way that might help some to understand the extent of our finite and fallen state and how much we depend on the grace of God for our salvation.

I am sure some would like to know what we could do in regard to the forms of mediation. Of course, we can be vigilant in our lives and in our ministries to minimize the effects of these mediators. John Philpot Curran’s said, “The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.” We do need to be constantly aware that our struggle is not with flesh and blood, but with powers that are spiritual and often unseen. These powers can only be discerned by the spiritually matured and those who are willing to recognize the terrifying and helpless state that we live in. To know reality is to know terror. If it were not for the mediation of our Lord, we would all be consumed by the very image of the reality. It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb 10:31).

In the present mediated state, the majority have been deluded into believing that they are reality’s master, which demonstrates the degree of their blindness and hubris. All this simply means is the first thing that we need to do is to see, and I hope the material in this book has helped you to do that. The Lord said a man had to be born again to see the kingdom of God, and we might add, a man must be born again to see the kingdom of darkness. Pointing out the forms of mediation is, I hope, a way that will help people to be able to see.

Due to the very nature of the powers that are arrayed against us, few will see the forms of mediation that distort their vision. The reason for this blindness is they cannot live with the tension of being in an unmediated state. Most will continue living under and from the forms of mediation found in religion and their culture. As the Scripture says, “They have eyes but do not see.” They will continue to live from the doctrines and commandments of men, which will justify themselves in their own eyes and the eye’s of others.

We can see in the early Christian movement the difficulty of trying to live in an unmediated state. The first Christians were called atheists because they questioned and refused to accept the religious and cultural forms of mediation. We saw after the death of the apostles, the Light seemed to be dimmed and the church returning to the old forms of mediation that were found in Judaism and paganism. To this day, the church is still fighting over many of these forms of mediation, even though they were never a part of the revelation of God in Christ. The Lord has said, “You cannot put new wine into old wine skins.” Therefore, any large-scale movement to remove the forms of mediation will surely fail.

In fact, mass movements are one of the problems. In order to win the masses, one would have to reintroduce forms of mediation that would take the tension out of the true faith. When you do it, you no longer have the faith, but rather a feel-good religion filled with forms of mediation, or even worse, a legalistic oppressive religion like Calvinism or the Muslim religion.

It would seem the best we can do until the coming of the Christ is to try our personal best to live emancipated from all forms of mediators except Christ and attempt to raise up small groups of people who can live free of the forms of mediation by focusing on the true mediator, Jesus Christ. We should not have any lofty expectation that large groups or the masses will embrace living in an unmediated state, or that the groups we create will continue for long. Remember, Jesus said only a few will be saved (Matt 7:13-4). According to God’s design, all living things are born, mature, and then die. They seem to have a very short life expectancy. If they do remain, they do not continue as living organisms but rather lifeless monuments or fossils (institutions). We can only hope those organisms that do survive will give life to the men and woman who will be faithful to the message and pass it on to others so the truth will not be lost or hidden in a forest of mediators and idols.
“Dear children, keep yourselves from idols” (I John 5:21).

To live in an unmediated state, you must be lifted up to a new state of being.
The laymen must become a priest. The worker must become the owner. The student must become the teacher. The disciple must become the master. The one under authority must become the authority. The student must become the seer. The child must become an adult.

‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty (Zech 4:6).

You can contact Lyle Duell at lyleduell@gmail.com or follow him on lyleduell.me

References

The Religious Impulse

The Religious Impulse

Hi – I’m reading “Heresies: Against Progress And Other Illusions” by John Gray and wanted to share this quote with you and a few thoughts I have on it.  Gray is an English public intellectual and is an unbeliever.  I say this up front to simply refute the claim of bias by the atheistic community.

Here is Gray’s quote “For many, the promises of religion lack credibility; but the fear that inspires them has not gone away, and secular thinkers have turned to a belief in progress that is further removed from the basic facts of human life than any religious myth”.

“Traditional religion is in retreat but it has not been replaced by rationality.  Modern societies are full of occult and millenarian cults.  They abound in new, short-lived religions, ‘flickering and fading’, as J.G. Ballard has put it, ‘like off-peak commercials’.”

The first thing that I would like to point out is the fact that man seems to be Homo religious in his very nature, i.e., he is not taught to be religious, he is hardwired to be religious.  To say that he is taught religion is to use the word religion in its most narrow sense.  If we use it in a broad sense of the word religion, let’s say the concept of ultimate concern, it becomes easy to see that man is by his very nature religious.  It is easy to see how ones ultimate concern can slip in to being an idol and become ones religion.

