May 23, 2007

3/5ths A Citizen and 3/5ths A Christian? Have African-Americans Forfeited Their God Given Connection?

"...they brought with them into the New World a form of Christianity which I cannot better describe than by styling it a democratic and republican religion". Alexis de Tocqueville

Behold: A man of Ethiopia!

But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women...Acts. 8:12.

And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip saying, arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.

And he arose and went; and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet

The Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this Charity. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, understandest though what thou readest?

And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

And he commanded the chariot to stand still and they went down both into the water both Philip and the eunuch and he baptized him.

Read all of Acts. 8: 26-40.



* Is the God that America recognizes (the more State-centric god of Democracy and Republicanism), the one that we have historically been taught about in the West, in reality our God, or is America's God on the other hand a Euro-Centric/Jewish concept of what Euro-westerners believe God to be?

* Is the God of Israel (today mostly political emigres and children of emigres from Europe post Hitler and WWII), 'the exclusive God of Israel', or is the true God the one universal and meta-universal God of all, including that which is outside of the known universe?

* Are homo sapiens, at the center of God's plan, or the apotheosis of God's evolutionary plan - as some humans beings have been taught to believe?

* Have Africans bought into someone else's God concept or idea, and have as a result been serving a 'lesser god' in the west?

* Have we abandoned God in order to please or appease others politically, or in order to adapt to their cultural and religious model(s) in order to improve our own economic and political plight in the west?

* What happened to the spiritual dimension of Christ's ministry? Why aren't people being healed, delivered, converted (even in religion) as they once were where the power of Jesus Christ was alive and well on planet earth?

* Are Africans also just 3/5th's of a Christian in Christian America, just as we were and are still thought by some to be only 3/5th's of a human by some Americans in the larger culture?

* Should Africans or any people follow a Euro-centric model that is based upon European understanding and interpretations, or should we return to the model that was provided for and to us by the Holy Spirit?

*Isn't a regional religious God, a diminishment/obfuscation/denouement of the real and true non-religious extra-universal entity that exists and is responsible for everything that we know of inside of the universe as we know it, and that which is outside of the universe that we can only extrapolate - the one that is too big to abide inside of man-made temples, a material world or mental or religious constructs?

Yesterday, a man explained to me his understanding of the names of God. He was without understanding, and appeared to be oblivious of the fact that a limitless and time-independent God preceded human language(s), or that the names that he referred to were nothing more than descriptions of fractional aspects of the fullness of the non-human entity that is too broad for the human language to define. He made me think of a stanza that used to be sang in the church where I grew up that, 'he will be to you what you let him be'. And for many, that is exactly what the entity that we refer to as God really happens to be, what they envision "IT" (non-gender) or permit) "IT" to be.

However, isn't the non-human entity other than what we imagine or envision it to be. Moses was covered as the glory of God passed him by - 'lest having peered at the very reflection of the God entity would have resulted in Moses' death. In a non-material world, there is still apparently glory, light, heat, cold and consciousness. It is apparent that God can inhabit light, heat, cold, consciousness and for that matter unconsciousness in other reality. We do not, in a material world, define things well that are non-material. From the scriptures we understand that God is non-material, and that out of the nothingness or non-matter he proceeded to create matter and all that we understand is material. And yet, the entity 'God' permits aspects of itself to be revealed, read some of Descartes writing on the subject, Ontology, and other writings on Metempsychosis.

With respect to transcendence, the Christology of Jesus Christ and the realm that God inhabits, (think in terms of meta physics and quantum physics) in order for us to partially understand or to serve that which exists in relative eternity, our reductionism of God through our thoughts and proprietary religions are to limit the essence of what God really is. And I understand that we are required to work to and within our human and individual limitations. Notwithstanding, the Spirit itself, is able to help us to transcend our limited understandings and cogitations. Many scientists today, in the material and non-material sciences have concluded that there is 'something there' which some refer to as, an intelligence, a God equivalent, an unknown or singularity.

I have not only experienced transcendence myself, but like the Apostle Paul who was catapulted into another reality - a third Heaven, I have met both Christian and non-Christians who have experienced a parallel, and a non-parallel reality, if you prefer.

I would ask of all individuals, regardless of your personal or religious beliefs, could you accept that beyond the limits of your current belief system and understanding that there is an existent [non-human] reality that transcends all that we are capable of believing in or imagining? In other words we are only picking up bits and pieces at a time. The question is, which piece did western religions focus on? And how were we affected as result of following a western religious model? God is bigger than religion!

I. America:
In America there is a lingering paternalistic and exceptionalist belief system still operating. It holds that African Americans and others who happen to be of a different race (if there is any such thing as race), are inherently inferior to white Americans, even the religious ones. Please read the book entitled 'Race' by Gossage. In fact at the inception of this nation, it was no secret that Africans were considered to be 3/5th's human by the early colonizing Christians.

And when you couple that with the fact that when blacks were eventually evangelized in America, it was done so in an Amero/Euro-centric fashion, even though we were still considered a libidinous and barbaric form of human being. And many of the teachings and instructions that blacks received, were based upon Euro-Centric Calvinist and other forms, not to mention a mostly Puritan cultural model at the onset. Does it matter? We know that the Eunuch that Jeremiah was sent to minister to had gone though a process of infibulation or castration if you prefer. Are we, like him still considered to be less than whole both politically and religiously, by our counterparts in the west?

It occurred to me the other day that something is wrong, or at least missing. To put it succinctly, most African-Americans still live in a nation where they are considered inferior to their white counterparts, to the extent that they are even taught to worship a God who is the God of another nation, as if to say that your nation did not have a God and you should beholden to our God for even accepting you, these Gentiles having forgotten that they too were apparently grated in by grace. For many, God apparently accepted Africans, particularly African-Americans, despite what we read in scripture, as an after thought, just as Africans in the Diaspora were accepted as Americans as an after thought to a compromise!

In fact blacks are still beholden to a nation that many in it still do not fully accept them as human equals, much less superiors in many instances.

It begs the question, is the God that we have been taught about as Euro's have envisioned God, our God? For we know that this nation is truly not our nation, at least we not been fully accepted as equals within it. Or, are we worshipping the Euro-centric model of God, and who and what Europeans believed to be God? I personally believe that all religions obfuscate the true essence and largeness of what we refer to as God, for within religion, particularly each denomination - God is seen through a limited prism of one's own beliefs, or his understanding of some written text or oral tradition.

II. Does it matter?
Over the past few days, Presidential Candidate Barack Obama has received numerous death threats simply because of his color, and as a result he has been provided with protection by America's Federal Government. One of the Grand Wizards of the Klan has already proclaimed that if he were to become President in 2008 (in white man's land) he would be assassinated.

My thrust and some of the questions that I will ask and hopefully answer, will be as follows:

1). Should we, Africans, follow Euro-centric Calvinist and other Euro-centric models of religion, or should we simply return to our roots, trace our steps back to where we were grafted into the vine - and follow the God who happens to be Universal as opposed to some limited parochial or regional form that is often used for gain by the inhabitants of a respective region, nation or group? For example, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in his tome, Democracy in America, the following re some nations:

"...The permanence, the glory, or the prosperity of the nation had become parts of their faith, and in defending their country, they defended also that Holy City of which they were all citizens." And just as the Jihadists in the Middle-East are often wont to do, many Americans and other nationals tend to adapt or attach God as an extension to their cultural belief system or to their politics or nation of origin. How often have you heard it said that God, Allah or Jehovah is with us? Americans believe that God is America and that America is God. Ever read the book, "The God That Failed". Read it, and you will understand what I mean when I say that Americans believe that America is God. In other words, America is supreme, and America will supply my needs.

III. Africans Grafted In
The scriptural example that I refer to where Africans were first mentioned of having been grated in spiritually is found not only in Acts 2 (on the day of Pentecost), however, more fully in Acts chapter 9 - albeit an African disciple had not been selected by Jesus. However, in Acts chapter 9, we see where the Holy Spirit directed the successful efforts of Deacon/Evangelist Philip to embark upon a proprietary mission where he was to locate a Ethiopian eunuch who was an officer under the authority of Candace.

This eunuch was apparently on the way back to Ethiopia, having departed from the convocation at Jerusalem. Philip subsequently led the Eunuch, who reportedly became a Bishop in Africa to Christ! And this Bishop reportedly led many in the African continent, particularly the nation of Ethiopia, a portion of the greater continent from which most of us descended from to Christ - albeit many of us in the American Diaspora were believed to have originated from regions more in the western part of Africa. Having said that, our spiritual ascendancy may have come about as a result of this man.

What is so fantastic about this story is, and I must point it out, is that it was spirit-inspired, spiritually directed and spiritually culminated. Why was this man so important to the Spirit of God, that God would direct Phillip to him personally? Have you ever noticed how spiritual Africans and their descendants tend to be, in comparison with some of their cerebral counterparts? What is our unique connection with the God of the Universe? Why are we so important to God? I f nothing else, perhaps God felt that we would have been left out by most nations, many of whom despised us, given our darker hue and cultural habits? Dark contient meant more than obscure, to many of them!

Isn't it ironic today that most of Israel and Europe are both majority secularist, while at the same time most Africans and Americans are the more spiritual of the two groups that I just mentioned? Is it because we started out with the spirit, the same spirit that led Philip to connect us to Jesus Christ, versus the religio-philosophical dimensionalist expressionism in the west? God has always been a part of their politics, whereas Africans and their descendants, it would appear, have found and followed God totally apart from their politics (the eunuch is a perfect example of one who found Jesus seperate from politics).

Here is a thought, why is purportedly Christian America, supporting mostly secular Israel against God-fearing Muslims? I remind Christians all the time that the angel of the Lord spake to Hagar, just as he appeared and spoke to the Virgin Mary. And most Christians don't know what to make of that statement, or me for pointing it out. I witnessed a Muslim gentleman praying on a television documentary, wherein he was asking God to save both he and his Muslim family from the Christian American war machine. er herm! From the example that I just provided, it is clear that God loved the descendants of Abraham and Hagar, as much as loved those who descended from Hagar and Sarai.

Back to the point, should we Africans have taken the detour that we did, having placed too much emphasis on following a Eurocentric Christian model that was based upon European understanding of Jewish teachings, Constantine's canon and traditions and interpretations derived from ancient texts? Or, should we reconnect with the one who was sent by the Spirit to bring us into the fold via Philip, perhaps inhabiting the Coptic Church? I admire the African Methodist Episcopalian church in America, particularly Bishop Allen for attempting to keep the church in America attached to its heritage.

And let's give an 'attaboy' to the founder of the A.O.H. Church in America, whose original foresight caused him to name his church the 'Ethiopian Overcoming Church. An Ethiopian pastor who I spoke with and question on this topic, confirmed that much of what I said about the Ethiopian Bishop is in fact true. How many Christians in America, consider the Coptic Church a viable model to be understood or attended to, and how many ignore the Coptic Church and the Coptic Bible altogether?

Consider the following quotations from the book: African Religions (Symbol, Ritual and Community).

Margaret Uba said: "...the white missionaries who came first, they brought only the word of God. They did not bring us the Holy Spirit", and

"Under colonialism, the missionaries were partners with the Western political and economic forces that introduced a wide range of Western values and institutions..., while also indoctrinating Africans with a sense of racial inferiority and a strong dislike for their own religion and cultures.

Under these circumstances, conversion to Christianity amounted to "conversion" to a whole new culture: colonialism".

Lannin Sarrich said: "Missionary Christianity as the propounder of a Universal God turned out be an ethnocentric world view". Prophet Dona Beatriz Kimpea said: "..the Italian Capuchin missionaires had deceived the people about the African origins of Christianity and the true teachings of the Gospel, and they had suppressed black saints".

IV. Geographical Religion:
Why is a major region in the world - where all 3 of the major religious groups in the world the most volatile, a region where Christian America is smack dab in the middle of the fray, I ask?

In Romans chapter 3, verse 29, the scripture reads as follows: Do you suppose God is the God of the Jews alone? Is he not the God of gentiles also? Certainly, of Gentiles also.

It is worth considering that just as African-Americans were forced to ignore much of their own cultural heritage, the same African-Americans have been too quick to forfeit their religious heritage and spiritual foundations. Where am I going with this? Just as we have had cultural limitations placed upon us in the West, denying us all that we could potentially be, we have had the same done to us spiritually - and we should stop cooperating with either. For both prevent us from reaching HIGHER. In effect we have been conditioned to leave behind, many of those who are supposed to be ourinferiors.

The Lord showed me an open door that was above the place where I was standing. The door was opened, my task was to go up and through it, for I believe that I was being invited to see and partake in more that up until this point I had come to understand. Religion, in a generic sense can only bring you so far. However, its aim to bring you to Christ, and to understand the will of God must be taken over by each individual, yielding to God and permitting God (probably an it), and the Spirit -paracletos to carry one to apotheosis. Please recall what the Apostle Peter wrote in his Epistle to those who 'were of like faith'. Peter explained how those of like faith had been permitted to partake of 'the divine nature'.

The Lord once spoke to me, saying the following:
Our theme
Ought to be
To pursue different passions for different people!

Then ought our praxis to be to search for, find and obey the non-political, non-regional and non-anthropomorphic entity that is responsible for our existence (and apparently everything else that is around us) that is integral to life, as opposed to a symmetrical regional God equivalent that has more to do with one's culture and secular politics than with holistic reality? I suspect that Africans, and other religious people have been limited by the latter, and that there is something greater than the proportional divine entity that we have been taught to believe in during our sojourn in the west. I suspect that "it" wants to reveal itself to us and to be known by us!

Oh Christ man, will thou be made whole?

Peace, love and grace,
The Rev

So what? If we have Africans, not to mention other ethnics, have been prevented from reaching our full potential as American citizens, given our ascribed status as being less than, how much has our potential to be fully actualized as God requires, been impacted by our sojourn in economic America, living under American religious-political dogma and its self-serving and preserving constructs that have been mixed with faith?

Are we all that we (God people) can be, given our circumstances in a secularized, Christ by name only, country?

