Thursday, March 20, 2008

Just for the record

A year ago, I wrote about being "Post Brethren" (I revised and reposted that entry: it was originally posted in March).  I talked about how I was in 95% agreement with "exclusive brethren" about things, but the system we had built up was getting in the way of living those things out. I listed some things I thought were significant that "brethren" and I agreed on. The list included:
  • the Lord Jesus is present wherever "two or three are gathered in [His] Name".
  • denominational titles are essentially wrong.
  • clergy/laity distinction is a denial of the Headship of Christ.
  • there is only one Body, and membership in anything other than the One Body is sectarianism.
  • the Lord's Supper ought to be observed weekly and unscripted.
  • the directives about women being silent in the meetings, headcoverings, etc. are for today, and are to be taken literally.

Then I wrote about the Gospel of God. I claimed the Gospel as taught in Scripture is clear: there is nothing to do, there is only something to believe. There is no need for baptism (it's important, but it doesn't justify us), there is no need to live a better life. We are justified in God's sight by simply believing Him. And once justified, there is no way to become unjustified.

And then, a little while later, I wrote about Dispensationalism. I claimed Christians are not bound to keep the Mosaic Law, not even the Ten Commandments. 


It's been a year... a long year, an eventful year. In that year, I actually walked away from the "exclusive" assembly where I had been in fellowship. I visited one or two assemblies/churches, and spent several months at an Anglican church, and I finally (reluctantly) concluded that wouldn't work. I've made some friends, and possibly lost others... some of that is my fault, some isn't.

It's been quite a year.

My involvement in the Anglican church was a significant part of my twisty path. I was never more than a visitor there, albeit a long-term visitor.  It was obviously running counter to many of the points I made above, many of the things I said I still believed. There was a certain lack of integrity on my part in claiming to believe one thing while doing another.  I had to re-examine those things. I had to see if I really had been right to make such dogmatic statements.

I started investigating by deciding my one authority had to be Scripture. Tradition ("brethren", Anglican, or otherwise) might be helpful, but it isn't authoritative, and it sure isn't sufficient

And after a few weeks of discussion (here and elsewhere) and checking Scripture, I've come to a conclusion: 

I was.

I'm still working out the implications of that.



7 comments:

Chuck said...

I take to mean you were post-Brethren(?).

I know what you are -- my beloved brother in Christ. And one of my personal favorites. I wouldn't take all the money in the world for you.

Salar said...

Hi CO, James here, (your non-denominational, charismatic pal from CRCS). I just found your Clumsy ox-odoxy blog today and really enjoy reading your thoughts on scripture and the body of Christ. My advice for you is to look for two things; 1) Agreement with your key doctrinal values and 2) Look for where your particular gifts can be most useful (i.e. if you are an eye look for a congregation that doesn't have two)

Kimmer said...

Okay, James admitted to reading your blog, so I may as well come clean of my lurking. I too am a "CRCS pal" and I must say, I am highly amused by your rants, and am glad to see that nothing's changesd :-) Perhaps that wasn't the emotion you were trying to evoke? I'm far too mainstream to agree with everything you say, but I'm not too far gone to be offended by it. I suppose one could say that I haven't changed either. Except that in my rebellious youth I did attend a Vineyard church (gasp!) for a spell. I intend to pass on the link to your blog to another vocal, opinionated CRCS alumn and see how long it takes before (s)he speaks her mind!!

clumsy ox said...

Wow! Two denizens of my long-forgotten youth!

Forgive me if I've mis-remembered this, but perhaps I've not seen y'all since James' wedding? I'm sure I haven't seen James since then, but maybe we ran into each other after that, kimmer?

I think my memory's getting worse, but I can't say for sure.

So if my ranting and raving hasn't at least improved over the last 15 or so years, I've doubtless failed as a human being. It's all been for nought.


Actually, chuck, I've come to the conclusion that my "brethren" leanings were fundamentally correct. But I'm just as convinced the abuses we both saw were wrong. So what to do? How do I walk out a certain level of conviction without falling into the traps that greater, smarter, wiser, and better people than I have fallen into? I have no idea.

And as a very dear friend once pointed out, without empirical evidence, there is no value in any doctrine whatsoever. Ethereal truth that takes one into the heavens is of no value if it's accompanied by an immoral life. Or by hypocrisy or arrogance or Pharisaism.

I expect a certain humility might be the first step. Humility seems to be something one is taught rather than something one learns.

So I suppose I was re-affirming my post-brethren position.

I've no idea where this will lead me, but I have at least one idea:
There is no Place. I need to remind myself of that constantly, as I have a definite leaning to joining a group and drinking their particular flavour of kool-aid. No matter where I end up, I remain personally and individually responsible to walk out the faith down here. The life of Jesus Christ has to be manifested in my mortal flesh.

That might well be enough to work on for now.

Salar said...

Empirical evidence is only of any value in the 4 dimensions we can see or test. Faith is the evidence of things not seen and as you assert (if I followed correctly),I completely agree that our actions are the proof of our faith (James 2:18)and I would add "faith cometh by hearing and hearing the Word of God". The pages of Scripture are our litmus.

Chuck said...

Salar -- well said. Empiricism as applied to Christianity is not an end unto itself; but the working out of salvation is, as you remind us, "evidence of things unseen," contrasted to the speculative, metaphysical.

The latter has been hijacked by our Hegelian age; the State has proven better at dreaming dreams and providing splendorous visions of hope and equality than the Church ever could.

May the Lord in the meantime help us get down to the nitty gritty.

Salar said...

"May the Lord in the meantime help us get down to the nitty gritty"

Amen