Beatings Will Continue...
Authoritarian churches 'almost' always produce joyless Christians. That is a bold and definitive statement, and some might doubt that it is true, but everyone I’ve known that has been in a church like this or has left a church as this would attest to the truth of it. Why does this happen?
I can’t speak for every situation, but I can speak to the one I was a part of for a long time, and the reason for this situation is the sin factor. What is the sin factor? The tool authoritarians utilize to manipulate and control people is the focus on sin in the life of the people. If you are a sinner, and I assure you, you are. Then you will sin. That’s a given. The issue is how the authoritarian uses this to his advantage, and exposing YOUR sin is his goal. He spends very little time on his own sin, but he finds it necessary to expose yours, and he also needs the congregation to play along. Not only does he expose your sin, but others also need to be adept at your sin. Think Hebrews 10:24 without the love and good works.
No need for you and the Holy Spirit to deal with it, they’ll take care of it for you. These are the beatings that must continue. This produces the joyless society. Oh sure, it appears on the surface to be all lollipops and unicorns, but that is a façade. I know this because I’ve lived it and I’ve spoken to many after they leave. They confess the turmoil and the chaos going on inside the walls of the Joyless Assembly.
In John Bunyan’s masterpiece The Pilgrim’s Progress Christian’s journey brings him through many trials and in the night, he comes upon Palace Beautiful. The palace represents the church, and the intent of the church in the world is a place for respite, mutual encouragement, and education in the word of God.
Here Christian encounters the Porter, “Sir, what house is this? And may I lodge here tonight? The Porter answered, this house was built by the Lord of the hill, and he built it for relief and security of pilgrims.”
Of course, the church represents more than just these statements, but seldom do we or should we think of the church as the primary means for rooting out sin in the lives of the sheep.
Psalm 133 says, Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! If this is true, and of course it is, then imagine what disunity produces? Imagine consistently and constantly being “challenged” about things people observe in you and about you? Imagine how this would influence your psychological well-being?
Now you know the meaning of the term, “beatings will continue until morale improves” and of course, morale never improves.