Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Accountability Paradox

There is much ado about accountability within the body of Christ and yet I am not sure how this happens or if it even exists.

The premise behind accountability is that people will hold each other accountable to the teachings of the Bible. This isn’t to control or manipulate but rather to build one another up.

But what if the group you are accountable to, teaches error?

The reason for the 1,000’s of different church groups is because they believe that some of the other groups are teaching error. Some even believe they are the only ones with the whole truth.

So if a church group is teaching an error, who holds them accountable? The members of the group are supposedly the ones to hold them accountable. But the reason people are members of the group is that they agree with the error of the group. If a member in the group learns something that the group thought was truth but in reality was an error, how do they get the group to be accountable to their error?

I know a woman that was part of a group that decided women must wear hats as a sign of submission. She accepted that rule for many years and then had a change of thinking that determined that this rule was not for today and was in fact a sign of spiritual pride and elitism. When she no longer wore her hat she was asked to leave her church which she had devoted over 25 years of her life to.

They said she was in rebellion and was not accountable.

It seems to me that churches have become more like fortresses. You have to believe what they believe to belong. And if your beliefs change, you must leave otherwise you cause dissension. When you do leave you are considered to be in rebellion and not accountable to anyone.

In essence, the desire to walk in integrity with your own beliefs is considered secondary to the group’s need to uphold its teachings. The only people that see things differently and have the perspective to help the group grow are asked to leave or are shunned with silence because they disagree. In other words, the group is more important than any one person.

Some groups teach that tithing to their local group is a requirement for membership and/or leadership within the group. If a leader in the group came to the realization that tithing is a false teaching, he would not be able to have a voice within the group. When he points out that the verses used to support tithing are really verses that teach caring for the poor, he is considered to be a rabble-rouser. As soon as he stops tithing he can no longer be a leader. If he continues to tithe, he violates his conscience and does not walk in integrity.

I remember having breakfast with a pastor friend of mine from a different denomination. We enjoyed being with each other on numerous occasions. I suggested to him that it would be nice to get our men’s groups together. His face went pale with the suggestion. It seems, that what we could do personally and enjoyably, could not be tolerated at the group level.

It would seem that groups will invariably violate some form of personal freedom of expression or thought. I used to accept this paradox quite comfortably. Now, it seems like a complete mystery to me that people think God would desire all of these mini fortresses.

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