Reference to Democracy In America, Alexis De Tocqueville, Copyright 1945

May 17, 2007

The Church and Religious Substrates: Let There Be No Divisions In The Church

Now, dear brothers and sisters, I appeal to you by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ

* To stop arguing among yourselves.
* Let there be real harmony so there won't be division in the church.
* I plead with you to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.

For some members of Chloe's household have told me about your arguments, dear brothers and sisters.

* Some of you are saying, I am a follower of Paul.
* Others are saying, I follow Apollos, or I follow Peter, or I follow only Christ.
* Can Christ be divided into pieces?
* Was I Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul?

See 1 Cor. 11-14 - The Apostle Paul said…

I. How have substrates operating at religious centers affected each one of us?
God's people are hopelessly divided from their sisters and brothers in Christ because of demon-inspired/man-made constructs, inventions and conventions (that have been mixed in with our faith). In much the same way that our Federal Government is often hopelessly gridlocked, the church is in a similar predicament, it appears to be hopelessly divided.

In Congress for example, even though American citizens elect Representatives to Congress and the Senate during mid-term elections, by and large our Representative's voting choices are driven more by the political substrate that each member operates under, their respective Parties' (Democratic or Republican usually), than as a consequence of the will of the American people who placed them into office in the first place; the same individuals whom they are supposed to be representing. Our elected Representatives give more allegiance to their Political Party bosses (and will often vote in political blocs), whereby satisfying the desires of a Majority or Minority Leader or Party Whip. That is not the way that a Representative government, in a government for, of and by the people is supposed to work.

In much the same way as the Federal Government often fails to respond to the will of the majority of the American people, many religious groups and their leaders fail to be submitted to the will of God and to 'the Spirit' of God. And more often than not the direction that churches go in are decided more by some subdural quasi-spiritual layer operating from some remote location, and in some instances from a not so hidden secular layer that is visibly and invisibly operating at the church.

How is it that there is one God and one Spirit operating in all of the members, and driving all of the gifts in the body (See 1 Cor. 12:1-14 and Romans 12:4), and somehow we have ended up with so many denominations, sects, synods and different religious organizations, each having its own unique doctrine? One Lord, one faith and one baptism (see Eph. 4:4-6)? Father, make us one!

There are currently over 1500 religious denominations in America, all of which claim to represent one God, as well as over 300,000 congregations. And when we consider the rest of the world, and all of the religious organizations and religious groups, (not just Islam and Judaism) in the world, one can easily see that there is a hodgepodge of religions, and most of them purport to worship the one God.

I either stumbled across or was led to the book, A Secular Faith, written by Danny Hart, after I began writing on this subject--it is a must read. Mr. Hart wrote, "...both Protestants and Catholics claimed to be Christian and to follow the ethical teachings of Jesus Christ, and yet could find no basis for religious cooperation".

Now how does that jibe with those scriptures which teach us that there is one Spirit operating within the church (see above)? Based on the scriptures and the example posited by Danny Hart, could one conclude that either both our religious organizations and many individuals who claim to know God either do not really know God or they are simply not submitted to the Spirit of God? Anecdotally, we all plan to be 'one' when we get to heaven, in spite of the fact that we lack unanimity here 'in earth' (our human bodies), so how will we suddenly become one united group in heaven? All of us should recall that Satan and his group of fallen angels were removed from heaven given their unwillingness to submit unto God.

Now this statement will truly open up 'Pandora’s jar', and is bound to get a reaction from those intolerant believers, who hold that they have a monopoly on the truth. During an annual ecumenical prayer service that I recently attended, I worshipped with Rabbis, Imams, Priests, Pastors, Hindus, Jews, Christians and others-- and all of us managed, respectfully, to pray and honor God together. I believe that the highest activity of man is prayer.

1). How could one denigrate or forbid another human being from praying to God? The Pharisees did not believe that God (John 9) would hear a sinner’s prayer. Oh that men everywhere would lift up holy hand and pray unto God!

2). Why isn’t anyone, particularly the world’s religious organizations, attempting to address the problem, a problem which repels many individuals from coming to religious centers and to Christ at all? Because those who cause the divisions and create or build the manmade constructs, are either benefiting the most from having them in place, are intellectually lazy or too spiritually insensitive to realize that this is not what God expected from his 'one body membership'.

II. Our cities of churches and other religious organizations.
While visiting my birthplace during the spring of 2007, Akron, Ohio, I came face-to-face with one aspect of the topic 'Church Substrates' that I have been discussing in the blog. What I experienced in Akron was a microcosm of a larger phenomenon that has been and is taking place all over the nation if not the world. It is the phenomenon of institutionalized religious, denominationalism and sectarian substrates.

During my stay Akron, in addition to preaching I spent time trying to visit friends, relatives and acquaintances (mostly religious people) at several churches and cathedrals. I was even invited by one friend to visit and worship at Mosque #38, her place of worship, in addition to the Pentecostal, Apostolic, African Methodist Episcopal, Methodist, Non-denominational, Baptist and Independent churches that I visited.

What was so striking about what I observed was that each church that I visited, and I know that the Muslims believed the same way as the Christians believed, all of these religious groups had one thing in common -- each one purported to believe in the one true and living God.

It begs the following questions:

1). If there is only one God, how come God’s people won’t come together in harmony, under one banner (and that is not to exclude the Muslims or any other groups that purport to believe in the one true God)?
2). Why isn't there a burden by those who claim to know God to reconcile his body? I am speaking of those who claim to know the truth, evangelicals, fundamentalist groups, Pentecostals and others. The latter are as divided as any of the other religious groups that are parts of God’s universal body.
3). Are we experiencing the age of Pergamos, see John’s epistle to the Church at Pergamos (See Rev. 2:12-16)? Are God's people truly settled into the world, having habituated as well as adopted the ways of the world (Roberts Rules and all) as a substitute, to be used in place of God's providence and guidance?
4). And isn’t it truly amazing that monotheistic Christianity (Muslims don't believe that we are), and Monotheistic Islam, Judaism, the African Traditional Religions and other religions that purport to know the true and living God cannot come together and worship the one true and living God in unanimity?
Historically, we know how the separations and divisions came into being, however, that does not explain why all of God’s people cannot come together today, given that there is reportedly ‘one spirit’ working in all of us, the World Council of Churches and National Council of Churches not withstanding.
5). And what impact does our separation and infighting have upon those who are sincere about coming to or serving Christ, those who are genuinely confused about which brand, denomination or institution they should come to in order to pursue and worship God? As a result some aspirant will simply attend the religious center in their communities, or the one's that their parents, friends or other relatives attend, having given up on trying figuring out 'which one of these is the right one'. That brings us back to Paul's appeal in his epistle to the church at Corinth, Paul appealed to believers at Corinth by the authority of Jesus Christ to eliminate the man-made divisions, to stop the bickering and to be of one mind and united in thought.

III. In the annals of human-history, this is not a new phenomenon. According to what we read in history, humans have been conflicted about who, what, where and how to worship all along. And the reason for it is simple; it has to do with man's refusal to submit to God and to the word of God; just consider Cain and Abel. Cain brought a sacrifice of the fruit of the ground, and Abel brought a blood sacrifice. Even the purported followers of God have created a phalanx of man-made substrates that enables them to operate churches, mosques and synagogues, in a manner that pleases them rather than God.

I once read an advertisement on the internet, in it a church in Cleveland Ohio advertised a pastoral vacancy that they hoped to fill (as soon as possible). One of the primary requirements for the prospective pastoral candidates was that he or she be immersed in Baptist doctrine? I have seen numerous advertisements for pastors and teachers that are similar to this one on the Internet and in newspapers. What ever happened to the doctrine of Jesus Christ, I ponder within myself, each time I read this type of advertising?

Frankly, the doctrine of Jesus Christ has been supplanted even in Christian churches by all of our proprietary doctrines. Today’s minister has to have a doctrinal specialty. He must be immersed either in Apostolic, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic theology…, other doctrines or some 'dispensational theology' of someone else's choosing in order to be acceptable to certain denominations. It begs the question, should ministers be acceptable to denominations or unto God?

I am reminded of an injunction that God gave unto the prophet Ezekiel in the book of Ezekiel (3:1-11), also see 2 Tim 4:3. Ezekiel was told that he was being sent to a 'stiff-necked' people who were not going to listen to the message that was being sent from God. Timothy, in his charge that he received via the Apostle Paul, was told that there would be times that people are simply not going to endure sound doctrine, instead they would find teachers that they prefer listening to, who would tell them the things that they wanted to hear, as opposed to what God was saying to them. Now does that disqualify one from being a shepherd or minister that has been sent by God, because the people won’t receive the message sent by God?

If the leadership of today's churches and religious organization will not submit to God and his leading, than what can we expect from those who are taught to follow their leadership? I have had pastors confess in the past (from certain denominations), that they were not permitted to preach certain parts of God’s word in their churches. For in the final analysis, their church board members would fire them if they did. And I have had, on the other hand, members of churches come to me to inform me that their very well-respected pastors were curiously and unmistakably avoiding certain parts of God’s word!

IV. One Church with many Branches
At least 20 times a year, I worship at the National Cathedral in Washington DC. The National Cathedral is considered just as its name implies, America's national church. It is also known as The House of Prayer for All People. All people, especially American citizens are welcome to worship at the National Cathedral. And on many occasions, don't be surprised to find a mass (the College is actually made up of Episcopalian clerics), with protestant ministers, black and other gospel choirs (not to mention the Cathedral's own world-class choir and singers) or even the former President of the nation of Iran or other luminaries speaking at the Cathedral. Often when I sit in this venue and others like it, I wonder, why we all cannot simply get together. And I wonder why so many of us are not trying to get together? The folks at the National Cathedral are certainly willing to do so.

It is so interesting to hear the word read and preached in other venues, and most of the time it is the exact word read and preached at every other religious center that I have ever attended. It is amazing how much all of us really do have in common.

Some of the more profound sermons that I have ever heard preached were given at St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco, California, at a Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, also, in Akron Ohio and at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C.. I still recall the sermon title given by the minister at the CME church, it was entitled 'Jesus Christ in the Cosmos or The Four Horses of the Apocalypse'. At St. Mary's, the pastor provided us with a wonderful articulation of Job, chapter 32. The title of the sermon was, There is A Spirit in A Man, and I have heard a number of stirring and memorable sermons at the National Cathedral in Washington DC, too numerous to mention in this forum.

Albeit the liturgies were different than what I had been accustomed to, particularly the high services at the Cathedrals, it was still a worthwhile blessing just to know that I was attempting to worship with other members of God's flock. When I was an Administrator at Stanford University, I would frequently visit (when not preaching myself) and enjoy the splendor of the Stanford University Chapel. I would sit with other believers and simply meditate while enjoying the beautiful stained glass windows, mosaics, inscriptions on the walls and galleries in the Memorial Chapel. Another one of my favorite haunts on ‘Good Friday’ was and still is for that matter, the Carmel Mission in Monterey California. The Carmel Mission, despite some of its unpleasant history (Father Junipero Serra was somewhat unkind to the Native Americans), has a special spiritual aura about it for me. I would drive down to Monterey on each ‘Good Friday’, spent a part of the day at the Mission, and then attend other ‘Good Friday’ services in the area in a city named “Seaside”. I would usually end my day sitting and dining by the ocean in the city of Seaside or at Carmel!

Let’s look at it another way. The Apostles wrote epistles, and John in the book of Revelations referred to the churches in different cities and regions by their regional names. Neither he nor the other Apostles wrote to the Baptists, Gnostics, Pentecostals, Methodists, and Muslims and so on. The churches were referred, to given their geographical locations which were influenced by locale, geography, distance, political boundaries and barriers like the mountains and the seas. The latter prevented different groups from worshipping all at the same location, not to mention that the hundreds of new believers could not fit into one house or room.

As a result, in the Apostles time, churches were referred to with names like the church at Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, and Colosse, Jerusalem and so on. However, make no mistake about it; all of the churches in their various locations comprised one church, the Church of Jesus Christ.

So I ask you, how come we can't have the church at Akron, Washington DC, San Francisco California and so on throughout the world? Keep in mind that many of the New Testament churches were set up in individual’s homes and on occasion in buildings or rooms that were suitable for assembly and worship. We know that there was not one exclusive location at Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Colosse, Jerusalem or elsewhere to worship, however, each branch was considered to be a part of one geographical church, and all churches, regardless of their locations comprised one church and one church only in that area.

Today, you have to work through a whole litany of terms to determine the type of church or religious center that you are worshipping with. Are we as hard-hearted or stiff-necked as the refugees at Chebar, that Ezekiel was sent to minister unto. Just consider for a minute the explosive Middle-East where 3 of the major religions of the world are centered, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Is there another region in the world as volatile as this region is whose composition is mostly religious people? In the words of that illustrious philosopher, Rodney King, can't we all just get along?

Similar to Akron and the many restaurants and food franchises that were located there in, there are a myriad of churches, denominations, mosques, synagogues and temples, in addition to Prelates, Bishops, Pastors, Overseers, Elders and Ministers representing different denominations, organizations, synods and councils in the majority of American cities. Each one is offering its own brand of spiritual cuisine and programs to suit your taste. And keep in mind that in many instances, many denominations bearing the same name have Bishops and Prelates presiding over churches, who do not have any affiliation with a cross-town Bishop of a denomination bearing an identical name. In fact, instead of working together many churches often compete against each other, or over the year’s exchange and shuffle members back and forth!

I can visit almost any city in America, for example, that has 50 Apostolic churches within that city, only to discover that clusters of Apostolic churches within that same locality belong to one organization that is presided over by one Bishop, that has nothing to do with an organization that is also Apostolic in origin that has another Bishop that is just down the street from the other. And the same is true of other denominations. Er herm, so why won’t these folks work together and cross-pollinate, and help bring souls to Christ using their combined spiritual and financial resources? Is it because each of these groups has their own agendas?

