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Author Topic: How do you separate "GCx" from Christianity?  (Read 19734 times)
araignee19
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« on: February 28, 2013, 12:03:03 am »

First, let me start by saying I am not trying to imply that GCx is not a Christian church. I believe they are. I was saved in one. God has used that church for good in my life.

However, there are many things I now disagree with GCx on. When I first left a little less than two years ago, everything changed. I lost my friends, my church, my goal in life ("plant my flag and die"), my stable living situation, etc., and it turned my world upside down. I realized that many things that I had accepted as true while in GCx were a twisted version of truth or just plain wrong and unbiblical. I left in a firestorm of conflict and hurt, after 5 years of trying to live the GCx life, and crashed badly afterwards. I became completely burnt out and wanted nothing to do with church or God for a while.

It has been quite a time of healing to get me back to a place where I believe in God again and want to grow in my faith. But the problem I'm having is that I learned so many untruths at GCx my reaction has been to put pretty much everything I know about God and Christianity on trial. While I do believe we should test our faith, I think I have gone off the deep end of testing, and I'm not sure how to get through things. There are so many things I'm unsure of I don't know where to start, and so my faith has become stuck and stagnant. I am unsure how to separate the things GCx taught that were wrong and hurtful from the things they taught which were true Christianity, but that I now associate with hurt and so have a gut reaction of "run away."

I know this is different for each person, but do you have any advice, thoughts, or encouragement? I could use some right now...
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Ned_Flanders
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« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2013, 05:40:20 am »

First, let me start by saying I am not trying to imply that GCx is not a Christian church. I believe they are. I was saved in one. God has used that church for good in my life.

However, there are many things I now disagree with GCx on. When I first left a little less than two years ago, everything changed. I lost my friends, my church, my goal in life ("plant my flag and die"), my stable living situation, etc., and it turned my world upside down. I realized that many things that I had accepted as true while in GCx were a twisted version of truth or just plain wrong and unbiblical. I left in a firestorm of conflict and hurt, after 5 years of trying to live the GCx life, and crashed badly afterwards. I became completely burnt out and wanted nothing to do with church or God for a while.

It has been quite a time of healing to get me back to a place where I believe in God again and want to grow in my faith. But the problem I'm having is that I learned so many untruths at GCx my reaction has been to put pretty much everything I know about God and Christianity on trial. While I do believe we should test our faith, I think I have gone off the deep end of testing, and I'm not sure how to get through things. There are so many things I'm unsure of I don't know where to start, and so my faith has become stuck and stagnant. I am unsure how to separate the things GCx taught that were wrong and hurtful from the things they taught which were true Christianity, but that I now associate with hurt and so have a gut reaction of "run away."

I know this is different for each person, but do you have any advice, thoughts, or encouragement? I could use some right now...

Hi araignee19,
Thanks for sharing your story.  I completely understand the place you are in and involvement with a Church like GCx would certainly help produce that result.  That place was very controlling and seemed to be all about trying to tell people what to do with their lives. 

Personally, I think the big problem was not Great Commission- I think the big problem was within us.  I don't say this to make you feel guilty or ashamed.  But I believe something was broken in each of us to attract us to a bad Church like GCx and compel us to stay there for a long period of time.  For me, I had a lot of insecurities and self-esteeem issues.  I also came to terms with other issues in my life I had to deal with and am still dealing with. 

I'm very glad to know you still believe in Jesus.  I'll write more later but I'd like to ask you this:  If you could find a place of fellowship (other believers in Christ) where you felt safe and you could be yourself and embraced as you are, would you be a part of it?
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arthur
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« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2013, 05:44:52 am »

It is different for every person, yet the reason we ask questions like this is in the hope that someone is feeling at least some of the same things we are. I think the fact that you hope is a very good thing.  I am going through some of this myself now.

For what it's worth, I didn't ask the question "how do I separate". Instead, I asked "what is Christianity?" When I started answering that question for myself, rather than relying on other people to tell me the answer, I felt freed to be skeptical of much of what I'd learned over my life. I found the root of my faith in Jesus' teachings on love. It feels good to love, to inspire joy in the midst of sorrow, to inspire hope in the midst of despair, and to inspire faith in the midst of emptiness. This, think is consisted with Jesus' commands to love God, and to Love one another.

