Author Topic: The Crisis in American Christendom  (Read 21480 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Doc

  • General Malcontent and
  • Moderator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 830
  • Reputation: +2/-3
  • Sic transit gloria mundi
The Crisis in American Christendom
« on: March 26, 2010, 02:06:56 PM »
Back a month or so ago, I initiated a discussion in this forum on the "Gnostic Gospels", which turned out to be a great topic, but fostered several angry, debative posts from other Christians on the board, as well as a number of rather pointed PM's which, after the name calling stopped, generally asked "what kind of a Christian are you?"

I'm going to tell you the answer to that question, and explain WHY, over the years I've gotten to this point in my faith, and what I see as the cause.  This is a personal testimony, and therefore not open to debate (Mrs Smith please take note), however, please feel free to discuss the substance of the reasons why I have found myself in this position, their validity, and your personal experiences in your particular churches.......

The answer to the "What kind...." question is, that I consider myself to be a "Gnostic Christian".......not because I believe that I have any more "knowledge" than any other Christian, and not because that I consider the "Gnostic Gospels" as valid, special, or anything other than Christian curiosities........I'm a Gnostic Christian because I believe, as the ancient Gnostic's believed, that ones relationship with God (and Christ) is vested in ones personal relationship with Him, and not through the conduit of an organized church  I firmly believe that one can maintain a state of "grace" and redemption, relying only on ones personal faith, prayer, and communion with the roots of Christ's teachings.......without a "church"......

My wife and I DO attend church regularly, several of them, and over our lives we have attended thousands of them, ranging from "Mass" at St. Peter's in the Vatican......all the way to a service in a humble dirt cave in upper Egypt, attended by half a dozen Coptic Christians (with an interpreter).  I found the latter to be the most inspiring.....

I was raised in the Southern Baptist Church, and my wife, in the Christian Church (both in the same small town), and during our youth, we found that fellowship experience to be a rewarding and satisfying one.......however over the years (fifty or so), "our" churches, as well as the hundreds of others that we attended around the country, changed......it was subtle at first, and then seemed to accelerate over the past two decades or so.....until now, I can't recognize the "church" of my youth, its priorities and fellowship, and my wife's church is even worse.......

There have always been "splinter" church groups in America, which held unusual methods of worship, and differing levels of "passion", but those are not my concern.......my concern are the "mainstream" denominations, to which the majority of we Christians belong.

Hence the "Crisis in American Christendom........."

For the sake of discussion, I will express the levels of "devotion/direction" in American Christian churches as a simple continuum......an arithmetic continuum from "0" to "10".  The church of my youth (and my wife) I will establish as a "5", or right in the middle.  The middle (5) is a church that is centered on teaching the Gospels, and advancing ones Christian experience and knowledge through prayer and fellowship.......never losing sight of its primary mission, which is the spiritual health of its members......no other priorities exist in a "5" church.

My wife's church, has moved from a "5" to a "1"........interestingly this church is a one-room country church, in the middle of nowhere in rural Missouri farm country that has met in the same building since 1892......one would think that this church would remain anchored in its ecumenical roots, and remain focused, but alas, no.  Around 1980 this church became affiliated with a national organization known as "The Disciples of Christ"....and that was when the changes began.  Over the years, The "Disciples of Christ" (at the national and state level) began taking an interest in liberal political causes, and did so on an international level as well.  We knew that something was wrong, because the congregation seemed no longer focused on the spiritual nature of church membership, but they seemed to be attending services just to "see and be seen", not worship.......services became little different than the Saturday night dinners at the country club after a round of golf.......they were "social" and not "spiritual".

All of a sudden, about two years ago our pastor left suddenly........and since he and I were close, we had a long discussion that absolutely shocked both of us.......he told us that he is required to attend "developmental pastoral conferences" monthly with the state leadership, and based on what the leaders were telling him that he must preach and support, he could no longer continue to be associated with the organization.  

He was told that he must "embrace homosexuality" as an acceptable lifestyle, and attended Bible study workshops where the leadership told the pastors that they should teach that "Its OK to believe, and teach that Mary, the mother of Christ, was not a virgin, and that there was no real evidence that the resurrection actually happened, and that his church should be "open and accepting" to members who held divergent views on Gospel matters".  We therefore did a little research on our own, and discovered that that the "mission offerings" that were being collected in our offering plates, were being used to support despotic African rebels, with communist connections that were at the very least questionable, and at worst genocidal.

We began looking for a new "church home", and looked at a number of other denominations, including the Southern Baptist church of my youth.  We found the same "country club" attitude, coupled with a very real interest in all things political, whether at the local or national level......they were very active in conservative politics, and very inactive in the spiritual health of their members.......oh, they went through the "motions", but there was no passion in their devotion......only in their politics.  I would rate them a "3"........

On the higher numbers of the numerical continuum, the "7's, 8's, and 9's, we found what I will referr to (for want of a better term) the "fundamentalists"........now these denominations were not into "faith healing", or "handling serpents", but these churches were so "hidebound" in the absolutes of scriptural interpretation that they refused to allow any discussion, conversation, or deviation whatsoever in THEIR version of Christianity, that they also completely lost sight of the fellowship and spiritual health of the members.  There was no "teaching" in their discussions of the life and message of Christ, they were essentially dictatorships, which told the members exactly how they should conduct each and every aspect of their lives, and any deviation was generally met with scorn, or ostracism...........

