Into the light
During last Sunday's worship service, Green tells his congregation that it's no surprise that some can't hang on to the Missoula Christian Church's demanding faith.
"We believe in being intensely devoted to God," he says, going on to tell a story of a friend who left the church, only to find a void in his life that only prayer could fill.
It's a lesson Green clearly wants his congregants to take to heart and, one can't help suspecting, a message he hopes a reporter will take note of. In fact, some passages of Green's sermon seem composed, in part, in anticipation of some bad press.
According to ex-members, the church teaches that criticism in the media is "spiritual pornography" and counsels members simply to ignore it. Green's sermon, though, seems to acknowledge that not even that kind of dissuasion can filter out all outside critiques.
"Don't let this preacher tell you your opinions," he declaims. A moment later, he adds, "Many people allow the media to dictate their views, even on God, death and the afterlife."
Touching again on the opposed light and darkness of Plato's cave, he urges his flock not to fear having their beliefs aired in public. To underline his point, he turns again to the Bible, the book that's the well-spring of his faith, the book his church's detractors accuse it of abusing.
"We have renounced secret and shameful ways," he reads. "We do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God."
The members of the church, apparently united and sincere, follow along.
Green's words would strike a familiar chord in those who have delved into the world of mutual antagonism shared by the International Churches of Christ and many of its former members. The passage comes from Second Corinthians, chapter four, verse two. It's the same biblical message that greets visitors wired to the anti-ICC Reveal website.
In their struggle to leave the church, it seems, those who've fallen away from the International Churches of Christ take solace in the same sacred words Green uses in defense of his belief.