Saturday, 1 May 2010

drowning in churchianity

Calling all troubled souls who find their church, or any church, an impediment in their journey of faith.

I have always seen some 'high' church rituals and traditions as little short of idolatry. But that is OK when you are criticising others. What about things closer to home in your own church, your own 'favorite' things? Is it forbidden territory to have pride in my own denomination? Can I make an idol out of psalms, praise bands, the Bible, church leaders?

Is there anybody else out there who is unsettled by the way people in their own church seem to put 'church loyalty' before Jesus? I mean, although no-one would admit it, they get their buzz from the traditions, rituals and ethnic allegiances of their own church, and their lives are driven by church 'business' - even maybe the business of 'worship'. I'm not even sure if I want to go where this train - the 'denominational express' - is going.

But before anybody rushes to join the attack on denominations other than their own, we all do that. It is part of the problem. Of course we can see those bad traits in other churches, especially those most different from our own.

Now this is not an attack on 'Holy-Rollers' (but that may come later!); nor on priests or pastors (although that may come sooner!)

'Post-Denominationalism' is a term I heard somewhere (although my spell-check doesn't like it). That sounds like where I'm coming from. But where am I going? What will my next rant be? I'm spoiled for choice.


  1. John
    Yes, I know that most folk don't even know one denomination from the next nowadays - although in Ireland I suppose you could substitute Catholic/Protestant for the purpose. And plenty of folk in N. Ireland identify with one or other or these two tribes without having any 'faith' at all! But doesn't that say something?

  2. I understand pride in denomination; it may be time to walk a separate pathway, and then see where the Lord leads, to follow righteousness, faith, love peace, with those who call on the name of the Lord out of a pure heart.

  3. David
    Thanks. The important thing about walking a separate pathway is - as you say - who is leading. My 'grumpy old pewster' attitude at times is not born of a pure heart! Food for thought.
    Love your verses in your own blog, and the photos of India too. Not too much churchianity there - just the bare essentials and that's what is important.

  4. I had stopped going to church for the time because I don't believe the reverance is there.
    I felt so hurt about the attitudes..the gossip, the show, the social club!
    Have you seen the movie, "Time Changer." The trailer can be watched on You-tube. It is much about the churches today. While living in Tennessee I attended a great, simple, bible believing committed church and am now looking for the same in Australia.
    I am believing my husband will be guided as to where we are to attend.
    Meanwhile, my trust is in the Lord. Bless you.

  5. So what's your church background, Philip? And does "Post-Denominational" mean you no longer are connected with a church? Or merely not connected spiritually to a specific denomination?

  6. Crystal Mary,
    Thanks for your comment about your own experience. I think simplicity is part of the answer - I trust you find the right place in Australia.

  7. Gary,
    My background is simple Mission Hall when I was young, 'loosely' Presbyterian as I got older (it is the denomination where I lived that 90% were.
    Now I'm an elder in my local Presbyterian Church, but quite unsettled by the worship of 'tradition' on the one hand and the modern assumption that tradition is wrong on the other. My pet hate is people who put their denomination before their Christianity. My new joy is to discover Christianity in other denominations from the one I belong to.

  8. I've noticed that folks get rather unsettled when I mention that the Bible gives us no indication of any "joining" ceremony or prerequisites to church “membership”, though it DOES tell us a bit about GETTING RID of bad eggs in the church!

    Also, if you haven't already heard it, Billy Graham, a life-long Baptist, commented on denominations by telling a simple joke. It seems one of the "pillars of the community" in some small town was asked by a stranger if he was a Christian. "Heavens no,” replied the old man, "I'm a Baptist!"

    Also, I find it interesting that we modern Christians grumble about hypocrisy in church leadership and traditions of man having more value than commandments of God. That was the same thing Jesus was saying about Jewish leadership and worship!

  9. Thanks for the post. I am in complete sympathy. You mention the journey of faith...that's the part I want to nail down. It seems like we have to come up with a way of defining that, something we appeal to, an authority by which to discern these questions.

    Like you I don't think the answers lie in finding the comfort and safety of a faction, nor in tradition, nor in creeds and confessions.

    I'm sure as Christians we would all look to the Bible as the source of authority and therein lies the hard road.

    Because the others (traditionalists, creedalists, etc...) do as well.

    How to proceed with a God-honouring faith, humility, and with a posture that can learn from the past and yet not be enslaved to it?

    That's the hard question for me.

    Thanks again. You're an encouragement to me.

    John A.