Why I Left the Church

“It took forty hours to take Israel out of Egypt, but forty years to take Egypt out of Israel.”

E.W. Bullinger

There is no doubt that Western culture was largely built on the philosophy of the Greeks and Romans. For all the advantages of Western culture, it must be acknowledged that the philosophy of the ancient Greco-Roman world was pessimistic. 

Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, and Lucretius and the rest all held a strictly limited view of human potential. People did not have such things as “gifts” or “callings.” Their philosophy was concerned with one primary question:

How can we deal with our tragic fate?

Human nature was viewed negatively, as something that needed to be controlled and regulated by higher ideals derived from human reason. The elites who understood these ideals, were expected to rule over the uninformed.

Keep in mind, these were the very philosophers whom, in light of the gospel of grace, the Apostle Paul mocked, saying:

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

~ 1 Corinthians 1:20

Furthermore, believers are later warned:

Beware that no one shall be despoiling you [preying upon you; robbing your value] through philosophy and empty seduction…

~ Colossians 2:8

Philosophy deals with the realm of thinking, and what we think has a profound effect on our minds. Not only is this true in a metaphysical sense, it can be explained through modern science as well.

Electric Brains

The human brain runs on electrical pulses. Brain waves are measured in electron volts. Electrons are a form of energy.

This is another way of saying “thoughts are things.” Thoughts have a real physical existence. And thanks to modern technology we can observe and measure them (to a certain extent.)

Physicists tell us when two electric waves strike each other, they will combine. If both waves have the same charge (either positive or negative) they will merge together to form a stronger, more energetic wave. This is known as constructive interference.

Likewise, if two electric waves with opposite charges strike each other, they will cancel each other out. This is known as destructive interference.

Since our thoughts are (physically speaking) waves of electric energy, they follow the same laws of physics.

These laws are easy to observe for ourselves. When we are interacting with someone with a positive outlook on a topic, whatever positive thoughts we have about the topic are amplified. Likewise, when we interact with someone who is expressing pessimism, bitterness, envy, or other such things, our own negative thoughts will be amplified.

Like joins with like and amplifies itself.

In short, this is known as the law of attraction.

The law of attraction teaches us that, for every interaction with our environment, we are amplifying either positive or negative thoughts.

Every person has some combination of negative and positive thoughts firing off in their brains. It is not feasible (or even good) to have only positive thoughts. Many things in life are appropriate to think negatively about.

But one thing is certain:

It is not healthy to dwell on negative thoughts.

The energy of negative thoughts should be converted into action. It is not healthy to dwell upon them and allow them to amplify. When we are only passively thinking, we should fixate on things that trigger positive thoughts.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

~ Phillipians 4:8

Rhythm & Blues

The effects of the law of attraction are combined with an even more powerful law of nature: the power of repetition, or what Napoleon Hill called the law of “hypnotic rhythm.”

“At first the notes [of a music] are memorized in the mind. Then they are related to one another through melody and rhythm. By repetition the melody and rhythm become fixed in the mind. Observe how relentlessly the musician must repeat a tune before he masters it. Through repetition the musical notes blend and then you have music.

Any impulse of thought that the mind repeats over and over through habit forms an organized rhythm. Undesirable habits can be broken. They must be broken before they assume the proportions of rhythm.”

~ Napoleon Hill, Outwitting the Devil, pp. 121-122

Hypnotic rhythm makes our thought patterns permanent. And our thoughts are stimulated by our environment (i.e. the information fed to us.)

Hypnotic rhythm is neither good or bad in itself. But when it combines with negative thoughts it becomes dangerous. It’s dangerous because it is so deceptive. Hypnosis produces a pleasant feeling regardless whether the thoughts are positive or negative.

This is why we can find it pleasant to listen to songs like “Creep” by Radiohead:

I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo.

What the hell am I doing here?

I don’t belong here.

The information is negative. But it’s enjoyable to listen to because the tune induces a pleasant trance.

We also experience pleasant hypnotic rhythms in a church service:

  • Reading aloud in unison
  • Call-and-response
  • Chants
  • Repetitive minor key music prior to confession of sins or altar calls
  • Rising and sitting in unison
  • Melodic preaching
  • The structured format of the liturgy
  • The regular attendance of weekly services

Again, it’s not that hypnotic rhythm is inherently bad. But it can be dangerous if we do not think independently about the information we’re exposing ourselves to. It is the information that triggers thoughts in our minds, either positive or negative.

