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An introduction - A Place for Thinking Christians

About An introduction

Previous Entry An introduction Apr. 11th, 2004 @ 08:03 pm Next Entry
(Sorry I waited so long to post; my weeks tend to eat me and I have the most free time on the weekends.)

I thought I'd kick this off with a description of my spiritual background, because it greatly influences things I'm likely to say in this community.

I was raised from birth in a nondenominational Christian church. For those of you that aren't clear on exactly what that means, it is a type of independent church (the only hierarchy is within the church itself, not with outside churches) with roots in the Restoration Movement that typically ends its name with "Christian Church" or "Church of Christ." (Some of these churches are non-instrumental; the ones I've attended during my life do use instruments.) Some phrases a lot of these churches use to explain their theology (and what these phrases mean to me) are these:

"We are not the only Christians, but we are Christians only." We are not Methodist, Lutheran, Nazarene, etc., but we acknowledge that they are also Christians.

"In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, love." This goes along with the next one . . .

"We speak where the Bible speaks, and are silent where the Bible is silent." If the Bible says do it, do it. If the Bible says don't do it, don't do it. If the Bible doesn't mention it, make your own decision. This also goes along with my opinion that it is inappropriate for a church to tell its parishioners the way to vote on an issue that is not specifically addressed in the Bible. I don't believe it is the church's business to tell me whether I should support, say, a library levy.

"No creed but Christ, no book but the Bible." Christ is the one we follow (though obviously He is part of the trilogy including God and the Holy Spirit), and our only scriptures are those of the Bible.

These churches base their theology on the Bible, and not on tradition. Typically, when someone is baptized or makes a confession of faith, the wording is (or is very similar to): "I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and I accept Him as my Lord and Savior."

I attended the same church I was raised in until I went to college, where I joined another church of compatible theology. I am now in an entirely new city, and am seeking a new church. I imagine where I end up will be similar to where I've been. I have not attended non-instrumental churches because the ones I've found make it a big spiritual point that they do not believe in the use of instruments. If it was something they simply weren't interested in doing, that would probably be fine with me (though I enjoy instruments), but I do not believe the Bible calls us to worship without them. I believe we can make a joyful noise however we see fit (whether that includes harps and organs or drums and electric guitars).

The two Bible translations I keep handy are my NIV I've had for several years, and The Message (New Testament only) I got a couple years ago. Thus, those are the ones I am most likely to quote.

Both of my parents went to a Christian college (then again, so did my brother . . . guess I'm the black sheep there), and they are excellent resources for me, so I use them (particularly my dad, who went to seminary) fairly regularly when I have a tough question.

Lastly, my academic background is in science and engineering, so I am fairly likely to answer a question from that point of view. I have not studied philosophy hardly at all, but I imagine it would bring a very interesting flavor to our discussions here, which is why I included it in the community's profile.

I hope this will be a community where we can talk about things we're wondering about, and I hope people will find the answers they are seeking through thoughtful discussion. I have grown into the type of Christian who needs to be able to understand an idea to have a solid belief in it, or else to accept that it is an idea I cannot understand after having tried, and choosing to accept on faith. I know I'm not the only person out there that likes to think through new ideas to understand just where I stand on them, and hopefully through all of our seeking, we will find the answers together.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Current Music: just the hum of the monitor
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From:charisangel
Date:April 12th, 2004 06:26 pm (UTC)
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Well, I always wondered specifically what non-denominational churches believed... sounds kinda like my line of thinking. I'm currently not a permanent member of a church, but I've always been in Baptist churches. I'm not always comfortable with them, but that's what most of my family is, so naturally, that's where I've been. (Except the time I visited a charismatic/Pentecostal church. That was interesting. ^_^)

Anyway, I hope this community does well and we get some interesting discussions going! This is a great idea..
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From:sinda
Date:April 13th, 2004 07:17 am (UTC)
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It's tough to try new things if your family all does the same thing. I haven't spent much time in Baptist churches, and I don't know whether your uncomfortableness is rooted in style of worship, friendliness of people, or theological differences, but hopefully if you can find the answer to that, and you have the desire to get more involved with a church, you can find another church that more closely matches you. In any case, I'm glad you're in this community, and I hope that it will prompt the kinds of discussions that will help us all. :)
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From:danasnowdrop
Date:April 12th, 2004 08:16 pm (UTC)
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I go to a non-denominational church as well (The Fellowship Church). The only large difference is our use of instruments during worship. That is one of the primary things that separates us from other churches in the area -- contemporary (modern praise and worship and technology) vs. traditional (hymns and... no technology). We also teach on the message of Grace which the Apostle Paul stresses on throughout the New Testament of the Bible (our translations as well: NIV and The Message.