This is at least, where I have begun. I hope it helps
God Bless!
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araignee19
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« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2013, 06:24:53 am »

Personally, I think the big problem was not Great Commission- I think the big problem was within us.  I don't say this to make you feel guilty or ashamed.  But I believe something was broken in each of us to attract us to a bad Church like GCx and compel us to stay there for a long period of time.  For me, I had a lot of insecurities and self-esteeem issues.  I also came to terms with other issues in my life I had to deal with and am still dealing with. 

Hm... I will have to think about that some.

I'm very glad to know you still believe in Jesus.  I'll write more later but I'd like to ask you this:  If you could find a place of fellowship (other believers in Christ) where you felt safe and you could be yourself and embraced as you are, would you be a part of it?

And to answer this question, yes, in some ways. I have found a church I like, and have been very slowly making friends there. But out of all the people I know, only a small handful know about my time in GCx (and I don't think that part is a problem). But it is difficult, because I feel like every time I go to church, or a Bible study, I sit there preoccupied with poking holes in everything, instead of learning.
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Ned_Flanders
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« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2013, 08:16:40 am »

I have found a church I like, and have been very slowly making friends there. But out of all the people I know, only a small handful know about my time in GCx (and I don't think that part is a problem). But it is difficult, because I feel like every time I go to church, or a Bible study, I sit there preoccupied with poking holes in everything, instead of learning.

Thanks for the honest response.  If I can recommend a helpful resource to you, here is one that is very good.  

http://newlife.com/

I really believe counseling is very important after dealing with a place like GCx.  New Life is a great resource and their radio counseling program and some of their books were of great benefit to me after I left GCx.

I definitely understand you don't want to end up back in a Church that's just as bad, or worse, than GCx was.  That's why I believe it's so important to be able to identify what attracted you to that Church to begin with.  Once I was able to do this, it brought me to a better place.  Several years after I left GCx, I got involved with a Church that believed you had to be baptized to be a Christian and believed drinking any alcohol was sinful and not for Christians.  I had my own convictions about alcohol and I definitely didn't believe baptism was a requirement for salvation.  But what was most refreshing was to see other people there were able to think for themselves.  I don't feel like I ever saw that at GCx.   
« Last Edit: February 28, 2013, 08:26:23 am by Ned_Flanders » Logged
Linda
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« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2013, 08:19:14 am »

Quote from: araignee19
First, let me start by saying I am not trying to imply that GCx is not a Christian church. I believe they are. I was saved in one. God has used that church for good in my life.

However, there are many things I now disagree with GCx on. When I first left a little less than two years ago, everything changed. I lost my friends, my church, my goal in life ("plant my flag and die"), my stable living situation, etc., and it turned my world upside down. I realized that many things that I had accepted as true while in GCx were a twisted version of truth or just plain wrong and unbiblical. I left in a firestorm of conflict and hurt, after 5 years of trying to live the GCx life, and crashed badly afterwards. I became completely burnt out and wanted nothing to do with church or God for a while.

It has been quite a time of healing to get me back to a place where I believe in God again and want to grow in my faith. But the problem I'm having is that I learned so many untruths at GCx my reaction has been to put pretty much everything I know about God and Christianity on trial. While I do believe we should test our faith, I think I have gone off the deep end of testing, and I'm not sure how to get through things. There are so many things I'm unsure of I don't know where to start, and so my faith has become stuck and stagnant. I am unsure how to separate the things GCx taught that were wrong and hurtful from the things they taught which were true Christianity, but that I now associate with hurt and so have a gut reaction of "run away."

I know this is different for each person, but do you have any advice, thoughts, or encouragement? I could use some right now...
First of all, I want to say I'm sorry.

Your expressed your feelings well and I think many of us can relate to many of the things you said.

The loss of friendships is a very real thing and very sad thing. My guess would be it is a main reason that many stay and sit under bad teaching. For a group that teaches loyalty as a core value, they clearly don not understand the meaning of loyalty, nor do they practice it. Only when you leave, do you see the hypocrisy. I'm sorry you experienced it.