Then there are the Catholics.......now I have, as I have stated in the past.......no axe to grind with Catholicism, but whenever we've attended Mass, and the priest invokes the Virgin and the Saints......there has always been a immediate vision form in my mind......of me, standing at the foot of a mountain, with its summit enshrouded in clouds.....when a voice, so loud that the ground shakes beneath my feet......states...."Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me......."  I don't say this to insult Catholics, their ritual or dogma, just that this is my reaction to their services, and further appears to not be my thing..........

So, at least from our personal perspective, there appears to be a crisis in American Christendom.......we are experiencing Churches that have moved away from their roots, whether to appear "modern", "hip", "inclusive", or whatever, and we are having difficulty determining whether these churches are doing this to thwart declining membership, increase revenues, or just because the "spirit" is no longer in them.......the long and short of it is.....we are not finding any "5's" any longer.......

We'll continue our quest, but until we find a fellowship that stands behind its Gospel-based spiritual principles, we will be known as "Gnostic Christians" wandering in the proverbrial "wilderness"......

doc

« Last Edit: March 26, 2010, 03:04:44 PM by TVDOC »

Offline thundley4

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 39055
  • Reputation: +2049/-124
Re: The Crisis in American Christendom
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2010, 02:20:58 PM »
Quote
I firmly believe that one can maintain a state of "grace" and redemption, relying only on ones personal faith, prayer, and communion with the roots of Christ's teachings.......without a "church"

:agree:






Except I don't attend church.

Quote
Matthew 6:5-6
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Offline USA4ME

  • Evil Capitalist
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12333
  • Reputation: +1453/-67
Re: The Crisis in American Christendom
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2010, 03:39:31 PM »
I appreciated reading what you wrote.

What I would bring up is that the word translated "church" is the Greek word "ekklesia" which means "called out."  What were they called out of?  They were called out of the world (carnal) into the light (Christ).

In Matt 16: 13-18, upon Peter's confession that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, Jesus said that upon that rock (Peter's confession that Christ is Lord) he would build his church.  In the Book of Acts, the apostles went around teaching the gospel, and upon converting people to Christianity, established churches (groups of the "called out" in a local area) where they went in order for them to join hands for a common work.

My point would be this:  If attendance to a church was unnecessary, then the Apostles wasted of lot of time establishing them, and the Spirit of God wasted time providing commandments, Apostolic examples, and necessary inferences for us to study and follow in order to conduct the work and worship of the church as God would have it.

.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2010, 04:03:31 PM by USA4ME »
Because third world peasant labor is a good thing.


Offline SSG Snuggle Bunny

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 21058
  • Reputation: +1956/-255
  • Voted Rookie-of-the-Year, 3 years running
Re: The Crisis in American Christendom
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2010, 04:17:24 PM »
It just seems one of the ever-present double-edged swords and presents nothing unique.

Traditional churches seem stagnant. Unresponsive. More interested in maintaining a status quo than...whatever the ill-of-the-day may be.

Non-traditionalism screams of dynamism. Newness. Eagerness.

Still...

Tradition is a foundation, a bulwark and a hedge against impurity. It is time-tested.

Novelty for novelty's sake leads people astray (witness the so-called "progressives"...lemmings make tremendous progress too, sometimes covering tens of miles in a day). An untried poultice can kill just as easily as cure.


other great moral cunumdrums:


Is man fated or does he have freewill?

Is grace the sole criteria for salvation or is man beholden to standards of conduct?

Can a loving God permit evil?

Can you serve white wine with red fish?


Maybe avoiding the extremes is the issue.

Or can moderation be taken to an extreme as well?
According to the Bible, "know" means "yes."

Offline Doc

  • General Malcontent and
  • Moderator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 830
  • Reputation: +2/-3
  • Sic transit gloria mundi
Re: The Crisis in American Christendom
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2010, 04:21:36 PM »
My point would be this:  If attendance to a church was unnecessary, then the Apostles wasted of lot of time establishing them, and the Spirit of God wasted time providing commandments, Apostolic examples, and necessary inferences for us to study and follow in order to conduct the work and worship of the church as God would have it.


I also appreciate your response........to which I would ask......Is it not a far greater sin to attend to an apostasy, than hold the faith.......so long as that faith is true?

doc
« Last Edit: March 26, 2010, 05:07:47 PM by TVDOC »

Offline MrsSmith

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5977
  • Reputation: +465/-54
Re: The Crisis in American Christendom
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2010, 05:03:37 PM »
Back a month or so ago, I initiated a discussion in this forum on the "Gnostic Gospels", which turned out to be a great topic, but fostered several angry, debative posts from other Christians on the board, as well as a number of rather pointed PM's which, after the name calling stopped, generally asked "what kind of a Christian are you?"

I'm going to tell you the answer to that question, and explain WHY, over the years I've gotten to this point in my faith, and what I see as the cause.  This is a personal testimony, and therefore not open to debate (Mrs Smith please take note), however, please feel free to discuss the substance of the reasons why I have found myself in this position, their validity, and your personal experiences in your particular churches.......

The answer to the "What kind...." question is, that I consider myself to be a "Gnostic Christian".......not because I believe that I have any more "knowledge" than any other Christian, and not because that I consider the "Gnostic Gospels" as valid, special, or anything other than Christian curiosities........I'm a Gnostic Christian because I believe, as the ancient Gnostic's believed, that ones relationship with God (and Christ) is vested in ones personal relationship with Him, and not through the conduit of an organized church  I firmly believe that one can maintain a state of "grace" and redemption, relying only on ones personal faith, prayer, and communion with the roots of Christ's teachings.......without a "church"......
  Christianity IS a personal relationship with God, no relationship (no Holy Spirit), no Christian.  However, the rest of your complaints about the churches in your area are exactly why you should belong to one.  Without a conservative, true-Christian base, churches go astray.

