Thorns in the Side of the Church Today

Stanley Paher

When I see how certain brethren behave, I am reminded of a book by T.W. Adorno on "The Authoritarian Personality." These people are clearly defined in the book.

1. People-people relationships based on human authority symbols rather than love and friendship. Loyalty is pegged to a party of acceptance of certain contemporary opinions and doctrines. If you are faithful to the symbol, you are loved; all others in subordinate positions are patronized or otherwise viewed as inferior to themselves and their followers.

2. They demand conformity or else -- no questions asked, because such ones already have all of the answers. There is intolerance of another's opinions or views.

3. They have an exaggerated sense of their own goodness; their very rigidness and insistence on toeing the mark is a security blanket. They deny their own sinful actions by projecting their own sinful acts, such as lying, contract-breaking , and stealing, upon others as a defense mechanism. Controlling the situation is ever the key; engage in loud and fast talk to bowl over opponents.

4. Rigid thought processes; appealing to that nebulous word "logic" as the front to others to leave the impression of always being right, even perhaps glorying in boasting of "never changing their minds." It's "I've restudied my former position." Hypercritical of others with whom they differ. Always anticipating "what's going to come next" and "I told you so."

5. The tend to manipulate others; depersonalizing people-people relationships. Initiate withdrawal from others at Church with whom they differ, on the basis of even opinions and doctrine. It's o.k. to hurt people to uphold what they think is "right." Tell a person you love him, then mess with his property. A tendency toward censoriousness. They feel threatened if there's any possibility of their being wrong. Conceit. An exaggerated estimate of their own importance. Pompous. Egoism. Austerity not conciliation. Weak in sweet reasonableness and diplomacy. No sense of fair-minded, even-handedness, justice, equity. More a talker and less a listener (since all is settled and for them there's nothing to learn.) Hear one side.

These are insecure people in constant disputes. Being frightened, they are dangerous. Jesus said to beware of such! Jesus said to follow Him, not them. We must not let them sell us a bill of goods for the simple reason that we do not want phony merchandise. This puts ambitious manipulators out of business quickly.

Another stopper is not to take them seriously. Ignore them when they brag of their self-importance (who they know, what meetings they hold, where they've been) or spell out their godliness in long letters; thus it is not self-evident.

Jesus said that others recognize your good works and then they need not be self-proclaimed. Yet, let us love them with a love that is self-evident. How do we handle such people? We must become a people who cannot be manipulated. In other words, when ungodly behavior surfaces, meet it head-on and expose it immediately. By their fruits we shall know them.