Addicted to judgmentalism

by M.J. 2 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • M.J.

    Here's something I got emailed to me from PTM ministries at:

    Nice writeup by people who have nothing to do with the JWs.

    Addicted to judgmentalism

    Q. My 24-year-old son who used to abuse drugs and alcohol is now a practicing Christian. But he seems to be having trouble living and working in the secular world and accepting others and their faults. He says he is a persecuted Christian. He's also an avid watcher of TBN. He attends the Seventh Day Adventist Church (will not work on the their Saturday sabbath) and says that he has been saved and born again. Recently I rejoined the Lutheran church, but my son says I've divided our house and it will fall.

    He believes the more people he witnesses to and the more money he gives, the better place he'll have in heaven. He talks a lot about end times prophecy and the book of Revelation. He tells me he does not sin or hasn't sinned in many weeks. He also seems to keep track of how much I and others sin. He is preachy and quotes Bible verses (which he knows very well, unlike myself). Whenever I see things differently than he does, he tells me that hopefully one day I'll fear God and do what's right.

    At this time I'm still learning and growing in my faith and a very private person who's feeling very guilty lately. I'm not quite sure how to go about witnessing or if I'm sinning by not witnessing (as my son says I am). I feel we should become closer as we are both Christians, however it seems as if we are becoming more distant. I'm very confused and don't know what to do.

    A. Your letter and real-life examples speak for themselves. We cannot hide our eyes from the fruit of harsh, judgmental, fear religion. When combined with an addiction to end-times prophecy, this one-two punch can be devastating. It is devastating because it often turns its followers into zombies, who cannot tear themselves away from religious tirades where the latest crusade against sin is being announced, where the latest political machination is being either devised or reviled as ministries turn themselves into veritable political-action groups, where the latest prophetic "fulfillment" is being explained, where the latest salvo against sinners is being fired. It seems, sadly, that your son may be in the grips of such oppressive religious legalism.

    The second negative fruit of legalistic, authoritarian and judgmental religion (the first being that it can turn many of its followers into spiritual zombies) is that it often turns the body of Christ against itself. Such teachings, ministries, pastors, churches, congregations turn so inward, becoming so exclusive, religious clubs that are better than everyone else, that it is not enough for them to rail against pagans -- but they turn their attack on "other" Christians, who are found to be slackers, lazy, Laodicean, lukewarm, back-slidden, etc. (in comparison with the specific ministry or church that is doing the finger pointing).

    This kind of mean-spirited religious invective turns Christians against each other, and the ugliness of denominationalism invades our lives ("my church, my pastor, my beliefs, my obedience to God, my programs, my way of evangelizing, my way of being baptized, my way of understanding Bible prophecy, is better than yours"). This mindset sounds a lot like the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican who went up to the temple to pray (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee prayed ("about himself" -- see vs. 11) that he was thankful he was not like other men who were sinners, and even like this man who was also praying at the same time in the same place.

    As you describe it, your son, perhaps already weakened by former addictions, is addicted to the high of being better, of having a better place in heaven, or having more knowledge and insight, of doing more that he is convinced will in turn translate into God loving him more. It seems to me you see this issue as it really is. As you note, it seems as if you and your son are becoming even more distant. What a tragedy, but what a judgment against the fruit of bad news religion. It drives wedges between people, and even when family and friends are also Christian, if they don't march to the exact religious drumbeat, then they are regarded as less than Christian.

    You don't seem to need help, but your son and the kind of religion that manipulates him are definitely in need of God's grace. What can you do? First of all, be assured that you are not sinning by not "witnessing" -- for when one really examines the kind of "witnessing" such groups get into to, it is not often about Jesus, but it is about how much better their group is than others, and how one really needs to join their group. The witnessing is not as much about Jesus as it is about the esoteric truth claims and distinctives of their group. Second, you can be assured that you may well know your Bible as well as your son -- for while he knows a well worn path of proof texts that he has been taught, he will be lost if he gets off that path. You can use this tragic situation to spur you to study the Bible, all of it, in spirit and in truth. You can allow this situation to motivate you to come to know God's grace in ways you never have before. Come near to God. Center your life in Christ. Join the Publican in prayer, "God be merciful to me, a sinner" (Luke 18:13). Accept and believe that God's grace is enough to save you. Do not let anyone attempt to rob you of the freedom you have in Christ, because of Christ (Galatians 5:1).

    Do not allow anyone to make you feel spiritually inferior, guilty because you don't jump through all the religious hoops they do. There is no need for an authentic Christian to feel inferior to the person who is chained to legalism, as they toil away in religious salt mines, chained to their physical masters. We have one Lord, one Savior -- we serve him alone. He alone is able. He alone saves. When he is in us and we are in him we are secure, no one or no religious authority has any power over us to diminish or devalue us (see Romans 8:28-39).

    What can you do? Be who Jesus have saved you to be. Allow him to produce the fruit of the Spirit within you (Galatians 5:22-23). Yield to Jesus so that your life may be a reflection of him, and that others may see the light of Jesus in your life. Perhaps in so doing your son will, over time, begin to see Jesus -- perhaps your son will see that the phony addictions of the religious swamplands are cheap and garish, not to be compared to the glory and riches of God's amazing grace. May God so use you to be a light and example to your son -- and it will probably be far more by who you are than what you say, for religious legalists always have an answer for any argument we may offer. Over time they have no answer for the gracious life that Christ leads in us. May God comfort you, giving you patience and strength, and may he use you in his own way and time to help open the eyes of your son to authentic Christianity.

    In Christ

    Greg Albrecht

  • Check_Your_Premises

    PTM ping. I love reformed cults.

  • bavman

    Looks like the boy traded one addiction for another.

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