Monday, 9 November 2015

The Dangers Of Religious Leaders

I came across this article over the weekend which references a recent study whose findings will no doubt ruffle a few religious feathers. The title of the article declares, "Religious children meaner than agnostic and atheist kids, study finds".

The article shares this quote:
“Religion and morality are two different things,” said lead author Jean Decety, a Chicago University neuroscientist.
“Past research has demonstrated that religious people are no more likely to do good than their non-religious counterparts. Our study goes beyond that, showing that religious people are less generous — not only adults, but children, too.”
 Which brought to my mind this quote:


However, the thing that really caught my attention was the concept Mr Decety referred to as "moral licensing":
He attributed the findings to a phenomenon dubbed “moral licensing”, where people’s perceptions that they were doing good — in this case, practising religion — exempted them from the obligation to perform other worthy deeds. “Apparently, doing something that helps strengthen our positive self-image also makes us less worried about the consequences of immoral behaviour,” he said. [Emphasis added]
Now, he was talking about religious people generally, but I immediately thought about the unbelievably abusive and 'immoral' behaviour of some 'church leaders' and wondered if this author could be onto something. Because I have never been able to comprehend how someone who claims to be one of God's children, could act with such callous disregard for the feelings of others. How some 'church leaders' can see the pain and distress they cause to another human being and simply shrug it off, disclaiming any responsibility for that trauma? What is it that gives them such a capacity to look upon the suffering they've caused and feel not one jot of compassion? Why do they seem so incapable of feeling the smallest twinge of empathy?

But if what he is saying holds true, then the one who is super-strengthened in their self-image by being 'The Man of God', might readily feel far less worried about behaving immorally - or even in complete contradiction to the teachings of Jesus himself! It would certainly go a long way to explaining why so many religious leaders act as if they believe they are a law unto themselves.

Is it possible that being a religious leader (especially if you have had to climb over others to get that status) brings with it the danger of falling into such a delusional state that any behaviour can be justified in your own mind simply because you see yourself as morally superior to anyone else, convinced that your cause is God's own!? 

That's an incredibly scary thought, and yet there is ample evidence of religious leaders seeming to do exactly that: throwing people under the bus, punishing people by dragging them through the courts, creating such division in families that relationships are permanently destroyed! The list is not only endless, but it's absolutely gut-wrenching! And yet so many who have behaved in such ways not only show no remorse or regret, but angrily defend their behaviour to anyone brave enough to question them.

Maybe that's why Jesus warned that none of us should be called 'leader'. He knew all too well the propensity of some to 'lord it over' their brothers and sisters. I think he knew the very real dangers we face the moment we start to believe our own advertising and step into that place where we see ourselves as being in some way superior to other human beings.

10 comments:

  1. Living Liminal

    So true...
    "Maybe that's why Jesus warned that none of us should be called 'leader'. He knew all too well the propensity of some to 'lord it over' their brothers and sisters."

    In my experience with the “Title/Position” of *Today’s* pastor/leader...

    “Titles” become “Idols”
    “Pastors” become “Masters”
    “Leaders” become “Deceivers”

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    1 - “Titles” become “Idols” .............. “Idols” of the heart - Ezek14:1-7 KJV
    And God now talks to these “Titled” pastor/leaders according to their idols.

    Jesus called Himself, The Good Shepherd, The “ONE” Shepherd. John 10:11-16
    And NOT one of His Disciples took the “Title” pastor. Or shepherd.

    Who will WE, His Ekklesia, His Sheep, want to be our shepherd? Jesus? Or man?

    2 - “Pastors” become “Masters”........ A big No, No. Mat 23:10 KJV, Mat 6:24 KJV
    And ya can’t serve two masters.

    Who will WE, His Sheep, His Disciples, His Ekklesia, serve? Jesus? Or man?

    3 - “Leaders” become “Deceivers”.... Isa 3:12 KJV, Isa 9:16 KJV, Mat 15:14 KJV
    And want to be, and become, ”lords over God’s heritage.” A No, No. 1 Peter 5:3.

    Jesus called Himself “The “ONE” Leader. Mat 23:10 NASB
    And taught His Disciples, My Sheep, Hear MY Voice, and Follow ME. John 10:27.

    Who will WE, His sons, His Disciples, His Ekklesia, follow? Jesus? Or man?

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    When you believe the lie you start to die...

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    1. Thanks A. Amos. Isn't it interesting how many christians follow the traditions of men with regard to 'church leadership' instead of listening to what Jesus clearly said we were to do (and not do!)?

