“I was born into a well known denomination here in Northern Ireland, have attended faithfully and am now a member and employee. I like their sound Gospel preaching, I even enjoy the deep theology that some of the ministers will go into but I am under no illusion that it’s the only Christian Church out there, or that the suit is some sort of God ordained style of dress.” Anonymous
My Response: I can relate to this short quote in so many ways, being raised in a well known (not the same one) denomination here, attending ‘faithfully’ until I was 18 or thereabouts. Our stories are similar yet very different. Until I was 18, I was not a Christian and as soon as I ‘became’ one I knew I needed to shake off the ‘brethren’ ties immediately.
In retrospect, I knew I needed to get away from ‘Religion’ because it was hard to see Jesus there.
What I once would have said was ‘sound Gospel preaching’ is I believe, only part of ‘the Gospel.’ What I once would have said was ‘deep theology’ ……well, im not sure about that.
I am not saying that ‘your‘ Church is not sound or that the theology you mention is not deep but these phrases are too familiar to me and in many cases have been hijacked to simply mean “we agree with you” or “that affirms what we are content with hearing.”
Whilst it may not have been said vocally, I grew up around many people who believe they are in the ‘right’ version of the Church. They may not claim that nobody else is ‘saved’ but their own methods and practices are certainly held as Biblically correct and superior. By default, this renders the rest of us wrong!
Their preaching is ‘sound’ and yours is questionable! Their theology is ‘deep’ and yours is light & airy!! You get the picture….
It needs to be said though, that there are people in every denomination who fall into this sinful trap of thinking their methods are right & everyone else is wrong! This makes us feel good, it puts a spring in our step to know that we are ‘right’ with Jesus and the rest of you suckers are a bit beneath us…….it makes us a wee bit proud, patronising and perhaps arrogant!
It means that even when we have serious spiritual issues and questions about our ‘Church,’ we will stay and be miserable because, we are tied to the idea of being ‘right’ and cannot take a step down towards those who we have always judged as wrong! Our pride wins….
This is ‘Religion.’
Religion tells the story of self-imposed righteousness, a sort of, “I am accepted because I obey.” But the Bible puts it differently: In Christ, we obey because we are accepted. Scripture is very clear that no one is righteous by personal merit. (Romans 3:10-18)
Hopefully, over the coming posts we can unpack more of what this means and also I hope we will get some discussion and interaction from some of you who will have similar experiences and questions…….