I’m waiting for a bride. Many people don’t understand because many people don’t understand “waiting”. People divorce almost as fast as they marry—especially in the Church—the same Church for which Martin Luther wrote 95 Theses, as did I.
“So, Jesse, do you have a girlfriend… or something?” …or something? I’d get that question a lot when I was younger, mostly from Christians. I tried my whole life to follow one of Jesus’ teachings from Matthew 19:12… Some are eunuchs by birth, some are made so by men, others choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom. Why would one want to become a eunuch, though? Why did Jesus teach about “becoming a eunuch” as if this would somehow help a kingdom? The answer might come from history.
Eunuchs are not as common in our modern world as they were in the days of kings and castles. They served in the presence of many kings. A eunuch advised Esther on how to become queen—and it worked. That eunuch knew how to play “the game” of power in the palace. Not everyone could read in the ancient world, but eunuchs often did. Philip preached the gospel, in Acts 8, to a eunuch who was an important official in Ethiopia and educated enough to be reading Isaiah.
It is not my intention to be crass, but the three topics of Jesus’ teaching, eunuchs, and asking if someone has a girlfriend relates to a very important topic in human history: penises—the reason that humanity survives.
By not having a penis, nobody understands what a eunuch wants. Jesus taught similar ideas, that lacking something can give you strength—to turn the other cheek, to carry something for the second mile, to give your tunic when someone demands your cloak. By not having something, a person gains great power. Power in governing a kingdom is no different.
Which kingdom do you serve? And what does each person want? These questions are addressed by my 96th Thesis: What do the Church, the Antichrist, and Jesus each want? We know what Jesus and the Antichrist want. But, right now, the Church seems to be voting “Undecided”.
It’s all about the power game. Like it or not, Jesus and Solomon were good at playing it and both taught on it. Most Christians don’t understand the power game. Most Christians like to think that they are “above” the power game—which is, itself, a way of playing the power game. Nonetheless, Jesus gave good advice concerning power games—to not only be as innocent as doves, but as cunning as serpents.
Here is the 96th Thesis: The clerical system is the red carpet rolled out, preparing the way for the Antichrist.
It is not my intent to be shocking, but it all makes sense with some basic reflection on the power game and the nature of the Antichrist. Why do you think the Antichrist will be so capable of deceiving so many? Maybe he won’t have a penis. Or maybe he will look like a pastor. Hitler had both the public image of a celibate and the public support of Germany’s Church, in addition to being an A-student. In pre-WWII Germany, Hitler had the perfect public image that America has of a pastor and, at least in Germany, he maintained that image through much of the war.
Jesus said that, in the last days, even the elect would be deceived, if possible, which means that so-called “Christians” who don’t know their Bibles all that well will loudly hail the Antichrist as “Jesus”. Statistically, this will likely many church-goers. But how could that be possible? How could a dominant portion of church-attenders hail the Antichrist as “Jesus”? That is my 96th Thesis: The clerical system is the red carpet rolled out, preparing the way for the Antichrist.
If you’ve read the prerequisite, 95 Theses of the Clerical System, then you already understand that the “job description” of a professional, trained, clerical, “pastor”, in the modern-traditional sense, is found nowhere in the Bible. And you’d also understand that, while there are many problems with the clerical system, the problem is mainly with the system, not the people.
Pastor’s love people and lead them tenderly, teaching with the gentleness of a shepherd. But, anyone can do that without seminary and without being employed by an elder board or congregation or denomination. The word “pastor” rightly appears in English translations of Ephesians 4:11, but that doesn’t give Christians the right to invent our own meaning, that a “true, valid pastor” leads a non-profit corporation with a tax ID number, an address, and a weekly Christian meeting that almost always conflicts with similar meetings of other local Christians and “pastors”.
I won’t rehash the entire 95 Theses of the Clerical System here, to respect those who already read it. It’s sufficient to reflect on the issues presented, that God did give “pastors” to the Church, but He did not mandate an extra-Biblical bureaucracy for Christian fellowship—and such a bureaucracy is exactly what the clerical system can’t not be.
It is neither fair nor Biblical to require that every Christian participate in large-scale meetings with rigid schedules. Taking initiative to have fellowship with a few other self-motivated Christians is far more beneficial. Organizations, no matter how small, may be corrupt. All are to some extent. God may direct some Christians to participate in corrupt organizations while He may not give such grace to other Christians.
Think about the power of “prayer in the wilderness”. Jesus prayed in the wilderness 40 days—did Jesus attend “church” during that time? Moses was in the wilderness 40 years, growing close to the Lord and learning to lead in the small things. Joseph was in am Egyptian dungeon 12 years based on false accusations. Many Christian leaders would condemn Joseph for being alone with Pottifer’s wife in the first place, saying the dungeon was God’s judgement on Joseph rather than the perfect “wilderness training” experience. Actually, time alone prepares us for the Lord’s work later in life. Paul spent 14 years in solitude to pray. Was Paul in error for not “attending somewhere” for this? The answer depends on who you ask.
The unbiblical demand that all Christians participate in organized, monitored, non-wilderness Churchianity every week, without exception, is persecution against preparation. This imperialistic institutionalism discriminates against obedient Christians who follow Jesus into the wilderness for seasons of quiet preparation. Of course, the devil does not want God’s people to have the benefit of growth in Christ that comes from those seasons of solitude. So, the devil orchestrates Churchianity to oppress and cast out the beneficial wilderness to keep the Church unprepared, weak, stumbling, and prevent us from having spiritual victory.
Following in the same footsteps, no one will mandate public participation in religion more than the Antichrist. Let’s consider some of the similarities between clergy and the Antichrist—which make the clerical job of “pastor” different from the “shepherd” that Paul refers to in Ephesians 4.
