Thursday, October 25, 2007

Where Am I?

One thing is for sure, I'm certainly not in Kansas any more. On the American denominational map, I find myself feeling the way Dorothy felt when her house landed in Oz. Where am I and how did I get here?

I can worship with the Baptists, Lutherans, Presbytierians, Episcopalians and Catholics, but where do I fit? Where do my views of the sacraments, church government, theology. church history, etc... fit in in the current denominational landscape?

My undestanding of Covenant makes it impossible for me to ever feel at home in a Baptist church. I can and do worship with my Baptist brethren now and then, but I could never join a Baptist Church. The Baptist would not accept the baptism of my children as valid because they were baptised as infants, and I am convinced that paedobaptism is biblical. I would never want my children to adopt a Baptist understanding of baptism, because that would mean that they had lost the biblical concept of covenant.

The Lutherans (LCMS) that I've spoken and worshipped with insist that I hold to Luther's understanding of the Eucharist in order to take communion with them. I don't think Luther's view is correct. I can't go to a church for very long where they celebrate the Lord's Supper every week (which I think is correct in worship), but my family and I are barred from the table.

The Episcopal Church USA requires that I have a Trinitarian baptism to take part in the Eucharist. I think that is a proper fencing of the table, so I like that. In my family we are all baptised correctly (Trinitarian baptism) and my family and I can participate in Communion when we worship with the Episcopalians, but the Episcopal Church USA, as a denomination, is VERY liberal and I do not want to place myself or my family under the spiritual authority of a denomination that has approved and anointed a homosexual bishop and like minded priests.

The Catholic Church into which I was born and baptised, but never confirmed, tells me that I must agree with all that the Church officially teaches in order to be brought back into full fellowship and be allowed to celebrate the Eucharist at Mass. I cannot see this ever happening. When I started reading the Early Church Fathers, I was told by several Catholic friends and family members, that the Fathers would enable me, perhaps even force me, to return to Rome. They are, thus far, sorely mistaken. Reading the Fathers has certainly had an affect on my thinking. I view some things differently then I did before I started to read them, but they have also shored up a number of my differences with the Church at Rome. This especially true in my views on Papal infallibility and the authority of the Bishop of Rome over the Church. My personal view of the Catholic Church has softened a bit, though I have never been hostile toward Rome. Since I started reading Fathers I have found some more understanding of the history of Catholic doctrine, but they have not brought me closer to Rome. If anything, reading the Fathers has ended my flirtation, for now, with the idea of returning to Rome.

The Presbyterian Church (PCA) is the denomination that I have been a member of for over 20 years. It is a theologically conservative denomination and where I live it is more liturgical than it is in much of the country. I am glad for that because liturgical worship is historic and biblical worship. But many of the people in the PCA are more baptistic in their understanding of the Sacraments and less like Calvin and most of the 16th century Reformed theologians. I can live with that, but I am not sure how long they will be willing to live with those of us who have been really reading Calvin (or the Church Fathers) and adopting the views he taught on the sacraments. John Calvin, because of his teachings on the Lord's Supper and baptism, could not pass muster for ordination in many (most?) presbyteries in the PCA today.

I don't know enough about the Eastern Churches to comment on them, but I am hoping to attend an Orthodox worship service soon.

At this point in my life, I'm more in line with Reformed Episcopalians and closer to them than I am to any other sect or denomination. I don't know what they require for participation in the Eucharist. It really does not matter because there are no non-ECUSA (now EC) Episcopal Churches around where I live.

I do believe that the Church needs to be more latitudinarian. I mean by this that we MUST take those passages about unity much more seriously than we have since the Reformation. Protestants have used the concept of "doctrinal purity" as an excuse for schism and splintering ad infinitum. What about the doctrine of unity which is so clearly taught in Scripture? Shouldn't we take those verses seriouly too?

We need to work for unity, while insisting on basic orthodoxy. As an example, there are about a dozen Presbyterian denominations that say that the Westminster Confession is their doctrinal standard, but they remain divided. WHY?

I have a fairly broad view of what makes up the true Church of Jesus Christ. I think accepting the Apostles Creed is an absolute minimal standard of Orthodoxy. Because of my broad view of the Church, I can worship at all these Churches mentioned above (and many more).

As things stand, I will likely keep my membership in the PCA until they tell me that I am no longer welcome because they consider me to be to "Catholic."

Coram Deo,

Ps. To see more denominational demographics go here:


Timothy said...

"...where do I fit?"

By virtue of your baptism you are a member of the Catholic Church and should be attending church there, even if your current beliefs prevent you from receiving the Eucharist. One receives much grace from mere attendance at the Mass. Christ is bring His Church back under one roof. Its time for you to return and bring your gifts into His Church.

Regarding your PCA worship, having read your earlier articles, the question you might ponder is does the PCA have a valid eucharist? Are you eating the Lamb or a symbol of the Lamb? How do you know?

Regarding Papal authority, you might ponder Matthew 16:17-19 and Isaiah 22:22ff. Did Christ re-establish the ancient Davidic office of the Chief Steward? Did Christ give Peter His authority? Was Peter's authority (keys) inheritable ala Isaiah 22?

Infallibility is a much misunderstood charisma. Many Catholics don't even understand it. One of the better explanations is here:

God bless...

Cajun Huguenot said...

Hey Timothy,

Thanks for the comments. I do attend Mass many times a year. I plan to attend Catholic Mass this coming Thursday. Because I had to work today (Sunday). I will be working next Sunday. When I attend Mass I do go up front and receive the priest's blessing.

I appreciate your suggestions, and I will also be visiting your site now that I know where it is.

Your brother in Christ,