I have been struggling for some time now searching for the right church for myself and family. . . . Please help me sort my understanding of truth and find a place to congregate and worship. I feel as though I have been absent too long.
THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:
This request characterizes the church-shopping by many would-be returnees and is worth some attention. Kevin says family members share his ideas as discussed below. The Religion Guy e-mailed for further information but Kevin didn’t respond, so the following combines his original posting with some guesswork.
The family is obviously Protestant in sensibility, and one point greatly helps the process of elimination. Though Kevin has “strayed” from a Baptist boyhood he still believes children who “don’t understand both good and evil” should not be baptized, and that the ceremony is “a symbol only, as a public display of your choice to accept salvation.” So he needs a baptistic kind of church, whether or not it carries a “Baptist” label.
Further narrowing the field, Pentecostal and Charismatic churches mostly agree with Kevin about baptism but they’re out because, though he thinks speaking in tongues is “possible,” he dislikes “the way it is displayed today.” He didn’t mention any interest in African-American solidarity and culture so we’ll assume the National Baptist denominations wouldn’t be his preference.
Now, not this: The posting didn’t say whether he cares about a church’s “worship style,” socio-political involvements, or policy on U.S. Protestants’ troublesome gay issue.
Kevin believes that “prayer works” and that we “can have a relationship with God.” But The Religion Guy figures he’d be uncomfortable in conservative groups like the Southern Baptist Convention, Converge Worldwide (formerly Baptist General Conference), or CBAmerica (formerly Conservative Baptist Association). That’s evident in his assertion that “Christ is the son of God” but “not God,” as opposed to the historic Christian teaching of the full deity of Jesus Christ.
Also, “I believe that the Bible’s message is mostly intact. I fear that time and influence have made slight but powerful changes. But I believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God through man, to be used as a tool for life and salvation.” That sidesteps the “inerrancy” or “infallibility” of the Bible as preached by Baptist conservatives.
Kevin accepts Christ’s Second Coming “in the sense that Christian faith will overcome sin and the devil. I do not think we are all intended to go to heaven. I believe that God created this world and universe for us to live without sin, and I believe it will come back to that, but with a king since we don’t seem to be able to do it ourselves. Christ will rule over us.”
Thus we see an individualistic blend of traditional and liberal concepts that remains identifiably Christian. Kevin is fortunate to be living in the U.S. with its huge variety of churches to choose from. A liberal, independent local congregation could provide a snug fit with this outlook, but let’s consider four nationwide denominations that welcome leeway on beliefs. (Each provides seekers online directories of local congregations).
Continue reading "How can this seeker find the 'right church'? by Richard Ostling.