My wife and I DO attend church regularly, several of them, and over our lives we have attended thousands of them, ranging from "Mass" at St. Peter's in the Vatican......all the way to a service in a humble dirt cave in upper Egypt, attended by half a dozen Coptic Christians (with an interpreter).  I found the latter to be the most inspiring.....

I was raised in the Southern Baptist Church, and my wife, in the Christian Church (both in the same small town), and during our youth, we found that fellowship experience to be a rewarding and satisfying one.......however over the years (fifty or so), "our" churches, as well as the hundreds of others that we attended around the country, changed......it was subtle at first, and then seemed to accelerate over the past two decades or so.....until now, I can't recognize the "church" of my youth, its priorities and fellowship, and my wife's church is even worse.......

There have always been "splinter" church groups in America, which held unusual methods of worship, and differing levels of "passion", but those are not my concern.......my concern are the "mainstream" denominations, to which the majority of we Christians belong.

Hence the "Crisis in American Christendom........."

For the sake of discussion, I will express the levels of "devotion/direction" in American Christian churches as a simple continuum......an arithmetic continuum from "0" to "10".  The church of my youth (and my wife) I will establish as a "5", or right in the middle.  The middle (5) is a church that is centered on teaching the Gospels, and advancing ones Christian experience and knowledge through prayer and fellowship.......never losing sight of its primary mission, which is the spiritual health of its members......no other priorities exist in a "5" church.

My wife's church, has moved from a "5" to a "1"........interestingly this church is a one-room country church, in the middle of nowhere in rural Missouri farm country that has met in the same building since 1892......one would think that this church would remain anchored in its ecumenical roots, and remain focused, but alas, no.  Around 1980 this church became affiliated with a national organization known as "The Disciples of Christ"....and that was when the changes began.  Over the years, The "Disciples of Christ" (at the national and state level) began taking an interest in liberal political causes, and did so on an international level as well.  We knew that something was wrong, because the congregation seemed no longer focused on the spiritual nature of church membership, but they seemed to be attending services just to "see and be seen", not worship.......services became little different than the Saturday night dinners at the country club after a round of golf.......they were "social" and not "spiritual".

All of a sudden, about two years ago our pastor left suddenly........and since he and I were close, we had a long discussion that absolutely shocked both of us.......he told us that he is required to attend "developmental pastoral conferences" monthly with the state leadership, and based on what the leaders were telling him that he must preach and support, he could no longer continue to be associated with the organization.  

He was told that he must "embrace homosexuality" as an acceptable lifestyle, and attended Bible study workshops where the leadership told the pastors that they should teach that "Its OK to believe, and teach that Mary, the mother of Christ, was not a virgin, and that there was no real evidence that the resurrection actually happened, and that his church should be "open and accepting" to members who held divergent views on Gospel matters".  We therefore did a little research on our own, and discovered that that the "mission offerings" that were being collected in our offering plates, were being used to support despotic African rebels, with communist connections that were at the very least questionable, and at worst genocidal.
We found this in our local American Baptist church...which is why our church is now Independent Baptist.

We began looking for a new "church home", and looked at a number of other denominations, including the Southern Baptist church of my youth.  We found the same "country club" attitude, coupled with a very real interest in all things political, whether at the local or national level......they were very active in conservative politics, and very inactive in the spiritual health of their members.......oh, they went through the "motions", but there was no passion in their devotion......only in their politics.  I would rate them a "3"........

On the higher numbers of the numerical continuum, the "7's, 8's, and 9's, we found what I will referr to (for want of a better term) the "fundamentalists"........now these denominations were not into "faith healing", or "handling serpents", but these churches were so "hidebound" in the absolutes of scriptural interpretation that they refused to allow any discussion, conversation, or deviation whatsoever in THEIR version of Christianity, that they also completely lost sight of the fellowship and spiritual health of the members.  There was no "teaching" in their discussions of the life and message of Christ, they were essentially dictatorships, which told the members exactly how they should conduct each and every aspect of their lives, and any deviation was generally met with scorn, or ostracism...........
  I've never seen this.  Questions and discussions are always welcome.  However, bringing heresy into the church and trying to push it as equal to scripture...as with the Gnostic Gospels...that wouldn't go.  Of course, that doesn't make it a dictatorship, it makes it a church dedicated to truth.

Then there are the Catholics.......now I have, as I have stated in the past.......no axe to grind with Catholicism, but whenever we've attended Mass, and the priest invokes the Virgin and the Saints......there has always been a immediate vision form in my mind......of me, standing at the foot of a mountain, with its summit enshrouded in clouds.....when a voice, so loud that the ground shakes beneath my feet......states...."Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me......."  I don't say this to insult Catholics, their ritual or dogma, just that this is my reaction to their services, and further appears to not be my thing..........

So, at least from our personal perspective, there appears to be a crisis in American Christendom.......we are experiencing Churches that have moved away from their roots, whether to appear "modern", "hip", "inclusive", or whatever, and we are having difficulty determining whether these churches are doing this to thwart declining membership, increase revenues, or just because the "spirit" is no longer in them.......the long and short of it is.....we are not finding any "5's" any longer.......

We'll continue our quest, but until we find a fellowship that stands behind its Gospel-based spiritual principles, we will be known as "Gnostic Christians" wandering in the proverbrial "wilderness"......

doc


You may enjoy the book, "Exodus," by Dave Shiflett

.
.


Antifa - the only fascists in America today.

