Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Some Thoughts on Church: Introduction

By Nora

I used to be an avid reader of the Internet Monk ( I still frequent his site and think it's one of the best places on the net to get an honest, interesting, often humorous look at the Church today. I totally recommend it. Have a look at the site and enjoy yourself. However in recent months I've done little more then pop by. He spends a lot of (worthy) time addressing what going on in Christian culture. "The Emerging Church." "The Missional Church." "Post-Evangelicalism." etc. I've been pulling away from that in an attempt to enjoy something of my recent move into exploring more traditional, orthodox Christianity without feeling a need to label myself and align with a particular segment of Christianity. I think its important here to note that this is a process I'm going through, not an end and I'm very aware of that. I think I'm in what C.S. Lewis would call "the hallway." "It is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in."

That being said, you can't go to any church long without picking up the buzz of whats going on on a larger scale within Christian culture in the West. So I'd like to make some comments about what I've been seeing and experiencing within the Church recently via a series of posts. But first, some preliminary information to give you perspective.

Here is the shorthand version of my church-life (not my Christian life, again, another story.) I was raised in a very non-traditional church. And by that I do not mean that we used a slide projector instead of hymnals. Non-traditional means things like a) Not celebrating Christmas/Easter/birthdays b) No interest in the last 2000 years of Christian teaching c) No belief in the Trinity (ok, everybody gasp.) among a lot of other things (no, not Jehovah's Witness.) I eventually left this Church as it began to fall into disarray. After coming to a better theological understanding I began exploring churches of the Evangelical tradition in my teen years and was not at all impressed (for reasons I'll get to). I went through a couple years of feeling bitter and disappointed and did not attend Church. Eventually, I felt I wanted to try again. I thought what I was looking for was a place that was as far removed from Traditional Christianity in appearance as possible. People who wanted to meet together and love the Lord and not bother about anything else. People who wanted to get back to what the early, "unspoiled" Church was like. This led to a short time of half-hearted attendance in a very modern Evangelical sort of church (where no one dresses up, the preacher walks around a lot and everyone is very cool and with-it.) This was an unsatisfying experience. Almost by accident, I ran across the Orthodox Church which captured my attention. My research and reading challenged a lot of what I thought Traditional Christianity was all about. Still, there were many doctrines of Orthodox church that I felt I couldn't swallow, such as praying to saints, Mary being a perpetual virgin, etc. I began looking for a Church that would not compromise what I have come to understand as sound doctrine, yet could somehow embrace the wisdom and tradition of the past 2000 years of Christian experience.

At this point, I became friends with an Anglican who greatly challenged my understanding of that communion. I had always conceived of the Anglicans as Catholics without the Pope who go about marrying gay couples, sprinkling unsuspecting babies, and wearing funny costumes. I was very much set straight on this and a year ago I began attending a fairly traditional Anglican church. I am enjoying myself immensely. After a year, I want to take some time to reflect on my experience. Be warned, however, I do not have everything figured out yet. The following posts will be, in part, a way for me to sort out a lot of my experience and thoughts by sharing them with others....