Saturday, July 29, 2017


Bill Sergott is a "Blue Ocean" pastor. Like those of the Emergent Church, he is looking for a viable alternative to the "does and don'ts" of religion:

Sergott believes that following religion is just as bad as entirely rejecting it. Either way, religion is still bondage:

  • Religion is like any other sin (and, yes, I include religion and Christianity in the category of sin).  If we obsess about avoiding a particular sin, and focus on steering our lives away from that sin, we are totally controlled and dominated by that sin.  We are living in that sin.  

Sergott seems to think that there is something wrong with being obsessed by our sins and the religious requirements that promote this obsession. He would be correct if this obsession failed to lead us to grace - our Savior's forgiveness and restoration, which causes us to love and cherish Him. This ordeal is the necessary process of our Lord humbling in order to then lift us up.

Although Christianity is fundamentally about a relationship with our Savior, it is also a religion with teachings, doctrines, and even commands. Jesus taught that love is about keeping His commands:

  • Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.” (John 14:23-24)

Even loving others is a matter of keeping His commands:

  • By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:2-3)

However, for Sergott, command-keeping is religion and not relationship:

  • It was never in the vision of Jesus for the Church to become religion.  As soon as it did, after Constantine blessed it and declared it the official religion of the Empire of Rome, the Church became distracted and lost.  Jesus was no longer the center.  Maintaining power and authority in the world became the focus.  Thus, a religion was born, and the true mission of setting the captives free and making disciples was lost.

However, Jesus sent His Apostles out with a religion:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)

Although institutions are liable to corruption, they are not evil in themselves, as Sergott contends:

  • Institutionalization means death.  The earth-shattering power of the dynamic, transformative, prophetic, and revolutionary voice of the People of God gave way to the political and empirical machinations of the systemic evil of Institution.  Beginning with the establishment of Christianity as Religion, doctrine needed to be invented, established as absolute truth, and staunchly defended.    

However, the New Testament never taught against institutions. Instead, it affirmed them. Jesus affirmed the institution of the Church, even to the point of excommunication (Matthew 18:15-20). He even affirmed Roman rule by commanding to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. He also affirmed the entire sacrificial system with its offerings, priesthood, and temple.  

The entire NT affirmed the centrality of the law for God's purposes. It humbled us to show us our need for the Messiah (Romans 3:19-20), leading us to Jesus:

“So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:24)

Instead, Jesus had no problem with religion, even the religion of the Mosaic Covenant. He taught His followers to obey it:

  • "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.” (Matthew 23:2-3)

Jesus upheld the Mosaic Covenant as God-given:

  • “Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19)

Consequently, until it was fulfilled by Him on the Cross, He commanded that this religion be followed with all diligence.

However, Sergott puts denunciations of the Mosaic Covenant into the mouth of Jesus. However, these were utterly foreign to His thinking:

  • Jesus saw Religion as a mountain in the way of God's plan to renew God's connection with the People.  He flipped over tables in the Temple.  He cursed the entire Sacrificial System, upon which the vast majority of the 613 Laws were based.  He cursed the Temple, declared it dead, and warned of its future destruction in 70AD.  He was standing by the Temple, when he told his disciples that if they had but faith the size of a mustard seed, they can order that mountain to move, and it will be so.  Religion is a mountain that requires demolition and removal.  It is not the way to God.  You can work a religion perfectly, and it has no ability to get you even one millimeter closer to God.  Jesus is the way - the only way.  Jesus is the truth - the only truth.  Jesus is the life - the only life.  All else is distraction and folly.

Jesus flipping tables was not a protest against the Temple but against the robbers who were abusing it:

  • He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you make it a den of robbers." (Matthew 21:13)

According to Sergott's worldview, the anti-Christ should not be a concern for us. Instead the concern is institutionalization:

  • However, the Bible writers were not warning us of a person.  They were warning us of institutionalization...My Antichrist is not a specific world leader or single person.  It is anything we worship instead of Jesus.  Religion demands our worship.  Only Jesus is worthy of it.

While it is true that only God is worthy of our worship, Jesus had explained that we must worship God "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:22-24), according to His revelations, His doctrines.

While the Bible teaches a lot against the abuse of the institutions that God has ordained, it never teaches against Biblical institutions. Instead, it teaches in favor of Church institutions like pastors, elders, and deacons (Titus 1; 1 Timothy 3).

Besides, the Mosaic Law was all about institutionalizations (Exodus-Deuteronomy), things that Jesus had affirmed:

  • "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:17-18)

The entire NT upheld Scripture. Meanwhile, the Blue Ocean shows little interest in it. While Sergott continually claimed Jesus as central to his identity, he has shown little interest in what Jesus had taught. Instead, his Jesus seems to be a Jesus of his own creation.

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