You Are Your Environment

The most important part of our environment is who we associate with. There’s an old saying that says “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Recent research has uncovered that this quote doesn’t even go far enough. You’re the average of ALL the people who surround you… your family members, your friends, and even the friends of your friends.

Obviously, there are degrees of influence. Your spouse has the greatest influence on your thoughts, followed by the teachers and preachers you frequently listen to and close friends and family members whom you most frequently talk to. 

And we can’t underestimate what we read online. Social media has, in many ways, become our new closest friend. We receive information from it all throughout the day. What kind of thoughts is it broadcasting to us?

At first, it may appear that we are nothing more than a victim of our environment. But this is not true.

The greatest power we have as human beings is the ability to change our environment!

We can submit ourselves to any environment we choose. We can choose an environment dominated by either positive or negative thoughts. Then we simply allow the law of hypnotic rhythm to make such thoughts permanent.

The Apostle Paul intuitively understood this law. That’s why he instructed young Timothy to shun those who have a “form of devoutness, yet deny its power.” (2 Timothy 3:5-6)

Note that Paul didn’t say engage with these people or try to persuade them. He said to shun them. Turn away from them. Don’t let them have influence over you.

If one wants to form a positive mindset, a certain kind of environment must be fostered:

“The most effective of all environments is that which may be created by a friendly alliance of a group of people who will obligate themselves to assist one another in achieving the object of some definite purpose. This sort of an alliance is known as a Master Mind. Through its operation one may associate himself with carefully chosen individuals each of whom brings to the alliance some knowledge, experience, education, plan, or idea suited to his needs in carrying out the object of his definite purpose.”

~ Napoleon Hill, Outwitting the Devil, pp. 223-224

Hill spoke of this alliance as a “Master Mind.” But the Bible teaches us about a “Master Body.” Christ is the head. And we, as the body of Christ, are growing into the head. Every time two members of the body join together, the body grows. The life of Christ is perpetuated through the interaction of the parts.

But the devil is very clever at trapping people. He will appeal to one’s sense of “duty.” We have a “duty” to be close to our parents, a “duty” to faithfully attend church, a “duty” to be a good friend, etc.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.”

~ Jesus Christ (Luke 14:26)

In truth, we have no “duty” to anyone but Christ. And Christ has called us to grow the body. Those who wish to grow and join together with new people cannot remain united to those who desire to control others and suppress growth. The two are fundamentally incompatible.

This is why we must think carefully about who we associate with. What kind of thoughts are they broadcasting? What’s their underlying philosophy?

Precious Doctrines of Death

It’s time now to look at what church doctrine really teaches.

The following are excerpts from the Westminster Confession of Faith, probably the most revered summary of Christian doctrine in the reformed tradition.

As you skim through these, don’t worry about understanding everything it’s saying. Much of it is abstract and difficult to make sense of. Simply note the thoughts you do understand that are being broadcast to you through these teachings.

I have bolded certain phrases to draw attention to the negative thoughts and emotions.

By the decree of  God, for the manifestation of  his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.

Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

The  rest of   mankind God  was pleased, according  to the unsearchable counsel  of his own will, whereby he  extendeth or withholdeth mercy, as he pleaseth, for the glory of  his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of  his glorious justice.

The most wise, righteous, and gracious God doth oftentimes leave, for a season, his own children to manifold temptations, and the corruption of  their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins,or to discover unto them the hidden strength of  corruption and deceitfulness of  their hearts, that they may be humbled; and, to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions for sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.

As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous judge, for former sins, doth blind and harden, from them he not only withholdeth his grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings and wrought upon in their hearts, but sometimes also withdraweth the gifts which they had, and exposeth them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin; and withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan; whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God useth for the softening of others.

and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.

They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed, and the same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation.

From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.

This corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be through Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself and all the motions thereof are truly and properly sin.

Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto, doth, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries spiritual, temporal, and eternal.

The distance between God and the creature is so great…

but the wicked, who know not God, and obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments, and be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord…

I’ll stop there as I don’t want to overwhelm you with negativity.

I wish I could say that all this negative energy was simply a contrast to emphasize some newfound freedom or purpose… but alas. You can search the doctrines yourself and you’ll find no such hope. There is nothing about our potential for growth. Nothing about using our unique gifts to build the body of Christ.

Like the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers, Christian doctrine can only ask “how can we survive our miserable lot in life?”

At best, you will find lofty theological language praising the “glory of God.” But this language strays off into abstract details which people can neither understand nor use for solutions to their real-life problems. 