To be honest. Church scares me and church exhausts me now. I have visited many churches since departing my GCx church and one thing I look for in a church now is do you leave thinking about God and how great He is, or when you leave, are you thinking about the church and it's leaders and how great they are.

Those are a few of my quick thoughts, but again, I am really sorry.
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« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2013, 11:18:26 am »

Dear Araignee19,

When we believe in Christ, and thus in His words, we tend to also believe that Christians and Christian churches will live by those words.  For that reason we invest great trust in them. 

It is a shockingly horrible surprise to learn that so very many "Christians" and churches are not as converted or faithful to Christ's words as we would have liked to think.  That realization can be personally earth shaking and faith shattering.

Over the years I have allowed myself to be deceived by and led by obviously false teachers like Jim McCotter and by less obvious scoundrels posing as legitimate pastors.  This was not so much a character defect in me as it was a lack of discernment and a desire to see the zeal of the first century Christians alive in today's world. 

Mine was a naive view of this present age.  And I did not properly administer discernment to temper my zeal.  Such lack of discernment gave the Diotrephes of our time the advantage.

Yet, all such things are learning experiences.  Some of these experiences sent me into deep pits of sadness and self-doubting, and at times, a doubt that God actually runs the church at all.  There is no quick fix to such doubts or sadness.  Study the Word, seek out new Christian friends, look for the few remaining godly pastors left in the world and befriend them, avoid celebrity pastors (they won't have personal time for you anyway as they travel to distant seminars and conferences), confess your doubts and fears to God knowing He forgives us in Christ freely, and apply discernment to every book, sermon, or Bible study you encounter. 

Time is a great healing tool, but God is the great forgiver. 
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Janet Easson Martin
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« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2013, 11:21:01 am »

Dear Araignee19,

I really believe hundreds and probably many thousands of believers feel just the way you do.  You are NOT unique in your present struggle.  I loved the movie Paradise Recovered (on Netflix Streaming) for being honest about the struggle.  And, I LOVE LOVE LOVE what the victim's new friend says about questioning "religion".  How God can certainly handle our questions; and even bring comfort in them (especially when they are posed to Him).  From my experience, the truth 'I cried (in whatever emotion) out and the Lord heard me, and DELIVERED me from all my fears.'  His answers when waited for in faith (supernatural trust and patience) are FAR BETTER than any man can explain, and bring about a TRUE PEACE.  Usually, those particular things that were haunting me when answered by God Almighty seem to cease from haunting me in the future.  For example, regarding eternal security doubts which I had for years while in GCx:  I poured out my confusion to him, and he sent a person to give me a book of specific scriptures on this issue, accompanied by sound explanation in context, vocabulary and intent on each of them, and I pretty much became stronger in that vital doctrine than my peers who didn't really have an issue with it.  He takes our WEAKNESSES and makes them STRENGTHS to glorify himself and demonstrate his power to and in us.  The book, by the way, was Eternal Security by Charles Stanley (who use to debate his bible college peers against it!)  God loves turning weakness into power.  That book has probably helped and healed untold thousands, maybe millions of people.

So, don't fret in your present predicament.  Your honesty and humility to yourself and others makes you available for God to show his AMAZING GRACE & POWER in you.  God is all about helping.  It seems He isn't involved in self-sufficiency.  I am researching fears and the biblical principles that take place through them.  God wants us to run from trouble, but he's waiting longingly for us to run to him, so he can truly fix us.  You are in better position than the spiritually proud to hear from God.  The object seems not to be right, but to learn from the ONE who is right, and this JOURNEY is the life story others can relate to and even be healed by.  God will do so much with your honesty that you will be glad later you actually had the problem!

We need to pray for each other because our REAL FAITH is more important, more influential, and more valuable than the greatest "work" or "self-effort" we could ever do.

Your Sister In Christ,

Janet Easson Martin
« Last Edit: February 28, 2013, 11:24:31 am by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2013, 04:59:15 pm »

There's nothing wrong with questioning, and putting our faith, traditions, and beliefs on trial. It's an opportunity to look for answers, and embrace new knowledge -- especially, after a traumatic experience.