Offline USA4ME

  • Evil Capitalist
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12333
  • Reputation: +1453/-67
Re: The Crisis in American Christendom
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2010, 05:05:10 PM »
I also appreciate your response........to which I would ask......Is it not a far greater sin to attend to an apostasy, than hold ones own faith.......so long as that faith is true?

doc

I'm not sure what you mean by "ones faith."

Jude 3 says - "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."

I would say if "ones faith" is the same as "the faith" of which "ye should earnestly contend," then it would be OK.

.
Because third world peasant labor is a good thing.


Offline Chris_

  • Little Lebowski Urban Achiever
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 46845
  • Reputation: +2028/-266
Re: The Crisis in American Christendom
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2010, 05:06:49 PM »
I'm not sure what you mean by "ones faith."

Jude 3 says - "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."

I would say if "ones faith" is the same as "the faith" of which "ye should earnestly contend," then it would be OK.

.


Edited for clarity......

doc
If you want to worship an orange pile of garbage with a reckless disregard for everything, get on down to Arbys & try our loaded curly fries.

Offline MrsSmith

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5977
  • Reputation: +465/-54
Re: The Crisis in American Christendom
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2010, 05:16:56 PM »
It just seems one of the ever-present double-edged swords and presents nothing unique.

Traditional churches seem stagnant. Unresponsive. More interested in maintaining a status quo than...whatever the ill-of-the-day may be.

Non-traditionalism screams of dynamism. Newness. Eagerness.

Still...

Tradition is a foundation, a bulwark and a hedge against impurity. It is time-tested.

Novelty for novelty's sake leads people astray (witness the so-called "progressives"...lemmings make tremendous progress too, sometimes covering tens of miles in a day). An untried poultice can kill just as easily as cure.


other great moral cunumdrums:


Is man fated or does he have freewill?  God's foreknowledge of our choices does not make them any less ours.

Is grace the sole criteria for salvation or is man beholden to standards of conduct?  If a man is under grace, he will wish to live up to the standards of conduct.  As none of us is perfect, he will fail.  Grace is the only thing that can save.

Can a loving God permit evil?   Can mankind ever see enough of the big picture to judge what God should not permit?

Can you serve white wine with red fish?    Can, shouldn't


Maybe avoiding the extremes is the issue.

Or can moderation be taken to an extreme as well?  Is that an oxymoron?
:rotf:
.
.


Antifa - the only fascists in America today.

Offline Chris_

  • Little Lebowski Urban Achiever
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 46845
  • Reputation: +2028/-266
Re: The Crisis in American Christendom
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2010, 05:20:09 PM »
  Christianity IS a personal relationship with God, no relationship (no Holy Spirit), no Christian.  However, the rest of your complaints about the churches in your area are exactly why you should belong to one.  Without a conservative, true-Christian base, churches go astray.
 

Couldn't resist, I see......

Perhaps you missed this part........

Quote
This is a personal testimony, and therefore not open to debate (Mrs Smith please take note),

However, just to humor you.....I don't see it as my job to grab an entire church by the proverbrial horns, and drag it back to the "truth".......I don't remember Christ demanding such either.........

My remarks are not "complaints" they are observations, and if you have difficulty with the distinction, some self-examination might be in order.....

It is easy for you to sit smugly in your ecumenical cocoon, and throw rocks at those of us who express differences of opinion, and highlight problems facing Christians today......I'm going to be presumptious here.......but I think that just "might" be considered hypocracy.....

doc
If you want to worship an orange pile of garbage with a reckless disregard for everything, get on down to Arbys & try our loaded curly fries.

Offline MrsSmith

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5977
  • Reputation: +465/-54
Re: The Crisis in American Christendom
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2010, 05:33:31 PM »
Couldn't resist, I see......

Perhaps you missed this part........

However, just to humor you.....I don't see it as my job to grab an entire church by the proverbrial horns, and drag it back to the "truth".......I don't remember Christ demanding such either.........

My remarks are not "complaints" they are observations, and if you have difficulty with the distinction, some self-examination might be in order.....

It is easy for you to sit smugly in your ecumenical cocoon, and throw rocks at those of us who express differences of opinion, and highlight problems facing Christians today......I'm going to be presumptious here.......but I think that just "might" be considered hypocracy.....

doc
Hypocrisy?  I doubt that partial agreement/partial disagreement with you counts as hypocrisy.  And I didn't debate the things you believe aren't debatable.  

As for what I did say, you really probably would enjoy the book...and we really are supposed to study enough to know untruth & heresy...and reject it.  I think we can all agree that discussion and debate on points of truth are one thing, acceptance of untruth as truth is something completely different.


Or perhaps you thought I should stay out of your thread because I disagree with you on numerous points?   :-)
.
.


Antifa - the only fascists in America today.

Offline Chris_

  • Little Lebowski Urban Achiever
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 46845
  • Reputation: +2028/-266
Re: The Crisis in American Christendom
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2010, 05:57:35 PM »
 

As for what I did say, you really probably would enjoy the book...and we really are supposed to study enough to know untruth & heresy...and reject it.  I think we can all agree that discussion and debate on points of truth are one thing, acceptance of untruth as truth is something completely different.


I'll certainly try the book, thank you.........and the only point of disagreement that we seem to  have is that (I'm going to try to say this as nicely as possible)  YOU don't get to define what is truth, and what is untruth.......or what is "heresy" and what is not.......

There are many variations and differences in Christian dogma.......we are here to discuss them all, if we wish, without (hopefully) making anyone holding views that differ from our own uncomfortable......the "Fellowship" part of the forum title......the ultimate goal being learning......even if we don't agree.