Many questions could be raised when Gray speaks about rationality taking the place of religion.  Could we not talk about the myth that humanity is rational?  Could anyone make the claim that humans on the whole are rational?  Could you not say that in some groups, that rationality is their ultimate concern and therefore their religion?  Could it be that religion is necessary for one to be rational?  It seems to me that as a culture loses its religious, it also loses its ability to reason.  The decay and the downfall of many cultures seem to follow their loss of faith in their gods, which results in them being plunged into the dark ages.  In the west this has held true, we first lost faith in God and it was not long before we began to question reason.  (note the positivists and idealist movement of the past, and now the post modern movement of today).

Another question that Gray’s remarks resurrect, is the question of the fears that he mentioned as the cause, or sources of religion.  Here we need to ask a number of questions.  The most basic is, are the fears real?  What about the fear of death?  First of all death is real.  All men must die.  The next question that arises would be, is the fear of death rational?  My answer is absolutely yes.  We are an organism that from the very beginning of our existence has been programmed to resist death and strive to stay alive and to live.  Therefore the fear of death is natural to the species.  Fear is part of the evolution programming and is implanted in the human psyche.  To tell people that the fear of death is irrational is counter intuitive.  We are programmed to fear anything that threatens our life.  You could say that it is natural to fear death and anything that threatens our organic existence.  Still, another huge question.  Is there something for the masses of men better than traditional religion, especially Christianity to deal with these fears?  Could it be that the Creator programmed humans to seek life and fear death?  Seeing that God is the living God or the God of life, it would seem right for him to plant the survival impulse into every creature.  In this, the survival impulse is an impulse from God and towards God.

I say all this to point out that faith with reason is the only practical way to approach reality.  Faith in Christ gives people the authority and courage to face the big questions of life.  Questions like, who am I, what is my purpose and where am I going?  Faith in Christ also destroys the idol of reason, taking it off its throne and restores it to its rightful place as a gift from God, a tool to help us structure our lives and to help us find truth.

 

Science and Religion

Science and Religion

Natural science is the study of nature and religion is the study of how to live.  Religion is the collective knowledge of humanity on what works in living one’s life in the world.  Natural science does not tell us how to live or what the world is or its purpose but rather how it works.  What the world is and it’s purposes are metaphysical questions and cannot be answered by the Scientific method.  They are questions for philosophy and religion.

The minute science begins to try to tell us what the world and its purpose is, it ceases to be science and becomes philosophy or even religion.  Science cannot tell us what the world is any better than it can tell us what gravity is and for that matter, what science is.  If you say science is the study of nature you have not told me what it is but rather what it does.  For example, for measurement, gravity could be labeled a force but that does not tell you what gravity is but rather what it is like.  But what is a force?  Science mainly tells us how things behave and attempt to measure their behavior, and it often does this by the use of metaphors.  A good example of this is light.  Sometimes light behaves like a wave and other times like a particle.  On the other hand, religion also uses metaphors to explain life and right living.  These metaphors come in the form of stories, myths and similes.

Humans attempt to label and define everything with words.  It is our way of bringing order out of the chaos of existence.  Science, Philosophy and religion are the tools we use to do this labeling.  These disciplines are often so intermingled that it’s impossible for the majority of people to even get close to separating them.  Science is based on facts that can be demonstrated and tested and Philosophy is based on things inferred from the facts.  The problem is that inferences that are inferred from the facts can be infinite.  These inferences could be called hypothesis, or a stronger word could be theory.  A hypothesis has little or no factual evidence of its truthfulness; a theory on the other hand has evidence, but many lack the means of testing it or falsifying it.  If these two things are absent, a theory will always remain a theory. e.g. String theory.

There are two predominant philosophies  that attempt to explain what the world is.  They are materialism and dualism.  Materialism is the belief that everything is made up of matter.  Dualism is the belief that a second ingredient exists which they may call, spirit, consciousness, life force or something, which is unseen. It is important to remember that the ancients did not concern themselves with the nature of the seen or unseen.  They simply accepted the fact; there were things that we see and there were things we could not see.

The philosophies of materialism and dualism are not the dominant philosophy because they have  been proven by science.  Both have been around a long time and  were embraced before modern science was created.  You could call them the philosophies of existence, but neither should be called science in a true sense of the word.  Both have an element of faith.  The materialist believes that only matter exists but makes a leap of faith when he adds the word ‘only’. The dualist has the problem of testing what they would call spirit.

However, when everything is said, the debate between materialism and dualism will not settle the question, does God exist?  The debate if ever won would rather, simply help determine the definition and nature of the deity, which is quite impossible to know to begin with, if we are talking about the God of the Bible, who some  theologians within the church referred to “as the nothingness” to ensure they did not insult him with a belittling description.