I can really relate to how you feel. When I first started attending GCx, I was confronted with the reality that I wasn't living Christianity up to it's 'true' essence -- ie, I was living a 'cafeteria style' Christianity, where I took and chose the things I wanted, and left others behind. GCx led me to see how this was hypocritical, and thus, I sought to truly follow the "spirit" of the Bible. This realization helped me grasp a lot of the message and doctrine of the Bible, but it also made me very personally intransigent toward other ways of viewing Christianity, or other people's personal beliefs. It lead me to think there was only one right interpretation, or even one right tradition of viewing God anthropomorphically, or taking everything from the Bible, literally. I don't so much view this is a fault of GCx, but a fault of fundamentalism in general. A fundamentalism that is painfully uneducated as to the evolution of how man has conceptualized God through the generations, in every religion. Man has a way of trying to personalize God to such a degree, as to view him as having the same biases and convictions as we do, and therefore giving us an excuse to impose those convictions and biases on others. I left when it became obvious that these men were putting their OWN spin on faith, and using it to impose their own sense of morality on others -- which was in extreme disagreement with mine.

After I left, I was like you... didn't want to do anything with God, or religion, or churches (but it was mostly because of people). I even lost a relationship because the guy wanted to go to church on Easter Sunday, and I told him where he could go. lol I struggled in prayer where I felt God had simply completely deserted me -- as he never answered anymore. Eventually, I tried to attend other churches... but it was not the same for me.

I took a very challenging path of self introspection to know and understand I was seeing what I wanted to see, and believe, when it came to my faith... even when it came to prayer. After much education, and pursuit of answers, I am now an atheist. And it was not out of an anger for a god, or some people... but it was out of a critical pursuit of answers.

Your path may lead you someplace else, and that's perfectly fine... but the point I want to make is that you have to be true to yourself, and not treat questioning, or doubt, like those are somehow, bad things... or things to frown upon, or dangerous things. They are not. At the least, you might end up with stronger reasons for why you have faith...

Whoever doesn't want you to think for yourself is NOT your friend... and scholars of old have spent lots, and lots of time thinking about God in ever possible aspect (even as far as considering if he was just a mind construct)...

So, don't be afraid. Question, and pursue those questions... but don't take the easy answers, and everything else for granted. 


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Ned_Flanders
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« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2013, 07:14:52 pm »

Personally, I think the big problem was not Great Commission- I think the big problem was within us.  I don't say this to make you feel guilty or ashamed.  But I believe something was broken in each of us to attract us to a bad Church like GCx and compel us to stay there for a long period of time.  For me, I had a lot of insecurities and self-esteeem issues.  I also came to terms with other issues in my life I had to deal with and am still dealing with. 

Hm... I will have to think about that some.

I'm very glad to know you still believe in Jesus.  I'll write more later but I'd like to ask you this:  If you could find a place of fellowship (other believers in Christ) where you felt safe and you could be yourself and embraced as you are, would you be a part of it?

And to answer this question, yes, in some ways. I have found a church I like, and have been very slowly making friends there. But out of all the people I know, only a small handful know about my time in GCx (and I don't think that part is a problem). But it is difficult, because I feel like every time I go to church, or a Bible study, I sit there preoccupied with poking holes in everything, instead of learning.

araignee19,
I was just re-reading your post from earlier.  As far as you "poking holes in everything," it's OK to do that.  I think it's even OK not to learn anything for now.  It's going to take time to heal and grow from Great Commission.  But I believe if you stay focused on God's unconditional love, mercy and grace... and if you stay in fellowship with believers who reflect these attributes and accept you wherever you are... and if you reflect on what attracted you to GCx- and I know that is a HARD STEP... I think you will be fine.  Just take your time.  It will not happen overnight. 
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« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2013, 10:13:57 pm »

I agree with a lot of what Janet said.  God does have a remarkable knack, in my observation, for making weaknesses strengths and for guiding people who have no one to show them the way.

My own experience in leaving the Rock was similar.  I had a lot of friends I thought would stand up for me or at least be upset when they heard what had happened, but nobody made a fuss.  It wasn't until I reached out to people outside the Rock that I found people who genuinely cared and would actually stick with me even if I disagreed with them.  I think that's true loyalty, for the record: not being there for someone because you're expected to, but being there for them when you're not expected to...when the law says, "go with them one mile" and you go with them two.

