Tuesday, August 08, 2006

From a book I am reading...

Extract from...

The Kingdom of God Is Within You by Leo Nikoleyevich Tolstoy


If one set oneself the task of trying to confuse a man so that he could not think clearly nor free himself from the perplexity of two opposing theories of life which had been instilled into him from childhood, one could not invent any means more effectual than the treatment of every young man educated in our so-called Christian society.

It is terrible to think what the churches do to men. But if one imagines oneself in the position of the men who constitute the Church, we see they could not act differently. The churches are placed in a dilemma: the Sermon on the Mount or the Nicene Creed--the one excludes the other. If a man sincerely believes in the Sermon on the Mount, the Nicene Creed must inevitably lose all meaning and significance for him, and the Church and its representatives together with it. If a man believes in the Nicene Creed, that is, in the Church, that is, in those who call themselves its representatives, the Sermon on the Mount becomes superfluous for him. And therefore the churches cannot but make every possible effort to obscure the meaning of the Sermon on the Mount, and to attract men to themselves. It is only due to the intense zeal of the churches in this direction that the influence of the churches has lasted hitherto.

Let the Church stop its work of hypnotizing the masses, and deceiving children even for the briefest interval of time, and men would begin to understand Christ's teaching. But this understanding will be the end of the churches and all their influence. And therefore the churches will not for an instant relax their zeal in the business of hypnotizing grown-up people and deceiving children. This, then, is the work of the churches: to instill a false interpretation of Christ's teaching into men, and to prevent a true interpretation of it for the majority of so- called believers.

15 comments:

Meg said...

Hey, Dave, I wonder if, when you post really good stuff like this, you could please put it in just a little bit larger font? (I'd like to reread it several times, but it kind of hurts...) I wonder if anyone else has a little trouble reading this font size. If not, then -- never mind!

Thanks a lot!

Shieldsy said...

I think I pretty much disagree with that in it's entirety!

Annette said...

Sounds to me like bitter words from someone who's had a bad expereince with "church" and decided to go on the attack

Dave said...

Made it bigger Meg, hope that helps a bit, Shieldsy, surprised you disagree, this is from Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Philosophy - only kidding there folks - funny though I agree with it all.
Don't think it is bitter words, and I know many who have had a bad experience with a church (me included), just because someone responds by voicing there observations of spiritual abuses does not make it bitter words, if that were the case then the Reformation could be accused of being started by a biiter monk.

Anonymous said...

Hi folks,

I am just a little confused ny this one I have to say!! How exactly do you arrive at the position where the Sermon on the mount and the Nicene creed are a set as antithesis, the one excluding the other.

In actual fact it's absolute nonsense.

quote...
If a man sincerely believes in the Sermon on the Mount, the Nicene Creed must inevitably lose all meaning and significance for him, and the Church and its representatives together with it. If a man believes in the Nicene Creed, that is, in the Church, that is, in those who call themselves its representatives, the Sermon on the Mount becomes superfluous for him.

Surely if a man believes in the Sermon on the mount(to borrow the above phrase) the Nicene creed strengthens his/her faith. If you read the Sermon on the mount with the view that Jesus is 'Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not created, of the same essence with the Father, through whom all things came into being both in heaven and on earth' (Nicene Creed)that allows you to realise who exactly is speaking the Sermon on the mount. How exactly does that stand in opposition to it?

I would have to agree with Annette on this one it sounds exactly like someone who's had a bitter experience with church or perhaps in Tolstoy's case with institutions. Martin Luther who started the reformation inspite of all the corruption that he saw in the church did not throw the baby out with the bath water but held onto those things that were right and true. Perhaps the biggest challeneg for those who today see the 'church'full of idols is top ensure that they don't remove the good with the bad. Kind of like refomrs happening in ancient Isreal when the Baal and Ashtoreth were removed ina sweeping reformation only at the end of it for some wee Israelite to say could somebody please tell me what happened to the tabernacle... then the crowd say in unison 'woops.'

Anonymous said...

p.s. apology for bad grammar and spelling

Kenny.

Dave said...

Maybe I should have posted the whole article, I will add a link. From my reading it appears that Tolstoy is saying that it is nigh on impossible for people to follow the various dictates of the church without ignoring the sermon on the mount at some level. Its hard for me to explain, but Tolstoys writing highlighted that within experience people appear to be more concerned with holding correct doctrine and beliefs than following for instance the teaching that we 'ought not to do unto others as we would not they should do unto us'

The problem for Tolstoy is that the teaching of Jesus has been lost in the fabric of religion, and as someone who believes that modern church is modelled more closely on the Temple form of Worship of Judaism than the familial relationship of the Kingdom of God I am quite at ease with throwing the baby out along with the bathwater, the bath and in fact, quite happy to demolish the whole house of religion.

Maybe it is time to clean out the inside of the cup. We are so very very blessed that God has removed people like Elijah and John the Baptist in our day, his grace to us is immense!

Not sure I follow the argument about the reformers in Israel and the reference to the Tabernacle. The clearest reforms were under Josiah and Hezekiah, these being reforms during the temple period, do we believe that these kings went too far? Especially as Hezekiah actually restored Temple worship. Tolstoy in his book seeks to restore true temple worship.

This is what Hezekiah did throughout Judah, doing what was good and right and faithful before the LORD his God. In everything that he undertook in the service of God's temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered. 2 Chron 31:20-21

Dave said...

