I just started reading “Judgment in St. Peter’s” by Aaron Nathan Rotsstein.
The story revolves around the mysterious disappearance of a Jesuit priest. The major part of the story is set in Rome and centers around the actions of high ranking members of the Jesuit order.
I’m enjoying the book but I find myself growing angry at the religious system whose main motivation is the acquiring of wealth and power. Although the characters in the book are Roman Catholic, Protestants have also developed their own religious traditions. Theirs tend to be more subtle so, in my opinion, they are actually more dangerous since they are more difficult to notice.
The hierarchical system of religion is clearly portrayed in this book and, as I read it, I got angrier and angrier. I’m amazed at how gullible we’ve been to accept the lie that some believers are worthy of greater power and prestige than others. Humility has been re-defined to mean total, unquestioning obedience even to your own hurt. Yet, the scriptures are clear in saying that no believer is to lord it over another.
In one scene, the priest is asking advice from his superior. Although the situation is a personal matter that should only require a personal decision, as a priest, he’s not free to make his own decision. His superior gives his decision and he doesn’t agree. However, when he attempts to voice his opinion, he’s quickly silenced and forced to acquiesce. It amazed me that even though he obviously knew what he wanted to do, he couldn’t make the decision on his own but instead, had to ask his superior. Since it was purely a personal matter, in a non-religious environment, he would have been free to do what he thought best.
Religion has robbed us of the freedom to make decisions on many matters that are purely personal. For example, what to do with our money. We’re told the first 10 % goes to the system and some of the rest to various projects promoted by the group. We’ve been robbed of the freedom to decide where to give and how much.
Fear and distrust are controlling factors in the religious system. Members are afraid they might anger God so it seems safer to put a man in between us and God. The system promotes this fear to its advantage by encouraging its members to believe they’re dumb sheep who are easily led astray and need a human shepherd to lead them.
Reading this book has stirred up a lot of anger and passion in me. I’m tired of seeing people beaten down by a system that puts itself above the people. People essentially become pawns to be used to promote the system. While I understand some groups may not be as extreme as others, this is still true to some extent throughout the religious system.
We’re all equal before God so we need to rise above the man made hierarchical clergy/laity distinction. At the new birth, we were given a new heart which contains the life of God. In our heart has been placed all wisdom and understanding and we need to trust ourselves to make good decisions. Of course, there may be times when we misunderstand and make the wrong decision but we need to then trust that God loves us and will use it for our good.
Since it replaces a relationship with God with obedience to a man, I believe the clergy/laity distinction is a tradition that has held the church back perhaps more than any other tradition. As this tradition is exposed for the dangerous lie that it is, I believe we’ll see more and more believers experiencing more of God’s love and grace.
Darin Hufford has written a powerful post that clearly exposes many deceptions that have held the church in bondage. To read about the freedom we have in Christ, follow this link. To read more about our new heart, you might want to check out Jim Robbins' excellent book, "Recover Your Good Heart."
As we become free, we won’t just stop there. We’ll have a growing desire to see others set free too and we’ll look for opportunities to rescue those who have been left wounded and dying by religion. I believe the following video provides a picture of our calling to rescue the wounded and dying.