Monday, October 30, 2006

How many saw the W5 segment this weekend about the Dominion Christian Centre?

See the write up here

I was just flippin' through the channels at my parents when I caught the last five minutes or so. We don't have cable--no TV channels actually, and mom and dad have been without TV for so long because of the renovation, that now that they have it set up again, we all sit around like idiots watching hour after hour....well, ok, I sit around like an idiot. Aw, cut me some slack, I didn't feel so hot yesterday....

So I've enjoyed W5 in the past, although I never watch it regularly. It was because of one of their shows that I learned all about the Steven Trusscott case (the guy who at 14 years old was convicted of raping and killing a young girl in Clinton, ON, back in the 60's. A more ridiculous miscarriage of justice I've never seen).

Mom and dad have a TV where you can press a button at every channel and it gives you all this info about the show that's on. (Call me technologically naive, but I think that's really cool). I was totally floored when I stopped at the W5 show and hit the info button and it said that it was about a suspected cult in Hamilton. Right here in Hamilton!
I watched the rest and only heard about a particular girl, who's parents are heartbroken over her deserting the family. Not just deserting, but completely cutting herself off from them.

Then on Sunday, my brother called. He'd seen the whole thing, and had also managed to stumble upon a blog written by a girl who's got a sister involved with them. You can read her blog here.

My brother Ryan is in the middle of obtaining his PhD in New Testament studies. He went out to Briercrest in SK for his undergrad and Gordon Conwell Seminary in Boston for his masters. He's just finishing up his comprehensives and will start his thesis work sometime next year. My husband and I both graduated from the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. (I should really get a link up on my sidebar). So theological debates are nothing new around our family. Specially since Ryan decided to leave the church we grew up in and become a member of the Anglican church. It was a difficult thing for my parents and me for a while to understand, but he explains himself well. One thing I have come to understand better through Ryan's involvement with the Anglican church is the sense of history we have in Christianity.

As evangelicals, we often strive for the newest and most trendy, catchy way of bringing people into the church. Cathedrals turned into business-like, comfy lounge-style buildings with 'all-purpose' rooms. Over the last 50 years, our music departed from hymns and gospel songs to early praise and worship, now slightly more sophisticated P&W (depending on what church you attend. Of course, some churches still do hymns, or cranked up versions, or a blend of hymns and P&W). And for the longest time (probably still is in some places) there was a huge debate about 'Christian Rock'. I remember when Petra came on the scene. And then Amy Grant. (Man, she was tame stuff back then). But it was a huge deal in evangelical churches: was it right to use 'rock' music to appeal to the non-churched? Or for the evangelical youth to enjoy? I'm not going to get into that right now, my point was the history.

Ryan's turn to the Anglican church made me want to see what he found appealing in it. After practicing in Christ Church Cathedral every Wednesday with the Hamilton Children's Choir since I was 10, and sometimes being involved in an Anglican service, I was at first pretty shocked that my brother wanted to be a part of that. But he was looking for something I hadn't ever thought about. And considering my penchant for viewing many things of the past as inherently superior to most modern ways, I'm surprised I didn't.

It's just humbling to realize that most of the theological, doctrinal, personal spiritual and even social issues that I deal with, were already dealt with (often more than once) sometime in the history of the church. Over and over, I'm fascinated by how many 'modern' problems were experienced hundreds of years ago. Ryan has often commented that there's no new ideas out there (or rarely any). Especially when it comes to the Bible. Think you've discovered some huge theological problem? Right. It's already been discovered---and solved--- 500 years ago.
So in otherwords, if you 'discover' some 'new' interpretation, rest assured that you've not discovered anything. And there's something to be said for the dozens, maybe even hundreds of scholars much more brilliant than you, that have researched that issue, interpreted the greek, found the earliest manuscript and come to the answer--an answer accepted and embraced by the historical church. I'm not saying that the old adage "When 1000 people believe a stupid idea, it's still a stupid idea" isn't right. But there's a reason why the Lord established a church--and not a building somewhere, and not just some denomination. We need trusted brothers and sisters, elders and friends from different walks of life; because iron sharpens iron. And as humble servants, servant leaders, we should never hold ourselves up as the ultimate authority on any issue--or the ultimate interpreter of an issue.

As I'm right in the middle of Randy Alcorn's "Deadline", and have media bias on the brain, let me stop for a quick disclaimer:

"If the W5 broadcast was accurate and truthful to what's really happening at the DCC...."

The Dominion Christian Centre may not fall neatly into the parameters of a cult. But it has many apects that fall dangerously close. I'm horrified that there's a group like this in my very city. As christians, we have enough trouble doing battle with those who completely oppose our beliefs; now we have to deal with some of 'our own' doing just as much damage to the cause of Christ as any abortionist or evolutionist. Grrr.

"In his sermon at the D.C.C., Pastor Rigo says, "For the most part, Church is just a nice outhouse. You simply go once a week, move your conscience bowels, get a little relief and go back out and eat like a pig for another seven days. That's why churches mainly stink." "--W5

When I was earning my degree, I worked part time at the Moody Bookstore. I really enjoyed it, mostly because I love books. You can imagine all the different kinds of people I met in the middle of downtown Chicago. Once, when I was working at the customer service desk--answering phones and doing returns and such, a man came in for a reason I completely can't remember. Somehow, we got into a discussion about Mother Teresa. You see, this man had had a bad experience with the Catholic church. He was utterly convinced that there was no way that Mother Teresa could be in heaven because....she was Catholic. Because of his experience, he had come to believe that there were no true believers in the Catholic church.

If there's one important lesson I've learned in my few years of growing up so far, it's that there's idiots in every group. In otherwords, in every church, in every denomination, in every territory of every denomination, there will be those who follow the Lord truly and with all their hearts.....and there will be those that are faking it. There will be those who love the Lord with all their hearts, souls and minds.....and those that are just hoping to be considered good people.

And that's why Christianity isn't based on the church. If it was, it would have crumbled to dust at the first committee meeting to decided the colour of the carpet. We base our faith on Jesus Christ, the only one worthy for us to focus our attentions on. So many people only see the hypocrites and decide that Christianity isn't for them. Or another denomination must be better. The harsh reality is that it's a rare church that doesn't have statistically the same amount of 'fakers' as any other.

I wish I knew what it would take to put 'Pastor Rigo' in his place. I hope this W5 segment starts the process. My more impetuous side sees the 70 people who showed up for the open meeting storming the DCC at every service, holding a silent--or perhaps not silent vigil for their loved ones still ensnared. Like a huge intervention. But I think the Lord likely has something much more effective and refined than that.


J9 said...

I remember only-too-well, taking a course while I was at McMaster on "modern-day cults". It was quite interesting, seeing as it was taught by the son of a methodist minister, who had become completely disillusioned with Christianity. He began his course by comparing the early days of Christianity, and the rumours/stories that were spread by those who didn't understand "The Way", with what is spread nowadays about "so-called cults". It wasn't difficult to see what his opinions were!

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