The Absurdity of Church

The Absurdity of Church

by Wayne Harmon


On May 23, 2003 I was teaching a Bible class at the church we were attending. The lesson was on Jeremiah 51. Verse 6 starts with the command, “Flee Babylon!” As soon as I read that phrase that was all I could hear. The rest of the class remains a blur. For thirty minutes or more all I could hear was, “Flee Babylon!”

As my wife and I walked out of the building and were crossing the parking lot to our car I said, ”We can't come back here.”

She said, “I know.” 

She had heard it too. 

“Flee Babylon!”

With the exceptions of when I have visited relatives, that was the last time we attended a church.

It was a huge adjustment to make. We had no idea just how much of addiction church attendance really was. Some would say, “Oh! But that is a good addiction!” No. It isn't. There is no such thing as a “good” addiction.

The pastor told all of our church “friends” to shun us, because we were “in rebellion to spiritual authority.” Translation: we refused obey him without question. 

(By the way, if you think that your church friends are really friends, just stop attending for a while and see how many of them still have any contact with you.)

I had been in church for fifty years. I grew up in church. I graduated from a well known religious university. I thought I knew my Bible. However, I soon realized that what I thought I knew was merely the opinions of men that I had adopted as my own. I began to study my Bible for myself. I wasn't studying in order to pass a test or to teach a lesson. I was studying to see what it had to say to me.


The organized "church" did not exist when the New Testament was written. Constantine resurrected the Babylonian religion for the purpose of controlling people. What better way to gain control over people than to convince them that you personally have control over their eternal destinies?

The first use of the word “church” in the Bible is in Matthew 16:18:And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (NIV)

The Greek word translated “church” is “ekklesia”. The word means the assembly of the “out-called”, or “the called out ones.” It is better translated “congregation”.

The “ekklesia” was an assembly of those who had been called out by a higher authority. That higher authority is Jesus who said, “I will build my “ekklesia”, that is, his assembly of called out ones. He did not say “church”.

The people for whom the New Testament was originally written understood that “ekklesia” was a congregation which had been called to assemble. 

To translate the word “ekklesia” as “church” is a gross and deliberate mistranslation.

Why the deliberate deception? Two reasons are as follows:

1. The organization of “church” had long been established at the time of the translations of the Greek New Testament and Latin Vulgate into other languages. It was well understood by scholars that there was a huge difference between a “church” and an “assembly”.

2. When King James commissioned the KJV translation he put several conditions on the translators. One of these conditions was that the word “ekklesia” be rendered as “church” and not “assembly” or "congregation", as in the Geneva Bible which was the common language English Bible at that time.

Some would argue that the two words are interchangeable, but nothing could be farther from the truth. 

The Greek word from which “church” is derived etymologically is “kuriakos”. This is the root for the Scottish word “kirk” and the German word “kirche”. You can see the similarities just by looking at the words. 

This word occurs only twice in the New Testament, and means “of the Lord”, or “belonging to the Lord”. It is used once in I Corinthians 11:20 where it is referring to “the Lord's supper”, and again in Revelation 1:10 where it refers to the “day of the Lord”.  Kuriakos” refers to something specific that is “of the Lord”. It isn't a “bad” word, nor is it a bad concept. But it is not the word used that is translated “church”. But by blurring the distinction between “church” and “assembly”, something very subtle and indeed sinister was accomplished.

As a child I remember being admonished that certain behaviors were not acceptable “in the Lord's house”. That is the phrase that was used when we were simply being children while at church. It wasn't a place where the “ekklesia” assembled. It was “God's house”.

The “Lord's house” is led by “the Lord's man”; the pastor. The pastor is the boss. If you give to the pastor, then you are giving to God. When the pastor speaks, then God speaks. In a church, there is a person standing between the believer and God.  But in an assembly, everyone is equal!

This is one of the points Paul is making in I Corinthians 14 and Galatians 3. In I Timothy 2:5 Paul reminds that there is only one mediator between God and humanity, and that is Christ Jesus. Which brings us back to why the King James commissioned his own translation of the Bible.

As the Kind of England he was also the head of the Church of England. He had both civic and spiritual authority over everyone in the kingdom. Contrary to what most KJV apologists say, the people had a perfectly good and understandable Bible; the Geneva Bible. What James objected to about the Geneva Bible was that it was printed with marginal notes pointing out that there is a difference between God's authority and man's authority. In addition to demanding that “ekklesia” be rendered as “church”, the translators were also ordered to only include marginal notes that would further explain the meaning of Hebrew or Greek words. (Yet one of the key words was deliberately mistranslated.)

James' concern wasn't that the people have a Bible in their own language. He wanted the Bible they read to confirm his belief that he alone was God's personal representative. To disobey the king was to disobey God. 


