The Stuck Theology Chaplain
You hear about people leaving the churches, religions, and faiths from Barna, the news and people discussions on social media. The Barna Group ( https://www.barna.com/) reports on the why’s of parishioners leaving by conducting large scale surveys of church parishioners. This is a multi-faceted survey that shows insight and reasons for the mass migration from the church.
I’ve read about the clergy and preachers who don’t understand why this is happening in social media groups. I have to wonder:
- Do they speak to their parishioners?
- Do they check to find out why someone has left the church and not returned?
- Do they understand what is happening in this darkening world?
- Do they understand the emotional toll the news and social media makes?
- Do they even care or are they just concerned with filling the church seats and tithing?
Personally, I would say “No” to all of those questions.
Why? Theology. Keep-in-mind that the preachers/clergy have all gone to a seminary or religious college to learn how they should teach the Holy Bible to the parishioners, but it also taught them a very specific way to preach and approach scriptures. Of course, they do have to pay money for the title they receive, with of course, the hard work. Unfortunately, we never know how they actually did in their grades because we never see a report card. All schools have some type of report card… right?
Unfortunately, much of the teaching is tenant strict. Meaning, once in the church, they will say is, “This is the way it is” or “We don’t question the Bible,” or “If you not of our religious group…” In essence, they become stuck in a “religious bubble” that makes them more puppet-like than Jesus-like.
And, I have heard from many personally about how they don’t answer questions by even saying, “We don’t question God.” Perhaps they need to understand that even Jesus answered any questions put to him. You learn by asking questions. They must have asked questions in school, so why now avoid the questions? To me, it’s very simple. They don’t know the answers.
Not only that, but preachers (not sure about clergy) also have to deal with the so-called church “Elders,” who dictate what is to be said during sermons and what is expected. My “Guarantee” is that many of these “Elders” have no idea about the Holy Bible, or very little. They probably have no idea of the true words of Jesus, since many feel powerful in their petty roles. So much so that no one can ever know more then they do, not even the clergy/preachers.
How do I know this information, you are wondering?
You can watch videos with preachers/clergy who were fired, or just left because of the rules of the elders who demanded that they remove any discussion of sin and the Book of Revelations, so they don’t upset or cause parishioners to leave the church.
However, the biggest thing is that I went through the “Don’t ask questions” phase when I was starting to get interested in the Holy Bible. Sadly, that stopped me in my tracks at that time.
You get the idea. If you want to teach this you can’t, even though it is God’s word.
Now I want to tell you a story of a clergy man who is “stuck” in his Catholic training, that is completely contrary to God’s word and Jesus Christ’s teaching. And, it actually pushes people further away from the church, and today you want to get everyone either back to the church or with their faith. So why deny anyone?
My wife recently joined with a local pastoral volunteer group that minsters (prayers) to hospital patients. She was looking for something to do in retirement that tied into her strong Christian faith. Jean knows the Holy Bible pretty well (read it through at least five times I am aware of!) and had also helped me many years ago to find the same path to the Lord.
Twice a week, she volunteers, and goes to a very local hospital in our town, and picks up her list of patients that she will visit in their rooms. Each volunteer is assigned with a specific religious group (Catholic, Jewish, etc.), and Jean was assigned the non-committal patients because we are non-denominational.
The hospital knows your religious preference when you enter the hospital, and fill out the admission forms with the religion question. She will knock on the patients door, and ask if they want her to pray for or with them. If not, she leaves the room with a pleasant goodbye.
Now I come to the real reason of this story.
The “Catholic Chaplain.” He is one of the people in charge of the local hospital volunteers for that program. Jean and other volunteers met with the Chaplain (name left off to provide anonymity for now) to get the rules and regulations related to dealing spiritually with patients. Simple. Ask the patient if they want you to pray with them. If not, say goodbye.
Now, the story changes from patient to volunteer.
The Communion Problem. My wife wanted to receive communion, and she asked the Chaplain and he asked her how long it has been since last receiving. She told him five years. Now, keep in mind when she volunteered to sign-up, she told him she was not a practicing Catholic. He decided to give her communion.
Then, another time, weeks later, she casually asked one the volunteers if she could give her communion, but she was reluctant and deferred to the Chaplin. Jean was, at one time, a Catholic but has since left it because of problems with the clergy a church she attended. Plus when she found out how much different the Catholic faith is from the other Christian faiths and, in specific the Holy Bible she decided to become non-denominational. However, her faith in the Lord is very strong which has nothing to do with religion of any kind.
