Let's face it. The good news, or "gospel," about Christ dying and being raised from the dead (1 Cor. 15:3,4), is ineffective for trying to start impressive religious organizations. So, for the novice who wishes to preach "another kind" of gospel, one which will draw large numbers of converts and heap much praise upon the works of men and organizations, we suggest the following guidelines.
The reader, of course, may note certain striking similarities with the teachings of other impressive religious organizations. This is no coincidence, for it all follows a very clever pattern (compare 2 Thes. 2:11,12). Note especially how we "embellish" the words of Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul, and other Bible writers. We feel that we are thereby making these statements more "logical" and "bearable."
"Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my load is light." Matt. 11:28-30
Of course, we can't literally come to Jesus, for we can't see him, nor should we be talking to him! Remember, you are dealing with people that have to relate to something tangible, something that they can get their hands on, like a real religious organization. Draw them to that, for this would be the the more sophisticated thing to do. Thereby you can actually apply this scripture to yourself and your organization. Tell them repeatedly that you are gentle and humble at heart. Eventually they will believe it. Translate "rest" another way, though, for we don't want them to think that it's going to be enjoyable. The added advantage of using Jesus' words and applying them to your organization is that if they decide to leave your group, you can use John 6:67, 68 on them:
"You do not want to go away also, do you?" Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life."
Same application as the above: Apply it to your organization, instead of this intangible `Jesus'. After all, your organization will be the "faithful steward" (Matt. 24:45) over their souls and you must teach them the "truth." They must realize that you alone can teach them the Bible, and that to quit listening to you is tantamount to their turning their backs on God Himself. Get them good and scared. Remind them of how no one else has ever taken the time to teach them the "truth." This leads us into our next approach:
"I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me." John 14:6
Jesus was the head of a great organization, the "Christian congregation." Of course, he was put to death in the flesh and now his spirit runs your organization (invisibly, of course). He has chosen you to make all important deci sions concerning doctrine and "procedure." Make up a book called "Organizational Procedure" with a lot of rules to follow. Call it a "fine-tuned organization," because you have been so clever as to make up all of these most logical and interesting rules. Make it plain that your organization is vital for their salvation, and that there is no other way to God. Also stress how the world has been in general darkness for 1900 years, but that now you are here to teach the world "truth." More about that later.
That all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him." John 5:23
Again, the "Son" is in charge of your organization. They must honor the organization, which can be designated as their `mother' for all practical purposes. Make it plain that they should honor their `mother' and father equally. He that does not honor the `mother' does not honor the Father, whose idea it was. Keep telling them that using an organization has always been God's sovereign plan. His plans never change, and neither does Jesus' headship over your organization, as our next scripture implies:
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." Heb. 13:8
He will always direct an organization on earth invisibly. Make it plain that only a select few will ever actually see Jesus, though, so they must perpetually look to your organization. God has always, is now, and forever will use an organization! Of course, it is not wise to tell them that "truth" never changes, for that leaves you no "out" for when you make "mistakes." Explain that by using Proverbs 4:18:
"But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day." Pro. 4:18
Actually, the passage is referring to moral and spiritual growth of an individual, but we want to bring it down to earth. You can use this one to cover up past mistakes in your teachings. As you gain insight and learn by your mistakes how not to run an organization, call your past approach "old light" and say that God has now given you "new light." If you are so foolish as to have to regress to a previous teaching, explain it by saying either, (1) We are not actually going back to a former teaching, or (2) The signal from the now "invisible" Jesus was garbled at first, and you are even now still getting some static, but it is getting clearer and clearer (or, you can say that the light is getting brighter and brighter). Carefully circumvent 2 Cor. 11:13-15.
"And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said to me, `Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.'" Rev. 19:10
Tell them not to fall on their face to worship anyone, especially Jesus. The testimony of Jesus is that they must bring all into "his" organization. The spirit of prophecy always bears witness to an organization. The word "worship" should remain as ambiguous as possible, so that none ever get emotional or actually plug in to God somehow.