Are you on Broadband yet in Rougham?

Annette said...

"Maybe it is time to clean out the inside of the cup. We are so very very blessed that God has removed people like Elijah and John the Baptist in our day, his grace to us is immense!"

Could you expand on what you mean here Dave, do you mean we're blessed not to have prophets such as these in these modern times? (and if so why?)

Dave said...

"Maybe it is time to clean out the inside of the cup. We are so very very blessed that God has removed people like Elijah and John the Baptist in our day, his grace to us is immense!"

Could you expand on what you mean here Dave, do you mean we're blessed not to have prophets such as these in these modern times? (and if so why?)


No probs, yep that was a bit of sarcasm/irony for I believe it is good for us not to have prophets like this in our day as they would reveal things we would not like to have revealed (for me as well), and yet this is really the blessing we do need. To have people who will call the church to repentance and right living.
No matter how well we think we are doing as churches we will always convince ourselves that our eyes are seeing reality, when in fact our eyes tend to see things the way we want to see them.

I believe we do have a prophetic voice within our churches that reveals the problems, that voice is through the living word of the gospel, but we also have people with prophetic gifts, though these rarely call the church back to God.

As a matter of fact I received some Christian mail (junk?) this morning advertsing a Rose McDoanld who after pastoring two churches is now under a prophetic anointing to the nation. The aspects covered in her tour do not appear to address the church, but cover things like Personal Prophecy, its relevance for today, how it affects you and how it relates to the church. It is this obsession with 'self' that is most prevalent in the church and the thing that people like Elijah and John spoke against.

That is not a critique on Rose McDonald by the way, I do not know her at all other than her fliers

So we are blessed and we are not blessed in not having Elijah's in our day, it all depends how each one of us looks at it, I wonder just how many of us would really want God to show up in our services?

Hope this answers

Anonymous said...

Quote 'it is nigh on impossible for people to follow the various dictates of the church without ignoring the sermon on the mount at some level..'

For a statement like this to be as true as you suggest that means that the church has got to be continually out of line with the will of God!! Continually out of line with Scripture as his revealed will. And based on the original comment (as you pointed out though, read without context) that means that the Nicene creed is not in line with Scripture as Gods reveled will. But if the Nicene creed is inline with Scripture in affirming the divinity of Christ among other things then the fundamental presupposition is wrong meaning that sometimes the church may actually walk in the will of God. If so then sometimes its teaching will be perfectly in line with say the Sermon on the mount!! That being so, are you still very keen to throw the baby out with the bathwater, bath, bathroom, towels, plug and nappies etc... Mind you a house without nappies would release funds for broadband!!

My point about the reforms in Israel was yet more sarcasm to my shame, but you picked it up right, the thing about the reforms that brought people back to God was that they kept the good whilst removing the idolatrous. But to eject the baby with the bathwater is not to do that, its not even cleaning the inside of the cup its smashing the cup!!

It seems that the only times when this happened is when God removed the temple or rather allowed it to be smashed to the ground, or the ark removed...

I do agree that often people are concerned to keep good doctrine etc and perhaps be less inclined to hold to the plain teaching of the Sermon, but that doesn't mean the problem lies with the doctrine but rather with the people. What do you think?
Kenny.

Dave said...

I agree, Tolstoy is arguing from a relationship within the Orthodox church, his problem is then with the people who apply the teachings rather than the teachings themselves.

Jesus upheld the Torah, yet lambasted the teachers of that law, the sermonon the mount was in essence (for me) simply what Torah had taught all along, Jesus revelaed the fullness of that law, and yet that law also revealed and pointed to the fullness of Jesus himself.

The Nicene Creed was and is not the problem at all, but how people use confessions and creeds is a problem, the beauty of things like the sermon on the mount and Pauls reciprocal teaching in Romans 12:9-21 and the book of James is that it is hard (impossible) for anyone to teach differently what those passages say. Many do try, and yet to the simple man or woman, these passages are easily understood.

Things like do not speak evil of one another or do not avenge yourselves and love your enemies

I am veering away from what Tolstoy spoke about, but hope you get the idea, I will try and put a more complete link to the article, though being on wind up it may take a while to download.

By the way, when you throw the baby out with the bath water, is that prior or after you have baptised it?

Anonymous said...

With my children or rather babies i think that it will purely be a baptism with/by/or in fire, immersion or sprinkling either would suffice.
Kenny.

dinsy said...

Anonymous (who was very probably kenny from the subsequent post) says:

Quote 'it is nigh on impossible for people to follow the various dictates of the church without ignoring the sermon on the mount at some level..'

and follows this with:

For a statement like this to be as true as you suggest that means that the church has got to be continually out of line with the will of God!! Continually out of line with Scripture as his revealed will.

Sorry but the second does not follow from the first. Ignoring the Sermon on the Mount at some level could simply be an unwillingnwess to look at the plank in their own denominational eye when talking about the speck in the eye of their (different) denominational neighbour. I hope you are not going to say that this does not happen in churches today.

Of course the Nicene Creed is not necessarily wrong, but the attitude "my church, right or wrong" which does prevail in some churches (and is contrary to the teaching in the Sermon on the Mount), is as reprehensible as the similar patriotic attitude "my country, right or wrong".

dinsy said...

ps. Sorry kenny, you did sign the one I was referring to.

 

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