Eyes opened to a tyrant god

By Jon Morgan

One of the dubious benefits of having been a lay preacher for over ten years is that Bible passages often remind me of talks I built on those passages. Recently, this happened with Ezekiel’s vision of God leaving his temple in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 8 - 11).

Five years ago, I used that as the starting point for my “Dies Irae” exhortation. Ironically, I sub-titled it “Finding our Blind Spots”, but I now see that it was I who had the blind spot: The passage clearly showed the unpleasant behaviour of the God of the Bible, and I was so busy trying to find what we might have done wrong that I just couldn’t see it.

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13 comments:

  1. Jon, I enjoyed your article, it must be difficult to reflect on this stuff having spent 10 years promoting it, only to realise that it is not only false, but pretty vile too.
    I had a quick look at the passage, but didn't linger as my interest in biblical matters has now faded away entirely.
    I wonder if you have seen the film "Goodbye Lenin"? It may well be a good one for you to complement you current reading with. I spent a considerable amount of time in Leipzig in the early '90s with people who showed me that there was another side to the bad aspects of the DDR.
    "Some only remained because they feared being shot if they tried to escape". That is a lot like the Christadelphians, If you don't want to attend for a few weeks, or you dared to think for yourself, the mutterings and threatening letters start. It always struck me as strange that they felt the need to threaten people if they stayed away a while. What was it they feared so much as to need to react in such a thoughtless insensitive manner? Perhaps (in fact I am sure that they were) just imitating the God you describe here, many of them having been pickled in this nonsense from birth and the rest too scared to intervene for fear of being "shot" themselves.
    As I've pointed out before, the current leading thinkers of the Christadelphians have been at pains recently to protest how biblical slavery is no more than domestic servitude, how unbaptised born of Christadelphian children will get a "free pass" to the Kingdom (to be forever with this violent merciless God that they praise so much and the other 7 billion of us are incapable of understanding), and hold so called "Bible Schools" that cost $800 a week to attend, and the classes given are of such controversy that they have to be password protected lest some mere mortal should hear them and comment upon them in a place such as this. The Christadelphian Magazine no longer makes sample articles available either, which cannot be due to the high "value" of them, more likely risk of exposure.
    I'm glad you found your blindspot, but feel obliged to point out that some of the problem lies in the nature of the God, and doctrines that Christadelphians have created for themselves. Much of the fear of judgement arises from them believing in salvation by works rather than grace, once again, this is the "Iron Curtain" that the religion has created for itself, along with the belief (illustrated by yourself in the John Thomas quote given), that this God from the old testament, can never change his ways. I do like that quote though, it sums up John Thomas and the bastard religion he fathered perfectly. We should stick copies up on local meeting rooms to remind them :)
    Much of your anger (don't take that word too seriously) seems to me to be because of the religion you were brought up in, your subsequent realisation that you had been duped by it(I feel that way too). The bad news for you is that most Christians ( by which I mean real Christians rather than members of Victorian offshoot cults) do not feel feel fear and mental anguish because their created God will treat them kindly and understand their needs, personalities and limitations
    Recommended:
    https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510308/hidden-brain?t=1570541479508
    "We're gonna live for ever" and "We're all gonna die".
    Please don't be offended by the above comments. I think I am just a few years further into the journey than you are, was a bit less indoctrinated then yourself, and seen a few things you will not have. I wasted about 20 years of my life on the religion, and by wasted, I really mean wasted, for nothing good at all, but I have also witnessed the passing of a good number of people of other religions to the CD's and realise that it can all be a source of comfort and meaning even if it is all nonsense.
    Apologies for spelling, etc, last good keyboard had an espresso poured into it recently, rubbery substitute in use now.

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  2. Thanks for your comment, Joseph. I agree in part and am certainly not offended. I interact online with former members of a large number of denominations, so I know the fear isn't just limited to Christadelphians (in my observation fear of Hell can last longer in those who have grown up with it emphasised than fear of judgement in those like me who have grown up Christadelphian). I also know it's quite possible to draw a religion of love and hope and care for others from the same Bible. It just depends which verses you focus on. I think we had some of that too, though the love would rarely win if it came to a serious dispute with (horror!) doctrinal implications. And if the religion people follows makes them better people I'm not going to complain.

    However, I don't think it's just a difference between the OT God and the NT God - many of the verses that made us fearful of judgement came from the NT, and some of those verses used quotes from the OT to back them up. In my view, it comes back again to which parts of scripture an interpreter chooses to prioritise.

    Finally, thanks for the recommendations. I don't actually watch many films, but Goodbye Lenin looks interesting, so I've added it to my list and we'll see. And I've put the podcasts on the list too.

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  3. Hilarious little echo chamber with the same three people talking to each other.
    Wow move on already.

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  4. Anonymous, if you think we have an echo chamber here because there are important things we're not considering, feel free to point them out. Just be aware that some of us spent years re-investigating our religion and have probably heard most of the standard arguments already.

    Though I can't tell for sure from your comment, my observation is that most believers telling non-believers to "move on" are trying to silence them. Which, ironically, would be trying to set up a religious echo chamber where religious ideas are unable to be criticised...

    Should you want more, I did write my opinion about "moving on" a couple of years ago: https://www.jonmorgan.info/religion/2017/11/19/faq-why-cant-you-just-move-on.html But for now suffice it to say that I am happy with how I've moved on from my family religion.

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    1. I'd also like to reiterate these points. What people who ask that "Why don't you just move on?" question often don't realise is that when you've grown up in a highly controlling religion like the Christadelphians, moving on is just really, really difficult to do.

