Newsletter Vol. 2 No. 7

What is Freedom Matters Today?

Welcome to the August Newsletter of Freedom Matters Today.

The heart of the Christian message is freedom. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. (Galatians 5:1).

This is freedom from:
• Guilt and shame
• Sin and death
• Fear and despair
• Past and prejudice
• Fascism and tyranny
• War and conflict.

A New Approach, A Unique Voice, Shining Light in Darkness

Last month, in our July Newsletter, I wrote:

‘My goal is to challenge the narratives over faith, life, flag, and futures by applying the identity, words, and actions of Jesus to our busy, post-modern lives, struggles and problems. I have no confidence or support for the institutional church, rituals, regulations, and laws that have denied, undermined, or confused the central message of the good news about Jesus.

‘Every generation, Christians take a good look at the current mess, and decide to step out in faith, listen to God, walk in the Spirit, and withdraw their support for the dominant orthodoxy of institutional religion. It is what the Protestants did, and the Pentecostals, the Methodists and those who listened to Whitfield.

‘Today, instead of following Jesus, Christians rush to defend the bricks and mortar buildings, the old sectarianism, the outdated cultural creeds, the defunct denominations, and the Culture War. They talk about ‘Christianity,’ ‘Christ,’ ‘the faith,’ and ‘Jesus,’ but they are but footnotes to their main concerns which are moralism, isolationism, money, and power. These priorities are killing faith across the West and will lead to the eventual demise and decay of Christian witness. Christians will defend the church but not Christ, nor are they interested in the identity, words, and actions of Jesus anymore, as Jesus’ challenge is too deep, too personal, and too real. It is better to keep God boxed up on Sunday, it is better to retreat to the monastery rather than live in the world, and it is better to hide in rituals than embrace a relationship.

‘What does it mean to follow Jesus today in our busy, post-modern life? This is the question for us today and this is the focus for Freedom Matters Today. In coming months, we are pivoting away from the problems that face us to the solutions that God presents us, away from the swamp, the mud, and the filth to the light, the path, and the way forward. It is time to look at freedom afresh, it is time to walk out of in faith, it is time to offer a brand-new narrative to our mad world shaped by the identity, the words, and the actions of Jesus.’

For Brownstone, I wrote:

‘Paul said that 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. This is such good, timely advice for our times. It is time to read great poetry, delve into good stories, reflect on theatre, ponder great words, speak about good things. We need communities of light. Gather with other like-minded people, talk, share and encourage, and let the light shine. Let us see again the freedom we have in God and the freedom we have in life. Let’s grab our candles, open the curtains, get the torches, and shine that light.

‘We are free people, so let us live freely. Let us create communities of light, where all are welcome, where debate is normal, questions are accepted, people are brought together, and darkness is cast out. Evil will always be evil, but we need not fight darkness with night. We walk in the day, in the sunlight and we bask in the warmth of a bold, new life, free from their madness. Let us take their narrative and the script they have written for us and put it up to the heat and to the light and watch it crumble and turn to dust for all evil dies, all darkness falls, and a new day is dawning.’
A new day is dawning, so let us celebrate the light of God in our lives, let us live freely, let us grab the candles and shine light into the darkness by building a community of light in a dark world.’

Communities of Light because You are the Light of the World

Jesus told his disciples that they were the light of the world (Matthew 5: 14). All who follow Jesus are children of light, not of the dark. To be light, we need to shine, and to shine we focus on the identity, the words, and actions of Jesus. At the heart of the good news is that because of Jesus we are free people, truly free, and we stand because one stood in our place where we could not, and he brought true freedom. We need to go back to the words of Jesus, and the New Testament to rediscover what freedom, light and truth are.

There are many Bible verses that speak of Christian freedom. I listed them last month. They are verses of such deep, profound truth, and I believe they go to the heart of the good news about God.

Where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free (Galatians 5: 1)

If the Son shall set you free, then you will be free indeed (John 8: 36).

We may approach God with freedom and confidence (Ephesians 3: 12)

Live as free people (1 Peter 2: 16).

He has sent me to proclaim freedom. (Luke 4: 18).

Freely you have received, freely give (Matthew 10: 8).

Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8: 32).

Through him everyone who believes is set free from sin (Acts 13: 39).

All are justified freely by his grace. (Romans 3: 24).

You have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God. (Romans 6: 22).

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins through his blood (Revelations 1: 5).

How did Churches fail in Covid-19 (Part 2)

Last month, we began a two-month reflection, memorial, dare I say, on Covid-19, a debriefing of the nightmare we experienced. I have written about this in more at Brownstone. This month, I conclude this reflection.