OK. He gave her communion knowing she wasn’t a practicing Catholic, and then he said he couldn’t give her communion because she wasn’t a practicing Catholic. Talk about being confused.
Imagine that “I can’t because your not.” Imagine Jesus saying “I can’t because your not!” or “You don’t believe in me, so I can’t heal you.” Religion was never part of Jesus’s teachings.
Now, I want to back up a little and remind you about the Chaplains comment about “Why are so many people leaving the church.” For now, keep that in the back of your mind.
So, why are the people leaving the churches in droves? Remember… here’s the “Keep it in the back of your mind part”. Strict and Stuck Theology! The more you try to force someone to change, the quicker they are gone from the church or going to church.
So, what should he have done? Simple. Give her communion again, which can be given by anyone as Jesus said. I not defending her because she is my wife, but because it is honoring and glorifying the Lord, NOT the Catholic religion.
Jean asked the Chaplain, “Than why did Jesus mention at the last supper to the disciples to go and tell everyone about the body and blood in the scriptures?” His answer was “Because we Catholics perform the sacrament just like Jesus did and not like any other religions.” WHAT???
What other religions?? Jesus never used the word Catholic. What kind of explanation is that? I will tell you. The kind that wants to make you feel like you don’t know anything, and that’s why the church is failing.
It really just goes against theology, and Jesus didn’t preach theology.
Well, there is a VERY BIG problem with his comment. Jesus wasn’t Catholic or any religion, and didn’t have any rules, so when Jesus is mentioned in the same breath with not being able to perform communion, it is hypocritical, theological, and completely against the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Jean also asked about Revelations in this somewhat testy discussion, and he told her she could NEVER understand The Book of Revelations. Guess what Chaplain! We do understand 3/4 of the book, and anytime you would like to show your seminary prowess that we don’t, feel free to respond. He seems to act arrogant and prideful, just what Jesus preached against.
Jean has been volunteering for several weeks with at least thirty visits, two times a week. Now, after the debate, she is told that a patient claimed she told them to “Find God” as the Chaplain explained. Keep in mind once again that this happened almost immediately after the “Jean/Chaplain discussion.
Jesus said to avoid the proud and boasters. I guess boasting is what many clergy do to support the little knowledge they do have of scripture. As I previously said, the “We don’t question the Bible” comment made by many clergy as proven in the Barna surveys of people reactions of why they left the church.
Chaplain, read the Holy Bible (or the much older Geneva Bible – 1655) about what Jesus said, and stop pushing your theology, causing more people to leave the church.
Try reading James 1:26 and Proverbs 13:10, Proverbs 16:18, Jeremiah 9:23-24, Philippians 2:3. These all refer back to pride and arrogance.
I’m sure you paid a lot of money in seminary to learn the Holy Bible, but I am learning it for free, minus the theology, which is really useless when speaking to people about Jesus Christ and the Holy Bible. People come to the clergy/preachers to ask questions, not to just sit in the seats and listen to a sermon. Many want answers, but if you don’t have the answers, just tell them you will find out more and get back to them. Don’t just pacify and cast them off.
That’s why I am happy to find out that some new churches have regular, non seminary people teaching the Holy Bible, with no theology rules or state regulations, except for the non-profit tax code.
NOTE: Jean did explain the person in charge of the hospital volunteer group what happened, and after she decided to leave the group after feeling she was deceived, and she has no reason to lie.
Remember, she is just volunteering, but the person in charge, as expected, sided with the Chaplin because of their being a Reverend. Clergy people have to stick together, good or bad, as we have seen in numerous news reports.
OK, now back to the “Keep it in the back of your mind” comment I made above. It’s because preachers and clergy force ideology and their own personal fixations with religion, and you wonder why people are leaving religion, especially the Catholic religion in droves! Wake up and do what Jesus would do. Be caring and compassionate by understanding and helping the parishioners to know the Holy Bible better to help strengthen their faith.
The Holy Bible also warns us about the apostasy of the church in 1 Timothy 4;1-4. This is one simple way it starts. The churches need to wake up, preach, talk the Holy Bible, not religion, theology or politics!
To the Chaplain, if he reads this: Do the right thing, and NOT the Catholic or theology thing, and maybe the church won’t loose so many parishioners. Plus, God won’t punish you for doing the right thing. Only your church might do that. What’s more important… the church or God?
I know my answer… God, without question.
Please comment, and let me know your thoughts or if you have left the church. Thank you.
Peace to you and blessing from our Lord Jesus Christ.
H John J & Jean