And no, it was not my hope that you would refrain from participation in the thread, it was my hope that you would offer your resources and experiences to suggest a solution to the problem, not challenge my view of it because the fact that the problem exists is unchallengable, and you know it......further, if we don't do something, it is coming to a church near you......even yours......

doc
If you want to worship an orange pile of garbage with a reckless disregard for everything, get on down to Arbys & try our loaded curly fries.

Offline debk

  • Topic Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12473
  • Reputation: +467/-58
Re: The Crisis in American Christendom
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2010, 06:20:37 PM »
Doc...I read your initial post with great interest and also understanding. As it seems Thundley also agrees.

As a child, I lived in W DesMoines, IA, I attended the Episcopal Church (High Episcopal)...faithfully every Sunday, forced to go to Sunday School during part of the Mass (I hated Sunday School) until I was confirmed in 6th or 7th grade and then didn't have to go anymore, was very active in Youth Group.

I loved my Church, my priest, the ritualism of my religion.

My world went to hell in seconds in the middle of my 8th grade year, with the death of my mother in a car accident. It happened on the Tri-State Tollway between Gary IN and Chicago. My priest just happened to have flown into Chicago that night for a conference and saw it on the local news....he was at the hospital the next day once it was established that my family were part of his parish. He missed his conference traveling back and forth between the ICU's in two different hospitals trying to help the hospital staff find our extended families and waiting until my dad's parents got there from Ohio, and helping to get my mother's body to her hometown. He was there for several days helping out. I remember him telling me at one point that there was no explanation for what happened but that I had to remember it was part of God's plan and we had no control over the plan.

Once I got back home, I continued going to my church until that summer. My dad remarried a divorced woman, and was excommunicated from the Church. We moved to Illinois, and I no longer attended church. My beloved Church had kicked us out. It was "us" because I could not go to church on my own. There were many many reasons....one of which, Saturday night was my dad's worst night for drinking and beating....Sundays were for hiding in my room.

Then I went off to college. To a campus that was 85% Catholic, 5% Jewish and 5% other religions, and 5% of no religion.

I went to the Newman Center with my friends. We were there at midnight on Saturday night...a "packed house" of not very sober people....or we were there on Sunday at noon or at 5pm. I was there every week. Then I started going on Wednesdays at noon....just cause it made me feel better.

I was going to convert, but never got around to it. When I moved to Omaha, after graduation, I continued going to the Catholic Church....it was easy.

However, I married an Episcopalian. My priest from WDM even came to Omaha and married us!

I was again, back in the Episcopal Church. Both of my children were christened and confirmed in the Church.

We were very active in a church, that I had real issues with. The Homilies....instead of being about the Gospel and the readings of the day, were about how the church needed money to build this, redo that, to put more stained glass in the sanctuary. Give, give and give more. Sunday was about what were the other ladies wearing, what were the children wearing. What happened to....God doesn't care what you wear, God just cares that you show up and believe in Him?

Then I got a divorce. My ex's attorney was/is a "pillar" of the church. The fact that the way he does business is to lie and cheat...hey, no problem. (that's not me being bitter....that's truth, but not for this topic). There was no recriminations towards my ex...in fact, the "new" wife was welcomed into the Altar Guild! Let's all be a happy family! Uh...no. Let's not and say we did.

I don't want to hear about money and finances for one hour a week. I don't want to think about money and finances for one hour a week. For that one hour, I want to be with God - in His House - and receive the Holy Sacrements and reaffirm that with those Sacrements, God is with me all the rest of the time....not just when I go to His House.

About 17 years ago, I met M. Grew up attending Catholic elementary and Jesuit prep school. I was back to attending the Catholic Church, though not on a regular basis.

I have gone to Mass in the NE, the midwest, the South. I have been to the Vatican, attended Mass at the Basilica in Florence, a renewed Church in Budapest now that communism is no more, in Ireland. The commonality among all of them was what I love the most...the ritualism of worship. The faith that is just a presence among the faithful. The knowledge that I am in God's house.

As of about 8 weeks ago, I as a confirmed Episcopalian am now welcomed into the Catholic Church to receive the Sacraments, as per the Pope. As I told the priest....at least now I can legally do what I have been doing for years. I figured it was between me and God, that it was important for me to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion. The priest told me I had a point.....  (The Catholic Church is welcoming all the Episcopalians that are leaving the religion because of the appointment of a practicing gay Bishop in MA)

But, to your point Doc and Thundley....one does not have to be in God's house to worship God, to talk to God, to hear Him answer....

One must "tune in" to God. One does not have to be taught to hear God....one must be willing to hear God. There's a difference. Nor does it have to be under the guise of a formal religion or in a church.

I can testify that God shows up where you least expect Him....at the foot of my hospital bed, in the living room of a friend's house at 5:30 in the morning. He shows up when you need him the most.

If you know the "poem" Footprints....it describes it best. "When there were only one set of footprints in the sand, it was because He was there to carry me."

There is no one Church that is better than another....nor one religion that is better than another.

Some of the most devout believers in God that I know, are Jewish. I recognize that may offend some here, but just because they do not believe exactly as someone else does....does not make them any less religious or not as close to God.

The most important...most important....point is that God is just there. He doesn't walk away because one doesn't go to church or belong to a formal religion. He doesn't walk away because one person doesn't pray the same as a next. He doesn't walk away because ones practice of their beliefs are different from another.

He's just there.

I think if more people would realize that fact....we'd be a whole lot better off.

I know that this is rambling....but I hope I have said it well enough that some may understand.....
Just hand over the chocolate...back away slowly...far away....and you won't get hurt....