I look forward to reading your responses to any questions that may be brought up in this forum. Perhaps I can learn more than I already know (which is sincerely modest). I have quite a testimony... that will reveal itself if any questions require such an answer. I'm a faith primary... but my favorite saying, "what's the point of faith if it's never tested?" can reveal that I do appreciate evidence.

Hope to read your posts/comments soon.

-andrea
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From:sinda
Date:April 13th, 2004 07:13 am (UTC)
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When you say "The only large difference is our use of instruments during worship," do you mean that you do use instruments for contemporary services, or that you do not use them for traditional services? Since you said it was a difference, I'm not clear on whether you mean that's a difference between you and I or a difference between you and other churches in the area.

Perhaps I am seeing a disparity when there isn't any. :)

And, as a side note, not all traditional (hymn-based) services are non-instrumental. For many years my home church used a piano and organ with the choir, and focused mainly on hymns (so I know them all). It wasn't until I was, let's see, around junior high or high school, that a new music minister came and began using contemporary songs, too (with guitars added to the instrument count, a praise team instead of the full choir, and slides for the lyrics instead of just the hymnals). My church at college used everything and anything--pianos, guitars (electric and acoustic), basses, trumpets, saxaphones, violins, flutes, drums--whatever. And when I returned to my home church again, it now uses a piano, keyboard, drums, bass, acoustic guitar, and other instruments people want to play on a week-by-week basis. Hence my comment about making a joyful noise however you see fit. :)
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From:danasnowdrop
Date:April 13th, 2004 01:36 pm (UTC)
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Sorry... I really should work on my specifications and explaining a little more thoroughly. We do use instruments. I must have misread your piece. I thought you typed that your church did not use instruments. :D Forgive me... I should read slower.

The other churches in my area look down on contemporary uses of worship. They only use the organ, piano, and choir. Either way is fine... I agree with you about "making a joyful noise." Unfortunately, several think otherwise. :)
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From:sinda
Date:April 14th, 2004 12:58 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I went back and reread the post, and the wording was a bit ambiguous in a few places, so I can see why you got confused if you read it quickly. :)

One of my coworkers was telling me a few days ago that she (and I'm paraphrasing here) doesn't believe worship should be fun, with exciting music and lots of wacky instruments, because she thinks it should be more reverent. I think she was expecting me to agree with her, but I totally disagreed. She kept trying to restate herself, as if I would suddenly say, "Oh, when you say it THAT way, you're right," but I didn't. I don't have a problem with having a good time in church, especially if it encourages you to come back.

When the new music minister came to my home church (we didn't have a music minster before, just the choir director), he originally began having two services--one contemporary, one traditional, with the same sermon. They made the contemporary service early in the morning, before Sunday School. Then they realized that, after a while, there was almost nobody going to the traditional service anymore! So they cut that service and made the contemporary one universal. There were probably a couple people who were miffed (I'd say no more than 10), but I was amazed at how much the church embraced the change. I thought it was great.
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From:danasnowdrop
Date:April 14th, 2004 01:36 pm (UTC)
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So we're on similar grounds. :) Cool. Yeah, I've had similar discussions with other students in my school... quite interesting. I can understand where they come from since I believed in "respectful, arms crossed worship." Thankfully I took up flute and acoustic guitar and now I can't see how it's possible not to worship with uplifting bouncy music. Very cool.

That's exciting about your home church. Change is a beautiful thing if it actually benefits whatever or whomever it alters. Awesome.
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From:sinda
Date:April 14th, 2004 01:55 pm (UTC)
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Someone told me once that "but that's the way we've always done it!" is the motto of a dying church.
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From:danasnowdrop
Date:April 14th, 2004 02:22 pm (UTC)
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True, true. I'll have to use that sometime.
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