Churches fail because they always do

The failure of churches in Covid-19 was only superficial. It reflects a deeper problem. Churches cannot sustain faith, only God can. Churches cannot create faith. Only God can. Churches cannot defend faith, only God can.

In the beginning, everyone was the same. They all received the same Spirit, they all had the same Lord, there was equality, there was the body of Christ, everyone had a role, they were all one in Christ. Then came the churches, the human authorities, the power, the creation of hierarchy, a class of priests, the hagiography, the cessation of the Spirit, the closure of the Bibles, the creation of the Mass, which was an anti-Semitic ceremony or rite, to extinguish Jewish participation in Christian communities.

In every generation, Christians rose, and their enemy was not the world but the church, or rather, the church quickly became the world. Millions were born again, were given new lives and these lives repudiated the spiritual deadness in the church, the corruption, and the abuse of power, and the church murdered its way through history.

The church kept people poor for a thousand years, kept people ignorant, and for five hundred years there was a great war, not against God, but a war for freedom. God is on the side of freedom, for true freedom bears his stamp of authorship, and all other freedoms are echoes of the freedom that comes from God.

It is a war against the church. There are echoes of this war, such as the heresy of the Church of England and their non-Christian notion that the King is the representative of God on earth. God did not ordain hereditary monarchs, they wrought their power through blood, conquest and death, and then claimed to be Christian after climbing over the corpses.

America created a non-religious, non-sectarian republic, as did many nations, and they were inspired by the fear that the church and its power would return. It amazes me how few Christians quickly defend a history that is so soaked in blood and death, and has absolutely nothing to do with the Lord Jesus Christ.

In every generation in the West, there were new Christian movements, and the church was there to kill them because they refused to accept church authority. For centuries sectarian violence raged through Europe to be replaced by sectarian prejudice that only ran out of steam well into the 1960s.

When the killing stopped, the moralizing began.

As the West changed, so did the church. When the churches lost power, basically at the end of the nineteenth century, in some parts early twentieth century, the church pivoted from murder to morality. It shifted from force to ideology.

In the nineteenth century, Christians condemned novel reading as a sin alongside cardplaying and the theatre. They condemned rock music in the 1950s and alcohol in the 1930s. Today, gays and transgendered people and others are condemned.

These attitudes reflect the moralism of the church, the fears of alternative sources of authority. This is basically what it is about. The church craves to be the only source of authority in your life, and it explains why, since society became more complex since the 1950s, that churches responded by trying to become more involved in your life with youth groups, Bible Studies, and other activities to draw you in and compel you to go their building. This wasn’t their love of the Bible, but their love of control.

Suffer the little children.

No longer able to use power to kill people, or force, the church gave up on adults because they had a mind of their own and could not be bought or lied to, or deceived. We criticize the people of the past, but they were not as stupid as we often think they were.

The church went further, by changing the gospel and promoting the new view, the new ideology God has a special love for kids, that God loves kids more than he loves the rest of us, and all of our focus needs to be on the children. Partly it was strategic but also sociological because it was the materialism of the American post-war boom that created the teenager. Leisure as a social norm was born in the 1950s along with the postponement of adulthood through long educational practices. The West had changed profoundly. The middle class was born. There was no need to put kids in the factory or up chimneys or down the mines. For the first time in centuries, children were children well into what was traditionally adulthood.

The churches stepped and created a new theology to follow the ideology of the state and the expectations of society. In the past, kids became adults faster, they were taught skills sooner, but with this new ideology, they were (and are) expected to be children as long as possible.

God loves all people of all ages equally.

God is not a pedophile, but many in the church are because many in society are and there is no difference in the personal morality of those who enter a church building on Sunday and those who do not. The church, through its adoption of kid-focused faith created the myth that God was somehow especially keen on the kids. God does not love children more than he loves adults.

God shows no partiality, nor does he prefer one age to another. He is God and his Spirit moves where he wants. He doesn’t listen to us, but to Christ. Churches saw this floating mass of kids as a financial opportunity because fewer and fewer adults went to church, so the response was to go after the kids. Get them into church, get them into Sunday School. Turn them into good little Christians. Teach them morality.

The Western churches put children up on a pedestal, elevated them as society did, and began to worship them as society does. Most churches in the West today worship the young and they present God as a being unnaturally interested in kids. He isn’t.

The Bible rarely sees the young come to faith, rarely. Samuel is an exception. He was also a prophet and probably a young man at the time. David was not a toddler when he came to faith. Kids do not wrestle lions or kill giants. He was a young man, not a kid.