Save the Earth... it's the only planet with chocolate.

"My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far I've finished two bags of M&M's and a chocolate cake. I feel better already." – Dave Barry

A balanced diet is chocolate in both hands.

Offline MrsSmith

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5977
  • Reputation: +465/-54
Re: The Crisis in American Christendom
« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2010, 06:39:11 PM »
I'll certainly try the book, thank you.........and the only point of disagreement that we seem to  have is that (I'm going to try to say this as nicely as possible)  YOU don't get to define what is truth, and what is untruth.......or what is "heresy" and what is not.......

There are many variations and differences in Christian dogma.......we are here to discuss them all, if we wish, without (hopefully) making anyone holding views that differ from our own uncomfortable......the "Fellowship" part of the forum title......the ultimate goal being learning......even if we don't agree.

And no, it was not my hope that you would refrain from participation in the thread, it was my hope that you would offer your resources and experiences to suggest a solution to the problem, not challenge my view of it because the fact that the problem exists is unchallengable, and you know it......further, if we don't do something, it is coming to a church near you......even yours......

doc
The problem does exist, therefore my recommendation of the book.  However, as to Christian dogma...there are many main points agreed upon by all true Christians.  There are a few points of contention...most really minor...that have the power to split up churches.  Beyond that, any difference in dogma can take one outside Christianity.  It is not "my" truth or "my" heresy...it is simply that some things are true while many more are not.  We MUST distinguish the difference.  If we do not, we end up exactly as the churches you've attended...losing the true faith to follow some social or worldly dogma.

If a person advocates and teaches things that disagree with basic Christian dogma, well, they may as well join one of those liberal or faith-healing churches you disdain.
.
.


Antifa - the only fascists in America today.

Offline Chris_

  • Little Lebowski Urban Achiever
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 46845
  • Reputation: +2028/-266
Re: The Crisis in American Christendom
« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2010, 07:12:13 PM »
The problem does exist, therefore my recommendation of the book.  However, as to Christian dogma...there are many main points agreed upon by all true Christians.  There are a few points of contention...most really minor...that have the power to split up churches.  Beyond that, any difference in dogma can take one outside Christianity.  It is not "my" truth or "my" heresy...it is simply that some things are true while many more are not.  We MUST distinguish the difference.  If we do not, we end up exactly as the churches you've attended...losing the true faith to follow some social or worldly dogma.

If a person advocates and teaches things that disagree with basic Christian dogma, well, they may as well join one of those liberal or faith-healing churches you disdain.

90% agreed.....I think that we have a simple difference in interest.....my intrests go well beyond the "church" as we see it today.....I have attempted in these threads to encourage any Christians that are even remotely interested to delve further into the rich history and culture of both Christianity, and its roots in the Holy Land, but also the history  and evolutionary beliefs of the Jewish people upon which our religion is founded......these things will never be taught in a "church", and must be sought......by learning them, they can greatly enrich ones Christian experience.......

As I mentioned in one of the threads, I spent time in Israel studing with Rabbinical scholars.....not to become a Jew, but to understand Christ's life, and the culture from whence he came.......armed with that understanding, I can see his words in Biblical text through "different eyes".....not as a challenge to faith, but bringing me closer to understanding the man, what he accomplished, and the live that he led as a first-century Jew.......

I point out Biblical inconsistancies in order to encourage people to "think" about the Scripture, and its history, not to challenge its validity.....this is a method that I used during my brief tenure as a Physics professor.....it worked well in that discipline, I thought I'd try it here.....

There is no such thing as too much knowledge.....

doc
If you want to worship an orange pile of garbage with a reckless disregard for everything, get on down to Arbys & try our loaded curly fries.

Offline MrsSmith

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5977
  • Reputation: +465/-54
Re: The Crisis in American Christendom
« Reply #15 on: March 26, 2010, 07:45:09 PM »
90% agreed.....I think that we have a simple difference in interest.....my intrests go well beyond the "church" as we see it today.....I have attempted in these threads to encourage any Christians that are even remotely interested to delve further into the rich history and culture of both Christianity, and its roots in the Holy Land, but also the history  and evolutionary beliefs of the Jewish people upon which our religion is founded......these things will never be taught in a "church", and must be sought......by learning them, they can greatly enrich ones Christian experience.......

As I mentioned in one of the threads, I spent time in Israel studing with Rabbinical scholars.....not to become a Jew, but to understand Christ's life, and the culture from whence he came.......armed with that understanding, I can see his words in Biblical text through "different eyes".....not as a challenge to faith, but bringing me closer to understanding the man, what he accomplished, and the live that he led as a first-century Jew.......

I point out Biblical inconsistancies in order to encourage people to "think" about the Scripture, and its history, not to challenge its validity.....this is a method that I used during my brief tenure as a Physics professor.....it worked well in that discipline, I thought I'd try it here.....

There is no such thing as too much knowledge.....

doc
Then we do agree...with the difference that many truly conservatives churches do teach the history and culture of different Old Testament times and the time of Christ.  In fact, in my short span of Christian studies, I've seen and taken classes in these subjects, heard them discussed in Sunday School, and my current pastor has recommended different studies into culture...though with the caveat that his favorite author for culture (whose name I can't recall) has theological problems.  He did not warn us against reading and studying those reference manuals (which are available in our library), but he did warn us to have a care for the truth while we study.  I don't know what's wrong with your churches, but I can assure you that there are good, solid, growing, conservative churches that are all the things you despair to find.  


Oh, and the more important point that incorrect knowledge is worse than too little...
.
.


Antifa - the only fascists in America today.

