I've been pretty quiet lately, not having a whole lot to say. But I've been thinking a lot, and there are some things I've decided I want to say more or less in "public".
We moved out here (the Northwest) from North Carolina in the summer of 2008, so a little over two years ago. When we arrived here we had no idea what sort of church/assembly fellowship we'd find. I had become somewhat bitter and disillusioned about "brethren", and I was not very interested in getting involved in that sort of thing again... but I found to my dismay that the pickings are kind of slim as far as Christian fellowship is concerned. I don't see a lot of point to attending a gathering where the Lord's Supper isn't done weekly, which limits the selection significantly. There are any number of liturgical gatherings, but I found they quickly deteriorated into superstition and sacerdotalism. We did find some wonderful Christians in different places, but I found myself more and more chafing wherever we went.
We tried sitting at home on Sundays, but that's a recipe for disaster. Everyone I've known who's gone down that path ends up regretting it. And it wasn't too long before I realized that was a really bad idea. I'm not telling anyone else what to do, but I just found there is a difference between the sort of rugged dependence on God that Paul teaches in Galatians 1 & 2 and isolationism. Yes, there is a sense where we need to be independent (really "directly dependent" is a better term); but I can't reconcile "isolated" with Scripture. So we set out to find Christians with whom to remember the Lord.
We spent a few months in a PCA church, which was on the whole very positive. Actually, I have a high opinion of the small PCA church we visited. There were certainly points of disagreement, but I was very pleased with that bunch.
But I finally realized that my earlier claims about believing the "brethren" line were true. When I look in Scripture I see something very much along the lines of what "exclusive brethren" teach: I just couldn't find anyone doing it.
We eventually settled into an "open brethren" assembly an hour away. We spent almost exactly a year there: the first day we visited was Easter 2009, the last time we were there was Easter 2010. So not really a year, but a liturgical year.
Then the week after Easter 2010 I met a guy at work from an assembly in Tacoma, and I went to visit that next Sunday. It turns out a friend of mine from back east knows these people and spoke very highly of them, so that was a very positive sign to us. We spent a couple months scoping them out and finally decided we just needed to settle in. So we've been breaking bread there since sometime in the summer.
I'm not going to say too much about the Tacoma assembly here: it's full of people who've got the flesh in them. Some of what is said there is nonsense, some is really helpful. But when I look around and talk to the people, I see people who are genuinely trying to walk with the Lord.
One friend described it this way: "You've heard of 'tight-open' brethren, well we're 'loose-closed' brethren." I think that's a good description. And frankly when I look back on my blog, I realize that's what I've been groping towards. I'm still convinced "exclusive brethren" teach what Scripture teaches, and I've been wanting to find people with whom to practice it.
So at least that part of the story has had a happy ending.
But we did spend that year with "open brethren", and there are some comments I'd like to make about that. I won't put them here, I just wanted to give a prologue to the next post(s). I'm deeply troubled by a good deal of what I've seen and heard in "open brethren" over the last several years; but I'm concerned about how I express them. Here be dragons.