V. What keeps God's people (the actual temples of the Holy Ghost) separated? It is those human layers that been injected into God’s plan, and individuals who either do not know God at all or those who refuse to submit to God’s plan that keeps God's people separated. I don’t believe that God ever intended for this kind of separation to have a place in his body, even though he obviously tolerates it (probably because we will not resolve our differences). But what would be the state of the church, and how strong would we be 'if God's people were to humble themselves' and seek the face of the Lord, and submit their wills unto God's will?

Paul asked the members of the church in his epistle to the church of Corinth (1 Cor. 10-17) is Christ divided? Did Peter, me or anyone else die for you? Yes, Apollos of Alexandria was an excellent orator, however, did that mean that the members of Christ’s body should follow certain ministers and reject others based upon personal preference or ability? The Apostle Paul did not believe so and neither do I. Does it sound naive to propose that God’s people should be working to reunite God's disjointed church, and allow it to once again become one unified church? Why aren’t we doing so?

Just think of your own body. What good would it be if the legs, arms or other appendages were to separate themselves from the rest of the body. Some individuals are challenged as a result of members of their natural bodies being amputated. On the same token the spiritual body suffers because of all of the amputation that is taking place within the body of Christ. If a 'divided house' will not stand, well then, what about a body?

When I grew up in Akron Ohio, I always believed that the late Bishop Francis Smith, former Presiding Bishop of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the world had to have been ordained by God to be the Bishop of the church at Akron and beyond
(no matter what branch a congregant claimed to belong to). And even though I wasn't raised in the organization that he presided over, if he or any other minister of God for example were to tell me 'to jump', I would simply ask, how high? What made Bishop Smith so special? I believe that it was because of the Spirit of God operating within him, and his willingness to submit to it that made him so unique! In my mind if a man is Bishop of God, and I am a saint of God, I am supposed to submit to the man of God whether I am a part of his manmade organization or not.

Some would disagree with my conclusion just as they did with Moses and other of God’s leaders. Many wondered in Egypt, who made Moses a ruler over us, and many wondered the same throughout recorded Biblical history—who made you a ruler over me? Folks, what happened to the Old Testament injunction that God would supply ‘pastors’ according to his own heart? Or, has God provided and set aside pastors to preside over all of the different man-made denominations that we humans have created. I don’t believe so? What should be important to all church leaders and more emphasis should be placed on it, is not whether you please the people, but more importantly is whether or not God is pleased with you.

Are you recognized by God in the position that you hold on earth? And, followers of God should seek after the ones whom God has ordained and sent to preside over them. Then, if you are still rejected by the people, remember what God told Samuel when the Israelites requested a King, God said it was God that the people were actually rejecting. Many individuals today do not realize that when they reject God’s leader, the one whom he has sent, they are rejecting God. And this happens a lot more than we realize!

Houston, we have a problem on earth. I long for the day when I can enter into any city or place in the world, and step into any religious house or building and know that God is there, and that the group that I happen to be worshipping with at that time is one with the group down the street or across the street or across the world. For all places of worship should have one thing in common, Jesus Christ in the center of all of the candlesticks!

Why aren’t we working on it? And why won’t we permit it to happen? Some will say because we do not believe alike? Clearly that is a part of the problem, however, in terms of a solution, I believe that the real problem is that God’s people have not submitted to God, so that he can fill us with love, knowledge and understanding, whereby making us one.

Our human nature, that at times, takes pre-eminence over our spiritual nature (Romans 7), prefers a place to worship that is to our comfort, and a minister who is to our liking, someone like Apollos of scripture. Apollos was taken aside by Aquila and Priscilla, given that he did not have a full revelation, and he was only preaching what he knew at the time. He was eloquent, but limited. Many of God’s people today have selected eloquent but limited leaders to feed them.

And as a result man made layers, barriers and boundaries that keep us apart from our sisters and brothers in Christ as well as from fully understanding God’s word, thrive. Why? Because God’s people still have itching ears, and many of God's people, similar to those formerly at the Church at Corinth will only hear from those for whom they have a predilection.

Besides, if we were to unite as one and would permit ourselves to be placed under leaders (see Acts 13:2) that God has ordained to be over us and to feed us with knowledge and understanding, many of today's leaders would be out of the jobs (hirelings) that they fight so hard to hold on to. And the positions that they hold within the manmade religious substrates of today, would be done away with, along with the manmade substrates.

The way it stands, too many religious groups are still capturing men and women, enslaving them into human enclaves and fiefdoms. They are preventing them from doing what God wants, or rising to the level that God intended for them. In fact religious leaders of today, many times are guilty of inveigling God’s people into being subject to some manmade organizational layer, instead of teaching them to submit to the leading and to the will of God. Jesus asked the lame man, will thou be made whole?

Have I come full circle on this topic? I don't know, God keeps giving me more to write! As I close, I asked God several decades ago, why there was so much division within our churches. He referred me to 1 Corinthian 8:1-3), his answer to me was, because they seek an answer in theology/knowledge and not in love! Love humbles us; however, knowledge puffs us up, causing us to believe that our superior intellect, understanding and conclusions are more valuable than they really are. Whereas love, will remove the barriers and the substrates which divide us!

Peace & Grace
Rev. C. Solomon

As Jesus once questioned Peter about his motives, I am convinced that there are quite a few mainstream religious groups and organizations in America (many bearing Christian names) that we really need to be concerned about. What spirit are they really of, I ask? For the weapons of our warfare, are not carnal weapons. You will be shocked by some of the names on this list, however, here are the names of some mainstream American political/religious substrate organizations that are on my list that I believe that we should all be keeping an eye on, whether you are a member of one of these groups or not:

The Army of God
The Council for National Policy
The Eagle Forum
The Family Research Council
Focus on the Family
The Rutherford Institute
The National Association of Evangelicals

The Heritage Foundation
Concerned Women for America
The Religious Right/Christian Right
The Moral Majority
Name Watch
Operation Rescue

Higher Education Facilities
Bob Jones University
Liberty University
Regents University

The Prince & Merill foundation
The Makinac Center for Public Policy
The Christian Broadcasting Network
The Southern Baptist Convention (now split)
The Christian Coalition

The Institute for Christian Economics

Volumes, Tomes or Books by
Rousas Rushdooney and other Dominionists and Reconstructionist e.g. Institutes of Biblical Law

My concern about each of these groups is whether or not their real motives have any basis in agape love, or whether they are a result of a misguided love for their own cultural/political constructs, or misinterpretations, misrepresentations and misappropriations of the scriptures that have been mixed in with pseudo-faith. I suspect that their true motivations are as a result of the latter which is a form of an unfortunate but willing deception. Instead of solving problems using Godly methods, they have abandoned the methods of God and have instead substituted carnal political tactics and strategies in order to accomplish their own heartfelt and mostly carnal objectives.

Despite all appearances to the contrary, particularly given the size of their ranks, I am reminded of scriptures which read that any man that does not have the spirit of Christ is none of his. I have frankly not sensed the spirit of God from many in their leadership ranks, and that is to include Pat Robertson, the late Jerry Falwell, Tony Perkins, Tim LeHaye, Dr. Dobson and many others who are in leadership roles within these religio-secularist organizations. In my opinion, these folks, if they ever knew God at all, lost faith in God's ways a long time ago, and instead they have set about to establish their 'own righteousness' in the earth by employing carnal weapons.

Time, I believe, will confirm that these people are not of God and that instead they are being guided by the spirit of error, and as a result they have gone about to establish their own form of righteousness (just as Israel did and is doing), using self-devised carnal tactics that has been coupled with self-righteous zeal. I believe that these purported angels of light, as well as their accomplices will be exposed in time as a major part of Satan's scheme to further dilute and persecute the church of God, as well as to deceive the world if not God's very elect. And some of God's elect, seem to already have been deceived.

I believe that the groups mentioned here and others that I did not mention, and their partnerships with Satan will result in the earth's institutionalized church receiving its final knockout blow - who will believe in Christianity when they are finished? Similar to the Apostle Paul and prior to his transformation on the road to Damascus, many of these individuals who purport to be fighting for God will be exposed instead for persecuting the church and for 'fighting against God', his people and his plan of salvation for all of humankind!

May 14, 2007

Rev. Solomon's sermon notes for The Road To Destiny

Understanding Your Destiny in Christ
By Rev. C. Solomon’s sermon notes

Introduction to: A nice opening story or application e.g. In Hawaii, the road to Hanna with all of its mile posts, 600 curves, 54 bridges (3 hours to get 53 miles) Open with destiny’s road in Christ, and how much it has in common with the 'Road to Hanna trek'. Most of us spend less than 50 years on our road to destiny!

 Angels would pre announce the births of key figures & others
in the divine plot, ex: Isaac, Ishmael & Jesus (before conception/or provide their names & destiny
 Jacob explained to his 12 sons their character/destinies
 Jesus informs his parents that he was aware of his destiny (they didn’t know/recall)
 Nascent Peter was rebuked for wanting to prevent the destiny of Jesus
 Apostle Paul could have been rescued, but said don’t weep for me- I am ready (acts 20) an Apostle by the will of JC 2Tim 1:1
 Elisha got Elijah’s mantel, but Elias spirit was reborn into John the Baptist
 Moses to deliver people
 Joseph’s sheaf to rise and all would bow
 Timothy’s charge via Paul, but from God


Destiny: (n) something that is to happen or has happened to a particular person or thing; lot or fortune. The predetermined, inevitable course of events.

Benchmark: (n) a mark of known or assumed elevation from which other elevations may be established. One event precedes the other. They can be age or event factored…

Point A: Destiny was made totally and independently apparently of Jeremiah
Point B: Of all human beings on earth 7B, you have a unique destiny –yours Point C: Accountability & measurements lest ye miss the mark
Point D: Benchmarks are critical to your achievment of success

Part I Illustration


Jeremiah 1:3-10 … before I formed thee in the belly I knew ye, before you were ever born I set you apart and appointed you as a prophet to the nations.
A. His background – of priestly extraction; son of Hilkiah; appointed prophet 13th
i. 13th year of the King – His first prophecy in Anathoth 11:21
ii. People wanted to kill him – he relocated to Jerusalem
iii. Prophesies against nations
iv. Once belonged to a prophet guild
v. Prophesies also during Jehoiakim & Zedekiah’s reigns
vi. Charged as a deserter- jailed in a pit house (37:11), left to die
vii. The Chaldeans freed him
viii. His career lasted 40 years

B. His destiny
i. The Lord speaks to him
ii. I knew you before I formed you in your mom’s womb
iii. I set you apart and appointed you as my spokesman before the world
iv. Don’t say you are a child (possibly 13 years of age)
v. You must go wherever and whenever I send you
vi. Mission/Theme: uproot, tear down destroy, overthrow & rebuild

Part II: The Apostle and his destiny
A. Some background
i. Aramaic name – Saul, Paul his Roman name
ii. ¼ of NT writing attributed to him, 13 letters attributed to him
iii. Born & raised a Jew in tarsus of Cilicia about AD 10
iv. Claimed Roman citizenship Acts. 21:39 via his dad or ancestors
v. His use of Greek, confirmed that he was a Hellenistic Jew
vi. Homeschooled; circumcised on the 8th day
vii. Of the tribe of Benjamin
viii. Secondary and higher education at feet of gamaliel
ix. Member of the Sanhedrin implied Acts 26;10
x. His trade was tentmaking and leatherwork
xi. Northing to say that he was ever aware of Jesus growing up
xii. He was a persecutor of Christians – enraged as a Pharisee at Jews who did not follow the requirements of the Laq
xiii. Described as small, bald-headed, crooked legged with eyebrows meeting & a hook nose 2ND Century Acts of Paul and Thecla
xiv. Paul talked about a course that he completed 2 Timothy 4:7
Note: It was filled with destiny, with mileposts, benchmarks and phases along the courseway. And he finished ‘his course (The charge to Timothy)

B. His Conversion Galatians 1:10-24 if necessary
i. As a Jew he was looking to the future- expecting Messiah ii. I’m not trying to please people – not a crowd pleaser
iii. My message is not based on reason or logic vs 11
vi. Received direct revelation from Jesus
v. God chose me (vs. 15) before I was born
vii. Revealed his son so I could proclaim news to the Gentiles
viii. I did not go up to Jerusalem vs 17, Arabia & Damascus
ix. Acts 9: Getting converted on road to Damascus
planned to arrest followers- bring them back to Jerusalem
-a brilliant light from heaven beamed down –falls to ground
-hears a voice. Enquires - Who are you sir?
Jesus speaks from heaven- I am Jesus (Alive)
x. First instruction, go and be told (God uses human agency- not vs. 17)
xi. Ananias do what I told you; go to Straight Street –ask for him?
xii: He is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles
and to 9:15 to kings as well as to the people of Israel and their
Kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how I must suffer for my name (9:16), includes death, but not before the course is completed!
Note: It was apparently not something that he asked for, or that Jeremiah asked for…
Note: Given our choices in life, we choose to be fat, happy, rich and, no problems
Note: It was not what he been doing before, persecuting Christ & The Way, albeit he was a religious man at time, who had to of been waiting for

C. Phase two: Acts 13:2 (Appointment phase) separate Paul for the work, missionary/evangelist to 14:26 completed a phase
1. Holy spirit separation -revealed after prayer & fasting
2. Mission, evangelical work
3. Acts 14:26 completion of that phase.
Note: You don’t simply get to go and do what you want to (Come over Macedonia)

D. The persecution phase (the irony of it)
1. Council delegate at Jerusalem regarding the Jews Acts. 15
2. Oppositions: beatings, whipped, stoned, hunger, perils, shipwrecked, fastings, in the sea, abandoned (all men forsook him like Jesus)
3. His physical state 2 Cor. Weak and speech poor, also possibly malaria
chronic opthamalia, migraine headaches, (couldn’t heal himself while
healing others & raising the dead – My Grace is sufficient 2 Cor 12:9

C. Imprisonments & death phase 2 Tim 4:7 ‘finished my course, Phil 1:12 All
happened in order to further the Gospel, imprisoned Acts 21:33, Executed AD 62