"For they received the word with great eagerness, examining the scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so." Acts 17:11
Use this on potential converts so that they might read the selected verses you are using to support your case. Put all the "necessary" scriptures in your books, or cite them, so that they have no need to actually read the Bible in order to determine the context. Once they join the organization, of course, this method of persuasion is no longer necessary. Remind them that they are not to "quibble" or voice disapproval of the bounteous spiritual feast that you are providing. Do they think that they are smarter than the one who feeds them?
"And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12
The only problem with this scripture is that it is too general and impractical the way it stands. There are too many people who claim to have salvation in the name of Jesus. Besides, they need a stimulus, and you should make them work for their salvation. In order to draw people after yourself, you must have something or advertise something that is pretty much exclusive. You will have to explain this scripture by using a preconceived assumption. Make it conditional upon your use of another name, perhaps. The key is, narrow it down to those within your organization. This will automatically end a lot of confusion.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God...Do not marvel that I said to you, `You must be born again.'" John 3:3, 7
This opens up a real "can of worms." You know that the New Testament was written to and by Christians who will share in heavenly life. Their desire is to be with Jesus. This, however, would be a very distracting goal, as they would surely lose sight of your organization and its importance. Besides, you know that not everyone who wants to can just go to heaven. There are only so many positions of power available! Find a number in the Bible and limit being "born-again" to these few. These will be the positions of power. Better yet, say that all of these have been chosen, to avoid controversy.
In order to get around such a seemingly simple scriptural command, you must imply that this is only for those in positions of power; i.e. the ruling class. Obviously, this implies that the Bible was not written to all mankind, but only to a select few. Be careful how you teach this! Explain how the benefits of God's Word apply in an "extended" way to them, though. Build up their joy!
"Truly, truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." John 6:53,54
This can be as easily explained as the last one. Such a privilege is only for the ruling class. Explain that only the ruling class will ever actually have life in themselves, and that in the future. Anyone can be called under the carpet in this present system, and only the ruling class will be exempt from this in the future. Make this very plain. Forbid the subjects of this ruling class to partake of the life-giving bread and wine.
"For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter." Romans 7:5, 6
Sinful passions were only aroused by the Mosaic Law. Now that we are under a new kind of law system, following the multitude of rules and policies of the organization is sheer pleasure. Surely these greater rules could not arouse a disobedient spirit in our hearts! Since the spirit directs the organization, it is obvious that we are now led by God's spirit! Discipline is the key: We are made new by stunting the sinful, natural personality of the individual and replacing it with an organizational-minded personality. This leads us right into...
Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment." 1 Cor. 1:10
This is good for enforcing absolute conformity. Teach how the Corinthians were instantly brought in line by Paul's exhortation, in their natural, self-sacrificing spirit. If you have an opinion, keep it to yourself. Push how this refers to doctrinal sameness, rather than unity based on love for one another.
"Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him." Rev. 1:7
In order to teach that Christ has put you in charge of all his belongings (Matt. 24:47), you must incidentally teach that Christ has already returned. (This is optional, but necessary if you want to give an "honest" interpretation of Matthew 24:44-47.) In such case you will have to teach an "invisible" return, which necessitates "spiritualizing" this scripture in Rev. 1:7. For instance, why not teach that every man will see Jesus through the eyes of discernment; in other words, through what your organization is doing? Carefully circumvent Matthew 24:26, 27.
"But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone." Mark 13:32
Since you will be teaching that Christ has returned and the resurrection has already occurred (optional), of necessity you must prove this by means of dates. There will be precious little hope of convincing them of this otherwise. Use whatever method best fits the time for his return that you have chosen, but remember this: You can set the year, but avoid predicting the day and hour. If by chance you have to change this later, be sure and re-interpret your old dates. Recycle!
"Everyone, then, that confesses union with me, I will confess union with him before my Father in heaven. But whoever denies union with me before me, I will deny union with him before my Father who is in heaven." Matt. 10:32, 33
Interpret this as meaning unity with the organization. Were they to accidentally draw the conclusion that one not sharing communion with Christ will be damned in the resurrection, this would be devastating, and you could lose your entire following. Avoid this at all costs!
Free Minds Afterhours