Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.

2/26/2008

Unfaithful Faithful?


An article in The New York Times, Americans Change Faiths at Rising Rate, Report Finds tells of a Pew Trust funded study which found, "that 44 percent of Americans have switched religious affiliations." The study also noted that 20 percent of men and 13 percent of women have no religious affiliation. This term does not mean atheist or agnostic, but those together with people who are "nothing in particular" when it comes to religion.

The decline in brand loyalty for denominations is not surprising. Sticking to one denomination come Heaven or Baptismal waters was more common in a time when people kept a job for most of their adult life and left with a gold watch and a healthy pension. Today loyalty is down all over and this is true of churches as well. There is a downside in that it can be good to find a church that challenges you and this may be found in staying put. That sort of stability says that the church (which is the people) matters more than the pastor or programs or whatever else changes that causes someone to leave. But many times, changing churches may be the best way to be more faithful about attending church, and what is wrong with that?

I think the plus side of changing is that one can also find the right church for him or her (or their family). This matters so much that whether one is an Episcopalian in this town and a Methodist in that town may matter less. We certainly see this at King of Peace which is less melting pot and more hearty stew, with people from a variety of denominational backgrounds coming together.

We may as well not get too set in denominational prefence anyway. Once we get to heaven, denominational distinctions will matter not the least. There we will be one as we worship our one Lord.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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5 Comments:

  • At 2/27/2008 7:57 PM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    Not to disagree but I believe that jumping church without understanding some of the beliefs of a particular denomination can lead one down some strange paths. Are Baptists, Episcopalians and Pentecostals really interchangable?

    For instance after proclaiming myself to be Lutheran I later discovered that Lutherans (at least ELCA) believe (please correct me if I am mistaken)that when you die you stay in the grave. Your soul stays with you until Christ's return. Imagine my surprise. There are also Protestant leaders who do not believe in the literal resurrection of our Lord. If Christ has not risen from the dead trampling down death by death we are all lost. The validity of the Church stands or falls on Christ's literal resurrection.

    I guess all this church jumping would be fine if all churchs taught and believed the same things but they don't. Or maybe people just want to believe they do.

    Please understand, I used to believe which church you attended didn't really matter. In fact after our Lutheran congregation went belly up I really thought we would just start a house church. Again, imagine my surprise when I felt the Lord leading me to Orthodoxy. All I knew about them were their funny hats.

    As you know Father I struggled with this for a long time. My wife, my daughter and I all became catechumens and remained as such for a year. Father Ted would not let us be chrismated and take communion (which is the body and blood of Christ) until he knew that we knew what we were getting into and that we understood at least the basic core beliefs. We believe we have found the ark of salvation and Father Ted was absolutely right to protect it. You cannot just jump into Orthodoxy. Look before you leap.

     
  • At 2/28/2008 7:07 AM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    "I guess all this church jumping would be fine if all churchs taught and believed the same things but they don't."

    I know that churches believe different things and so logically they can not all be equally correct. There is a Truth to be upheld and that Truth is (to use your example) that Jesus was bodily resurrected. I believe what Paul wrote in the 15th chapter of I Corinthians, that Jesus was bodily resurrected and so shall we be. In find this beautifully expressed by John Updike in his poem Seven Stanzas at Easter. So do I think this is Truth, yes. Do I think that same bodily resurrected Jesus can be present in churches and in people who express a belief in a spiritual resurrection, yes. And I guess that is where we differ. I believe Jesus' words to Nicodemus, "that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." The statement was not "whoever believes in the exact set of doctrinal answers as the one pure church, which will be my only means of salvation shall not perish, but have eternal life."

    And if I was looking for the one true church with the right beliefs (which from my wide reading in Orthodoxy I can say I love their theology and insistence on telling the whole story of Christ) I would also look for a church with outward practices in line with that theology and for me I would not serve in a church with a screen to separate the priests from the people. The gains in a sense of mystery are offset by how disconnected that practice is from what we see in the life and ministry of Jesus. I also find the role of women in the Orthodox Church to not be in line with Jesus' own life and teaching. I find the vestments of Orthodoxy to be marvelous and to contribute to a sense of worshipping God in the beauty of holiness, but there is no reason to think this is the only way to worship God as they have more to do with Byzantine court dress than the scriptural revelation of God. So we disagree and that is fine. And when I go to an Orthodox Church's blog, I will expect them to stand up for that church's teaching. And here at Irenic Thoughts, one may expect an answer that fits with an Episcopal Church.

    I love you my brother and trust that you will take this response in the irenic spirit with which it is offered. Sometimes words fail, but I know that the same Spirit is in each of us and I will have to count on that Spirit to teach us all Truth and to hold us together in love in the meantime.

    love,
    Frank

     
  • At 2/28/2008 8:12 AM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    In fairness to Lutheran teaching, the statement on the Son of God in the Augsburg Confession sounds very orthodox and even in keeping with Orthodox teaching:

    "Also they teach that the Word, that is, the Son of God, did assume the human nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, so that there are two natures, the divine and the human, inseparably enjoined in one Person, one Christ, true God and true man, who was born of the Virgin Mary, truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, that He might reconcile the Father unto us, and be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men.

    He also descended into hell, and truly rose again the third day; afterward He ascended into heaven that He might sit on the right hand of the Father, and forever reign and have dominion over all creatures, and sanctify them that believe in Him, by sending the Holy Ghost into their hearts, to rule, comfort, and quicken them, and to defend them against the devil and the power of sin.

    The same Christ shall openly come again to judge the quick and the dead, etc., according to the Apostles' Creed.

     
  • At 2/28/2008 10:55 AM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    Father Frank,

    As you know, I love you and your family in Christ and have great respect and admiration for the life you live and the work you do. I know how sincere you hold your beliefs and your love for the Anglican Communion. I also suspected you would feel compelled to respond.

    If I said anything hurtful about the Episcopal Church I apologize, that was not my intent. My intent was to point out that there are valid differnces between denominations and that those who move from one to the other should understand what they are getting themselves into.

    As for the role of women in Orthodoxy, you know how we venerate the Theotokos. You also know that the role of women in Orthodoxy was a major stumbling block for me. But with the ability to stand on the inside looking out I know that women are held in equal esteem with men. If my memory serves me the Episcopal Church was nearly split asunder over the question of whether or not to ordain women.

    As for the vestments, what does it matter? It is no more outdated than wearing a clerical collar.

    As for the issue of a literal resurrection, without it how can we be sure of Christ's divinity? Without it how can we explain the actions of the Apostles after Christ's death? The Romans and Jewish leaders had only to produce the body to undercut the small ragtag first believers.

    But I digress. We could agree to disagree about these things until kingdom come and I am way off on a tangent from my original point.

    Thank you for all you do and for being such a wonderful friend, confidante and brother in Christ.

    Also, I apologize for stirring all this up as you mourn over the death of you father. Please forgive me.

    William

     
  • At 2/28/2008 9:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Father Frank and November in My Soul,

    I see two highly intellectual individuals here who are both so very right!

    Since you have both been led by God to your own Truth, how can any of it be wrong?

    If there were only one true religion and one true doctrine, then why would God lead his children to so many different paths to Him?

     

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