Summary of Apostle Paul's life according to Harper’s Bible Dictionary

 Birth AD10
 & Reared in Tarsus
 Conversion 34-35

 Spends 3 years in Arabia i.e nabatea
(Gal. 1:17)
 First visit to Jerusalem aft conversion 37
 Writes 1st Thessalonians 49-50
 Encounters Gallio in Corinth 50-51
(Acts 18:12-17)
 Jerusalem Conference
(Gal 2:1-10) 53-55
 In Ephesus 52-54
 Writes Galatians, 1 Corinthians
Philemon & Philippians 53-55

 In Corinth 55-56
 Writes Romans 55-58
 Executed at Rome AD 62


Part III: Expound, Review & Apply:

1. The road to destiny is divinely predetermined (hard to kick against it) Paul;
vs. the way that seems right to a man (even a Christian or godly one like Balaam)
2. There is the predestination and foreordination of Jesus Christ, before the foundation of the world...
3. Each of us is required to seek both our individual, and corporate destiny in Christ includes secular & spiritual – know your charge Timothy
4. Because it is your destiny from God, do not expect that there will not be challenges, beatings….
5. Failure to reach a benchmark will either prevent or hinder from success at the next phase, or from going on
6. We are not always pleased at the outset with our destiny; preacher’s wives, preachers….Jesus, example of destiny: he overcame
7. Once you announce your destiny, many won’t understand -- Isn’t this the carpenter’s son --Ananias remembered Paul as the persecutor (took faith to accept God’s will) rejected him; Apostle Paul skeptical of John Mark
8. Paul kicked against the pricks – many of us resist; Jonah, me, you
9. Obedience required: Acts 16:6 forbidden by the HS to preach in Asia, vs 7 Spirit prevented him Bithynia after he left Mysia; Headed down to Troas in a night vision, come over into Macedonia and help us he went to the city of Phillip in Macedonia…19:21 purposed in the Spirit to go to Jerusalem
10. When following your destiny it can appear that you are going in the wrong direction; nothing appears to be happening. Gideon, ‘how come all of this stuff is happening to us?
11. You must endure hardness & blessings and learn to be content
12. It is a journey and not a sprint -Children of Israel seemed to be going in circles; Moses
Appeared to be lost… and clueless
13. You must be willing to let go of former benchmarks that you enjoyed, & go to the next station that God has set
14. God and the angels are there every step of the way to guide you; if you lack wisdom, ask?
15. Stop and celebrate your accomplishments/completed benchmarks, they give you impetus to take on the next challenge
16. You will not die before completing your destiny, if you are obedient; however, death (Stephen the Martyr, Jesus, Paul & others) can be a part of your destiny.
17. This is not secular determinism, which says that if it is my destiny it will be done, nor is it fatalism, in a mundane sense it is more like quantum physics. This is ultimately about life – instead you were called from among everyone else, you were chosen, you were appointed; honor your call, or you will live an unfulfilled life and make it more difficult for others from reaching their potential!

Sermonize Jesus Christ,
(The man with the destiny of the world on his shoulders- predicted from Adam).
 Born of a woman
 Impoverished
 The silent years
 Major appearance at 12 at Temple
 His baptism and public ministry (even the social dimensions) must approve all things Mt. 3:15 fulfill all righteousness
 The suffering servant
 His trial - if it were possible that this cup be removed; Thy will
 His death
 His resurrection

In order for the church to be effective, God’s people, the members of Christ’s body must find and fulfill their destinies in Christ, even when it means ‘choosing to suffer afflictions with people of God, as Moses did’. The hand cannot take the foots place, et al. To please God and be effective….we must all be ….in the place that God designated for us.

Conclusion: It is a journey and not a sprint, it may take years or it might be like the martyr Stephen, a short journey. And, God intends for each of us to discover and to fulfill our destiny and to reach our benchmarks, he is not jerking us around! On the other hand Satan, throws roadblocks and curves in our paths in order to prevent us from completing all that God has for us to do, receive and provide for others.

1. How are you doing on your road to destiny?
2. Are you tired, weary, confused?
3. Have you lost faith?

Whatever the case may be we must each make it our business to identify what Christ has destined for us, so that we as members of his body should do (hand not foot) et al), and to make sure our calling (Eph. 4:7-11) God led captivity captive & gave gifts, 1 Cor 12:15-18. God set members in the body for a purpose; the hand cannot be the foot. This is your divinely appointed career search and appointment, which will even include the social dimensions of what you are supposed to be doing during your hiatus here on earth. So fight a good fight, keep the faith and finish your course!

Love, peace & grace
Rev. C. Solomon

May 11, 2007

The Religious Substrate: Part II The Idol Operating Behind The Scenes At Church

Quotations and Questions:

America needs to become a kinder and gentler nation!
Former President George H.W. Bush

Some religious substrate leaders in many of America's
religious substrate organizations - should learn
to be as humble as this President was and
become kinder and gentler leaders!

What happens when your pastor takes the place of God, and
your religious substrate organizations become heaven on
Rev. C. Solomon

* Newsflash: Four board members and the Sr. Pastor *
* of a prominent California congregation*
* recently resigned. *
* *
* They resigned for the good of the *
* church, given that they could not work *
* together! *
* *
* The spirit said separate Paul & Barnabas for *
* the work...! They ended up splitting up! *
* Leaders are human folks, some have authoritarian *
* styles and personalities, and they are not easy *
* to work with or to serve under. *
* Kudos to the resignees who placed the needs of *
* the congregation above their egos, or any hidden *
* need to hold on to POWER! * * *

America's entrepreneural get rich off the backs of
the parishioners, clerics, should take a page out of
Reverend Billy Graham's playbook - he insisted
that his church board keep his salary in line
with that of the rank and file members of the
church. Creflo, Jakes and others - are you

He never asked to be paid what corporate CEOs
in America were being overpaid! Power & Greed?
Japanese CEOs once referred to American CEOs
as gangsters, not CEOs. Many of America's
Religious CEOs more and more are beginning
to fit into the 'gangster classification'.

Part II

Government Sanctioned Religious Substrates - What Role Does the Government Play?Are present day Kings and Priests actually in bed together?

The government plays a significant role in sanctioning religious substrates, just as it does with 'for-profit' organizations. Most religious substrates take advantage of an exception that was written into law by our Federal Government. The exception which is known as 501C3 tax exemption status, permits eligible not-for-profit organizations to operate as a business without paying taxes.

How important is 501C3, and is it a requirement for religious organizations to apply for exemption status? It depends on who you speak with? A civil libertarian would tell you that a religious organization like many other not-for-profit organizations would neither have to procure 501C3 Tax Exemption status, now would they have to pay taxes to the government. Why? According to Amendment I of the United States Constitution, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...!

Therefore and according to Amendment I of the American Constitution, religious organizations do not have to acquire 501C3 Tax Exemption status, or adhere to any other Federal, State or local statutes that have been subsequently written. Paiute anyone? By the way, 501C3 is a provision of the Internal Revenue Service Tax Code!

There are many churches operating in the U.S.A. that collect monies and procure property that completely ignore any Federal, State or local governments guidelines or regulations that pertain to religious organizations. And, the Federal government is often reticent to challenge these rebel churches, for fear that these religious organizations will invoke their First Amendment Rights status. Dr. Eugene Scott, well-known California church pastorwaged a decade-long battle with the State of California - when it insisted that the church that he pastored disclose its financial records.

Many churches go about their business and act in accordance with the law without any government interference, oversight, restrictions or enforcement, and these churches refuse to register with any local, state or federal agencies. On the other hand some groups have violated the trust and are clearly abusing their First Amendment privileges. Senator Grassley's recent investigation of several church substrate organizations is a case in point. Some religious substrate organizations have become a law unto themselves, given the freedoms that they enjoy under the First Amendment to the Constitution.

The religious substrate organization that I was once a part of was named the Apostolic Overcoming Holy Church Incorporated, it was also often referred to by the initials, A.O.H. If you were to invoke the name A.O.H. or Apostolic Overcoming Holy Church minus the term incorporation, or the abbreviation 'Inc., attached to it - you would not be referring, in legal terms, to the same organization. The late visionary, Bishop W.T. Phillips was a giant among men and the founder of this once formiddable organization.

The A.O.H. organization augured that the mother church and its aggregate branches were effectively 'one global church'. In terms of legalese, the other churches would be considered branches or in some instances affiliates. Understanding this is essential for members who ought to know how their church and the substrate operates behind the scenes.

These umbrellas have a lot in common with regulated 'for-profit organizations' in that they are permitted to set up branches and affiliates, and to enter into all kinds of not-for-profit business and enterprising. Their dispersed subsidiaries together with the mother church or substrate umbrella, are considered to be one, or a part of the same organization. Your local parish could have a completely different name and still be a part of the incorporated umbrella organization.

The structures of these organizations are analogous to the structure, and the manner in which the Federal Government exercises control over State, County and Local governments, its territories and all Americian citizens. If you will recall the often overlooked lines in one of Dr. Martin Luther King's speeches, when he referred to the terms 'interposition and nullification". These two terms have to do with States Rights, that many today in the south still believe supersedes the right of the Federal Government to impose rule over them.

And just as every American lives in a local, county, unicorporated or state jurisdiction - members of churches are under the control of some centralized often invisible organizational substrate that operates behind the scenes.

These organizations wield power over its satellites in the same manner that the Federal Government in Washington DC wields power over the 50 states and its territories as well as all American citizens. Well some would argue that Israel is the 51st state! You might not ever get a chance to visit the Federal Government in Washington DC (I stayed there and participated in it for 6.2 years), however, it is there and most Americans know that it is there, especially around April 15th. Many individuals have found out that their local church was actually being ruled by some distant organization that they may or may not have known existed when they joined the local church.

Religious and other quasi non-profit religious organizations that are set up like the A.O.H. organization create laws, provide policing, oversee and try judicial matters, and in addition assess taxes to local churches and its rank and file members and clerics. Also, operating underneath the highest rung of the organizational hierarchy exists synods, dioceses and jurisdictions, as well as diocesans and overseers who preside over regional synods, districts and dioceses. With respect to the citizen-members of these hierarchical organizations, the members are bound to obey the laws, pay assessments, be policed and sanctioned by its government body and so on.

I left the embattled organization (mind you I didn't leave the body of Christ of which this organization was supposed to be a subset) after 6 years, having become drained and disheartened, I even tried to return to it later. Why? The preaching, teaching and fellowship was second to none - and factually I loved the people in the organization. However, the way that the church government operated, coupled with the anachronistic and overbearing Machiavelian ruling-behavior of its authoritarian governing officials, A.O.H. was too much for this northerner to bear.

And even though I liked the people in the organization, including the Bishops, I soon tired again of being in an organization that saw itself, in my opinion, as being bigger than the spiritual organism/organization that Jesus Christ established on earth. I also tired of tyrannical ministers who were often rude, abrasive, needlessly confrontive and factually out of control! Several of its top officials often reminded be of the Mob, the Mafia, the Cosa Nostra with 'this thing of theirs'. These fellas would rule like mob bosses, and put a 'spiritual hit' out on you whenever they felt that you crossed them or challenged 'their rule or rules', not God or God's rules!

The Paradigm Shift:I am finding more and more that discouraged Christians who abandoned these types of religious substrates were not tired of Jesus Christ or his church. What apparently burned many of these believers out the quickest were the manmade organizational substrate demands along with the attendant assessments, rules, stipulations and requirements. These churches are typically led by a minister who is benefiting financially from those who he or she is supposed to be serving.

Ironically, these kinds of ministers who receive money and support from the fleeced sheep, customarily have zero interest in receiving any input from them. Oftentimes their attitudes are simply, "just give me the money along with your service and shut up". The latter appeared to be the overarching theme of some of these, 'show me the money curmudgeons' that I experienced.

Often times the ones who leave, those who were exiled and those who went into exile often did so not because they were rebellious as the governing officials and local officials would have you believe, on the other hand they simply tired of tyranny and intractable officials who could not be reasoned with! A kinder gentler church with kinder and gentler church officials..., is something to be desired? Have you ever heard one of these characters stand up and tell the congregation, "if I were a CEO over an organization like this do you know how much they would be paying me". The answer, probably too much!

I have also found that regional differences also played a part and impacted the feelings of some members who escaped from several of these religious organizational substrates with draconian leadership. For example some religious substrates that were founded in the South, failed to appreciate the regional and cultural norms and differences that existed between northerners and southerners. A.O.H. is a prime example, however, other organizations were as culpable, consider the history of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, the Southern Baptists and other national and international substrate organizations!

The Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, originally a trinitarian organization that was once ruled primarily by Caucasian bishops was founded in 1912 in Los Angeles California. The organization split because the southern churches were not very fond of the purported 'liberal' ideas that were emanating from the Northern Councils, particularly the idea of ordaining black bishops. Oops, I told you that some of these folks who lead these organizations can be very carnal! Er herm, white Prelates, what happened to the Holy Ghost, and no more Jew, Gentile et al? Not only that, when the Northern yankee Christians visited the south in order to attend church conventions and conferences, particularly the black ones, there were few public accomodations available for them.

Did the white Southern Christians care? Nyat? Today, the gentrified PAofW is practically a 'black organization'. While we're on this topic, how many of you knew that the All-American white bred southern Reverend and Evangelist Billy Graham from N. Carolina, refused to stand on the podium with Dr. Martin Luther King and preach to the nation that racism was wrong at the 1963 'March on Washington? Er herm, Billy said, 'I thought Dr. King and the Civil Rights workers were the troublemakers'. Oops, and brother can you spare a dime!

Well, the bigoted Apostle Peter (who had to be withstood to his face on more than one occasion) did not eat unclean things either did he, well, until God showed him differently? The Apostle had to later withstand Apostle Peter to his, with respect to his bigotry and sectarian spirit. Some of these 'robed and rabated fellas' who attempt to rule over us today, need to be 'withstood to their faces' - their brothers in crime aren't going to do it. And how about the weeping prophet Jeremiah, a man who was rescued by an Ethiopian who extricated him from a muddy dungeon?