Anyway, testing everything is a very Biblical thing to do.  God does not get tired of proving what is true, and the warnings in scripture against insidious false teaching are too abundant to mention.  The Bible doesn't admonish us to avoid false teaching by doctrinaire adherence to rote traditions, teachings, and dogmas, but by testing, trying, and searching.

I know what it's like to show up at a group meeting outside the GCx and only be able to poke holes in what's taught.  The few times I've had the chance to go to Navs meetings since leaving the Rock have been like that, and I admit I felt guilty about it, but I don't think I should have felt guilty.  We should test everything, so that we know what is true and what we should cling to (1 Thess 5:21).

As far as separating Christianity from the GCx, I personally have had to say that they're unrelated.  The Rock had a saying, "Religion is a lie; we have a relationship with Christ."  I don't doubt that the overwhelming majority of people there did and do have relationships with Christ, but the Rock was a religion.  Any time one person tells another how to do things spiritually, it's a religion.  Sometimes a relationship grows out of a religion, like a romance growing out of a business partnership, but religion and relationship are not ever the same, not as I see it.  The GCx was and is a religion, with a lot of people telling each other how to run (and often, ruin) their spiritual lives.  Christianity is the relationship an individual has with God, and how that effects his or her interactions with others.  You can teach a religion, but never a relationship.  Christianity cannot be learned from tenets, it must be experienced in life.  For me, questioning assumptions in the relationship has been a key factor in separating Christianity from religion.
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« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2013, 10:59:02 pm »

I so very much agree that everything needs to be tested against the Scriptures.  However, when you do that, should you really be surprised that there are holes in much of what is tested?  Do we really think that any church today or any para-church organization has a really firm and nearly error-free grasp on what Christ taught?

We need to find the holes.  No, we cannot plug all those leaks, but we need to know where a church or a para-church has invented their own doctrines or errors in opposition to what the apostles delivered.  Find those holes, make note of them, and continue studying and fellowshipping with the saints.  Only when those holes expose a truly false teacher (or an utterly false teaching) might it be necessary to take a public stand.

Know what you believe and why.  Ask questions, test everything, believe only what is sound.

Lastly, while I believe that Christianity is a relationship with Christ, it is necessary for me to also admit it is a religion as well.
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Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
(James 1:27)

Religion is not a dirty word, unless or until Christ becomes disgraced.  Our religion can be pure, but that requires us to also be pure.  Simply throwing away the term religion does not somehow make us more pure, and by discarding the term religion we may well be throwing away a rich heritage that originated with Christ.

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Janet Easson Martin
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« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2013, 07:46:16 am »

I REALLY like what 2xron in reply #10 said above!  That is beautiful and loving.
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« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2013, 12:54:57 pm »

Quote
Lastly, while I believe that Christianity is a relationship with Christ, it is necessary for me to also admit it is a religion as well.
Quote
Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
(James 1:27)

Religion is not a dirty word, unless or until Christ becomes disgraced.  Our religion can be pure, but that requires us to also be pure.  Simply throwing away the term religion does not somehow make us more pure, and by discarding the term religion we may well be throwing away a rich heritage that originated with Christ.

Good point.  There has been a shift in the definition of "religion" at least in some circles, to make it mean simply personal or organizational piety and to use it almost exclusively to refer to false religions.  Definitely in the Rock, as in many modern Protestant movements, there's the idea that having religion (attending church, participating in church activities, believing a certain set of tenants) is not what Christianity is about, but that it's about having a relationship with Christ.  Often this is applied toward non-Christian groups (for example, one might say, "Well, Jehovah's Witnesses certainly are religious because they do a lot of religious things, but they don't have a relationship with Christ").  If one does take this approach to the word "religion" (as I do), I think it should be taken not just toward religion as expressed by non-Christians, but also toward religiousness in Christian churches as well (not just in the GCx either, but all around).  Just because someone is really involved with a Christian church that believes all the orthodox doctrines does not mean that this person knows Christ.  Certainly someone can get to know Him that way, and certainly one can get to know Him better that way too, but religious activity does not substitute for a personal relationship.

