Thursday, January 19, 2006

But Why This Church ...

Brian's comment below is neither "simplistic" nor "naive." Rather, in noting that "the church is necessary because God's actions in Christ and in the Holy Spirit have made it so" he states a foundational truth. Foundational truths are essential, but they have the nasty habit of raising as many questions as they answer. This one begs the question of which church is necessary? In other words, what manifestation or expression of church necessarily arises out of God's actions in Christ and the Spirit? On the other hand, what manifestation or expression of church arises, instead, out of needs for human security, out of human fear, out of cultural expectation, and out of theologies or Christologies shaped and informed by such fear, insecurity and cultural expectation? How can we tell the difference?


Anonymous said...

(From Suzanne) My first thoughts on this topic were – what do you mean by church? The existence of the one holy catholic and apostolic church is a basic tenet of Christianity. But this vision of one worldwide community of believers working towards God’s kingdom on earth … how far are we from that? In this light, I find the ever-proliferating number of denominations pretty much of an embarrassment. I’m like most people in seeking a church home where I am comfortable, although I don’t think that comfort is really the goal of Christ.

The local church serves very real and important needs. It is the means to work towards God’s kingdom. It is also a means of support for its members and the community and a center for education and growth. However, I think that in this individualistic society with its plethora of choices we run a real danger of bringing our own agenda to God rather than being open to God’s agenda.

I have stayed with the Presbyterian church because I like the approach of here’s the Bible – read it. Here are people and resources to help with understanding, but it is ultimately up to you to put in the effort to learn and be transformed. Of course, that’s not the easy way to do it. It’s much easier to be handed a list of ready-made interpretations and rules. (Oh, and the whole 'decently and in order' thing does agree with my personality.)

And why Clarendon church? First of all, it is a very warm and welcoming family. Also, it is a smaller church – having been in the congregation of churches of various sizes, right now I find that I enjoy the community of a smaller congregation. And I welcome the stand the church takes as a More Light church. I am really (I mean REALLY) tired of having Christianity being defined in this country as hate.

Anonymous said...

(James again...) Suzanne makes a good point about "one holy catholic and apostolic church," but when we think of "church" as the institution in which people worship, I think that there is a real benefit to having multiple "churches," or denominations. Each of us ultimately is on our own spiritual journey of learning and understanding and faith. The institution that helps us with that plays an important role, and different people need a different kind of institution to see them through that journey. I don't agree with much or some of what a number of other churches do and profess, but I do see the need for different approaches to understanding and responding to God's love.

Anonymous said...

From Bryan: This is a really difficult question to answer in that if we answer and say a specific church is the right one, than we're kind of judging all the rest. I think one has to go with what feels right because it's one's life and one's personal faith walk with the Lord.

Some people are too afraid to question...question teachings, question the Bible, even question God. Some people can't branch out because there is such tremendous fear that they need a denomination, for example, Southern or Free-Will Baptist, to really show a stark contrast...this is bad...this is good. Some people need to be able to be shown that there are answers for every faith question that arises.

But for some of us who aren't uncomfortable with the innumerable questions that arise from faith, to which we have no answers...there are churches like Clarendon Presbyterian Church that seek to include all people with faith and doubts. There is no exclusivity because God's love for us is not conditional.

So to each his own and it takes all kinds of Christians, just as it takes all kinds of people to make the world go round. The challenge is loving those people with whom you truly do not see eye to eye and drive you crazy.