Jeremiah felt that the unchangable skin of the Ethiopian was odious. He also felt apparently, that any dark hued individual would certainly want to change their skin color. By the way, it was a good thing that the Holy Spirit did not send Peter to meet with the darker hued Ethiopian brother who was returning to Africa following Pentecost. Why? Not only would Peter have baptized him, he likely would have held him down long enough and attempted to wash the black off of him. Had Jeremiah been there, he would have said, here Peter try this lye soap! In modern times, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and others in their substrates picked up where these two historical icons left off.

Even as Peter, Jeremiah and others were flawed and seeping in bigotry as the confused evangelist Reverend Billy Graham was, many of our leaders today are as flawed and head-strong, however, in a different way. But who can tell them that they are flawed without being sanctioned or silenced within their religious substrate-organizations! More and more it takes a magistrate or a judge to confront and correct some of our oppressive and out of control leaders and make them to listen to reason.

Now Reverend Solomon how do you know these things that you are saying about Reverend Graham for example, and aren't you a reverse racist? Ah, I get these types of cop out questions all the time. My answer to the cop out questioners would be to ask former Washington DC Delegate and still pastor, Walter Fauntroy. Or better yet speak with Mr. Clarence Jones, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King's speechwriter and personal counsel. Or speak with Representative Lewis from Georgia, or talk to members of the Southern Christian Leadership conference and ask them just as I did.

Or, you can contact the Reverend Billy Graham and ask him! Fortunately, he confessed his sin years later - many years too late to help the sufferers that he could have helped to rescue! Does this prove my point that these fellas in the highest clerical ranks, that hold offices in religious substrates can be twisted and flawed in certain areas of their lives? A good man, the Reverend Jack Hayforth, you've seen his TV ministry; and what an excellent minister he is. However, he confessed that when he was a gridiron basketball player, that after the game ended and he had shaken hands with black players, he would run to the bathroom immediately afterwards. Why? He had to wash the black off of his hands.

Reverend Solomon, why are you doing this? To show you the difference between flawed ministers who do exist but are capable of repenting versus the ones who just keep on trucking! Reverend Hayward and Reverend Graham are alright in my book - for it took a lot for them to admit that they had previously been brainwashed and done wrong. Having said that, their help in the civil rights area, decades ago likely could have eliminated a lot of the persistent sufferings that blacks in America endured in the land of the free and the home of the slave.

They also could have helped to change to change the attitudes of bigoted secular government officials and many of America's Red State Christians of today, who still harbor discriminatory attitudes. Just think about it, if purported holy clerical leaders are harbingers of racial animus, how about the rank and file members of the churches that they pastor? Study the history of Bob Jones University, and you would be amazed to know that its founders and some of its current administrators and religious supporters still consider themselves to be good Christians. And the latter do in so in spite of their racial positions. KKK at this institution, does not stand for 'kool kolored kids'.

Having said all of this, many of our black clerics that have ruled for decades and need to be brought down off of their pedastals and reminded that they were put in place to serve - by the creator, not to be a 'tin horn egomaniacal Banana Republic style-dictator' that harbors the need to make up for the period of emasculation that they may have endured'! Well, Apostle Paul might not have put it in those terms, those are my words. However, clearly their biases are against 'those who they believe are somehow beneath them', the membership and subordinate ministers point of fact!

Some would laugh if I were to say that some of these organizations also have their own functioning military commands and commandos. Don't laugh for all of us know about the Nation of Islam's Fruit of Islam (FOI), it is religious a paramilitary group that exists within 'the Nation. Have you ever been confronted or frisked by these guys? One of many times that I experienced frisking was at the National Press Club in Washington DC. I went there to listen to Minister Farrakhan, who had just returned from a fact-finding tour of the Middle-East. While there he met with PLO Leader Yasser Arafat, as well as with Israel Prime Minister (and terrorist himself), Ariel Sharon.

Minister Farrakhan shed a lot of light on what was really going on in the Middle-East, even pointing out the misinvolvment and duplicity of the United States with respect to its Middle-East policy. I knew that already, however, and as an aside - did you know that when the nations of the world set up an embargo against the white racist regime of South Africa years ago, that it was mostly secularist Israel (that is supported by our tax dollars and Church benevolence), that continued to support the white racist government? Yes folks, secularist Israel supplied the white south Afrikaners with weapons that were used to continue the suppression of black Africans?

Hmm, now you know,and don't refer to me as anti-Semitic. First of all many Arabs and others that Americans hate are Semites. And the Apostle Paul once warned that Israel had left the righteousness of God, much like some of our leaders in religious circles today have, and gone about to establish their own form of righteousness!

All of us know or should know by now who was actually responsible for the assassination of El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, it was the military arm of 'the Nation', the Federal government also played a role. My point, it was not the Klan or a white separatist group. Well, then you would argue that is the Nation of Islam who has its own commandos; and what does that have to do with my religious organization or my wonderful leader? Wake up Don Pardo, step out of line in your religious substrate and you will find out when you receive a warning, visit or call from the religious commandos in your organization!

By the way Minister Farrakhan admitted later after meeting with Betty Shabazz, late wife of the slain El Hajj Mailk El Shabazz - that he helped contribute to the atmosphere that resulted in the death of El Shabazz.

It is great that he confessed, but how many others before El Shabbaz, shared the same fate? And how many times has your out of control Prelate created an atmosphere that endagered or caused someone to be alienated within your church substrate. Study the history of the Catholic Church and you will find that their clerics had individuals, whole groups of people, towns and villages knocked off during the history of 'the Church'. Why, for instance did the late Pope John II, a man that I deeply admired, have to apologize to the Jews and to the Muslims for the past atrocities and persecution by the Roman Catholic Church? Anyone ever hear of the Crusades, among other things?

Factually, many of our religious organizations as far back as we can remember had military components. The Sanhedrin had a paramilitary arm, the Catholic Church had and has a paramilitary arm, and many religious substrate organizations today have paramilitary enforcement arms, some are euphemistically referred to as 'Sergeant at arms', some are the prelates, bishops, elders, superintendents, pastors, elders and deacons.

If you don't believe it, just ask some of the individuals who have been intimidated or who have received warnings or visitations from some of these enforcers. Some of your leaders are conducting crusades against many of you at this moment. Their objectives are to consolidate power and to alienate or to remove those individuals who do not support their self-empowerment agendas. Anyone, by the way ever hear of the Salem Witch Trials, similar actions are common today in some religious substrates! Some good religious folks, white, black and otherwise are black-hearted!

I was at another pastor friend's Press Conference some years ago, when he informed me just before the media event began that the enforcement arm at the church that he extricated himself from asked him, "do you know that we will kill you"? This pastor was from another mainstream American religious substrate denomination.

These were purportedly good Christian church folks in this major American Baptist organization who allegedly threatened him - I believe that he was being truthful for some of these carnal church boards can be lethal, in and outside of the Baptist denomination. I preached at one of these churches years ago, where the minister who had pastored the church for 50 years retired. The church was so taken with me, my credentials, my style, sermon and most of all God in my life, that some members stood up at the end of the service and appealed to the Trustee Board.

I can still recall their words, that we should hire this man right now. One lady pleaded, God has sent this man. The trustees were very kind to me themselves, but jovially told me in the back room, 'the members are right about you except for one thing', you are not going to turn us into a 'Bapti-costalist Church'! Eek!! A well known Pentecostal organist who was hired by a baptist congregation was rebuked after church one Sunday morning. It seems that he forgot where he was when he backed the pastor's preaching up with musical accompaniement as the pastor sermonized.

The Trustees caught the musician once the church service was dismissed and told him, 'dont you ever do that again'. He said, but the pastor liked it and the church obviously liked it. The Trustees told him, "we run this, not the pastor"! Not even the Holy Spirit was free in this church, apparently. Er herm, moving right along, how about the Baptist ministers who were on their way to a religious conference that was being held in Canada some years ago?

They must not have gotten the word that Jesus gave to his 'packing-brotha disciples' before - who Jesus told to leave 'their pieces at home', before they embarked on a divine missionary journey.

In terms of modern day 'street patois', pieces are weapons, especially knives! The cursing, weapons carrying, opportunistic give me a seat beside you in the Kingdom Jesus, were some BAD BOYS at the onset! Three years with Jesus, and he still reminded Peter that he had to be converted!

Yes I said it, the disciples of scriptures were a group of 'packing brothas' themselves. On one occasion, a couple of these disciples pressed Jesus to call down fire from heaven and burn up a group of individuals whom they did not accept as a part of the team! So what again Reverend Solomon, we are not baptists. Truth be told, if you study the history of the Pentecostal Church, trace its roots back - further than the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World's claim that all Pentecostal churches in America were birthed out of the P.A.of W, you will discover that your Pentecostal organization likely descended from the baptists.

Factually, the original American Pentecostal ministers were formerly mostly baptist ministers. What a minute again Don Pardo, don't get mad at Reverend Solomon for saying that, do some research yourself.

Following the Azusa Street revival many of the Baptist clerics who were converted, later became Pentecostal Ministers, and formed a new Pentecostal movement. Anyone ever hear of the founder of the Church of God in Christ? Yes, Bishop Mason and other ministers of the organization that he helped to found were originally Baptist ministers! And some of the antecedent behaviors of the former baptist "I AM THE MAN ministers', carried over into many of today's bringing down judgment Pentecostal 'wanna be the man clerics - these fellas see their jobs as being part political, and on the other hand all about 'control'!

For some of them that is all they know. However, you measure it though, their behaviors and attitudes are like Paul once wrote to the Church at Corinth about, carnal!

The military wings of some of our religious substrates also remind me very much of our 'Dominionists' and 'Religious Right/Moral Majority Pharisees of today', who were so willing to call down fire on the people of Iraq by deploying American made UAVs that were loaded with armed Hell-Fire missiles (and they did not name them 'hell and fire' missiles for naught). The American objective was and is to bring down hell and American brimstone fire on Iraqis, and other racial and religious groups who are not conceding to white, oftentimes religious American hegemony!

Sadly, Christian Americans also supported the deployment of and F117 stealth and other tactical bombers that were used in the pre-emptive attack and subsequent occupation and take-over of Iraq, and the murder of innocent men, women and children. God help us, for some of you are a part of those substrates who believe in their own form of interposition and murderous nullification and interventionism! Pat Robertson of 'kill Hugo Chavez fame', is just such a leader of one of these kinds of organizations that is fronted by a church organization - fully supported and encouraged the carnage.

Rev. Falwell of the Old Time Gospel Hour, and pastor of the Thomas Road Baptist church of Lynchburg was his partner in crime. 'Old time', and the term 'lynch', seem to be apropos for these two curmudgeons, and there are many more like them. I can still recall when that dude came back from S. Africa and proceeded to castigate Anglican Bishop Tutu. The subjugation of 96% of the black population wasn't the problem, Bishop Tutu 'the phony', as he put it was the problem. What a nut? And how many of you attend Regents or Liberty University?

If you are registered at one of these institutions, you should go back and study the doctrine of Dominionism, which is the driving force behind the creation of these quasi religious white-supremacist institutions, as well as many other schools that they have created in order to indoctrinate American children. Their objectives are to prepare individuals to help maintain 'a white supremacist world order - not a divine order! The phrase white supremacy will frighten some of you, but factually that is really the demonic force that beckons to the leaders of these quasi-religious substrates that pretend to be churches.

They invoke the name of God in order to rally, indoctrinate, sustain and implement white politics in America and around the world. Reverend Hagee, Tony Perkins and other well-known ministers like Reverend Rod Parsely are a part of this venal conspiracy.

These two heretical ministers, Falwell and Robertson along with others, insisted that President Bush reject the 'Roadmap for Peace' proposal for Palestine, also encouraged and supported (Falwell is no longer with us) a lot of the nefarious activities and killings that took place recently in the Americas! The two of them encouraged killings in San Salvador, and Guatemala!

Back to the Baptist clerics: The Canadian border guards had to take the guns off of all in this group of mostly Baptist clerics, men who were on the way to a church conference, eek! And how about Peter of scriptures, a member of Christ's group who pulled out his sword and nearly whacked off, we are told in scripture, the ear of an opposing military guard? There is simile when you compare Peter of scriptures, some of our Chief Apostles and Prelates today - again, and having said that, at least what Peter had was real. Eventually, 'he grew in grace, with regard to some of ours - we're still waiting for the grace revelation to occur!

I referred to 'Peter the Knife' in one of my writings, some found that amusing. The sword of 'the tongue' for many of today's leaders that will vanquish, excommunicate, send out letters of banishment or put out a spiritual hit on a substrate member - can be just as lethal! The way that some of these fellas behave gives new meaning to the phrase 'sword of the spirit'! Move over Reverend Jim Jones - you weren't the only one who wanted to play God, or rule over and murder God's people, while you attempted to amass power for yourself!

Another television ministry substrate in California grew way too fast. The pastor was a novice even by his own admission, in fact he started 'his church' in 'his living room'. Amazingly, his living room church grew to approximately 14,000 members in just over a decade. When asked by other ministers to tell him how to grow a church like that, this former Hell's Angel who claims to be 'Heaven's Angel today', told them that I could not tell you how it happened. I suspect that I could tell them, but that would be another story altogether.

And as a side-note, the man that started 'his church', in 'his living room', made 'his wife, his son, his daughter-in-law', pastors at 'his church'! A 4 million dollar gift from 'his friend' over a decade ago helped him to organize and build 'his church that is co-pastored by his wife, his son and his daughter-in-law'! Oops! Where did he learn that, from the Hell's Angels or by watching other churches that are dominated by family-membered and family-controlled church substrates?

His first major blunder happened as a result of the quick growth of his mega- substrate. It seemed that the pastor needed to appoint individuals over various ministries in the church. He made a huge mistake and appointed some men in the church, pedophiles, over one of his youth ministries. These men proceeded to sexually abuse the young men in 'his youth ministry'. The pastor like many of our hardened 'you don't tell me what to do - I am the king megalomaniac prelates", would not be entreated, and as a result was later hauled into court. He was mystified, and wondered, how could anyone sue the church?

