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Bible Study
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Title: Another COVID Small Business Casualty: The American Christian Church
Source: Health Impact News
URL Source: https://healthimpactnews.com/2020/a ... the-american-christian-church/
Published: May 18, 2020
Author: Brian Shilhavy
Post Date: 2020-05-18 10:10:49 by Hondo68
Keywords: None
Views: 34

A church building looks out on an empty parking lot as in-person assemblies are canceled due to the Coronavirus epidemic.

All across the U.S. small businesses are failing because they closed down during the COVID-19 situation. In some sectors, such as the restaurant industry, it is estimated that more than 50% of these small businesses will never re-open.

Today I am going to write about one of the largest groups of small businesses that have also been hit hard by closing down during this “crisis” – the American Christian Church.

Warning About Reading this Article

This will not be one of the more popular articles I have written on the COVID-19 situation.

If you call yourself a “Christian,” you may find some things in this article offensive.

If you are not concerned about religion or spiritual issues at all, then this article is probably not for you either.

So you are forewarned. Proceed to read on if you like, but please understand that all of the articles posted here at Health Impact News are free of charge, and no one is requiring you to read them, or agree with them.

Therefore, if you feel the need to contact me and criticize or attack me, I will not respond, and those of you who have done so in the past already know that this is true.

My Previous Warnings over the Years

One of the subject areas of Health Impact News is the Created4Health section, and they feature the articles I have published over the years at Created4Health.org.

The most-read article on the Created4Health website is an article I wrote more than 20 years ago about my own personal testimony of God’s grace at work in my life, Peace with God. It documents how God miraculously saved me from an attempted suicide event at the age of 17, and then how my life was transformed about 2 years later during my spiritual “rebirth.”

On October 28, 2017, the 40th anniversary of the day I tried to commit suicide and was handed my life back to me by God, I wrote a follow-up to my testimony story titled:

Brian Shilhavy: 40 Years Later – I’m Still Here

Let me repeat some of the quotes from that article a few years ago:

When Jesus walked the earth over 2,000 years ago, he and his disciples were persecuted for preaching the truth, and exposing corruption and evil. Jesus gave up his life, willingly, as the perfect offering for ALL the sins of mankind, offering us a way to escape judgment and become part of God’s family.

But he made it clear just what kind of life a disciple of Jesus would entail:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26)

The life of a disciple of Jesus Christ is a life of suffering, persecution, and shame. It is going against the crowd of popular culture, yes, even “religious” culture. It is a way that may ultimately lead to your death, because you expose the corruption and evil.

This way of following Christ is not currently the way of American Christianity. I would guess that most American Christians believe that persecution for one’s faith exists mostly in other countries, like what we saw (and still see) in China during the rise of the communist state.

To everyone in America reading this let me give you my advice after serving God as a disciple of Jesus for almost 40 years now. Change is coming. It is inevitable. If you are not suffering now, if your life is not falling apart now, just wait.

Look at everything you currently depend upon, everything you cherish, and be prepared to lose it. (Source.)

The Business of Church

American churches today are businesses, mostly non-profit small businesses. Hence, they are corporations setup just like other American businesses, requiring licenses and subject to the laws of the U.S. and their respective states.

It might surprise some people to learn that there really are no examples of churches in the Bible, even though pretty much all Christian churches claim to base their teachings on the Bible.

The Bible, of course, was not written in English. It is a collection of ancient writings thousands of years old. The Old Testament portion of the Bible was originally written mostly in Hebrew, and the New Testament version was written in Koine Greek, the common language of the people as opposed to Classical Greek which was used by the educated.

The English word “church” which in most English translations of the Bible is very common, actually is not a very good choice of words to translate the underlying Greek word, ekklesia.

A better translation would actually be “assembly,” or even “congregation.” If you read Acts chapter 19, for example, you will NOT see the word ekklesia translated “church” in verses 32, 39, and 41, where most English Bibles translate it “assembly.”

So how did the English word “church” become so popular in our English Bibles today?

We can thank King James I, who was both King of England in the 1600s, and also head of the “Church” of England. He was one of the first to translate the Bible into the English language, but he could not allow anything to distort the public’s view of the authoritative “Church of England” and his power over the masses.

