a question…

A question that I am currently asking is:
Why have you, who are Christians, chosen to be in the particular Christian T/tradition (or denomination) that you are in?

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4 Responses to “a question…”

  1. Michael Says:

    Hi! I recently found you by following a link from Khanya, and thought I’d venture an answer to your question. I’ll try to be brief.

    I’m a Lutheran, and happen to be on the ordained clergy roster of my church body, the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations (AFLC), though I’m not currently serving as pastor of a church (I’ve pastored four different churches).

    Perhaps there are three main reasons why I’m in this denomination:

    1. The fact that it’s the denomination of my childhood is certainly a major influence, though as a child I was not a member of the AFLC, but of the old ALC, a predecessor body of the current ELCA (Evangelical Luth. Church in America)

    2. The Lutheran denomination at its best is very strong on the central points of what CS Lewis called “mere Christianity”, as well as in a sacramental understanding of baptism and Communion, and an openness to the heritage of 2000+ years of the Christian Church.

    3. Because, though I’ll admit some “issues” I have with Lutheranism and Lutherandom, I see enough good in my current affiliation so that I would need to be really, really sure that another church was truly better in order to justify jumping ship. I’m a serious student of early Christianity, and am currently enrolled in a grad program in Jewish studies, for the express purpose of understanding the roots of Christianity more deeply. Furthermore, when I met my wife she belonged to an Orthodox Church. After awhile she sojourned for awhile in Lutheranism with me while I pastored two churches, but recently felt called back to the church of her childhood, the Catholic Church. So, to make a long story short, her sojourns brought me in contact with Orthodoxy, and more recently, in closer contact with Catholicism. Getting acquainted with the claims of these great churches has been quite a broadening experience for me, but the result for me isn’t to lead me to jettison my current affiliation hastily, but to be a better student of the roots of Christianity while maintaining my current membership. What my studies lead me to in the future, who’s to say?

    There’s a very personal reason not to jump ship too quickly, as well. My denomination isn’t just a set of principles or an organization, but a family of Christian people I know and love, imperfect as we are, and in spite of the fact that I’m a quiet maverick in this group in many ways. There’s a part of me that would consider investigating the Evangelical Covenant denomination, as I could retain all my current beliefs there and escape a few of my tensions with Lutheranism, and it would have a kind of authenticity for me, since I belonged to it previously during my high school years. But something doesn’t sit well with me about the idea of investigating a new church without having my wife along, so instead I’ll continue to fellowship with my Lutheran church family, a good Lutheran in some ways, a maverick in others.

    Glad for the opportunity to venture an answer to your question.

  2. Michael Says:

    PS: I was going to mention also that my status as clergy in my church body didn’t come cheaply, so that’s another reason why I’m not inclined to mess with it unless I become truly convinced that I need to. Though it makes me an oddity and perhaps an object of suspicion for a few, I have perfect freedom in my circles to be influenced by the Orthodox, Catholic, etc., and have discovered indeed that there are other quiet mavericks like me.

  3. Belladonna Says:

    Hey Papa H.

    As you well know, I am active LDS. I was raised Mormon but totally fell away from the faith as a teen-ager and had nothing to do with it for a number of years, thinking of the religion as “my mother’s church.”

    Then when I was about 24 I met Larry. I EXPLORED the denomination to better understand his beliefs. But I was very clear I would not PRACTICE a religion for the sake of my partner.

    However, after a number of months of reading about the church I began to view it differently. Early on I had some pretty strong negative assumptions about the church based on my experiences with some narrow minded people who happened to be LDS. I thought that if that was what Mormons were like I wanted not part of it. But when I got to really understanding the core doctrine it made sense to me. When I separate out the actual teachings of the religion from the TRADITIONS and PERSONALITIES of certain people, I find I can support what the church is really about.

    Later, after I started attending the church and studying it more seriously there were a couple areas I struggled for a while. But I decided to just go with it and see whether my desire for deeper spirituality and relationship to Christ was better/stronger with the church than it was without it. Over time I found my understanding of myself as a child of God to open up in whole new ways than I had ever anticipated.

    I’ve been active for 27 yrs now. I’ve attended congregations in several different states. I preferred the way the church “felt” when I lived in the midwest where the majority of people had converted as adults rather than what it is like here where there are a lot more LDS by tradition/heritage rather than specific choice. Here people seem to confuse uptight Republican Utah mores with what it means to be Mormon and that just ain’t so. The reality is that there are now more LDS people OUTSIDE the USA than there are INSIDE this country, and Utah ways of doing things are unique to a particular geographic region and historical period, a lot of which I have little patience for. (Blanket apology to any Utah natives this may offend…clearly there is lots of good there too. But as a sweeping generalization, the social structures that are typical are not all that comfortable to me.) But no matter where I go, I accept the core doctrines of my faith as real/true/valid even when it is not socially the place that I feel like I fit. So I continue to attend and support whatever congregation I am a part of based on boundaries that include my address.

    When I moved just 10 miles this past summer it put us over the line into a different congregation. In some ways I like this one way better, in some ways not. But I would not think of going to whichever one I was most comfortable in just because I wanted to. I go where I am “assigned” out of obedience.

    In some ways I’ll always be a bit of a spiritual mutt. I continue to learn about the beliefs of other faiths and have felt very much enriched by time I have spent with my friends sharing in their traditions – such as when you and your family included me in Pascha and Bright Monday celebrations or when I stayed in the home of some Mennonites.

    But apart from all that, I honestly accept the LDS faith as TRUE. there are still some areas I don’t understand why they are the way that they are. God and I will have a talk some day. But for me the bottom line is any time there is a lack of harmony between the teachings of my religion and my own personal opinions or beliefs, I’m very, VERY clear that it is ME and not the church that needs to adjust.

  4. Don Says:

    I am a cradle Orthodox. I don’t know anything about any other churches, what they teach, whether they’re right or wrong. All I know is what The Church has taught me, which was confirmed (to my satisfaction) by the research I did into Orthodoxy as an adult. What a comfort it was to discover that I’d been in the right place all along.

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