In short, the judge reprimanded him at trial and ordered both he and the plaintiffs into mediation 'among themselves'. The judge also lambasted and reprimanded both factions for bringing this matter to court. He reminded them in session that church people are not supposed to bring matters, ideally, to civil courts. We have all witnessed a lot of that taking place lately, haven't we? Do you ever wonder why? During meditation, the hard-head Prelate was humbled, and admitted that he never listened to what the victim's parents were trying to tell him.

Folks, he failed to listen to a prophet who came to his church that gave him and the church 'a word from God'. They were told that God showed the prophet that individuals were having sex behind the large video screens in the church. These were the screens where the lyrics of the songs were displayed that the congregation read from as they sang along during worship. There was more to the message than he understood!

Sound arrogant for me to say that? Live with it, the man lacked spiritual discernment. What motivated him to start 'his church'. A black minister as he explained it, who had missing teeth - prophesied while spitting in his face that he would reign over this huge ministry someday. The black mystic or prophet, you decide, then hit him up for twenty bucks, immediately following the prophesy.

Folks, it is not uncommon for Prelates and officers of substrates to feel that they don't have to listen to anyone who they consider to be 'beneath them', well except for their partners in crime, their family members in the ministry or the yes men who agree with their 'I AM the power positions'. Many, instead will preach to you about your role, that is to become like little children under their draconian, autocratized and authoritarian forms of leadership.

But they do not seem to understand what Jesus meant when he said to permit the little children to come to him, and to forbid them not. Okay Bible scholar, I know the context that he spoke in originally, but at the same time it was the spirit of what he said, and not the context only that matters.

What child, besides children who are victims of bad parenting cannot come to their parents without being yelled at, verbally, physically or sexually abused - or castigated in the manner in which some of these fellas often done? By the way, I believe that the misappropriation of scripture, and teaching the members that they are children by prelates is condescending and derisive - if not a venal ploy that is being used in order to exercise mind and other control over the rank and file members of the substrate. Adult church members are not children, no more than the Prelate is a child - well, that's another story. Sometimes given the ranting, raving, egomaniacal behavior of some of them, it makes you wonder whether or not they are not behaving like children themselves!

In the sense that the Children of Israel were referred to as children - including their leaders, then I will concede that everyone in the church is a child under God, including the autocratic church leaders and the board members - who in some organizations are an autocracy, plain and simple. And some wonder how Jesus Christ really ended up on the cross; it wasn't Caesar's ideas. Jesus was slain given the actions of the out-of-control leaders who ruled the Jews in Jerusalem. These guys were also intractable, self-serving dictator rulers, the same as some of the leaders of religious organization are today whose organizations are Tax-Exempt no less!

Well how did the story of the 'I don't have to listen to you mega pastor' end up? The humbled pastor apologized for his hard-headness and refusal to listen to the victim's parents who argued that you had the responsibility for the ones who you placed over our children. In other words a trust had been violated, and these pre-pubescent youngsters were ruined, likely for life. The pastor conceded, yes it was my responsibility and I was negligent given my inexperience - and I placed, without consulting God, individuals over your children who were perverted!

Folks you cannot simply allow the substrate organizations and their on occasion misguided and in many instances autocratic leaders to rule over you without being informed yourself about the rules and the power behind the substrate, or by holding these characters accountable. Marriages have been destroyed, females and children have been sexually abused by some of these religious tyrants - and homes have been destroyed. No one should support these substrates when they are unable to question or hold the leaders of these substrates accountable.

Many of these individuals want your money, presence, participation, sweat and blood however, when it comes to your input - they will tell you, "I AM THE MAN", and you don't tell me what to do!

I beg to differ with them, yes we do, and as a minister of God that rule applies to me as well - I must hear from the rank and file and be submissive to them! Some of our ministers have completely overlooked 'the theology of submission', Jesus did not ignore it! These fascist leaders will have to give account for their fascist styles of leadership, however, consider all of the damage that they have done in the meantime. Exactly how many individuals are these autocratic rules solely responsible for running away from the church that they claim is God's church.

How many individuals are they solely responsible for driving to Mega's, a place where they oftentimes are NOT receiving the personal pastoral attention that God planned for them? Many, having overcome the world, ala 2 Peter 2nd chapter have found themselves entrappe, and having escaped one lunatic they find themselves under the control of raving power-hungry get rich dictators in either substrate system? How many are they responsible for that have simply returned home or to their venal practices, those who have observed and seen through the venal and sophist practices of religious megalomaniacs? How many? The answer is too many!

Frankly, and you have probably guessed it already, I have been dressed down personally by more than one of these autocrats - however, I was one of a much larger majority who experienced the same treatment. Folks, some of these fellas are factually carnal and out of control themselves. Juveniles were openly rebuked before the congregration David Koresh style and threatened with excommunication - while all their parents could do was to 'look on'! What happened to the fruit of the Spirit that is supposed to be operating in these autocratic style leaders? How come you can't ask simple questions or disagree with them without a public dressing down or having fingers pointed in your face. God help us!

One of my favorite stories was of a minister in an organization who questioned the new Prelates demands that the organization build a new Headquarters church. This new Prelate who preceded the one who passed away, wanted a new Headquarters built in the town where he pastored. The minister asked, Bishop, when we elect a new President to the White House, does the new President move to the White House or do the people build a new White House where the President resides? He was silenced by the Prelate. Er herm!

Many of these prelates hide behind the scriptures in order to invoke their own form of prairie justice, or to justify their ranting and raving. Praise God that Peter and even Paul later learned to and repented from the aggressive and carnal behavior that each of them exhibited on prior occasions! God, had to knock Paul down in order to turn him around and get him on the right track.

Now in terms of the Spirit of God talking to Jeremiah, or even Abraham, I challenge you to run to and fro and find a leader of one of today's substrate religious organizations or churches who is humble enough to listen to the rank and file members, to act more like a shepherd than an autocrat or scion, or even to admit when he is wrong! More and more they are becoming a rare commodity.

To wit, a colleague of mine suggested just over 30 days ago, that a group of ministers including 'yours truly', should conduct nationwide workshops that will either be held in locations around the country or on podcasts. The objective would be to inform and to educate members of these organizations just how their organizations actually operate behind the scenes. For some individuals are truly being exploited within these organizations given their lack of knowledge!

This brother is part of a Jamaican Church, and he has witnessed firsthand the draconian behaviors of churches in Jamaica, who are seeking to emulate American capitalist church models. Ah, to be honest the Rev doesn't want to tear churches apart. However, I am amenable to influencing these, 'I want to be a CEO leaders', or the 'military-style captain in the church' style leaders. If you want to be an entreprenuer, military captain or a businessman, don't use a non-profit tax exempt religious organization to pursue your vice, avocation or vocation, or to assuage your ego!

Clerics, if you desire to be a Head-of-State and run your own form of government you should head to Guyana, and found your own religious country, just like Jim Jones tried to do. Then, you also can sit on your throne and yell into your microphone at the crumbsnatchers! But whatever you do, leave your carnality at the door of the church, for the church is supposed to be 'the House of Prayer for all People', that is being led by individuals who are submitted to the will and the methods of God!

You would be amazed at the membership in religious organizations today who know only that which they have been told by the heads of their organizations. And, believe it or not that is always not a good thing, many times there is a lack of full-disclosure by the leaders and the boards, which can be detrimental to members who naively trust everything that they are told by their church leaders.

I asked my colleague to give me time to pray over his suggestion, unless we could be responsible for rooting up some of the wheat along with the tares! Remember my sermon that I told you about in the blog, American Capitalist Church syndrome? A church group often takes on the methodology, rules, behaviors, and the spirit of the economic and political systems of the indigenous nations where the organization happens to reside in or is established. That does not alter the fact that there are exceptions to the rule, given that some of the overseas churches are trying to emulate the flawed capitalist American church model. Now, there are operating off-shore, greed and power brokered - American style religious substrates.

America is too often all about greed and power, and anyone in America ought to be able to see that the church leaders of late are eagerly pursuing power and wealth on the backs of the parishioners. How many ministers, in the same manner of some of their archetypes have you heard saying lately that, 'there is nothing wrong with wealth'. Factually, there is something wrong with them. Folks, there is something wrong with greed and bringing the spirit of the world into the church. How often do you hear wealth-clerics say that we should obey Acts Chapter 4, and have all things in common? Are you kidding? Share the wealth and help the poor,they would say, wherever did you get an idea like that? Folks, there is something wrong with greed!

My question to many of these fellas is, how many airplanes, Armani suits, vacations, luxury homes, bling bling and cars - and other accoutrement do you require? Much of what they crave is being purchased off of the backs of homes-being-foreclosed, downsized, underemployed and formerly employed American Christians! Many of these terminally poor and fix-ed income parishioners who thrive in the ghetto sections of these churches, which some have done faithfully for years? I heard Creflo, 'well, the Bible says that you will always have the poor with you'. Er herm! What did the bible say about the rich Creflo?

I recently chastised the insensitive leader of a burgeoning mega Apostle Paul to pre Chief Apostle Peter style minister by rote, who boasted in an area of the country where the foreclosure rate was recently the highest in the nation, that 'my house is so big that I can't find all of the bathrooms in it'. Eek, what a nut! The people who were listening to him were loosing their homes, and many of them while still giving their tithes and offerings faithfully to the church - not knowing what street corner they might soon be living on!

All across this nation, church organizations and local churches are suing each other with regard to misrepresentations, misunderstandings, attempted property acquisition, malfeasance, fraud, usurpation of power and theft. It is happening in both Catholic, and Protestant churches of every denomination. Baptist leaders, have been imprisoned and a once burgeoning Methodist church in Maryland was in litigation for years given the leader's attempted abuse of power, his attempted confiscation of church property and his obvious obfuscation of the church charter. The leader was subsequently forced to move on, and in his place his son took over.

What happened that caused the members of the body to litigate against its autocrat? This once small congregation under the leader of this pastor grew over the years into a mega church. The mega church membership, the properties that were acquired under the churches original charter, and the vast sums of money that were banked, spent and shared among the church staff burgeoned while this man was the leader of the church.

The leader decided after many years that he was going to withdraw from that church organization, and since he felt that it was he who had been solely responsible for the expansion of the church, he was going to take a substantial portion of the membership, and most of the newly acquired properties, buildings and finances along with him into his new venture. He planned to start a new organization, where like prominent ministers 'show me the money Creflo Dollar', 'I own the biggest house in Dallas TD Jakes', Eddie Long and others, this pastor would be 'the Man', the All Powerful, likely 'Wrong Reverend'. Does that remind you of what took place in heaven when Lucifer said, I want to be like the most high?

Is that all the church is Bishop Jakes and others, a business? I am often asked to join in as well as to consult with churches and church organizations - and I do my best to help them by disclosing the truth. Case in point, a pastor once asked me to join in with his latest church venture. He had acquired two beautiful church facilities. I asked, well what about the church board? Church board he said, "I will never have a church board telling me what to do". I said to him, no thanks then - I will simply pass! Some ministers do not realize that they have an authoritarian, nobody is going to tell me what to do 'mindset' and 'personality!

If there is someone there to control them, they cannot launch into their often ill-conceived plans and visions.

Back to the Maryland Methodist Congregation, fortunately, the judiciary saw through the Methodist pastor's shenanigans, and the rank and file members of the church prevailed, in court no less!

BTW those of you who still believe that I am the rebel, and those who cannot understand why I am saying these things. Did any of you hear about the leadership of a well known church in Maryland who went behind the backs of the members and applied to the state for a liquor license for the Family-Life Center? Not everyone who wears a clergy-collar, or who dons a certain title is as sacrosanct as you might believe.

Oftentimes, their personalities seep through - and you can witness strongholds that they have not relinquished; can anyone recall the behavior of intemperate Moses when he descended from the Mountain. I believe that the reason that God made the lives of the Apostles and other biblical characters so transparent, was to warn us today to be watchful and careful about our current leaders as well as ourselves, and what can happen if we place them on too high of a pedestal. Honor is one thing, idol or icon worship is another thing altogether! Jesus said of himself - there is none Good but the Father!

Now back to the A.O.H. church substrate, which was originally named, The Ethiopian Overcoming Holy church, which was an even cooler name in my opinion. This organization/church name was likely coined in reference to the mission of Deacon-Evangelist Philip, who in Acts the 8th chapter helped to bring the Ethiopian Eunuch to Christ - who in turn carried his ministry into Northern Africa.

Please see my writing on how the black church in America lost its tie to its spiritual roots, for God disposed and sent Phillip to find this Eunuch in order to bring not only him but Africans to Christ. That experience had serious implications for all of us who were affected by the African diaspora as well as our ancestors who were sold into slavery and afterwards brought to the Americas - north, central and south.

Study the Coptic church in Ethiopia today, and you will discover why that connection is so important - even though we have ignored it for centuries. Too many of our influences today are derived from 'non-spiritual Calvinism and other Euro-Centric religious models', that have led us away in part from our God-given spiritual connection! Kudos to the late Bishop W.T. Phillips and Bishop Ray Allen, founders of the Ethiopian Overcoming Holy church, and the African Methodist Episcopal Church in America.

These men who understood that Africans had assimilated into a western cultural paradigm, recognized the importance of Africans retaining their underappreciated spiritual-cultural roots, and our connection to God that was brought about by Phillip's obedience to the Spirit. Many Africans, regrettably, willingly traded what they knew before for Americanization, consumerism and wealth - even when it meant obtaining it at the expense of black America's number one gift, their spirituality. Even Bishop TD Jakes has sold out. In a conference that I attended recently in the nation's Capitol, he said, "The Church Is A Business". Isn't it ironic that before, we always referred to ourselves as 'an organism'?

Have Cartesian, capitalist or another version of economics muddled the youthful bishop's let us make money brain! BTW, if you believe that I misunderstood the Bishop, his disconcerting comments were noted in the Washington Post several days afterward. Bishop Jakes is taking eurocentric evangelism to Africa of late - I have noted. It might be advisable for him to stop there and learn about 'the African Traditional Religions', and how Philip and the Eunuch were instrumental in bringing divine theology to Africa instead of a watered down eurocentric capitalist version! BTW, I wrote to the Bishop recently asking him to clarify his positions, I received correspondence with an envelope in it - requesting a donation!

