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, 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”).
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.