Offline Chris_

  • Little Lebowski Urban Achiever
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 46845
  • Reputation: +2028/-266
Re: The Crisis in American Christendom
« Reply #16 on: March 26, 2010, 08:04:12 PM »

Oh, and the more important point that incorrect knowledge is worse than too little...

We'll have to agree to disagree on that.....all knowledge has value, even when incorrect, or flawed.....if nothing else, it teaches us not to repeat the same mistakes.....which is why I enjoy studying the Gnostic Gospels.....I don't consider them apostasy....just a differing view, and the vast majority of the texts actually agree with the canon, so what is the danger?  You sift the wheat from the chaff based on evidence, not ideology......any pastor that has the audacity to suggest to me that I shouldn't read any book for fear of my immortal soul, just lost a parishioner.....I'm not naive, nor stupid.....

I'm not silly enough to think that I will be eternally damned for reading a "book" even though it might disagree with Scriptures.....hell, I've read Mien Kampf......so I guess, its all over for me anyway.....so I might as well enjoy myself....

doc
If you want to worship an orange pile of garbage with a reckless disregard for everything, get on down to Arbys & try our loaded curly fries.

Offline MrsSmith

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5977
  • Reputation: +465/-54
Re: The Crisis in American Christendom
« Reply #17 on: March 26, 2010, 08:09:27 PM »
We'll have to agree to disagree on that.....all knowledge has value, even when incorrect, or flawed.....if nothing else, it teaches us not to repeat the same mistakes.....which is why I enjoy studying the Gnostic Gospels.....I don't consider them apostasy....just a differing view, and the vast majority of the texts actually agree with the canon, so what is the danger?  You sift the wheat from the chaff based on evidence, not ideology......any pastor that has the audacity to suggest to me that I shouldn't read any book for fear of my immortal soul, just lost a parishioner.....I'm not naive, nor stupid.....

I'm not silly enough to think that I will be eternally damned for reading a "book" even though it might disagree with Scriptures.....hell, I've read Mien Kampf......so I guess, its all over for me anyway.....so I might as well enjoy myself....

doc
::)  Damnation is something we choose by rejecting Christ...and that's the ONLY way to manage it.

Knowing something untrue...when you know is it untrue...is fine.  It's the "not knowing" what's untrue that is a problem.  Just as those liberal churches "KNOW" that homosexual behavior is not really a sin, and Christ came to heal the physically sick and not the spiritually sick, and that all fundies are "so hidebound in the absolutes of scriptural interpretation that they refused to allow any discussion, conversation, or deviation whatsoever in THEIR version of Christianity."  There is absolutely no point to knowledge without the discernment between truth and untruth.
.
.


Antifa - the only fascists in America today.

Offline Chris_

  • Little Lebowski Urban Achiever
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 46845
  • Reputation: +2028/-266
Re: The Crisis in American Christendom
« Reply #18 on: March 26, 2010, 08:15:30 PM »
Knowing something untrue...when you know is it untrue...is fine.  It's the "not knowing" what's untrue that is a problem.  Just as those liberal churches "KNOW" that homosexual behavior is not really a sin, and Christ came to heal the physically sick and not the spiritually sick, and that all fundies are "so hidebound in the absolutes of scriptural interpretation that they refused to allow any discussion, conversation, or deviation whatsoever in THEIR version of Christianity."  There is absolutely no point to knowledge without the discernment between truth and untruth.

And you will never know that unless you actually read it, digest it, and understand it, right?

doc
If you want to worship an orange pile of garbage with a reckless disregard for everything, get on down to Arbys & try our loaded curly fries.

Offline ardentconservative

  • Just Off Probation
  • *
  • Posts: 136
  • Reputation: +4/-0
Re: The Crisis in American Christendom
« Reply #19 on: March 26, 2010, 08:19:56 PM »
TVDOC, I have been a member of Conservative Cave for several years but haven't posted much.  But I read you post with intrest, and though I agree that there is a crisis in Christiandom, there were some things that you said that I didn't understand what you meant. So being a Southern Baptist Conservative Pastor for 33 years I would like to converse with you on some of the points that you made.  First

I firmly believe that one can maintain a state of "grace" and redemption, relying only on ones personal faith, prayer, and communion with the roots of Christ's teachings.......without a "church"......

I am not sure what you mean by the phrase communion with the roots of Christ's teachings.  If you mean by that that salvation is based upon our acceptance of the person and work of Jesus Christ through repentant faith, and the person of Christ being that is is God and man in one person; and that the work of Christ is that he died on the cross for our sins, then I agree.  The Bible is clear that faith is in a person, the person of Christ; and the salvation comes through is death on the cross.

never losing sight of its primary mission, which is the spiritual health of its members......


I must take exception with this point.  According to Matthew 28:19-20 the primary mission of the Chruch is the spreading of the Gospel(v.19).  But the spiritual health of the Chruch is a vital mission of the Chruch because after Jesus said to baptist them he said  to teach them to observe all things.  So I say the primary mission of the church is to first get people saved, the disciple them.  

.......services became little different than the Saturday night dinners at the country club after a round of golf.......they were "social" and not "spiritual".

Here I wonder if there is not a dichotomy that many people make between the secular and the spritual.  that is that ones spiritual life is sperate and distinct from one's social/secular life.  I believe that to be a false dichotomy.  I believe that in the Bible that we have a spiritual responsiblty to save the lost and disciple the save; and that we have a secular/social responsibility to "redeem the time" in the society in which we live.  The Bible teaches that Christians have a social/secular responsibiliy that we redeem the time by being involved in secular activities[that incluces politics] that can impact our society for good.  One of the reasons that our nation is in the mess it is in is that Christians have not been involved in the political arena so that they bring the influence of their Christian convictions into the political arena so as to be able to have the effect of the changes that Christian values bring.

