by Tamara Schmerse
Part 10 of 17
10: Congregation of Yahweh
By this time, Facebook had become a mainstream communication tool, and so I incorporated it into my search methods. I would Google different denominations of Christianity, read the accompanying Wikipedia article, find the customary Facebook group, and then begin adding its members as Facebook Friends. My Friend list grew to over 800 and comprised of many “interesting” people from all over the world, who all came from different backgrounds and worship styles, but who all professed one thing: they loved, and served, God, and they were Christian.
Needless to say, this brought about some very interesting discussions on my Wall. All I had to do was post a question, such as
“What does everyone think about women in ministry?”,
go away for a few hours, and come home to a novel’s worth of comments from dozens of different people, sometimes – actually no usually – escalating to threats of violence from people who believed that the others’ denomination was sent from the Devil to destroy God’s True Church (which of course was their particular denomination).
I asked many questions and weeded through the answers, shortening and lengthening my Friends list at various times. I became aware of many issues I had not come across before, and this was a period of growth and learning, if confusion and misinformation at the same time. And then, late one night after several more heated discussions, I received a messaged from a lady named, let’s say, Theresa.
The subject heading was “I used to be Methodist”, and her message began with the words
“I know you are a seeker of the Truth.. this site is perhaps the most important you will ever go to:”
and she pasted a link to a site about a group called the Congregation of Yahweh.
Now, keep in mind that by this time, my head was so full of people pushing their own agendas dressed up in church, that all I was holding onto as being any remnant of Truth was the Bible. I referred daily to a nifty website that translated the Holy Scriptures line for line, with the original text on the left and English on the right, and each word explained in its context. I was aware of the way different popular translations represented the Name of the Lord, and so, when I began reading about this group who preached the importance of worshipping the correct God correctly, a small, minor chord was struck within me.
The Congregation of Yahweh told me that when I pray to the names God, Lord and Jesus, my worship is actually being superseded by Satan, as he goes by many names, but the true and sacred name of God was actually, and ONLY, YahWeh. The Son of God was addressed ONLY by the name of Ya’Shua. If I used ANY other names in my prayers, they would not be heard by the One they were intended for.
They spoke of the importance of identifying Ya’Shua as being sent by YahWeh, because “Ya” was a part of his name. They were so pedantic about this issue, that a poor woman who wrote a status update praising Yeshua was condemned by a paragraph as long as an A4 page, for although her pronunciation may have been correct, the True Meshiah bears the name of the One Who sent Him:
They spoke on a number of other subjects as well, subjects that my inquisitive mind was exactly ripe for the indoctrination of: Kosher food, and how it had never really been recanted by God, that was all a lie by the mainstream Protestant Church and their misinterpretation of Acts 10:9-15; Shabbat-keeping, another law which was never recanted, just misinterpreted; and many other Old Testament Laws which they preached were equally relevant, if not more so, in the New Testament Church.
By the end of one evening of deep conversation and Scripture study with this woman, I was so confused I was even too scared to pray before sleep. I was uncomfortable about that situation, as someone somewhere along the line had told me that ANYTHING that prevented me from praying was NEVER going to be from God – no matter what I had done, prayer was always going to be a step in the right direction. But, according to the teaching of this new “church”, unless I prayed to YahWeh in the name of His Son Ya’Shua, my prayers were being heard only by the Devil. What a conundrum.
I emailed every pastor I had in my Google Address Book, but, knowing how busy all these men were, I knew it could quite easily be a few days before I was able to pray comfortably again. In desperation I looked up the pastor of the Uniting Church in the old outback town where I had grown up – I figured an outback pastor would probably have the lightest workload, and therefore be quickest to replay to my desperate email.
