From: Weehawken, NJ, USA
I am a Christain who has rediscovered God-- er, rather, had the experiences that have led me properly to the foot of the cross for the first time: I grew up "religious" within a particular denomination, went to religious schools for 12 years (1st through Senior year) yet rejected it entirely (Atheism)and deeply as an adult (16+ until 29) I am now 35, and for the last years I have been on a path which culminated in me accepting Christianity fully; it is so wonderful and I am grateful and so moved that I have had the chance for the Spirit to lead me actively back into the arms of our Lord.
The thing now is: I have been attending church now recently at a denomination that is opposite of the one which I grew up with (for the sake of non-bias, I shall only state that these 2 denominations I speak of are Protestant and Catholic, although I will not state which one I grew up with and which sort of church I attend now.) My point is, I embrace and enjoy the church I attend now and have considered officially joining it (hence, leaving the church I grew up in)But, I admire aspects of the church from my youth. I have strong opinion about Protestant-vs-Catholic doctrine, teaching, etc; I feel I need to align with one and remain loyal to one, working with this church of choice and growing in its flock. In my heart, I feel I already know which one is right for me (actually, right for Christianity)Its confusing.
What do you think? Is it unimportant to "choose" one denomination, or is it dire that I do so. Also, do not hesitate to share your honest opinion of Catholicism and\ or Protestantism.
Thank-you in advance.
Thanks so much for sharing some about yourself!
I understand a lot of what you mean regarding the whole denomination issue. For quite a while I was a self-proclaimed non-denominational Christian -- just because I was so annoyed with schism in the church over (what I considered) petty differences.
I think I've mellowed out a bit since then -- I still don't like people splitting over petty issues, but as I've run up against more and more false teachings in the world (for example: the "health and wealth prosperity 'gospel'"), I've been appreciating having a solid agreement of doctrine in a church in order to make sure that that sort of thing doesn't damage the flock from within.
So yeah -- only recently have I been actively learning about denominations (whereas before I counted it pointless and ignored doctrine), and I've really found it good.
It bothers me when denominations comprimise truth for something of lesser value -- whether it be acceptance, convenience, financial gain, personal desires, etc.
The Catholic Church has its good points -- and I know several Catholics who I believe truly know Christ as their Lord and Savior. But there are many points where I feel Catholic churches have comprimised truth for the sake of acceptance. One of my nominally Catholic friends told me that something he really appreciates about his old Catholic youth group leader was that he preached a "whatever you believe is good for you" kind of mentality. I have a problem with that kind of teaching (but I realize that not all Catholics are like this). Many Catholics still pray for the dead, still offer some forms of indulgences (much of what Luther took issue with back in Germany), believe in some amount of authoritative inspiration held in the Papal office, and venerate Mary as our intermediary rather than Christ -- there are many little doctrines like this that are still extremely popular and while I understand that they have extensive historical support from the Catholic church -- I don't necessarily feel that they are scriptural and so I don't agree with them.
However, I also have my share of problems with many Protestant churches. Whether it be the holiness movement, or "health and wealth", or the end-times-mania, or the all-roads-lead-to-the-same-place comprimises, or whatever -- you can find it all, and you don't have to look very hard to find false teachings from the pulpit.
But that's all very general opinions -- as far as what I specifically believe...
Currently I'm at a church of the Reformed persuasion -- I feel that they really care about what they believe, and take Truth seriously. It's a smaller church, but I really feel that they hold God in high regard. They teach scripture -- they study, and while I may not agree with everything that they believe, they have well thought-out and scriptural reasons for their doctrines and that's the kind of devotion that I want to be around. So that's where my wife and I go.
Thanks for asking such a great question! This is all my personal opinion, and while I feel it is a reasonable stance, I hope I haven't offended any brothers or sisters, and I'm always open for debate.
I'm very glad to have you here, Matty.
From: Eugene, OR, USA
I think the important part isn't which church you go to, but that our loyalty and alignment lie with Jesus Chist our Saviour and our Lord God Almighty. It's easy to get caught up on denominations and considering one "better" or more "right" than the other. In truth they all probably are wrong in different ways and we may never know until we get to Heaven.
The thing I've always asked myself before racking my mind too much on the same question you are asking is whether or not it matters. In truth when we are in Heaven rejoicing with our Lord will he point his finger and condemn us because we are a "methodist", or a "baptist", or a "catholic". I find it very hard to even imagine Jesus doing that.
It's very sad to me to see Christians get into an attitude in which they try and prove that their church is "better", or more Godly. It always made me feel like we were little kids saying "my daddy is tougher than yours". In the end being a certain denomination won't score you forgiveness, only beleiving and having faith in Jesus will.
I think it's important for you to find your own way and then find a church that syncs up with your personality and goals the best. Many people I know are very humble and faithful Christians that further the Lord's glory every day, though I couldn't imagine myself going to their Church.
Remember God wanted us to be different and unique, it's ok to rejoice in those differences and worship and serve in our own way. In fact from what the stories of the Holy Bible have said (think the Tower of Babel) being of one unified church that does everything the same exact way and acts the same way seems against his wishes. Just some of my thoughts, hopefully you can look to the Lord and find your own guidance. I've always thought it very important to remember that the Lord seeks a personal relationship with you, not one through others, not one through a specific denomination. It's important to establish that relationship with the Lord and then find the right place for you, it's very easy to get those steps reversed
Isn't God grace astounding?! That he would take us back in even after we spit in His face. (Thats what I would have foolishly done at some points in my past)
I would second what Clint and Matt say and throw a few points in myself.
Its best to find a church that sticks to the truth of the bible. I'm not talking about the ones that believe in just one (elizabethan english) version of it. I had a 'pastor' who half-jokingly said "Even the page numbers are inspired in this bible". He ended up running off with all the church's money. It shut down the church and some were turned off to God by it. What a scandal that was, but it happens.
My personal experience is that when you mix human traditions(errancy) with the pure word of God(inerrant) it gives way to lust of power and corruption in the church or denomination.
So, I guess you could say, I am a purist of sorts when it comes to my walk with Christ. I stick to following just what the Bible says and developing a real relationship with Jesus. Anything beyond that are just others' opinions or personal convictions.
For me (a skeptic at heart), I listen to God's words first and take everyone elses' with a grain of salt. Sometimes they are right(godly counsel), but more often they are very wrong and they will start asking you to drink poisoned kool-aid or something else cult-ish.
P.S. I really do believe in one version of the Bible... the one the authors originally wrote, but since my ancient greek is not that great, I'll trust a panel of well-educated translators to give me a pretty good rendition..in modern english.
[EDIT] Uh.. I just realized.. this is a kind of old thread. Have you found a good church? How are you doing spiritually?
[This message has been edited by penny (edited September 28, 2006).]