Did anyone see 'show me the money Creflo Dollar' squirming on the Larry King Show last week. His answer for all his bling-bling and ostentation was, the bible says that you will always have the poor with you! Wake up Creflo, you are behaving like a carnal greedy and in denial capitalist entrepruener - and besides the world is watching you. You also have gone too far. Emulate Jesus, and stop imitating greedy American capitalist CEOs, and Bishop Jakes! By the way, what was your personal chef preparing for both you and your family in your home, as the TV cameras glared?

In legal terms then, 23rd Street Church was simply one of the A.O.H. organization's, global churches. I was raised in an independent Apostolic church in another state, so my ire was neither raised, nor was I skeptical about joining an Apostolic church 2600 miles away from where I was originally born, even with the initials A.O.H. attached to it. For this naive young man at the time, the church was 'one global church'. In fact, I still believe that the true body of Christ is one, and wherever the spirit of Christ is operating, I am at home.

[Don't let this get out, however, I have told people that they ought to cast their memberships at all parishes - that's right join every church that you encounter. Then perhaps the leaders of the churches will realize that there is only one church.] Radical?

The minister of 23rd street, a Bishop in the A.O.H. church was in his mid forties. I actually lived with him, his wife and an adopted daughter for about one year. At the age of 21 they welcomed me into their home as I transitioned from the east to the west coast where they treated me like a son (surprised to hear that), then what is responsible for this kind of duplicity that is noticable among many heads of church-states. At home, they could not have been kinder people! So why am I betraying them? I'm not, this substrate topic is bigger than the A.O.H. body or even them. Besides the pastor's wife once told me, 'you will tell the truth even if it hurts you'! Well, that is true - so no one should be offended here because I believe that I am telling the truth.

I would like to see well-intended organizations like the A.O.H. organization come stir the ship back to God and where the founder intended for it to be, and as a result it will give birth to and grow real Christians. However, I believe that in order to do so, the leadership will have to grow beyond some of its outdated paradigms, primitivism, dogmatism and autoocratic southern leadership styles, which turns off many individuals today who otherwise might join in with them. Those are my perceptions, and that does not make what I write factual!

The winds of change are blowing, however, some mainline organizations are stuck in the past! That does not mean that these organizations have to accept unchecked liberalism like many of the megas are doing today. However, being stuck in the same manner as the Jews were in the Mosaic Law, at least most Christians believe they were, is not any different from the A.O.H. like organizations that are stuck in a myriad of outdated laws, types and customs with for life dictators! And some people want it that way, believe it or not, but it does nothing to help to bring people 'to Christ'. Remind me, wasn't that the purpose of the church at the onset?

New people come to an organization often with new and fresh ideas, and new ideas are not neccesarily always bad ideas! However, some from the orthodoxy simply cannot accept change, for in their egocentrism they believe that the church is all about them, and it was put there in order to meet their needs! "Lawd", they say, "the chir'ren are trying to bring new music into the chuch, and we ain't hav'ng it, cause I like the music just the way it 'twas and has been".How selfish?

My problems with A.O.H. began shortly after, when I found myself trying to reconcile a need to worship the manmade sub-structure which was being forced upon us at the church, more than I was required to pursue and to attend to the things of God. The name of their legal 501C3 organization, A.O.H., was always mentioned in conjunction with the name of the church, during any church related activities. There were quarterly councils as well as church conventions.

And I was immediately immersed into the rules, methodologies and by-laws of the substrate organization; methodologies and rules that pre-empted and overshadowed the word of God. Kudos to 'the Church of Christ', for at least when you think about its nomnitive, you are forever reminded where you are - in the church of Christ! I have actually met individuals who feared organizations with names and acronyms like AOH, these individuals wondered if this was some kind of secretive "Heaven's Gate" like organization, ala 'beam us up to the mothership Scotty'!

Manmade Organizations: The AOH organization was headquartered at the time that I was a member in Mobile Alabama. The organization was governed by a board of Bishops and a prelate who was known as the Presiding Bishop. He and members of the Board were supported financially, in addition to their own congregations, by assessments form a sub-layer of Overseers, Elders and Ministers. In effect, it was a pyramid, or in today's terms a multi-level economic support system.

In addition to all of the rules of the organization, along with its diocesans, there were also a myriad of other strictly enforced manmade rules that members of the organization were expected to obey. For example each time that a Bishop walked into the church, the congregation was expected to stand until the prelate was seated (he usually knelt first to pray), the Apostles admonished those who wanted to worship them to abstain from doing so. Come on folks, not every time that you walk in the door - the Apostles didn't do that for Jesus! Our president day prelates from Jupiter and Mercury should have the practice eliminated!

There were also a phalanx of offerings and assessments to be taken which were owed to the minister, the local church, the national headquarters et al. This was in addition to the customary tithe (the pastor kept 100% of the tithes) 10% of one's earnings. There were also rules that were binding upon men and women, for example men and women and boys and girls were not permitted to date. The members of the church questioned me in private, wanting to know why I was permitted to date and they were not - just after I relocated to California.

The fact of the matter was that upon my arrival from another state - I was not aware that the church had such retrograde, non-spiritual, manmade cultish and binding rules. For exampke, my parents told me that I could date when I became 16 years old. Now having become a grown man, I had self-appointed religious dictators trying to tell me that I could not date and instead, that I had to get married. Why? And be as happy as some of them were in their marriages?

Er herm, where is that scripture found in the bible that tells you not to overstep your boundaries, David Koresh style ministers? Later, I found out that what the members of the church brought to my attention, given my new parents (er herm), efforts to get me married 'to anybody' and as quickly as they could get me married - were true!

I really didn't quite understand what the urgency was at the time, however, in retrospect I understand what they were doing today. I wasn't ready to get married, but the Communist Party church officials didn't care about that. My problem had to do with the shortsightedness on the part of the church leaders, my naivete, and the fact that the bible did tell me to obey those who have 'rule over your'. Obedience is not a problem, the real problem was obedience to these 'Skull and Bones' type leaders who cared about their organization's image and their personal images, and not the individuals that they were supposed to shepherd.

In other words, the organization wants you married - so, get married. Yessir, mob boss - and I was not the only one who did it. Move over Reverend Moon! The scripture nothwithstanding, today's Christian has to learn when to say no to these fellas'!

The first girl I dated in California (for less than a month), the leaders wanted to know if we were going to get married. The second young lady that I dated, honestly a schoolteacher, from Pasadena CA, the leaders took her off to themselves on a car trip that the church embarked upon to the Redwood Empire - without discussing it with me. Why? They did it so that the other members of the church would not see us riding together in the same automobile together. Did they ask me if I minded? Nope, I looked around and my date who came to accompany me from 405 miles away on a church excursion, was suddenly just taken away by the mob bosses/cult leaders.

Later a woman who pursued me from my past, first contacted the mob bosses/cult leaders in California, the leaders then in turn having already discussed the matter with the Bishop back east encouraged me on more than one occasion to marry her, in spite of my plans to remain single into perpetuity. These people really did not respect boundaries, or care about or understand human development or the desires and needs of other human beings. Frankly, they did not care! Development meant from their point of view, to live your life according to my adapted social ab-norms and impish ideals. The marriage didn't last. And what was funny, after I married the Prelates wife who now saw the young woman from another light augured, '...she is going to drag you down in the mud with her'. God help us!

I was considered rebellious after awhile as I struggled with the reality of my situation, and that was understandable when you suddenly discovered that you were under cultish leaders. But frankly, I did not come out of a cultish church that had all of the manmade rules that existed within this church. I certainly did not grow up in churches where the leaders could not be entreated, or where you could not express an opinion. Once while riding to church with the Prelate, I asked a simple question about baptisms. Factually, he smiled but never answered me.

Well, not until he got to church and behind the rostrum. Then he began to preach about not listening to other people who will confuse your mind, just listen to me - he was the one that was confusing my mind; given that the Bible seemed to be saying things completely different from what he was saying. Of course the rest of the church did not know what was happening as the leader ranted on, but I did. I thought to myself, dude, I keep trying, but I have got to get out of here altogether! In these of these kinds of cult-substrates, spies were common. You would often hear words repeated by the ranting wife of the Prelate, words that were spoken in private over the pulpit.

I had a funny experience when my girlfriend and I were at a church conference. A group of young people were out in front of the church talking. I had my arms around my girlfriend, and turned in front of her as if I had kissed her. God knows that we did not kiss, but the spies? Well someone happened to be standing in the audience with a camera and they took the picture, and LAWD, the word got back to the cult leaders. Hey in fairness, just like in Hollywood, the cameras can be 'trucked or dollied' in such a way, and from a certain angle make it appear that people are kissing when they are not. Again, we didn't kiss despite how it looked on the screen.

The minister who heard about the alleged kiss from the spies attacked me one day at church and asked, what is this I hear that you were kissing some girl...? You won't believe this but the words, that isn't any of your business never entered my mind. I told the good late Reverend, I didn't kiss anybody. He lectured me anyway.

Another occasion was even more comical. We were at a church conference, and a friend of mine and her mom and aunt were in town from out of state. My friend girl, nothing ever between us - went to visit a church conference. My girlfriend was there waiting for me. I walked down the aisle of an already seated church with my friend-girl, where my friend girl, my girlfriend and me all sat together. Eek, eek, double-eek and get the 'holy earl'! I was really making the Party bosses look bad by doing what was natural! The fact is that heterosexuals falling in love was not the problem that these near to San Francisco-based churches needed to worry about!

Back to the spies in the substrate who often felt that it was their sworn duty to report back what one of the rebellious cult-members had said or done that was out of line. A woman fell down outside of the church building one day. A friend of mine jokingly asked, are you going to sue the church. The senior citizen did not say it, she was simply in shock and trying to recover from the hard fall that she experienced. The next time I heard it from the pulpit,'Sis. XXX, fell down and when she got up - she said that she was going to sue the church.

I told the cult leaders prior to the slander of this woman's name that I was standing right there, I saw the whole thing and witnessed what had been said. Furthermore I explained, she did not say that she was going to sue the church, the person who came and told you that - invented that comment. And the cult leaders still ran with and publicly reported the fallacious information.

By now damage was done to this woman's character, The cult leader lambasted her, and had the story written in the substrate's monthly organ, and now everyone wanted to know why this fallen woman (no pun intended) would do such a thing? By the way, she was laid up for some time. Come on folks! What was frightening was that these brainwashed cult-members of this substrate never saw anything wrong with how they were being used. Factually, the spies were rewarded when they exposed the perceived malconented enemies in the camp, even when they fabricated lies!

Study mind-control literature, techniques and theory and you will find that the tactics of some of the small mom and pop religious organizations in our nations wittingly and unwittingly employ mind control techniques in order to debase and control the members of their cults. However, keep in mind that someone use the same methods on them too, in most instances. Some learned their tactics from reading books, for others it came naturally!

Prior to this experience, I grew up near and under Bishops who were kind, gentle, instructive and open to discussion or criticism. What a shock it was when I ran into the Dixiecrat Bishops - who were totally self-consumed if not simply egomaniacal with authoritative pesonalities derived from their southern training, personalities or cultural shapings! The church turned out to be a place where these types could act out their demanding and controlling behaviors!

The California Bishop told us that with respect to dating and marriage this is how you do it. Once you see the person that you want to marry, not date (given his cultural shaping), you simply walk up to them one day, having prayed about it of course, and asked the person to marry you. This assumed of course that the person was saved, for believers were not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. There were also rules for dress, and of course as is customary, the rules for women's dress were more stringent than for their male counterparts. Women were not permitted to wear makeup, pants, earrings, et al. How did these people survive this kind of oppresion for so long? Some flipped out!

A new female member of the church, one who had not been indoctrinated yet just like I had not been upon my arrival, made the mistake of sitting up in the choir stand one day with lipstick on. And she was unceremoniously called down from the choir stand in front of the congregation, and told to remove her lipstick or apparently to 'hit the road toad'. To my knowledge, they never saw her again! The men pretty much wore what they wanted. I guess it was hard to make rules given that the men in the church customarily wore suits and ties to church.

* Most individuals are not aware that when they give their lives to Christ or join a church today, that in addition to becoming a part of God's body, they have also, unwittingly, become a part of some man-made religious organization, denomination, synod or union that operates all-to-often secretly behind the scenes. And with respect to 'systems theory' there is often a cabal operating most churches. And that anonymously powerful substrate and church cabal will in many instances have incredible sway and control over the lives of the membership - A.O.H. is not the only culpable organization.

* Most individuals who finally make the decision to give their lives to Christ or join a church are not aware that the sub-group that they have unwittingly become a part of (in some denominations as well as independent churches), is predominant, with its set of rules and requirements than the church of Christ that Jesus told Peter about. Some have wondered why, with their new freedom in Christ do they feel so bound up? Run Forrest run!

The point was often made and disparagingly so, that those other churches who were not a part of an organization, in particular not part of the A.O.H., were not really churches at all. In fact they were considered renegade churches that were not subject to leadership. Now even though I enjoyed the camaraderie of being a part of a church with affiliates spread out over the United States and especially the west coast, after a while I began to feel that the organization itself and the Board of Bishops who presided over it were so very demanding and intolerant of other christians and other people's ideas. I for one gave my life to Christ, not to them!

To yours truly, oftentimes some of these ministers seemed to believe that the organization and their assumed power, and personal ideas were more important than Jesus Christ, prototokos, and Head of the body himself. The organization seemed to have become an 'idol' for too many of them from my point of view. At 23rd Street, the cabal would have overturned decisions that were voted upon by the majority in authorized meetings.

You Belong To Us:
If your church group wanted to become a part of this organization for example, you would be required to deed your property into the church body, even though the church body had never contributed one dime to your church (and was very unlikely to do so once you turned over the deeds to your local church property or properties). And deeding property I might add, is not unique to this organization - however, I am using this organization as an example of what other sub-strate religious organizations are also doing, to the detriment of the church, themselves.

