Why I’m a catholic// I gave up on your “church” and got into the communion of saints

Michael Spencer recently posted a honest piece about what the past year of His life has been like and why He gave up on your god. It is honest, beautiful,church and (apparently) like kicking a hive of proselytizing hornets that are just itchin’ to get you across the Tiber (aka make you one of the “True Church”).

Some of the responses Michael has posted at the BHT, and honestly they make me fighting mad.

Too often, I see people (vultures I want to call them) circling around, waiting, watching and chomping at the bit for a opportunity to pile on some life that appears “readied by God” to now receive the true truth, to finally believe the true faith. This inter familial proselytizing makes no sense to me.

I grew up in Church. I grew up in a lot of churches and traditions. The first church I remember going to was a Four Square congregation. Soon after that, I remember moving to a small Calvary Chapel church. This move was not a cut and run. It really was a migration to another tribe while retaining and cultivating the relationships from the Four Square congregation.

During this time, I was attending an Episcopal school, and our chapel services with their semi-liturgical form, adherence to the Church calendar, and weird communion wafers was very different from the church service I saw on Sunday mornings.

In middle school, I transferred to a Catholic school, and our church transitioned from a Calvary Chapel to a non-denominational fellowship. Again, what I saw in chapel and mass was very different from what I was seeing on Sunday mornings.

A few years later, I transferred to an evangelical, non-denominational high school. Shortly after this, I started floating from church to church, going with friends and family, going sometimes by my self. I went to Baptist churches, Catholic Mass, Sunday night bible studies, Charismatic worship services, etc… Finlay I settled on an Evangelical Free Church as my home congregation. Eight or so years later, I was involved in a Christian Missionary Alliance church plant. Two or three years later, I am in Portland Oregon, and am part of an emerging community called Evergreen

What I have seen in all these places has been very diverse. To be honest I do have a huge drawn to high church, with liturgy, vestments, and the whole shebang. However, these experiences, observances, and relationships has led me to a place very “un-high” church.

I’m at a place that some people say has no history, a place with no connection two the past 2000 years. Some people will say that I am not part of the true Church. Others will say that I don’t have the fullness of the Gospel. Others say I have un-orthodox beliefs, and that my community can’t call it’s self a real church.

These kind of lines have been thrown around me and at me for most of my life. They have been said to me by Catholics, as well as Baptists and charismatic types. And to all of them I say: you go to hell.

The one thing that my melting pot faith journey has led me to believe without a shadow of a doubt is this: there is absolutely one true Church, one apostolic and catholic Church. It is the only place anyone will see Jesus, and without it, no one will see God.

It’s called the body of Christ, the Communion of saints, the church invisible. It is the only true church, and there is not a one tradition that can lay claim to be it. Rather, it is every tradition, every congregation, every person who can say “Jesus is Lord” that makes up this one true Church. Every congregation and church tradition I have dipped into has helped me see this clearly, and with out them all I wouldn’t know this true Church.

This one true Church has orthodox belief, and the best formulation of that faith that I have ever heard is the Nicene creed, articulated by the one true Church and passed down from generation to generation of saints to be tested as orthodoxy and be found true.

I could go on, but I hope you see the picture.

So ya, I get a little pissy when people decide that the Church invisible is only made of one small denomination or narrow tradition. It’s cutting parts out of the body of Christ… parts that you need, parts that need you. The proselytizing of your fellow saints makes no sense what so ever! Sure, lets talk and argue Theology. That is good for us to keep striving to think correctly and better about God, salvation, and life. Chances are, I think your Theology is wrong somewhere. And there is an even better chance of my Theology being wrong in places. But, let’s remember even if my Theology changes to match yours or yours changes to be more like mine, we’re still not any more a part of the one true Church than we were before.

So, no matter who you are and what you believe about my place in or out of the true body of Christ… To all who can say “Jesus is Lord”, I call you brother.

Come, share the table with me. We will remember, proclaim, and anticipate what Jesus has done that makes us His Body.

