There is a fundamental flaw in Christianity that stems all the way back to the time of Jesus. This flaw is in the authority upon which Christianity is based. Christians are apt to immediately retaliate when they hear this statement: “Our authority comes from the bible!” Alternately, some Catholics might well say that their authority comes from Jesus, Himself through Peter, His top apostle! Though these claims have their roots in history and enjoy a long tradition, they are inauthentic in that Jesus never said He was going to establish His church (or its authority) on either of these.
Any Catholic priests or other Catholic clergymen (worth his/her salt) may well pull forth the scripture in Matthew 16: 17-18 as empirical proof that Jesus was saying He was going to build His church upon Peter. Upon further investigation of that same scripture, if approached with an open mind and an open heart, will reveal that, even though Jesus is addressing Peter in the text, He is referring to something else as the foundation of His Church. Jesus was talking about the experience Peter was having at the time as being the foundation of His church. Peter was having an experience with God: the Holy Ghost, referred to as revelation! “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven…upon THIS rock I will build my Church”!
Considering a topic that deals with Christian authority and frame it in an idea that this authority is based upon God Himself, it sounds lofty, daunting or even intimidating, doesn’t it? The reason it sounds this way originates from the doctrine-based authority we are so used to, as paradoxical as this sounds; but it’s not how Jesus wanted it to be…it’s not the way He set it up. Jesus preached and taught that the authority base within the Church was meant to be the Holy Ghost. We will get into what happened and how the Church got off-track with this, but suffice it to say, doctrines and priesthood seem natural to us today because this kind of authority has been in place and functioning for nearly 2000 years.
The truth of the matter is, God: the Holy Ghost is, in no way, a daunting or off-putting entity, in fact the opposite is true. Right along with this, as a Christian brand-based culture we’ve tended to foster the notion that the Holy Ghost is somehow more at home in church and religious environments then He is in “secular” environments. This is also not true, but we think it’s true, again because the doctrine/priesthood-based authority has, either directly or indirectly, influenced our thinking here! A better, more accurate way to think about the Holy Ghost is in the use of terms like inspiration, intuition, a gut feeling, a hunch, common sense, compassion, sympathy, empathy, forgiveness, humility, etc. As we venture out beyond these parameters we begin getting into iffy, if not dangerous territory; we begin running the risk of adopting self-righteous rather than genuinely righteous perspectives.
What Christian religions have done in the past and continue to do is to try to bottle up or corral this intuitive connection with God, run them through hierarchical channels and emboss their own Christian brand upon it. In doing this the churches have put their doctrinal chokeholds around God’s Spirit-giving windpipe and have suffocated the congregation in the process. And a real solid example of what I’m referring to is manifested in the doctrine of original sin. Original sin, according to the doctrine, is an actual sinful state all humans are born with when they emerge from the womb. This doctrine purports that each and every human is filthy and unacceptable in God’s eyes in our natural human state. What Jesus actually preached was a principle or truth concerning the Holy Ghost who He said was resident within each person when they are born. It’s because we have this portion of God’s divine nature set within our human DNA as standard equipment that permits God to directly communicate with humans, individually or, even more accurately, within a group who is of one mind and one heart. The process for doing this, which Jesus referred to in Matthew 16: 18, is called revelation! Employing this innate ability He placed in each and every one of us, He would be able to convey the deep and abiding truths about Himself and direct us in the building of His kingdom on the earth. It’s a simple process and it’s as natural as breathing air, eating food, laughing or singing.
Hierarchical structure vs. equilateral or egalitarian structure: which is most conducive for God: the Holy Ghost to function in?