There is a false sense of safety in never questioning or looking into what a church is teaching. The boat isn’t rocked, everything feels familiar and you know what to expect, even if you are unhappy. Yet if error being taught, then that nice sense of security is false. It means there really is no security.
That’s really something to think about. You might liken it to some investment schemes. People have lost their life savings, or a good portion of it, by having a false sense of security in the investment plan offered by the scam artist. They truly believe their money is being wisely invested, with a guarantee of a profitable return. In the end, their security is shattered because what they placed their faith in ended up being false.
Some time ago, I read a book by the late Don C. Marler, former United Pentecostal Church member, entitled Imprisoned in the Brotherhood. While I disagree with aspects of the book, he brought up some points worthy of consideration. In the introduction he shares about the pursuit of truth and how it can feel like the person is on shaky ground when they start this journey. Many people who are involved in unhealthy churches get caught up in religion rather than a relationship with God. When one starts to question if what their church teaches is true or not, it shakes this religious foundation and it can be quite scary. Let me quote from Don’s introduction.
When one moves full tilt into pursuit of truth, he may find that the ground becomes shaky and his resolve to pursue truth wherever she might lead becomes tenuous. One learns that security based upon ignorance, prejudice, illusions, misinformation and blind tradition is a false security indeed. Old guideposts can no longer be relied upon. The prospect of seeking truth and following it fully then is often frightening. Not everyone can face it; some decide to keep their heads in the sand. The illusion of security is more tempting than the fearful journey into the unknown.
Some individuals believe that pursuing truth wherever she leads is dangerous because it destroys or weakens belief and faith. Beliefs should be open to change and one would hope that truth should prevail over mere beliefs. Faith, of course, is different from beliefs and should be strengthened by truth. Does it not require faith to seek truth?
A prerequisite for pursuing truth is the ability to be open and honest with self and the ability to recognize and accept that one doesn’t possess all truth. Another is the ability and courage to assume individual responsibility for one’s search and for the conclusion one reaches. The alternative to individual interpretation and definition of truth is an institutional definition and interpretation.
Why does the ground feel shaky when we start to question some teachings in unhealthy churches, whatever they may be? Have you seen ones who have started to question pull back because it is too upsetting to them? Is there a false security? What about individual responsibility? Or is it easier to “go with the flow” and remain entrenched in religion?
It’s easy to have it all laid out for you. You do this, this and this and then avoid that and the other and you’ll be pleasing to God. There’s a sense of security that can come by following such a list in an unhealthy church, but it is a false sense of security.
Think of the Pharisees. They had their list to follow and some of it was fully scriptural. But then somewhere down the road, the list became the focus, and the list grew and became more complex and detailed, so you could better keep what was in the list. They felt very secure in this. And yet it wasn’t a real security.
Jesus showed their hearts were far from God. Yet they felt they were quite saved and even above others. Children of Abraham. Keepers of the law. There was a false sense of security in their beliefs. Think about it….