  • Gerry

    Are Mormons "in"? Jehova's Witnesses?

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  • Brian in BC

    Gerry,

    Since neither of them affirm the Nicean Creed or approach any sort of orthodoxy, isn't that a pretty obvious and resounding NO to your question?

  • Can they say "Jesus is Lord" in agreement with the orthodoxy the communion of Saints has recognized, handed down, tried and found to be true? If so, then yes, I call them brother. However, not everyone who claims to follow Christ follows the actual Jesus of scripture. It get's messy and complicated, but if Jesus is the only foundation true faith is built on, then we must be willing to say that some people have "the wrong Jesus".

  • Brian, I just saw your comment. I'm in full agreement.

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  • Excellent post! Amen, brotha!

  • I definitely need to get out of the house a good deal more and eliminate just spending a large amount of my morning time playing poker on myspace or facebook considering that these days i have been unable to ready with regards to this. Despite the fact that I cannot admit that I 100% agree with each and every concept, it is very good to look over some reasonable commentary as opposed to the customary rubbish I come across floating all around the web.

  • I am still very young and immature in my faith but I don’t have to be mature to know that “Church” is a gray area for me.

    Currently, I do not attend Church. I have been told that Church is necessary, because we need the fellowship and the community. But what if the people involved in the community are not people you want to be involved with and share that community with?

    One Word: Hypocrisy

    On the same hand, most people would say that I don’t attend Church because I’m lazy and too stuck in my comfort zone. I just haven’t found a place that I feel I can be myself or have my thoughts and feel comfortable enough to share them.

    I’m not saying I don’t agree with Church but the sad reality is that a lot of people turn away from Church because what is taught and preached is taken out of context and not preached in the way it was written from Scripture. That’s another problem I have noticed.

    The only way for a Church to truly grow and what it was meant to be is if people continue growing in their knowledge and understanding God’s Word the way it is written and preach it to the way it’s supposed to be taught without their own personal agenda.

    You mentioned the “invisible” Church. What if this .. what we are doing now … is Church?

    What if Church isnt just about Community and Congregations but about Conversations? Conversation about the truth? There’s something to think about.

    I call this “Viritual Church.”

    People would argue that technology and social media take away from what Church is supposed to be, but I would argue that who is to say going to an actual building each week increases the chances that you will love God more? or Grow in your faith?

    The only way for Church to work is if Church has good leadership. Leadership is of course used loosely here because any one can lead, but not everyone can preach properly.  Leadership should
    lead accountability. How many Christians have you known to fall in their faith due to lack of accountability? Most people don’t want the responsibility … to hold everyone accountable. Do you know how many lives could be saved if someone gave a damn enough and asked? Instead, the Church turns their back on them, because they’re human.

    The only element that I believe a Church holds any value is of course being there face to face and hearing the message. You obviously can’t do that online through text on screen,but you know the difference? There is a lot more PASSION on screen than there is sitting in a pew during a sermon.

    In my own world and probably in my own mind, I would start my own Church. It’s a goal of mine one day, but I need to grow more and learn more. And right now I don’t think any one take me very seriously.

    You summed it up beautifully here:

    “The one thing that my melting pot faith journey has led me to believe without a shadow of a doubt is this: there is absolutely one true Church, one apostolic and catholic Church. It is the only place anyone will see Jesus, and without it, no one will see God.

    It’s called the body of Christ, the Communion of saints, the church invisible. It is the only true church, and there is not a one tradition that can lay claim to be it. Rather, it is every tradition, every congregation, every person who can say “Jesus is Lord” that makes up this one true Church.”

    So, my point? I don’t know the direction Churches will go in the next decade. But I have seen different movements in the way Churches gather than I have since I was a kid. I am not completely against the idea of Church. I just think there are a lot of things left to be learned. Before any one gets up there and tries to ram their messages down someone’s throat and try and cram THEIR knowledge into someone’s life, they should make it a daily mission to learn and know the Word of God first.

    Honestly, we all should.

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