I observed later that there were numerous lawsuits taking place around the country, over this very issue, particularly when a local church decided that it wished to pull out of the organization. NOT SO FAST BUDDY! Some churches whose members had become dissatisfied at some later date with the A.O.H., had to in effect sue or buy themselves out of the organization (if they no longer wanted to continue with this organization). Some of the litigation that followed was brutal. For there were occasions when some church members were not so willing to have their church properties taken away from them.

One pastor indicated that the church would be 'bombed', before their congregation would permit their church property to be taken away from them. Another pastor or member of a church that the organization was trying to confiscate their property from, reportedly bit the Prelate of the organization at the court house when he attempted to forcibly remove the title to the church property from her hands. In most instances, when litigation took place, the organization usually lost in court given that it could never prove that it had made any contribution to the churches that were being sued, or those churches that litigated against the organization.

In fact, I discovered during my time in the organization that the branch churches were there to give money to the headquarters, the governing body and the Bishops, the relationship was not reciprocal. Many came to recognize after a while that the benefits all inured to the organization and its Bishops - something that is not supposed to happen in a 501C3 organizations. The organization did very little for any of its churches or its members for that matter. On a personal level, the members were heavily taxed with financial and other burdens. I had begun to feel that the one's who were there to help me to enjoy my new found 'liberty in Christ', had brought me into a type of expensive and foreboding bondage See 2nd Peter the second Chapter.

I could see that along with many of the other naive souls in this organization, we had all become slaves to the ones who sat atop the organizational pyramid, and it was being done so in the name of the Lord. I found myself thinking and saying, I joined a church, it was never my intention to join a not so secret but demanding organization which I often likened to the Mafia or the Communist Party.

These 'build me a new headquarters fella's', all male, could be demanding, caustic, abrasive and downright nasty at times. They would dress down subordinate ministers and members, ignore family protocols and hierarchies, and even publicly humiliate the ministers below them who had behaved in some manner that they did not agree with. For example, one young minister in the organization, along with his wife went on a nationally televised and syndicated television game show where they won money and prizes. Given that the name of the show was called 'Gambit', which suggested gambling, the Board of Bishops, mostly, were outraged when they heard about it.

I wonder what happened to the members of the church who reported what they saw to the Bishops, for after all they were watching the show themselves - were they reprimanded? I hope not! However, several bishops wanted this young minister's head on a plate, ignoring the fact that they had never done anything for him financially, despite his service to the church. The decision was made that he was to apologize to the organizational body and then be baptized all over again. Baptism punishment?

Fortunately, the local diocesan disagreed with his fellow diocesans, feeling that the other Bishops should permit him to handle the jurisdictional matter as he saw fit. As you can see jurisdiction did not always matter. I recall what this late Bishop, a man seemingly unlike the rest old me personally about the matter. He said, if people make mistakes, it should be the role of the church to instruct, not to humiliate people. This young minister would not have knowingly done anything wrong, trust me on that. However, he still got dunked in the baptismal pool given his infraction!

Parishioners and pastors who have been forced into servitude, should realize that at times, the burden that they carry is not always a result of the work that they are doing for the kingdom of God. In fact, a Superintendent of the largest black denomination in America, taught the pastors underneath him to keep the people under a financial burden. In other words, when one project is near completion, then immediately start another. The late Abraham Maslow wrote about condigned, condigned and condensory power in his books. This superintendent was guilty of waging carnal power over the parish that he pastored, the pastors and churches in the district that he presided over.

Here is a good place to note that Maslow also subscribed to Hegel's explanation of Man's inhumanity to man. Hegel attributed it to the following: The ownership of property, and the pursuit of power through class struggle. We could apply Hegelian thinking to what we are witnessing in our churches today, especially among church leadership.

The C.O.G.I.C. Superintendent believed that keeping the parishioners under a financial burden that it would help to retain cohesion among the rank and file members. What gives him the right to make such dictates or to engage in these kind of carnal practices I thought? After all, he was rolling in the moolah, moolah that he obtained from the membership. His members were under enough of a financial burden, by simply taking care of him! Are members of church dumb? Who would go any place and pay someone to Lord over them, but religious people?

Shame on him, and is it any wonder that many of these old school churches are loosing their members to various mega-ministries across the land? Why? At the mega's, that are not above criticism themselves, their members experience a sense of unparalleled freedom, as opposed to the oppression that they once experienced under their former leaders in the parishes that they once attended! The problem with the mega's appears to be that the pendulum has swung in the wrong direction. And the 'free at last, free at last, thank God almighty that I am free at last Christians', are abusing grace and their new found freedoms!

Many times what the rank and file members are victims of in the old-time substrates, has more to do with man-made imposed works and levies, that have been imposed upon them by some organizational hierarchy that is operating behind the scenes, than in any way a mandate that came from God. The Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Galatians says, Christ has set us free (so make sure that you stay free, and don't get tied up again in slavery to the law), in this context, manmade law. See Galatians 5:1.

Now, if you were to read my threads you will quickly surmise that I am not a friend of the inchoate mega-church substrate movement either. In fact these fellas in many instances have taken things one step beyond their power hungry predecessors, particularly, with respect to fund-raising and incorporation. Several ministers at the top of these substrate organizations have secretly incorporated their organizations into their own names. That's right, they own you and they own the money! At least the other substrates form a type of government that owns you, these fellas in the mega's own you themselves.

Both groups claim to be protecting you? From what,'the Cable Guy might ask", themselves? Did you know that his papa was a preacher too?

With respect to Mega's, I suspect that the trendy religious substrates of today's entrepreneurial ministers will end up being more disastrous than the average 100 member churches that most of them grew up in - when they collapse! And as you should know, some of these 'prosperity pimp ministries' have already gone under, not even macro-economics and creative begging and financing could save them.

Please read in one of my other blogs about the Hunt Valley MD conference, where I addressed a group of prelates and clerics from some of the major media-ministries from around the county. I confronted them, using a message that I preached before in Seaside California, my sermon title there was 'American Capitalist Church Syndrome.

Some of these entrepreneurial prosperity gospel prelates at least acquiesced during a 45 minute discussion, agreeing that perhaps we have gone too far in terms of pursuing wealth. How many more will admit it? Even the loquacious and often quick tempered "I will cut your ear off Apostle Peter', later wrote in his epistle to the saints to 'grow in grace'. The latter was something that he had to learn to do himself. Some of our leaders of today need to learn to do the same. It was not God's intent to create autocrats and dictators in the church, or to build enclaves and fiefdoms for men for their personal gratification!

Some individuals are being lost in the mega's, where the celebrity ministers are also reaping mega-bucks themselves, where Amway-style church merchandising and franchising is taking place - not to overlook the Pimping of Jesus in these networking church substrates! Reverend Ike, would have been put to shame by some of these characters, given the paltry sums that he, by comparison, once garnered. However, my point really is that no one likes oppression, or oppressors. Most of us could not wait to grow up in order to extricate ourselves from our parents home - particularly those who only knew one thing - domination!

Will someone please drive the money-changer, money-grabbers out of our churches and pulpits, please?

Many individuals are abandoning old school churches that they grew up in for that reason. Some have gone home, and they worship at home. Others are seeking alternatives in order to be one with God! Why are they doing this? From their former ministers point of view, they simply didn't want to be pastored. However, from the laypersons point of view, they would argue, I simply want to be shepherded -not owned or dicated to by some megalomaniac and for other reasons, and there is a difference you know?

Are their good pastors who care about God's flock, the kind that will treat the flock in the manner that God wanted? The answer is yes? So who gave the megalomaniacs the power or the right that to Lord over, abuse and disabuse God's sheep?

Factually many of my fellow clerics are out of control, they are head-strong and seeping with power, and daily seeking to acquire more power for themselves. And where did they get the idea that they could behave as such a manner in order to or amass more power? They learned it from their predecessors, who learned to behave as such from the world. And that does not make it right?

Many individuals are running away from the old mainline churches - those that thrive on oppression, the runaway slave Christians- are seeking the promise of being free indeed in Christ Jesus. To my fellow clergymen and women clerics, the church was not intended to be your personal fiefdom, enclave or kingdom from which you were put there derive wealth, vent your rage, wield or amass power or use to purchase luxury items. The church belongs to God - and he is the Shepherd of the soul(s).

One of the best prosperity pimps that I have ever witnessed in action, did his thing at the Headquarter's of a world-wide pentecostal substrate organization in Washington DC. He demanded a one-hundred and one dollar 'seed offering', before he would pray the prayer of faith over the individuals who wanted to get into the prayer line.

Well, 'fleece the flock' would have been more apropos, as opposed to prayed the prayer of faith over them! The Bishop of the church got his check book out and jumped in line -which encouraged the rank and file to follow suit. That brother, based on the number of people that I estimated that jumped in that line - mostly the elderly, picked up a cool ten thousand dollars for himself that morning. No wonder his sermon lasted only about 15 minutes - and that is rare in a Pentcostal church. There was money to be made!

Factually, praying for his victims lasted only about 10 minutes. Church substrate-members, do you aware that oftentimes this kind of cleric and others like them go in the back room of the church and split the loot among themselves? Rev Bob, here's your cut! Thank you Rev Bob said, and you come to my church and I will return the favor. Oh, and see you on the golf course Monday!

Some church members believing that they have escaped the oppressions of the worldly system, find themselves enslaved to a new form of oppression in many religious substrate/church/organizations. And I caution those of you who jump out of the frying pans of the former, that you may find yourselves in the fire(s) of the modern-day religious substrates!

In Conclusion:
The number one device of Satan, I believe, is deception. Good people, including, prelates, prophets, pastors and teachers can be deceived. And they can in turn be used to deceive the people, and instead of assisting them in their new found liberty in Christ, they enslave them all over again.

Are you the minister of the church that is being deceived, or are you misleading the flock and placing undue burdens on God's flock that God never intended? What happened to my yoke is easy and my burden is light? Are your parishioners being taught to follow you and to aceded to manmade organizational mandates, as opposed to being taught to follow God? Jesus said to come unto me all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest and you will find rest for your souls. Jesus said, 'take my yoke upon you and learn of me'. We were not supposed to take up the yoke of the misguided!

If Jesus will not place more upon his flock than it can bear, why are we ministers, at times, guilty of placing undue burdens upon the flocks that "we" are expected to shepherd and serve? Can good people and well-intentioned ministers be a part of something that in fact does more damage than good for the body of Christ? The answer is yes. The Apostle Paul warned the Elders at Miletus that among them some would rise up to do just that, elevate themselves while not sparing the flock! Am I bitter?

How do I feel about my former dictatorial, authoritarian and mean-spirited at church Prelate. Personally, he was and in actually a nice man. He was simply doing what he had been taught to do without questioning what he was taught to do by his former models. In fact he had good intentions. He considered me a son, I considered him to be my dad! However, with respect to style, he and I simply did not and still 'do not agree'.

I was not pleased with what he even willingly gave in to, believing that authority triumphed love. At times his at church behaviors reminded me of a Party Boss, when he at times behaved in a fashion similar to the 'Communist Party' or 'mafia' bosses on more than one occasion. Well, at least that is what it felt like to me. Love is the most important thing! A simple rule for all ministers who want to avoid becoming a Lord over God's people can be taken from scripture, 'what ye would that men do unto you, do also unto them', there is no exception to that rule for church leaders!

Remember what God told Eve after the fall, "he is going to rule over you'. Too many of our leaders, even husbands in Christian homes are to consumed with the idea of ruling, as opposed to the principle of loving. Nope, I have to show them that I am the boss and in control. Factually, Adam and Eve shared a different relationship prior to the fall. There's was a relationship of love, Adam was apparently the head - however, he was a loving as opposed to a 'ruling' head! Many men emulate their leaders at church when they go home to their families. And factully, the Bishops and Prelates expect to - be in charge!

All of us must return to the things of God, and place the things of God first, and only after we removed all of the leaven from our church organizations, particularly those things that we have permitted to have a place of pre-eminence within our churches and church structures can there be 'good growth'. The failure of any of us to do so could result in our being guilty of 'shutting up heaven', 'capturing men and women', bringing them into a new found bondage and preventing those who would have - from entering in heaven's gates because of their reaction to the grief that we caused them!

Ironically, I preached at a church a few weeks ago where the pastor was catered to, protected and escorted around as if he were 'the Godfather' himself, just before he headed off to one of his luxury vehicles. He also spends most of his time in the pulpit ranting, raving and degrading his faithful membership God help us - when will the leaders and the leadership remember that they are the ones who are there to serve just as Jesus served the people?

I observed one of his proteges stuttering each time the Shepherd came near him. Ministers, we ought to care about what God cares about, and God cares about he people, not our personal ascendancy or show of power or might! That does it for my writing on substrates. However, I still feel that perhaps all of us need to abandon our religious buildings, mosques, denominations and religious forms - then head back out atop the mountains, and being to worship God all over again - and HIM ONLY SHOULD WE WORSHIP!
Peace & Grace,
Rev. C. Solomon

A good book to read regarding the nation of Islam:
"The Nation", by theologian, Dr. C. Eric Lincoln

01/27/08 Addenda: I stumbled across this writing which I completed, errors and all, a year or so ago. Since it has been attached to A.O.H. organization information on the web, I feel that it is only fair that I add this caveat - the A.O.H. Organization is not the only organization that is guilty of this behavior, or a controlling religious substrate. I
cannot take back what I wrote, but hopefully, it will do
some good - This message resonated with the Bishops
and ministers at Hunt Valley - witnessed
by their conciliatory comments,
and that raucous applause
that followed my

And members and ministers keep in mind that I as explained to the national conference of ministers who attended the Hunt Valley conference; a church
can be easily influenced for and by the economic system of
its host country!

Be careful that you do not bring carnal capitalist ideas
into your church - for God has a superior
financial plan in mind for his church

And let us pray for the mega's, who have the potential of destroying a
whole lot of people - on a macro level, and they can do so all
at once!