If Luther could criticize church, why can’t we?

Any condemnation that has come on you for sincerely questioning a pastor, is not from God. Be healed and be free to follow Jesus.

Martin Luther criticized church (and is honored for it today). Honest criticism of church is often needed and shouldn’t be silenced. If you’re not Catholic or Eastern Orthodox, then Luther’s rebukes of church opened the door for “your” church. Luther criticized the church and then established churches that didn’t tolerate criticism, leading to centuries of church splits.

Any Christ-follower who meets to pray and share with others who love Jesus, shouldn’t feel guilty about not going to church. If a church can’t attract attendees without manipulating people with guilt or obligation, something is off track. Christians are supposed to be trained and sent out to obey the Spirit, not corralled, contained, and controlled by pulpit power.

Many people in religious systems are following Christ as much as they know, but their spiritual vision is often limited by the system and its leader. “Quenching the Spirit” isn’t always an individual thing. It’s also a systemic problem that is built into much church programming. The living Jesus is working in people, but because church leaders have trained them to be quite about it, we seldom hear their stories.

Pulpits have silenced the testimonies of God’s people. Sound systems have overridden their voices. Their spiritual insight has been rejected.

Pulpit control often robes itself in self-appointed authority. Preachers who stifle criticism too often act like the religious leaders who tried to silence the prophets.

Pulpit control can compel uniformity in a church, but it can never produce the unity of the Spirit. If a church knocked over the pulpit and unplugged the sound system, people would need to sit close together and share with each other. After decades of Bible reading, I still can’t find the idea of one person continually controlling a congregation from a pulpit.

The person who controls the pulpit, too often controls the church, but that is a man trying to do Jesus’ job! A preacher standing in a pulpit should never distract people from the presence of the living Jesus. A pulpit, a degree, an ordination, a crowd, or being an inspiring speaker or a church planter, doesn’t make a man or woman of God.

Christianity is supposed to be about humility and heart connection, not about control and manipulation. Most Christians can tell you stories about how church hurts. Far too few can tell you about how Jesus’ ekklesia heals.

Going to church without connecting with the living Jesus is like going to Starbucks without getting anything to drink. Without personal connection with the living God, religion becomes deceptive. When Christianity is disconnected from the direct leadership and control of living Jesus, it quickly institutionalizes.

When religion tries to control people, it is acting like the New Testament Pharisees who wanted to end Jesus’ life. Stuck in tradition, habit, and controlling leaders, church too often gets upset about earthly things and ignores spiritual realities.

Nowadays many Christians are saying that masks “muzzle” them, yet they’ve been muzzled by pulpit control for years. Many preachers who condemn people as “rebellious” for criticizing them are busy criticizing other preachers (and even politicians).

Church conflicts are usually about people squabbling over control. If we all let Jesus be in control, there’s no church conflict.

To say that a meeting is being held in Jesus’ name, but not let Him have full control of the meeting is false advertising. If there’s anywhere Jesus should be expected to have full control, it’s in a meeting that claims to be in His name.

Jesus connectivity
Allows His inner activity
To freely stream
Through your heart.

“Here’s the church
And here’s the steeple”
Turn over the pulpit
And free the people.

Something you say or do (or don’t say or don’t do) will impact someone’s life today. To make the world better, make your impact positive.

About Steve Simms

I like to look and think outside the box. In college I encountered Jesus Christ and I have been passionate about trying to get to know Him better ever since. My wife and I co-lead a non-traditional expression of the body of Christ in Nashville based on open participation and Spirit-led sharing. We long to see the power and passion of the first Christ-followers come to life in our time. I have written a book about our experiences called, "Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible--Ekklesia" that is available in Kindle & paperback @ http://amzn.to/2nCr5dP
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4 Responses to If Luther could criticize church, why can’t we?

  1. Niyi says:

    Spot on. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Sonny says:

    Amen! Jesus is the Light! Walk the Ancient Path to the Light. Walking side by side we cast no shadow on each other. Walking behind even great men we are in shadows and do not see the Light in fullness. We feel sadness for our friends caught up in following in the shadow of Luther, Zwingli, Wesley, Calvin or St Auggie in error. Sad they see some light and believe but the divided denominational world has blinded them to the simple gospel of love for one another. They have quenched the Holy Spirit from their worship by following the doctrines of men. Turning to the eloquence ,skills and wisdom of mere men they have made a mockery of Worship. IMHO 1 John 3:23-24 Acts 5:32 the rest is religion

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