I was right – perhaps not about the lightest workload, but about the speediest reply. Pastor Hausler emailed me back almost immediately, and was soon followed by Pastor Rod from the Methodist Church, Rev. Michael from the Presbyterian Church, and even Rev. White. They all said the same things: If I begin at Genesis and look through the Bible at all the names that were used and ascribed to God, often at His own insistence, in the original Hebrew and Koine text – well that kind of blows the Congregation’s theory right out of the water doesn’t it? And as I already believed, ANYTHING that prevents one from praying is NOT from God. Case closed.
Part 11 will be published on Monday.
Thank you for posting the “My Search For The Truth” series. I eagerly await each new segment and stop whatever I’m doing to read it the moment I see the notice of it’s posting. While my own questions are awkwardly formed and the answers are hard for me to put into words, she writes so clearly of her journey. One thing I find hard about the Orthodox Church is that the early apostles were outspoken in their faith, while the one’s I meet now are quiet, never speaking of what they believe unless asked…it puzzles me. I’ve lived in the USA my entire 47 years, have been a Christian nearly that long and only came into contact with Orthodoxy in the past two years. Orthodoxy, if I was exposed at all, it was to an ethnic church that wanted nothing to do with the likes of me…
Fr. John says
Indeed, Kim, it has not been an easy road for many of us. So many churches in America are just happy to be allowed to worship freely after centuries of horrid persecution. They don’t understand how welcome their voices would be in America.
It is a tough road sometimes, but oh so worth the journey. I’m sure the Apostles said the same thing about their discipleship with our Lord during His earthly life.
I am absolutely loving this series. I often times find myself sifting through other doctrine and beliefs just to come back to Orthodoxy as where I should be. I have struggled with thoughts of atheism and although, I guess it’s human nature, I have doubts about church and God, and ,well, this series just really amazes me and I love where it’s going. Thank you all the more for your word and the re-inforcement it gives.
Susan W says
Aha, Tamara! I thought her name was familiar! When I saw this story and who it was written by, I thought, “Hmm, I know this gal somewhere…” Yes, I saw her name on Facebook. I don’t think I was befriended or not by her but her name rang a bell. Yes, there are so many so called “Christians” on the fight there that if any would start to argue with me I’d drop them. I have no time to argue. Now it’s at the point that I’m lucky if I drop in on Facebook once every 2 weeks!
But these “Congregations of Yahweh” and other Messianic Jewish congregations. I used to think that they were Jews that have accepted Christ, much like Fr Bernstein. But they are not that at all. Locally here in NM, we have a Congregation Baruch Ha’Shem. I looked at their website, hubby and I listened a few moments of their podcasts and my hubby, who is Jewish, said, “Cut this off! They’re nothing more than Jewish wannabes.” The preaching was like something you’d see and hear on the GOD TV channel, where the speaker has a headphone and mic and paces up and down the stage like he’s a stand up comic. Hubby told me that real Jews make fun of the likes of groups of those. But back in Eastern PA, where I grew up, I was taken to a “real” Messianic Jewish synagogue in Philadelphia, which has a very large Jewish population and it was not anything like that guy on the podcast.
Looking forward to the next installment!
Allison Harrison says
Is there a tab which has collected the journey into Eastern Orthodoxy chronically by author’s name? I’ve not read them in sequence and it would be so helpful if I could do so.
Fr. John says
This is an excellent series and Tamara has serious writing skills. I was on the edge of my seat reading her plight! I’m waiting for the rest of the story. I have been on a similar journey-from Baptist to nothing (nothing but trouble and pain) to liberal Methodist to Episcopalian (not liberal) to Episcopalian again due to a move (very liberal) to Pentecostal to Assemblies of God to Calvary Chapel to Vineyard, back to Calvary Chapel and finally to Orthodoxy. Throw occasional visits to the RCC Church also. But now I’m Orthodox and will remain so for the rest of my life!
Alison Harrison, if you click the tag TAMARA SCHMERSE in the end of the article, you will get them in reverse order, so starting from the last tab will do the thing.
Fr. John, it would be nice if all the articles could be updated to include a link to the next one, that would make reading easier 🙂