Both will make church-going and bureaucracy inseparable.
Both will accuse anyone and everyone of so-called “rebellion” if they don’t assign a physical address, such as a “church building”, to their “religious fellowship”.
Both will take meticulous “attendance” records, which the Bible never demands or even suggests for the Church to do.
Both will ordain and define valid participation in the Church.
Both will maintain a public image of perfection, which easily operates as a shroud for the many kinds of abuse in religious systems as have been known for for the past 1,500 years.
Both will demand that Christians engage in fellowship that can be tracked on paper, which, intentionally or not, allows easy access to lists with names of Christians to be collected in databases, and those lists taken years later for rounding-up Christians for the slaughter. The same was done in Germany with forcing Jews to register and identify themselves so, then the time came, they could all be rounded up quickly.
There are many other similarities between the clerical system and the greater work of the Antichrist. Most professional pastors are well-intended, honest, God-fearing, loving, wise, but overworked and under appreciated. Those good leaders are not the cause of problems in the Body of Christ. They aren’t even the cause of their own problems. The system, not the people trapped in it, is the problem.
Unintended by most clergy and most Christians, participation in the weekly “church” culture, signing the attendance book, and listening through the long monologue every Sunday morning is dangerous. It conditions people to do the same for the Antichrist and gives him a list of names and addresses, through which he be able to will kill God’s people more swiftly than Hitler killed 2 million Jews.
This poses a problem: If weekly Churchianity isn’t the Bible’s plan, then how should Christians have fellowship?
And that’s just the thing: The clerical system is “easy”. If you participate in it, you don’t have to think, just “obey the pastor”. The easy road is broad, many find it, just like sheep going to the slaughter. Few ever manage to escape from it and find the narrow path. The narrow path is safer because it’s not easy. Dogma is easy, especially when we don’t call it “dogma”.
Through the clerical system, we’re allowed to think that a sinful man is perfect, let him tell us who our Christian friends should be so no one can question us, blame all our problems on him, and lynch him when we “discover” that he’s a sinner who bleeds like the rest of us—and feeling better in the process. Through this system, we punch the card every week, think that attendance makes “obedient” to God, get mutual admiration from the mutual admiration society every Sunday morning, get spoon fed so-called “Biblical teaching” without having to work to understand the Bible, and any time we have a problem, just ask the pastor. See, that’s easy.
Compare it to cleaning the bathroom shower. I once asked my aunt how she cleans her shower. “Elbow grease,” she said. Some cleaning solution may be helpful to dissolve residue, allowing your sponge, brush, or scouring pad to last longer. But, “elbow grease” is the secret solution to the success of any cleaning product. “Elbow grease” makes for a clean bathroom.
And “elbow grease” is what any Christian needs to grow in Christ, without being dependent on the “clean it all” crutch of the clerical system.
That’s the most harmful thing about the clerical system—dependence causes dystrophy. It’s hard to learn to walk if you never leave the baby walker. Falling down helps us learn. And needing to strive makes us strong enough to not only “walk” with the Lord, but to “run” in the path of His commands—His commands, not someone else’s.
Just like elbow grease cleans the bathroom, personal initiative is the secret to strong growth in Christ. Not being dependent on the same weekly meeting, it takes constant effort to meet with other Christians. As for me, I talk with lots of Christians as often as I can. Not being spoon fed Bible lessons every week, it takes purpose and intent to study the Bible. So, I study the Bible a lot more than I did under the clerical system. Leaving clerical Churchianity created a “crisis” in my life, causing me to whip out the “elbow grease”, take responsibility, and my friendship with Jesus has never been better.
What “church” do I go to? Well, let me tell you about my church…
It’s really big. The architecture is fashionable. The ceiling is blue most days, dark at night. Sometimes it is lit up with billions of small lights for vigil. The chandelier moves from east to west throughout the day and splotches of white typically move across the blue ceiling. Other times the sprinkler system turns on, enough to water the garden and the animals in it. The service never stops. It has about 8 billion daily attenders. Though most of them aren’t Christian, many of them are “seeking”. My “church” has lots of orphans and widows to whom I can show love. There are lots of imperfect people, including the bossy Christians—God love ‘em—which helps us to practice patience. It has many people whom I can forgive and who forgive me all the more. There is no limit to object lessons from which I can learn more about our perfect pastor. And, the coolest thing about my “church” is that Jesus is my pastor—the best shepherd I ever had. In Jesus’ Church, shall not want.
My aunt was great woman. She knew how to clean and how to cook. She taught me about cleaning bathrooms with elbow grease. She loved horses almost as much as she loved children, but she loved no one as much as she loved Jesus.
I don’t want a woman just like my aunt. But I do want a woman who knows the power of “elbow grease”. I want a woman who studies Hebrew every morning, while I study the Bible in Greek. I want a woman who is beautiful because she chooses to be happy—someone to walk with in the cool of the morning, just like my grandmother and grandfather did every day. I want a women who understands that healthy eating agrees with a lifestyle of prayer and fasting. I want a woman who is respectful, not weak.
This is what I want in a woman. And it seems that this is asking for too much in the minds of many.
Mostly, I want a woman who doesn’t take the easy road in her walk with Christ—who doesn’t depend on an extra-Biblical, bureaucratic system for her growth in the Lord. I want a woman who thrives outside the clerical system and loves Jesus more than anything or anyone else, but who loves other people and isn’t trapped in the small world of faction-fear-based denominationalism.
I’m waiting for my bride. And, frankly speaking, Jesus is also waiting for His. I suppose, for now, He and I will just have to wait together. Is that so bad?