Churches have modern music and rock music and kids’ programs, and so on, and now they are getting into the schools. Most people come to faith in the ordinary situations of life and most of them are people in positions of responsibility – fathers, mothers, leaders, workers, and so on. Faith is not about age, it is about trust, and that simple trust in God that is similar to the trust kids have in parents.

No children come to faith in the New Testament. Where are these converts? They simply don’t exist from the pages of the Bible, so why is the church obsessed with kids?

Sadly, by bringing them into the spotlight, the churches also were serving them up on a silver platter for child molesters who then rushed into the church to have their fill. Now many churches are spending all their time defending child molesters and hoping to reduce the compensation payouts to the victims. What a tragedy. They did nothing to protect the children and now they are doing their best to punish the victims.

The Church is to blame for the Culture War

Churches not only went after kids but also education. They saw the answer in education because there are very few genuine converts these days. They need money to keep their institutions alive. Most churches want to get involved in education. It is a pity they don’t spend the same time and money obeying God and preaching the gospel.

Once again, the church gets it wrong. God does not work especially through schools. You cannot educate faith. His Spirit is like the wind, it comes and goes, and it is the same with God. The gospel is free. It has no price tag. Churches that place a premium on the gospel for kids are sinning against God by placing a monetary requirement to hear the gospel.

It astounds me that many Christians cannot see it at all, they cannot see how their expensive religious schools are the opposite of Christian values. You cannot serve both God and money, says Jesus, and the churches love their money, and they love putting a price tag onto education where they claim that the kids know the gospel, which is free.

You try to force God onto people you will end up with morality and dead faith. That is the best the church can do now. These days, the church is having apoplexy over what they call ‘woke’ culture. The church is however responsible for starting the modern Culture War by starting their morals crusade against a world that does not acknowledge Jesus Christ.

It all started in the 1980s in America with the so-called Moral Majority movement and its leaders who spread the message that politics needed to be the vehicle for forcing America to become a Christian nation. These guys had little understanding of the gospel and even less understanding of the difference between their faith and their flag.

There is no reason why the 1980s were any more evil or less evil than other generations, but gays, women and foreigners were the targets. It is no wonder there was a counter-revolution that has led to the so-called woke movement. Transgenderism and homosexual movements are a reaction to the growth of moralistic, unbelievers in the church, people who are so full of hate, so deprived of love that they resisted the grace and God and gravitated to the commandments of God.

We saw this in the bizarre persecution of homosexuals in the AIDS epidemic. The forced treatments and abuse of homosexuals in the past were evil, plain, and simple, and it is a mercy that these nightmares have ended.

If Christians followed Jesus and not the church, if Christians preached God instead of morality, there the counter-revolution would have been different. The assumptions of these Christian Nationalists were wrong – America was not a Christian nation under attack from within. The church created the Culture War and they, by ignoring the power of God to change lives, decided to offend people who their whole lives lived on the margins of society. Instead of love, they got hate and the worst vision of the church imaginable, an echo of the medieval days when churches murdered people for having a different point of view.

Moralism and Isolationism, the legacy of the church

Moralism and isolationism are the key doctrines of the church today. In the past, all churches offered was a Sunday service, where no one spoke to each other. Sunday Schools began in the nineteenth century, not to tell kids about God, but to reinforce class values. Pew rentals were common, which is how churches made their income by renting pews to rich families. Pre-war many churches would not have welcomed you at all unless you were part of the right class.

Sectarianism was the norm. The Masonic Lodge ran the Church of England and the Presbyterian Churches, and still does in places, though its power has long waned for various reasons, including the emancipation of the middle classes.

If you don’t know what sectarianism is, your church has lied to you about your religious history. Across the West, state churches ran nations and persecuted everyone else, except in America and a few other places. The nineteenth century saw at its twilight the end of the old prohibitions against non-conformists and Catholics, those who did not conform to the Church of England or the national church.

The 1870s was a formative time. Within decades the special privileges of the state churches were extended to the rest, including tax exemption. Charity status is not in the Bible, and churches need to pay tax: Romans 13: 6 and 7. It is obscene to hear churches condemn people for one or another but remain silent on their sin of not paying tax. Next time your minister tells you to pay tax, ask him why he doesn’t.

