Friday, January 9, 2009

This Is My Church

This is where I attend church. It is a mid-sized congregation with a very inclusivist view of other Christian pedigrees (just a little playful term). As I understand it, we have former Catholics, questioning Catholics, former Lutherans (like my wife and I), Baptists, Anabaptists, etc.

Our common vision is unique to churches that I've attended -- and I've attended a lot: to love Christ and be an example of lovingkindness to the community around us. What makes that vision unique is that my church accomplishes it without all the fixings and dressings of denominationalism, and hang-ups of arbitrary legalisms and moralisms. It is a free-flowing, and loving place to gather together and express our common love of Christ without the blurring of theological differences.

Dr. Veith noted that my church is essentially non-denominational. I kindly disagreed with him citing that non-denominational churches, while holding to a rejection of denominationalism, usually have very definite stances on certain doctrinal issues; e.g., infant baptism, or the nature of the eucharist. These stances are essentially de facto standards which -- and I'm open to correction, Wyatt -- don't seem to be applied within our congregation. That is, theological differences co-exist in a mature manner with love for Christ and each other being the primary focus between us. This makes for a place where people can gather around, say, the eucharist, some of us disagreeing as to the memorial aspect of the practice, and still lovingly and validly partake of Christ's real presence, or even *gasp* transubstantiation. An issue such as the eucharist is an issue between the person receiving the gift, and the Person giving the gift. Our theological differences do not matter so much as meeting and being together in His love, receiving what Christ has to offer, and not interfering with one another in the reception of that gift.

This, I think, is what really being a church is about. It is not about streamlining, managing, overseeing, and over-ruling each other's theological compass to the point where we can all only see North and refuse the realities of East, South, and West. That is, really being a church is about loving each other despite, and even because of our differences. It's about iron sharpening iron just as one man sharpens another. And if, in the end, we come out having to agree to disagree on certain points, we can still love each other as a family loves each individual within that family whatever the respective differences may be.

However, this brings up a necessary point: is there a place where differences are actually divisive and unChristian? In fact, yes. At my church, however, I think the idea is not to weed out those who are not actually Christian by the traditional understanding of what a Christian is (see, Apostle's Creed) but to include them with the loving hope that they may one day become Christians.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you finally found a good fit for you and family. Congats.

Christopher said...

Thank you, Randy. It really is a brilliant place. You should come some Sunday. ;)

Anonymous said...

I'll take a rain check on that.

Honestly I would love to visit the area, but I think finances will never allow that. Especially given that for far less I can be relaxing on a tropical beach with unlimited food and drink.

Christopher said...

Mmm... tropical beach... I'm thinking of taking Sarah to Tahiti sometime in the next few years. Who knows? Maybe we'll come back with a 5th announcement. ;)

Anonymous said...

So no snip snip yet?

Why Tahiti? Cuba is cheap and friendly. I really want to hit Cuba with my parents one of these years.