William Tyndale is mostly known as the author of the first English translation of the Bible for the common people, and he incurred the king’s wrath by refusing to use the word “church” to translate ekklesia.

He hid from the king for years, but was eventually betrayed and burned at the stake for his “heresy.”

Such are the politics of the English translations of the Bible.

And while nobody is being executed today regarding their views of English translations of the Bible, to my knowledge, politics still remain. Most translations are copyrighted and the main market for these copyrighted editions are, you guessed it, church businesses and their leaders, “the clergy.”

This leads into the next problem with today’s American church businesses: The Church’s equivalent of a corporate CEO – The Pastor.

No Pastors in Scripture but One

Does the Bible support professional clergy members and authorities like “pastors”? More.

The main way churches are being forced to close down during this crisis, for those that have not done so voluntarily, is usually by arresting the leader of the church, the pastor.

Again, it might surprise most people to learn that the title “pastor” is never used in the Bible to describe a leader among believers in Christ.

The Koine Greek word that is translated “pastor” in the Bible is poimen. The word occurs many places in the Bible, but the vast majority of the times it is NOT translated “pastor,” but “shepherd.”

So technically, every time you see the word “shepherd” in the Bible, you could also use the English word “pastor,” because they mean the same thing as they are translations of the same word.

Therefore, in places like the well-known Psalm 23, when you look at the Greek translation of that passage, you could say: “The Lord is my Pastor, I shall not want…..

One of the key passages in the New Testament where this word is used several times, is in John chapter 10:

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep.

So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep.

I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:11-16 – emphasis added)

Again, you can replace the English word “shepherd” here with the English word “pastor” and it means the same thing:

“They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one pastor.”

Who is the “One Pastor”? Jesus Christ.

So why is “pastor” used sometimes instead of always using shepherd?

“Pastor” is mainly only used in one place, Ephesians 4:11:

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,
(Ephesians 4:11)

“Pastors” here could again be translated “shepherd,” and it is linked together with “teachers.”

There is nothing to suggest that the term “Pastor” was to be used as a title of an officer within the Body. That term was already being used for Jesus.

To hire a pastor to run a church business and lead the “church” like a corporation seems to contradict the teachings of Jesus himself, who condemned authority titles among his disciples.

The term “pastor” was not being used during his day, but a similar title of authority was, usually translated as “Rabbi,” so the principle is the same:

But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.

Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ.

The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:8-12 – emphasis added)

If the members of these church businesses were to turn out in mass and defy State orders not to assemble, I seriously doubt that they could have gotten away with only arresting the pastor and keeping the church shut.

I cover the issue of “pastor” in much more depth here:

Is “Pastor” A Biblical Title for Church Leaders?

The Biblical Basis for Resistance

Almost the entire premise of the New Testament writings in the Bible are based on the premise of “resistance.”

Not armed physical resistance, as Jesus said when the soldiers came to arrest them and one of his disciples drew out his sword and lopped off someone’s ear:

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52)

But he did use the analogy of the “sword” figuratively in other places:

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
(Matthew 10:34-39)

The way of Christ is a lonely, difficult path, and it requires going against the crowd, even when the crowd is part of your religion, or even part of your family.

Following Christ has to be so important to you, that you are willing to lose your life by resisting those who try to stop you.

Even in Jesus’ day, his own disciples sometimes got in the way and tried to prevent others from following Jesus.

Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

“Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes.

Immediately they received their sight and followed him.
(Matthew 20:30-34)

These two blind men had to resist those who were telling them to be quiet, and the result of their resistance and faith was that they were rewarded by Jesus and gained their sight.

The current Christian church business model is no more sustainable than other small businesses at this time, and its structure is not based on the Bible.

Throughout history the true believers in Christ were always a persecuted minority, and Christ himself said that “few” walk on the right path.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
(Matthew 7:13-14)

So the next time you walk into a “Mega Church” or see one on TV with thousands of people in a very expensive complex, just remember that this is a business, and the number of actual disciples of Jesus in that place is probably very, very small.

