Limitations of Religion

This is an excerpt of a comment I made to a friend who is having a tough time with the church she recently left:

No matter what you do, churches are made of people, and people fail. I don’t have much experience with a pastor-based church, but it seems that what you’re alluding to is an unfortunately common experience. Great pastors being followed by inadequate interim pastors who are unwilling to be replaced by more competent pastors, resulting in schism and exodus. I don’t have a solution for that — it seems inherent in the system to me.

But, without churches, there isn’t anybody to teach us about important things. Yeah, I know, we can go directly to God, but our ability to do so on our own isn’t always that good, and it’s very easy to teach ourselves the Gospel according to Me, which includes all our pet doctrines and gospel hobbies, and avoids anything we don’t want to think about very much.

Churches, scriptures, and the witness/testimony of others are windows through which we can perceive things of God. They are helpful, good and useful, but they aren’t God, and worshiping them is a much easier idolatry than worshiping God is. If we accept them in their limitation, and seek to transcend those limitations with God’s help, as we try to transcend our own limitations with that same help, over the long run, we will get what we most need. If we set our sights on them, and succumb to the temptation to worship them at the expense of the God they teach, then we will fail, sooner or later, but badly.

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