Monday, March 17, 2008

People in glass houses

I read a message today on a Christadelphian forum which appeared to be gloating over the fact that Sydney's Hillsong church and their Mercy Ministries project received some 'bad press' in today's Melbourne Age newspaper and the Sydney Morning Herald.

I read the article in the Sydney Morning Herald over my breakfast and noticed several holes in the story. It was very poor journalism in my opinion. Parts of the media are out to portray Christianity (in any form) in a very bad light, so I personally wouldn't be influenced by anything they have to say.

However, it struck me that the comment posted by a Christadelphian on a forum later in the day was just as little bit hypocritical. The writer said:
"People sometimes ask me 'But why is correct doctrine important?'. This is one of the most telling demonstrations as to why. Remember, this isn't just about Mercy Ministries, it's about Hillsong who helps support them and sends vulnerable people to them. False beliefs result in destructive practices."
I say this comment was 'hypocritical' because I know that the writer is aware that just a few months ago these same newspapers were publishing stories about Christadelphians in a similar way. In reporting on the collapse of a company whose founders and directors were Christadelphians the newspapers made a link between the the questionable business practices of some Christadelphians and Christadelphians' questionable prophetical interpretations. They were saying something along the lines of Christadelphians' false beliefs resulting in destructive business practices.

One article about these Christadelphians "ripping people off" was titled "Investors suffer again in case of bad religion" (The Age 30/05/2007). The newspapers suggested that Christadelphianism was "bad religion" and implied that it is a cult-like religion which preys on the vulnerable and robs them of their savings by spurious means.

The journalist may well have said "False beliefs result in destructive practices".

Well, the journalist may have been wrong when he made the connection between the bad business practices of some Christadelphians and the doctrines of their denomination; but you'd think that just a few months later when the same newspapers have a go at another denomination that Christadelphians would have a little bit of humility and remember what the press was saying about them not so long ago.

I replied to the messages on the Christadelphian forum with a post very similar to what I have written here. Almost immediately it was childishly marked by an administrator as 'irrelevant' in an attempt to conceal it. It's another bit of irony that not only are some Christadelphians incredibly hypocritical, but that they really hate having this pointed out to them and will do whatever they can to cover up their own faults while hurling stones at easy targets.

7 comments:

ben elijah said...

Steve,

I noticed the messages by Jonathan Burke on the Facebook Christadelphians discussion page, and I guessed this was the forum you were referring to, but I can't see your replies. It looks like they have been deleted! Perhaps what you had to say was a bit TOO "relevant" and cut close to the bone.

For a body that boasts so loudly that we have "the truth" it's more than "hypocritical" that so much effort goes in to covering up the truth when it's uncomfortable.

Groups like these don't do much to improve our image.

Gerry said...

When I read Ben's note, it triggered a thought that has been with me for some time.
As a CD and as an Ex-CD I still find that the notion of "The Truth" difficult to fully comprehend in terms of the CD's have it and others don't.

Doctrines seem to be the dividing issue and on the doctrines held by others, CD's then are able to arrogantly state that "we have the Truth" inferring that others do not.

This is so very far from the truth!

It is insulting, arrogant and plainly not true. It is also sad that a group of people understand so little about the 'truth" that they build walls around it and try to keep it safe. The Pharisees were very good at the same thing and they had completely lost sight of the truth that they didn't recognise Jesus for who he was. I often wonder if the ecclesial disputes (some current) are a sign that the TRUTH has been long forgotten.

By Grace, Gerry.

Steve said...

Ben,

My comments must have really "cut close to the bone" as you put it: not only have my messages been deleted, I've also been booted from the group and blocked from rejoining!

This fear of criticism is bordering on paranoia in my opinion. It's also typical of religious purists who have an irrational need to exercise control over others. While the administrators of that forum were happy to quote newspaper articles against another denomination, when the same newspapers gave the Christadelphians bad press every effort is being made to cover it up (and to expel anyone who draws it to their attention).

ben elijah said...

Steve,

I admire you for taking on Jonathan Burke. Most people wouldn't dare because he comes down on them like a ton of bricks. However, I don't think it's right that he should use his position as an administrator of the Facebook group to delete your posts and make it look like he's unopposed.

Steve said...

Ben,

To be fair to Jonathan Burke I don't know that it was him who deleted my messages, canceled my membership and blocked me from rejoining. I don't know because I didn't even get the courtesy of being informed why I was being booted.

It could have been one of the other two admins. They're all loose cannons.

When the administrators of that group changed a short while ago I predicted that we'd see some heavy-handed censorship by the new admins. My prediction has been proved correct. I noticed just today that Jonathan Burke is now threatening to delete another person's posts if he doesn't get the answers to questions that he wants.

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve

Unfortunately it seems CD's have fallen for the olde "Salvation by Group" theorem.

Jesus warned about this malady when He spoke in Matthew 7... "Many shall say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have not WE done many wonderful works etc..."

Notice that His warning is not in the first person, but in the third.

"MANY shall say, Lord, Lord, have not WE..."

Salvation belongs to the group, therefore the group must look like "the Controllers" say it must, otherwise salvation can't be of that group.

If one is caught looking too closely at other groups, then those who "control" the group "that has Salvation" see that it is their "duty" to purge the "liberal minded one" who is being "unequally yoked" to other (believers) from "their" group.

After all, if reading, questions, healthy discussion or healthy enquiry brings new ideas to the "Only Group that has Salvation coming to it" then there is a real danger that that "Group" might change in some way... meaning that "the Group that HAS Salvation" might either have to admit that "other" Groups are also equally eligible for Salvation... or... "the Only Group that has Salvation" coming to it might actually be wrong after all!

The [false] theorem that CD's are indeed saved simply because they BELONG to a certain group is based on a totally false concept [and fear] of what APOSTASY really is.

Jesus tells us [yes, even in the 21st Century] to "Come out of Her, my people...."

Is this really an appeal to leave behind Roman Catholic [R.C.] teachings?... or is it an appeal to leave behind the "world", "the works of the Flesh" etc. all methods by which R.C. [Religious Controllers] all use to keep "their flocks" in line, to purge the recalcitrant, and to keep the "Group" looking something like it did 150 years ago... for, after all, this Group THE only Group that has salvation coming to it.

Let the Sonshine in
Cliff

Steve said...

Ben,

Following up on your previous comments, I've now had confirmation that it was NOT Jonathan B who blocked me from the forum I'd mentioned. It was another administrator. She made it clear that the reason for blocking me was as 'payback' for my role in canceling the membership of someone on Truth Alive a few years ago (she obviously is good at 'keeping records of wrongs').

Around the same time as I was being blocked by this administrator I received several emails from other members of the group thanking me for my positive contributions and for the "nice tone" of my posts. One person told me that the discussion has been "wonderfully improved by all your patient, thoughtful posts".

On the other hand, I guess this administrator had been waiting a long time for the opportunity for 'payback', and she wasted no time in jumping at the opportunity while it was there. Oh dear, some people can be so petty.