However, Biblically speaking, Christianity is a religion.  There, I think the term is more inclusive.  Religion could mean both knowing God and outward acts of apparent piety, since it is applied both to Christianity as "true religion" (which can only come about by having the love of God in you working itself out among those you know) and "the Jew's religion" and "man's religion."  These days, a lot of Christians seem to be unaware of the former application in Scripture and only use it in the latter senses.  To me, certainly, it can mean either, since a very religious person can also have a very strong relationship with Christ (though the two do not necessarily go hand in hand).
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« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2013, 02:34:17 am »

However, Biblically speaking, Christianity is a religion.  There, I think the term is more inclusive.  Religion could mean both knowing God and outward acts of apparent piety, since it is applied both to Christianity as "true religion" (which can only come about by having the love of God in you working itself out among those you know) and "the Jew's religion" and "man's religion."  These days, a lot of Christians seem to be unaware of the former application in Scripture and only use it in the latter senses.  To me, certainly, it can mean either, since a very religious person can also have a very strong relationship with Christ (though the two do not necessarily go hand in hand).

I disagree that Christianity is a religion.  For me, it goes back to that oft-quote point that "It's about a relationship" with Jesus Christ.  A personal thing between the Lord and me.  Now, perhaps the way it is practiced in the United States and maybe other cultures/places and by many denominations, it becomes influenced with religious traditions... but I don't think it's about religion at all. 

I'm not sure if the Christianity at GCx was seriously affected by religion as I spoke about in the above paragraph.  But at this point, I can't say I really care since I don't go to that Church anymore.  Besides, I'm not certain religion is the biggest of GCx's problems. 
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« Reply #15 on: March 02, 2013, 08:11:54 am »

The thing missing when people say "Religion is a lie" is the definition of "religion".

I think what they mean to say in their cute little slogan is "Being Religious Doesn't Save You".

The traditional definition of "religion" is a "system of beliefs". Many belief systems are wrong. One belief system, Christianity, is not. So, the "religion" called Christianity which teaches salvation by grace, through faith is not a lie. Someone didn't think through the slogan very well.

Our church had a slogan that was something like: "Love God, not religion". My husband was wearing the shirt once while we were at the Mall of America. The clerk at Gap noticed it and said, "I really like what your shirt says." I thought, "Wow, aren't we the walking testimony about the grace of God." Then she said, "That slogan is so right, it doesn't matter what religion you are as long as you love God." Oops. He never wore that shirt again.

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« Reply #16 on: March 02, 2013, 09:20:37 am »

Then she said, "That slogan is so right, it doesn't matter what religion you are as long as you love God." Oops. He never wore that shirt again.

I'm not at all surprised she said that.  

It's not "God" people have the issue with.  It's that Jesus guy.  

"God" can really be about anything.  But Jesus is about something.  

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« Reply #17 on: March 02, 2013, 12:44:14 pm »

Linda, those are superb insights and a very funny story. 

Constantly I reminded how Jesus said, "Haven't you ever read what the Scriptures say about that...?"  The Old Testament was a book of, about, and which enforced religion, but He thought it quite an important and essential book (having been its author).  And He kept every letter and spirit of the Law that defined His religion while not abandoning faith, hope, love, and a vital relationship with the Father. 

His example to us of holding onto a sound set of doctrines while also embracing a strong relationship with people and God is the core of the apostles' teaching and something that Luther, Calvin, and others put their lives on the line to honor.  Quite a heritage this collection of beliefs called Christianity has generated...a religion that points to the Creator, Savior, and Author of eternal life. 
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araignee19
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« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2013, 01:47:01 pm »

Thanks for all the replies everyone. There are lots of good thoughts there, and it has given me plenty to think about.
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« Reply #19 on: March 03, 2013, 02:33:04 pm »

And thank you for asking the question.

Now that I think about it, I guess I would answer your title question this way:

GCx was an overly faulty implementation of Christianity; it strayed somewhat from the purity of Christ's sound doctrines and in its application of doctrine and practice it strayed greatly from His examples and ideals of genuine love. 
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