And as we have seen recently, the government authorities can shut them down very easily.

The true body of Christ, however, is not a 501c3 non-profit church business. It is a living organism of believers not dependent on any business, and the CEO is Jesus who rules from Heaven and empowers his “employees” with supernatural power.

THIS organism is not so easily defeated, if they function together as a body.

Idolatry of 21st Century Medicine

molech-child-sacrifice

Child Sacrifice in temple worship with the god Molech. William Blake (1809), The Flight of Moloch. One of Blake’s illustrations of On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity, the poem by John Milton. Source.

Besides the inherent weaknesses of the American Church business model, they have other problems as well.

The Bible has much to teach about healing, and I have published dozens of articles on this topic over past 13 years or so. During this time I have exposed the short-comings of the modern medical system, a system that is either the third leading cause of death in the U.S., or the first cause of death, based on an analysis of their own data.

In short, to trust in the 21st Century medical system to take care of our health, is idolatrous for the believer in Christ.

The heart of idolatry is looking to sources outside of God for our basic needs and desires in life. The idol is an attempt to explain life apart from God, our Creator.

The typical things people have historically looked to idols to provide for them are: guidance, wealth, fertility, and health. God, the Creator of heaven and earth, presents himself to his people as the sole source of these things we need and desire.

Modern-day culture has changed dramatically since the theory of Darwinian evolution came on the scene and dominated academics in western culture, so that today the physical world is exalted above all other realities.

The spiritual world is either denied or ignored. Hence, creation of physical idols out of basic elements such as wood or metals is very uncommon, because current culture ignores the unseen world that could be represented by such physical manifestations.

What has replaced those idols, however, are beliefs in new ones.

The most common idol in western culture today, by far, is medicine – the new “magic.”

Modern day medicine has existed for a relatively short period of human history, and the creation of a body of licensed “physicians” can be traced back to the start of the vaccine movement in Europe in the 1800s, when health officials wanted more control over the population and what they perceived as threatening diseases like smallpox.

Today, medicine is seen as the solution to almost all of life’s problems. A pill or vaccine exists now for just about every ailment or problem in life, and for those problems that don’t have a medical solution yet, billions of dollars are spent on research to find one. The belief system currently in place is that physical science and medicine can solve all problems in life.

The people who control the medical system are trained and licensed and given great authority to control our lives. Currently they have the authority to take children away from their parents, to declare someone “insane” or mentally disturbed and have them committed to an institution, force people (especially children) to use their products via vaccinations, and make sweeping laws and regulations that affect the lives of everyone.

It is believed that life itself is dependent on medicine, and this belief system is used to justify the authority and power the medical system has in our culture.

To trust in this system as the source of our health is idolatrous. I am not saying to use it is idolatrous. There are probably some services or products that can be helpful in managing our health, if our trust is in God to heal us, and we have direct guidance from him to seek out a specific product or remedy.

But that should be far less than what it is today, where most people who call themselves believers put as much trust in doctors as they do in God, if not more.

It may surprise you to learn that there were words in Koine Greek that would be best translated “medicine” today, but are never translated as “medicine” in the New Testament portion of any English Bibles (that I am aware of).

The Greek word pharmakeia, from which we get such English words as “pharmacy” or “pharmaceutical,” is one such word. It should be translated “medicine” or “pharmaceutical.”

But instead, it is translated as something like “witchcraft,” or “sorcery” when used in the Bible. Some examples:

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 – pharmakeia is translated “witchcraft” here.)

The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts. (Revelation 9:20-21 – pharmakeia is translated “magic arts” here.)

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (Revelation 21:8 – “those who practice magic arts” here is from one Greek word “pharmakos” – similar to pharmakeia which means “magician, sorcerer, or one who poisons with drugs”)

Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Revelation 22:15 – “those who practice magic arts” is one Greek word, “pharmakos,” as in the verse above.)

It is easy to see why the translators of the modern English Bible were hesitant to use the word “medicine” in these verses, as the word was obviously something very negative, and associated with idolatry, whereas our modern day culture considers the term positive.

I have written more extensively on the issue of medicine as idolatry here: Read MORE (3 images)

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