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    2. It's not surprising when those who have taken it upon themselves to distribute the words of Jesus are dependant on maintaining that misunderstanding for their livelihood. Not saying that it is necessarily malicious in all cases, but it's amazing what you can miss when your vocation is built on your missing it.

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    3. Here's one for you, Dallas!

      http://pimppreacher.com/image/133148185900

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  2. Truth: church folk are some of the meanest people on the planet!

    Thankfully, Christ has set us free from "religious people" and most especially from having to be "religious"!

    If we take the word "religious" to mean anything beyond being bound to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and our neighbor as ourselves then we followers of Christ should not be considered a "religious people."

    When asked, I characterize my relationship with God as one of a spiritual nature, not a religious one. My life as a Spirit-led Christian is one of a freedom to live simply as I've been created to love.

    From childhood on and by His Spirit I've loved the Lord, His people and His Word. And from childhood His Spirit has gifted me a shepherd and teacher, so naturally I've lead at times in the ekklesia according to these and other giftings. Even becoming the lead potato peeler for our making of mashed potatoes for dinner for the homeless. As we have it I've been gifted a natural leader, it's integral to my personality.

    Yet my point is this: Scripture tells us that as everyone in Christ Jesus has been given a gift, we are to minister these gifts one to another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God (1 Peter 4:10).

    So then it is in this respect that we are all considered ministers---every single member of the Body of Christ has been called to be leaders in his and her areas of gifting, I believe this is what Scripture teaches.

    So although we may lead a song, or facilitate a Bible discussion, or be entrusted as the cook in charge of mash potatoes, we are directed by our Master to repudiate any sort of titles that set us apart from others within the Ekklesia.

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    1. Not only all differentiating titles, but the false authority that is assumed by the occupiers of such ecclesiastical titles as "Pastor" and "Ruling Elder" and "Holy Father" and the like.

      As I see it, the moment anyone other than Christ assumes any sort of headship over anyone else in the Body, this marks the moment of an adversarial transformation. The person spiritually shapeshifts into a wolf set against the flock of God.

      Headships other than Christ's are false heads and so called "ministers of righteousness" who have succumbed to the spirit of antichrist. Thus their delusional state---they're drunk off the maddening wine of the woman spiritually known as Mystery Babylon, who in the flesh calls herself "Church," (a nod to the goddess Circe who by her enchantments turned men into wolves).

      So Yes, it's the church systems employing control and hierarchy that are adversarial, that are antichristian. Go into any Calvary Chapel or Presbyterian Church, for instance, and you've entered into a Babylonian Whale. Yes, you've been swallowed by dangerous ground that bends everyone within her into perverse service to the Whore. Where in the name of the Triune Godhead they worship many mean idols, the "Pastors" being often the meanest.

      In a recent book Wayne Jacobsen writes, 'I've talked to many a young “church planter”. . . . Instead of rethinking the validity of the system [being planting], they assume it is flawed because the wrong people are in charge. Once the white hats take over, all will be well. They don't realize it is the system of management itself that passes out the black hats.'

      This passing out the black hats language illustrates perfectly the principle of the Lupine Effect. One essentially becomes a wolf, a bad guy, when he or she manages to get plugged into a controlling position of “authority” within the church. It is this system of false authority over others that actually shapeshifts its wearers into wolves---for a wearer can only hold and defend their magic hatship but by fleshly and worldly means.

      Bottom line: this system of church management distorts our relationships with each other to the extent that just by wearing a hat of ruling authority the wearer inevitably transforms into an adversarial character the Word of God reckons an antichrist and wolf.

      . .

      cool to see my man Amos leaving tracks here!

      and Dallas too, but I see him face to face on a weekly basis.

      I appreciate your writings, Living Liminal, thank you much.

      David from Pittsburgh

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    2. Appreciate your input here David! Thanks :)

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  3. Hey David

    Good to hear from you. It's been awhile.

    Well said - Me Too…
    "I characterize my relationship with God as one of a spiritual nature, not a religious one. My life as a Spirit-led Christian is one of a FREEDOM to live simply as I've been created to love."

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    "this system of church management distorts our relationships with each other to the extent that just by wearing a hat of ruling authority the wearer inevitably transforms into an adversarial character the Word of God reckons an antichrist and wolf."

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    1. yeah, Amos, it's been awhile.

      good to "see" ya, my friend and brother!

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