One evening my wife and I were walking and talking about the whole “church” issue. Suddenly she said, "Church is Bogus!" A heavy fog was blown away with just those three words. Suddenly all the "issues" of "church" just vanished. 

No longer do I have to ponder things like women preachers, mode of baptism, communion styles, tongues, pastoral authority, church discipline, etc., etc., ad nauseum. With that one simple revelation I experienced great freedom. 

Now when I hear someone talking or writing about what should and should not be done in church, it leaves me completely unfazed, but sad on their behalf. They are blinded to the fullness that is Jesus by their obsession with man-made rules. 

Rather than realizing that the Bible is given as a story of God's love for us, they see it as a rule book. The problem is that rules, though they may be objectively written, are always interpreted subjectively. That's why there is so much arguing about it. 

I mean, really, if the Bible was intended by God to be a "Rule Book", then surely He would have made certain that it would have been equally understood by everyone. On its own, the Bible is easy to understand, and those who read it free from the interference of men, aka "doctrines", find themselves in surprising agreement about its story. 

Among such people, truly free people as set free by the Blood of Jesus, there is no need to be agreed with. We understand that each of us sees things from a unique perspective, and we value those differences. We want to know how other people see things, and we know that they want to see what we see. We add it all together and see a bigger picture than we could on our own. 

The reformers rejected the rule of Rome, but they kept the structure of the "church".  

They kept the idea of there being a ruling class called clergy, and a supporting class called the laity. 

They kept the tithe. 

They kept the buildings. 

They kept the control. 

And worst of all, they kept in captivity the people for whom Jesus died. 

Oh, the freedom that is truly ours in Jesus! We're free! We're free from the bondage of other people and their opinions. 

And one of the really scary things about it all is that people honestly believe they are going to heaven based on the fact that they are members of some solely human organization. 

How many people will stand before God think they are "in", only to be told "I never knew you?" 


Churches are "clubs". Connect that term with "church is bogus", and you get a very clear picture of what is going on in "Christianity" today. You have clubhouses, club rules, club dues and club activities.
We are free participate in these clubs if we want to, and like any club, they are a place for social contacts and activities. 

But they are NOT mandated by God as places where people have to be members in order to have a relationship with Him. 

And that is what is so tragic about these clubs.

Copyright 2016: Wayne Harmon

6 thoughts on “The Absurdity of Church

  1. Wayne

    Was wondering…
    When you write about, – “The Absurdity of Church”

    Which “absurd church?”
    Created by phony “absurd church leaders?”
    Are you writing about?

    Let’s see… In today’s “Religious Absurdism”
    We have lots of “absurd churches.”

    The Liturgical Church,
    The Traditional Church,
    The Institutional Church,
    The Religious System Church,
    The Steeple $ Corporation Church,
    The Orthodox Church,
    The Greek Orthodox Church,
    The Eastern Orthodox Church,
    The Russian Orthodox Church,
    The 501(c) 3, non profit, tax deductible,
    Religious $ Corporation, the IRS calls Church,
    The Brick and Mortar Church,
    The Pastor Led Church,
    The Multiple Elder Led Church,
    The Congregational Led Church,
    The Pope Led Church,
    The Bishop Led Church,
    The “Chief Executive Apostle” Led Church,
    There really is a Chief Executive Apostle
    No Kidding. Saw him with my own eyes. 😉
    The Solid Church,
    The Fluid Church,
    The House Church,
    The Simple Church,
    The Organic Church,
    The Institutional Church,
    Oh, I said that one already. 😉
    The Small Group Church,
    The Denominational Church,
    The Non – Denominational Church,
    The Inter – Denominational Church,
    The Intra – Denominational Church,
    The Underground Church,
    The Emergent Church,
    Are they still around?
    The Full Gospel Church,
    The Mega Church,
    The Baptist Church,
    The Lutheran Church,
    The Evangelical Church,
    The Emergent Church,
    The Charis maniacle ism Church,
    The “Pente” – it’s going to – “cost”- you – “a Lot ism” Church,

    And, none of these “absurd churches” are working very well. Oy Vey!!! 🙁
    The Folks, believers, “Nones,” “Dones,” are leaving in droves.

    What is popular is NOT always “Truth.”
    What is “Truth” is NOT always popular.

  2. The amazing thing to me is how long it took me to get to this same place and the amount of abuse I took and the cognitive dissonance I lived with until I did. Church is, indeed, bogus.

    What are your thoughts on the passage in Hebrews upon which all church attendance hangs:

    “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
    “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
    “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is;
    “but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”


  3. Shy1,

    Thanks for your comment. I have responded to your question in the latest article, “Does the Bible Command Church Attendance?”


  4. “Blow the trumpet in Mount Zion,
    Christ shall come a second time;
    Ruling with a rod of iron
    All who now as foes combine.
    Babel’s garments we’ve rejected,
    And our fellowship is o’er,
    Babylon is fallen to rise no more.”

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