Monday, 28 April 2008

Thinking on my feet - this is badly written and needs editing

People no longer fear becoming backslidden if they leave the JA, says "Minister of the Gospel"; if they backslide, it is no longer the JA's fault, but because a person's heart is, as she put it, out of kilter with God.

This isn't an unusual thing for a Christian to say; loss of faith is always blamed on the individual: you weren't healed because you didn't believe enough, etc. It is an aspect of Christianity that I find so nauseating. Minister of the Gospel is herself a church leader, though as a woman, she had to leave the JA to become one, but as a church leader it is important not to be seen to be critical of other leaders. So the JA gets off the hook if people who leave lose their faith.

This is a philosophy which does not accept that there is a human aspect to what people believe and fear. And when, for however many years, you have had to submit your own thinking and spiritual insight to the scrutiny of elders and adjust it when it was out of line with the received view; when you have spent years under the discipline of the church - and your so-called "personal relationship with God" has first been moulded by people who believe that they ARE the kingdom of God and that God would never call anyone to break a lifetime covenant with their particular church.....

isn't it inevitable that someone who leaves believes himself to be a "covenant breaker", is filled with guilts and doubts and fears. You would have to have a pretty extraordinary psyche (or not have been an entirely committed member in the first place) not to feel out of kilter with God when you leave.

Is this your fault? Do you deserve to feel a loss of God's grace or covering? Is this not the time, perhaps more than ever before, when a Christian needs to know that God is still with him or her? These are questions which Christians have to answer; I don't because I don't believe in God. They must square their belief system with the desperation felt by people who leave the JA as Christians but lose faith. They cannot blame God, so it is easiest to blame the individual.

To my mind nobody can reasonably be expected to leave a church which makes leaving as close as possible to the unforgiveable sin and not expect people to feel out of kilter with their God....or with their unreconstructed belief system. Loss of faith is almost inevitable. Those who leave and keep their faith, as I did (at a time when unforgiveable sin and lost salvation was far more explicitly taught), do so out of a sense of sheer bloody minded determination not to lose it; less froma love of God than from a determination not to prove Noel right. I continued to profess Christ for about 5 years until it became quite clear to me that Christianity is a human construct.

I believe that people who lose their "kilter with God" do so because the JA has constructed a pseudo-reality where you can only have God if you take the rest of the package. That is what makes them a cult. They are not just like any other evangelical church in that sense. When you leave the JA you ARE leaving God, not because you want to but because the JA have constructed their reality that way. Not only do they feel themselves to be THE kingdom of God, but they feel they actually OWN God.