Human beings are united and make progress through a definite purpose. The indefinite answers of Christian theology only confuse and create divisions. Ambiguity is the devil’s workshop.

Of these things be reminding them, conjuring them in the Lord’s sight not to engage in controversy for nothing useful… Now stupid and crude questionings refuse, being aware that they are generating fightings.

~ 2 Timothy 2:14, 23

The Manipulated Man

There is much fear and pessimism found in explicit doctrines of the church. But this doesn’t even touch the most hideous part of church culture. Namely, the fact that the church is subtly abusive to boys and young men:

The deep-seated fear of punishment (the feeling of having sinned), carefully cultivated during a child’s earliest years, will prevent him, as an adult, from doing something that was considered “bad” when he was a child. And if, by chance, he does do something which as a child he called a sin, he will have at the very least a bad conscience.

One sin which figures into almost all of these catalogues is pleasure in the sexual act when reproduction is not intended. And since men, provoked by women, always take pleasure in sex, they yield to this pleasure as often as possible and never once give a thought to reproduction… They constantly transgress against the rules of their childhood beliefs and thus always carry with them a feeling of sin…

In reality, [the clergy] are not really interested in man’s sex drive. The taboo did not have to apply to this particular instinct. They merely chose it because it is man’s greatest–and purest–pleasure. Had he derived as much satisfaction from smoking or eating pork, [the clergy] would have equated smoking or eating pork with sin. The point is to keep him in a state of sin (fear), thus open to manipulation.

~ Esther Vilar, The Manipulated Man, pp. 52-53 (emphasis mine)

Like any other worldly philosophy, the so-called “Christian religion” is based on fear, shame, and guilt. The fear of sin and hell is the cornerstone of the “Christian” faith. Church doctrines serve no other purpose than to sow the seeds of fear and self-doubt in the minds of those seeking redemption.

In the end, we are left with a grandiose (but distant and abstract) view of God, coupled with a deeply pessimistic view of ourselves and our capabilities.

In short, the Christian religion is a philosophy for losers.

Where Do We Go From Here?

A plant cannot continue to grow when the pot has become too small; it must be uprooted and replanted in a bigger pot.

Likewise, we ourselves cannot continue to grow when the man-made institutions become restrictive and toxic to our spiritual development.

The obvious question is, if we leave the church, where can we go?

We do not want to live in isolation. We are social creatures and need fellowship.

At the same time, “fellowship” should not be obtained at the expense of personal growth. Stagnation is death and we are not called to have fellowship with those who propagate such philosophy.

I believe the solution is simple:

Build a bigger pot.

Why constrict ourselves to the walls of a church? Those seeking truth can be found from all walks of life, both within and without the church.

What the body of Christ needs is not another faithful attender of a local church. What’s needed in these times are “super-connectors.” We need people who can go about from place to place and draw out the truth-seekers. Like bees who buzz about from flower to flower, selecting the good nectar to bring back to the hive.

In fact, the ecclesia literally means the “called out ones.” They are the “strangers in a strange land”… the misfits… the people who have yet to find their people. They can be found in all sorts of places… at a church, typing in a Google search, in on online forum, at a random event, etc.

We must find these people and join with them. This is how we fulfill our function of growing the body of Christ.

And we are indeed blessed in these times! The technology we have at our fingertips makes it possible to re-assemble the assembly:

  1. Search engines & social media
  2. Email lists
  3. Private chat groups (e.g. WhatsApp, Telegram)
  4. Meetups

And with the increased mobility of our times, there is no reason we can’t change locations in order to live together with like-minded people. We can become a concentrated and unstoppable life force in the world… a bright light for the lost to find.

It’s time to build the Church 2.0. A church without walls or doctrines. A church that is united by spirit rather than traditions. A church that can adapt and grow organically with the changing times.

The first step is simply to unplug from negative environments. We cannot grow the body in an anti-growth environment.

Yes, there will be questions from “concerned” friends. There may even be “mean talk.”

But our response is simple:

“It’s not for us.”

“It’s not for us and we’re not going to waste anyone’s time. We don’t expect anyone to pander to us or try to change our beliefs. We’ve made our decision.”

We can be of no use to those seeking truth and grace when we remain entrenched in the very system that is perpetuating the problem.

We do not need to cause a scene. No confrontations. No complaints. No drama.

Per the Apostle Paul’s instruction, we simply turn away.

This is the “fork in the road” of our journey. And we must choose which path we will follow. The law of hypnotic rhythm will ensure that whichever path we choose now will become permanent.

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