      It's a process. It takes time, and all of us are doing exactly that, as well as we are able to. For some of us, that religion and its associated community is all we knew. We didn't have another life to go to. We have to invent it almost from scratch. When your whole identity is tied up in the religion, you have to do a bit of reflecting and searching to figure out who you are now and what you want the rest of your life to look like. Doing that on your own can be challenging, not to mention extremely isolating. Hence why we make blogs like this one to help us find each other and provide support as well as reaching out to people still in the high-control religious group to share why we left (because I think others should question their beliefs too).

      Like Jon, I too am moving on pretty well and enjoying my life. I still visit this blog occasionally to hang out and read and relate to the various experiences posted here. I could certainly relate to this article.

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  5. Anonymous, I seem to remember all the ecclesias I ever went to are also echo chambers, simply tossing back and forth between members the same beliefs. Members never daring to voice any thoughts which might have a whiff of something new, different, interesting and worth discussing.

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  6. Anonymous,

    The danger with echo chambers is where you only seek new knowledge about the world from the echo chamber and never elsewhere. That would seem to apply very well to the Christadelphian community - and indeed they teach and promote that very thing.

    Calling this blog an echo chamber is a bit weird, because "the same three people" (actually it's more than that) are usually simply offering support and relaying other similar stories. This kind of sharing of experiences is both normal and extremely beneficial for people who have left high-control religious groups. It's part of the recovery process but also you tend to make some good friends out of it and those connections persist through life.

    You'll also note that both of the comments above yours mentioned many discussions with people from other denominations/religions, in order to get a more balanced picture. For an echo chamber, we seem to be doing it quite wrong...

    One of the best ways to know how well you understand opposing views is seeing if you can describe someone else's views in a way they would accept. I'm pretty confident I could describe many Christadelphians' views to that standard. How would you go describing ours?

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  7. I find it quite ironic that someone, presumably a Christadelphian, should try to close down discussion on this blog by branding it an echo chamber.
    There are many more readers who support this blog and try to provide helpful comments to those who are seeking to escape your high commitment religion.
    It speaks volumes that you should make an anonymous comment, then disappear again without engaging in any meaningful discussion about your views.

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  8. Well initially I did think the Anon poster was just a passing hungry troll, in which case you have well and truly fed him and sent him on his merry way!

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  9. Joseph, I agree, it had all the marks of a troll. However, I don't think the comments here are just for that anonymous poster. Certainly mine wasn't.

    I know from the stats that more people visit this site than comment on it. I don't know what stage of life those visitors are at or what (if anything) they get from it, but I want them to know that, while some of us have strong opinions, we're open to questions and that we're open to discussion. I also want them to know that it's OK to criticise Christadelphians, and that it's not OK for Christadelphians to try and silence that (because even when I seriously doubted I probably didn't realise that myself). And maybe there's an audience for that reading this site, or maybe there isn't.

    Not sure whether any of that came across in my original comment, but it is part of what I think of.

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  10. Oh I do agree with you Jon, I probably would not have commented but for Mancott's comment and my happening to drive past (Halesowen) Christadelphian Hall the day after. As usual, I do not mean any disrespect to Halesowen meeting, they were the warmest most welcoming Christadelphians I ever met in my time as a CD, and I wish them well.
    They were advertising a Sunday lecture entitled "Who are the Christadelphians", and Mancott's commented temporarily pushed out of my mind the plumbing work I was engaged in. Let me explain. Less than 20 people a year join from the outside, the chance of that lecture actually being heard by someone who did/does not know who they are, is tiny, and thus would have been the perfect "echo chamber"- someone spending time telling people who had only turned up in the hall because they are Christadelphians, who they are! Absurd!
    My mind rambled off onto the other lectures that occur time and time again, such as the "baptism" ones, which inevitably turn into a criticism of the established Churches practice of "infant sprinkling". I'd been reading this:

    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/oct/12/the-new-rules-of-godparenting-family-richard-godwin

    And picked up on the fact that just 10% of babies are christened in the UK now. The point being that as that number declines further, even less people would listen to the Christadelphian ideas, simply because they will have no idea what they are on about. I'm sure that the same will be true of the other staple "Creation V Evolution" titles.
    The Christadelphian demographic continues to age, with 75% over 55 now, the gulf of understanding or even familiarity with the terms used between themselves and their "target" convert, means that they are basically doomed to only lecture in an echo chamber situation. Add that to the fact that subjects such as evolution and origins are not allowed to be discussed, and the echos just keep bouncing back.
    Reading Ken Gilmore's recommended book "Human Errors" by Nathan Lents at the moment.

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  11. Joseph, you remind me that some of my relatives like to complain that cancelling lectures because no-one from "outside" comes to them (as many ecclesias here in Melbourne have done) means that the "young people" are no longer exposed to "the Truth" and are more likely to fall away. No attempt to account for people like me who have been to far more lectures than I want to remember, and reject "the Truth" because I know it, not because I don't (and, honestly, I assume that is true for many of these hypothetical non-lecture-attending young people - they have a pretty good idea of Christadelphian teaching from their parents, Sunday School, etc. before they reject it). Debating which is the true interpretation of scripture now feels like shifting chairs about on the Titanic deck.

    And you're quite right to call out the Christadelphian-specific jargon in use. I mean, I've heard full-on debates about whether it's OK to call it a "church" rather than an "ecclesia" or whether Christadelphians should call themselves "Christian" or not (people might misunderstand and think we're just like all the other churches instead of being super-special and a peculiar people called out by God).

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  12. Joseph,
    The title which tickled my funny bone, which I saw plastered on a board outside a Birmingham ecclesia, many years ago now, was, THE DEVIL, WHO IS HE? Underneath was the forthcoming speaker`s name and ecclesia he was from.

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