I understand why they would still want to go there. I myself found an amazing presence of God. That is one thing I can never explain to anyone, If the abuse and false doctrine, are really going on, why is the presense of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, so eveident there. Does anyone know?
I think there is a lot of truth in what has been said so far – it is certainly possible to experience the deep presence of God in other churches, or indeed at home alone or with others. I suspect that the other side is also true that, in some cases, people are actually having an emotional rather than a spiritual experience, getting the same buzz that they might get from an adrenaline high or other intensely emotional experiences.
There is another possibility that can go alongside these as well however. Let’s just say that Struthers does have something special – that there is a “sense of the presence of God” that is unusual. If that is true – and it appears that many of the people in this site might agree there is some truth in it – what does it mean?
It seems to me that it means that Struthers are good at using one of the many tools God has given us. But God has given us many, many ways to get to know Him. One of the most important is of course through the study of scripture, which tells us to “put on the whole armour of God” clearly indicating that it is not just one particular tool that is required. A balanced and full Christian experience will include an understanding of scripture, fellowship with other Christians, fighting for justice in the world, loving one another, judging what is said by the leaders and many, many other things. There a re a whole range of things Jesus said about how to live for the Kingdom that bring richness, purpose and the closeness of God to life.
Where Struthers fails is that they do not recognise any of these other tools. They do not accept the authority of scripture, ignoring verses about caring for others and reserving the right to overrule scripture when required. They do not accept the need for Christian fellowship, explicitly preaching that they do not want to hear the opinions of others and banning Christians form meeting together. They do not have any role in fighting injustice and serving the poor, choosing instead to give their money to the rich. They do not allow people to follow the scriptural injunction to judge what leaders say. Finally, and most important of all, they make no effort at all to “love one another” – a key message of Jesus and the whole of Scripture.
What is left is (possibly) very good use of just one particular tool from the toolbox God has given us. If anyone does believe this, a reasonable path to take would be to attend Struthers meetings to feel the deep presence of God, but NOT to accept their doctrine and NOT to accept their unscriptural control over individual lives. So go along by all means, but do not listen to rules about watching TV, wearing a hat, not having fellowship with other Christians or any of the other control issues.
Of course, the problem is that the leaders themselves may not allow this, instead forcing people to accept all or nothing. The result is that people either have to leave, risking the loss of “ the deep experience” or they have to stay and risk losing absolutely everything except this “deep experience”.
To me, the question is not, “is the deep spiritual experience valid?” it is “does scripture say that a deep spiritual experience is THE SINGLE THING THAT IS REQUIRED as the means to become close to God?”
When it is put that way, it is so clear from scripture (and indeed from psychology and every other form of study if you want to look at it in other ways). Seekingsusan has already given examples of verses that are re-written to suit the Struthers approach, and there are many more that could be subjected to the same treatment.
* Blessed are the rich, as they will be able to afford private education.
* If I speak with the tounges of men and angles, but have not love, then I must be so amazingly dedicated to God that I do not have time for such trivial things as love.
In fact, I think this is such a rich vein that I have started a new RickRoss discussion with the heading “The gospel according to Struthers”. I am not sure if it will take off, but I thought some others might want to add some of their own favourite Struthers verses. I have started it off by repeating some of the ones that have already been quoted in this discussion. Have a look and see what you think.