Tax exemptions are just one part of this social isolationism. Many Christians today are so involved in the church that that is their only social expression or the primary arena for their social expression. They have retreated to the church like monks to a monastery. The churches don’t want you thinking for yourself, and they don’t want you to avail yourself of the power of God and the privileges of God given to every child of God. They are the ones in charge, they are the spiritual filter, they are the ones who claim to know best. They also need someone to pay for this grandiose enterprise, and churches, for some reason, are the only charities that are, overall, financially inept.

Churches actively discourage personal faith by compelling people to invest their time, emotion, and souls in the institution, thus losing their identity and embracing a kind of monastic identity. In the past, monks retreated to places of refuge in fear of their lives, for example from the Vikings. These days, churches gather their faithful together and lie to them about a struggle against the world they are deeply complicit in, such as their tax exemption scam. To gather as many as possible to expand their monetary base, the church has corrupted the gospel message and toned it down to be entirely about morality, which works well even in the broader society.

The church is out to get Christians

Throughout Christian history, many people have been touched by God and they decide to follow Jesus, and the church is there to stop them, discourage them, persecute them, and kill them. There are so many movements of God throughout history, and they all have two things in common – they challenged the power and money of organized religion, and the church destroyed them.

People listened to the Spirit, or they were inspired by creation or science, or they read the Bible in their own language, or they came to see Jesus anew, and they all decided to follow God in their own way during a time when religious freedom was illegal.

Christianity is a personal faith that is expressed in concert with others. Christians want to know about the identity, the actions, and the words of Jesus. Jesus is their focus. You can tell the fascists, they always talk about morality and the law, and sin, but not their sin of course, the sin of others.

Christians follow the same Saviour, but they walk differently, wear different clothes, and haver a different attitude. Christians are flesh and blood, but the Church is an institution. It is about conformity, rules, regulations, traditions, the Mass, the Missal, the Book of Common Prayer, the sermon, the Bible Study, the morning tea, the tent meeting, speaking in tongues. They are all initiation rites, and all acts of conformity. This is not Christianity, but just another form of spiritual slavery. Jesus didn’t come to die so we can remain slaves to just another institution of human power and authority.

Christendom is not Christianity

Most nations in Christendom destroyed faith and what was left was the sterility of tradition wrapped in a flag. While it also has Christian Nationalism, America was different, at least in the beginning. In America, for whatever reason, faith and democracy met together and flourished. There was no state church to kill or persecute those who did not conform because there were no ecclesiastical authorities in the state to enforce it.

Elsewhere, state churches have been murdering their way through history and given the opportunity they would do it again. Indeed, there was something special about the freedom that American Christianity afforded, especially between the War of Independence and the Civil War. This period was remarkable in allowing many to read the Bible and pursue a degree of equality and Christian democracy that we have not seen in other places.

We have God, we have the Bible, we have the Spirit, we do not need to be taught, for God teaches us, his Spirit leads us, and we grow in our grace and knowledge of God through faith and seeking to understand the Bible.

Ours are the promises and the purposes of God and the Spirit is not controlled by the priests or the church, and he is not present in the Magic Show of the Mass. Churches refuse to let God be God. Why would he turn up to your local church if he is already present in all who faith? Why would the Spirit come down from heaven at the order of the priest, when He moves to highlight not the priest or his pretended power, but the Lord Jesus Christ? The Holy Spirit is not the errand boy of the priest and the blasphemy of the Mass, He is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, and God himself.

The problem is that Christians don’t read their own Bible, and they give up that authority of self-discernment to the priest, the pastor, and the minister, and so continue to walk in darkness. The church dares to intrude into God’s domain, they presume to speak for God, they mimic the Spirit, and they steal the goodness of God for money and power.

Cloud of Witnesses

Of course, churches betrayed us in Covid-19, they always do. It was a wake-up call to many. If you are stupid enough and lazy enough to go back to the church that closed for three years, that took government money and kept asking you for it, and who showed that they really didn’t care about you, then its your fault from here on in. You only have yourself to blame.

They betrayed you during Covid-19 and they will betray you again. Your spiritual well-being is not their concern. Their concern is money and power, power over you, power over society, and they seek to control the Bible for their own personal purposes.

Don’t go to church, follow Jesus instead. With God, his Word and His Spirit, you can work it out as you go along. You are not alone. You are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses urging you to run and look to Jesus the author and finisher of your faith. So, as the writer of the Hebrews says:

‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.’ (Hebrews 12: 1-3).

Michael J. Sutton

Remember, Freedom Matters Today because you Matter to God

1 Comment

  1. Joan Sutton says:

    Thank you. Yes indeed we need to go back to the words of Jesus where we will find freedom light and faith. Praise be to Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins through His precious blood..Rev.1.5

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