I would type more but every time I type something it hides below the Post reply box and I have to keep scrolling down to see what I have typed.  So I will simply stop with this.

Offline MrsSmith

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5977
  • Reputation: +465/-54
Re: The Crisis in American Christendom
« Reply #20 on: March 26, 2010, 08:22:57 PM »
And you will never know that unless you actually read it, digest it, and understand it, right?

doc

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125165061&ps=cprs

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124572693&ps=rs

Someone that is grounded in the true foundations of Christianity (a fairly rare person these days) could read either of these books are come away with knowledge useful for poking holes in the untrue beliefs of others.  Someone ungrounded will read books like this and start to believe them.  A clever lie is not always a good thing to study unless you have very good discernment.  Why fill your head with lies?
.
.


Antifa - the only fascists in America today.

Offline MrsSmith

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5977
  • Reputation: +465/-54
Re: The Crisis in American Christendom
« Reply #21 on: March 26, 2010, 08:25:07 PM »
TVDOC, I have been a member of Conservative Cave for several years but haven't posted much.  But I read you post with intrest, and though I agree that there is a crisis in Christiandom, there were some things that you said that I didn't understand what you meant. So being a Southern Baptist Conservative Pastor for 33 years I would like to converse with you on some of the points that you made.  First

I firmly believe that one can maintain a state of "grace" and redemption, relying only on ones personal faith, prayer, and communion with the roots of Christ's teachings.......without a "church"......

I am not sure what you mean by the phrase communion with the roots of Christ's teachings.  If you mean by that that salvation is based upon our acceptance of the person and work of Jesus Christ through repentant faith, and the person of Christ being that is is God and man in one person; and that the work of Christ is that he died on the cross for our sins, then I agree.  The Bible is clear that faith is in a person, the person of Christ; and the salvation comes through is death on the cross.

never losing sight of its primary mission, which is the spiritual health of its members......


I must take exception with this point.  According to Matthew 28:19-20 the primary mission of the Chruch is the spreading of the Gospel(v.19).  But the spiritual health of the Chruch is a vital mission of the Chruch because after Jesus said to baptist them he said  to teach them to observe all things.  So I say the primary mission of the church is to first get people saved, the disciple them.  

.......services became little different than the Saturday night dinners at the country club after a round of golf.......they were "social" and not "spiritual".

Here I wonder if there is not a dichotomy that many people make between the secular and the spritual.  that is that ones spiritual life is sperate and distinct from one's social/secular life.  I believe that to be a false dichotomy.  I believe that in the Bible that we have a spiritual responsiblty to save the lost and disciple the save; and that we have a secular/social responsibility to "redeem the time" in the society in which we live.  The Bible teaches that Christians have a social/secular responsibiliy that we redeem the time by being involved in secular activities[that incluces politics] that can impact our society for good.  One of the reasons that our nation is in the mess it is in is that Christians have not been involved in the political arena so that they bring the influence of their Christian convictions into the political arena so as to be able to have the effect of the changes that Christian values bring.

:clap: :clap:
.
.


Antifa - the only fascists in America today.

Offline Chris_

  • Little Lebowski Urban Achiever
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 46845
  • Reputation: +2028/-266
Re: The Crisis in American Christendom
« Reply #22 on: March 26, 2010, 08:26:43 PM »
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125165061&ps=cprs

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124572693&ps=rs

Someone that is grounded in the true foundations of Christianity (a fairly rare person these days) could read either of these books are come away with knowledge useful for poking holes in the untrue beliefs of others.  Someone ungrounded will read books like this and start to believe them.  A clever lie is not always a good thing to study unless you have very good discernment.  Why fill your head with lies?

Please....you're obfuscating....the question begs a simple "yes" or "no" answer....we can proceed with the rest from there....

doc
If you want to worship an orange pile of garbage with a reckless disregard for everything, get on down to Arbys & try our loaded curly fries.

Offline Chris_

  • Little Lebowski Urban Achiever
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 46845
  • Reputation: +2028/-266
Re: The Crisis in American Christendom
« Reply #23 on: March 26, 2010, 08:30:03 PM »
TVDOC, I have been a member of Conservative Cave for several years but haven't posted much.  But I read you post with intrest, and though I agree that there is a crisis in Christiandom, there were some things that you said that I didn't understand what you meant. So being a Southern Baptist Conservative Pastor for 33 years I would like to converse with you on some of the points that you made.  First
<snip>

[

I would be happy to address your points, however, I have cataracts, and the red font that you are using makes them impossible for me to read......

Therefore, if you were to pose them to me in a normal black font, and perhaps one or two at a time, I'd be happy to respond.....

Sorry

doc
If you want to worship an orange pile of garbage with a reckless disregard for everything, get on down to Arbys & try our loaded curly fries.

Offline MrsSmith

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5977
  • Reputation: +465/-54
Re: The Crisis in American Christendom
« Reply #24 on: March 26, 2010, 08:30:16 PM »
Please....you're obfuscating....the question begs a simple "yes" or "no" answer....we can proceed with the rest from there....

doc
It can beg all it wants.  The fact is that "knowledge" is worthless without discernment.   Absolute belief in lies currently runs many of our churches, our politicians, and our voters.  Only TRUTH is worth studying and KNOWING.

In point of fact, you make that point yourself in talking about your former churches.
.
.


Antifa - the only fascists in America today.