I truly believe that doctrines perpetrate attitudes in people that manifest themselves in their actions and behaviors. For example, if a person sits in an environment where judgmentalism is the underlying theme of the message, and they listen to these types of messages regularly, they can’t help but be affected by them. People can’t help but find themselves looking at others and judging them for not living up to the moral standard. And to go a step further, they will even find themselves judging one another’s salvation. I even found myself, along with others in the church, looking at tragedies in other church members’ lives as punishment from God for some sin in their life, and this should not be so!
Many of the doctrines taught through the preaching encourage abusive behaviors and attitudes. Attached to these doctrines are a set of rules that one must follow to be right with God. In the churches we attended there was a sheet of paper with all the written rules on it that a person had to agree to and sign in order to serve in the ministries of the church. These rules also dictate a person’s level of service in the ministry. If a person does not keep all the rules, then they are limited in how they can serve God in the church. In many churches, the pastors and leaders within the church will try to control the congregants through the spoken and unspoken rules instead of allowing the congregants the spiritual freedom in Christ to make their own decisions. Those who notice problems with these rules and try to confront them are labeled as divisive, rebellious and disloyal. Most people will simply keep quiet to keep from being “labeled” (see Ch. 24 for more on “labeling”) or out of fear of some type of retaliation from the pastor or leadership. However, relationships within the church body are all governed by these rules that are spoken and unspoken. Those who do not adhere to the many rules will find themselves the topic of gossip and will be shunned by other members until they do conform.
I learned early on that how a person acts is more important than what is really going on in his or her life. The main priority of the pastor is to make sure the church looks good at all costs, even if the cost is a congregant and his family.
All these rules do is create a religious spirit in people. It produces self-righteous and judgmental Christians, filled with pride and arrogance. They look good on the outside but are less than desirable on the inside. They know the lingo and talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk. They secretly struggle with sin in their lives and don’t know how to conquer it. They try and try, but fail each time. Why is that? It is because they have a religious spirit that is preventing God from doing a work in their life. They have become self-righteous through good works, not realizing that those good works are in the way of a true relationship with the Lord.
While in the Independent Fundamental Baptist cult, I saw firsthand this religious spirit in the lives of not only me and my family, but in the lives of my friends within the churches that I frequented. People with a religious spirit are very quick to judge others who believe or act differently and condemn them, and they are very quick to exclude those they judge from their circle of influence and the circle of influence of their families. Fear that these bad influences will destroy or harm their loved ones keeps them bound to the cult and the religious spirit that these rules instill. They are critical of those who hold to different beliefs or lifestyles. They condemn and persecute those same people through the use of Old Testament laws that are no longer in force under the New Covenant, not realizing that they never applied to the Gentile people to begin with. The laws and covenants of the Old Testament were with the Jews, not the Gentiles, and yet Gentile religions are trying to adhere to a partial list of laws that never applied to them and judge those who disagree with them by those same laws that are no longer in force.
The best way to explain the Old Testament Covenant with the Jews versus the New Testament Covenant with all mankind would be to compare it to a contract that a landlord has with his tenant. God (the Landlord) had a contract with the Jews (His tenant). This contract had a specific list of provisions that had to be followed. There were 613 laws (or provisions) that God gave to the Jews under this contract. However, the Jews kept breaching the contract by not adhering to the provisions, thus suffering the consequences as stipulated in the contract. One must remember that this contract was not with the Gentile people, so the laws and covenants did not apply to them. When the Messiah came and fulfilled all the stipulations of the Old Covenant, He fulfilled the contract, thus enabling God to terminate it so that He could write a new one. God wished to make a new covenant that included a new tenant—the Gentiles. However, one must understand that the provisions of the old contract do not apply to the new contract. They are nothing more than a historical reference to anyone wishing to know how God dealt with his covenanted people under the old contract. Where the problem lies under the new covenant is that the Gentile people are trying to follow a few provisions of their choosing under the old contract that God had with the Jews, and they are trying to administer judgment and condemnation to those who violate their chosen provisions, even though God clearly states that we are no longer under condemnation under the new contract. We are no longer under the law but under Grace. Romans 8:1-3: There is, then, now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit; for the law of the Spirit of the life in Christ Jesus did set me free from the law of the sin and of the death; for what the law was not able to do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, His own Son having sent in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, did condemn the sin in the flesh (Young’s Literal Translation).
This is where manmade rules come into the picture. Religions of today are trying to hold to some of the old contract’s provisions and some of the new contract’s stipulations, while ignoring many of the old and most of the new contract’s aspects! In effect, they have created a completely separate and totally ridiculous third contract. Under this contract they are teaching that unless you follow their “Do’s” and “Don’ts”, God will not be pleased with you nor bless you. In fact, he will curse you and punish you if you do not do what religion tells you to do! This simply is not true and as a result, the religious system is wreaking havoc all over the world through its abusive rules and doctrines. These rules and doctrines only succeed in making their followers self-righteous, judgmental and fearful of God, government, church leaders and others. It creates inequality and proliferates racism, discrimination and persecution toward those who do not agree with their rules. Today, nothing has changed much. Here in the U.S., it doesn’t mean death to those who disagree, but it can bring them under attack from the church and its leaders and congregants. Those who see through their list of “Do’s” and “Don’ts” as nothing more than man-made rules to control and manipulate will find themselves under some of the most vicious attacks from church people.
— Excerpt from my book, “Religion’s Cell: Doctrines of the Church that Lead to Bondage and Abuse”.