KZ I think many of us have had to recover from “religion” period whatever label it had attached to it LOL. There is NO denomination that has the corner of the market on a personal relationship with Jesus. That is only “heart” territory for sure. ooooo this is gonna be a good discussion!
CMR i have met some catholics that sought and found a personal relationship with Jesus. i have also seen catholics (and many other religions) that used their ‘going to church’ and observing all the ritualistic ceremonies as their ‘guarantee’ that they were saved, yet they didn’t seem to demonstrate a love for others the way the Bible says christians will be known. it isn’t the religion that saves you; it is your relationship with Jesus and your acceptance of Him as your Savior.
Trevor HappyFeet Martin A frequent comment that I get and one which feels very uncomfortable to me is that I am “very religious”. And when I respond that “I am faithful, but not religious”, they don’t get it. They say this on the basis of who I am, how I live and the values I express. If I seem peculiar by the standards of the culture, then I am glad. It’s working! Sometimes, this opens the door to the question “what gives you the power to be like this?” To the non-believer, I am clearly identified by my faith, without me ‘preaching’. To the ones that are open, I pray that I am an example which gives hope of what God can do in their lives. A personal relationship with Christ comes above doctrine, theology, belief, denomination, tradition or practice. If we are not transformed by the encounter with Christ, what hope are they to find in us?Steve Millikan Some would say salvation and relationship with God are inextricably tied to the sacraments; others that they matter not in the least. The older I get, the broader my thinking on these matters… I think I’m much closer to C.S. Lewis now than the Baptist church where I was raised. But the bottom line is, we don’t know for certain about others, but the Lord “knows those who are His.”
CMR we can’t KNOW about others, for no one knows the heart of another man except God. all we can know is our own heart and our own relationship with God. i keep trying to explain it to my husband. he doesn’t understand how i can say i’m saved when i don’t attend church much anymore. it has gotten very difficult for me to walk very far w/o hurting or losing my breath. so i stay home, i listen to various pastors on the radio and on tv (not the ones always asking for money), and i pray. i also study God’s Word. do i have a personal relationship with Jesus? yes. is He my Savior? yes. am i proud of that? yes. do i talk about it to others, even non-believers? yes. and i am of the personal opinion that organized religion gives a false sense of security to people that are afraid to “deny themselves and take up the cross of Christ”.
KZ I get sick of “church” people judging people who don’t go much or who are not involved at a church. I am so happy I don’t have to “DO” anything to earn my salvation, our churches sem to focus on that and even train us to judge others by how much they do. When in fact some that DO so much may or may not have a good heart or better said, a saved heart.
KZ Oh and I have to say, I fell into that trap of thinking if someone is super active in church that means they are a super christian.Gentry Yeatman Those in this chain may wish to give their backgrounds as a sort of “full disclosure.” I have been a member of about 6-7 denominations over the past 50 years. Most changes had to do with a geographic relocation. One was to help start a new church. I never left a church due to a problem, perceived or otherwise. I have been fortunate in that regard. I have always gone where I seemed to “feel” (subjective term) God’s leading. I have tried to find the positive things about the individual churches and pastors, although I am very vocal when it comes to what I perceive as wrong directions, impropriety, improper use of funds, etc. Fortunately, I have not seen much of this. I do not see myself as a “recovering” anything, with the possible exception of legalism. My early Christian training involved a full dose of the mercy of God, but punctuated with a very certain “knowledge” of expectations. Most of my legalism has to do with judging myself against God’s standards (and man’s rules). Therefore, I always find myself lacking. I consider myself more “objective” than ever before and try to avoid “proof texting” to justify a certain position. I stake a single claim, that Jesus Christ is who he claimed to be. Every thing else grows from that truth (or others may say assumption). Now, I am fully disclosed and will participate. (BTW, I have never been Catholic.)KZ Nazarene, Assembly of God, Presbyterian and Evangelical Covenant, Lutheran. Love them all! I also attend a Catholic Church on some “holy days”. Enjoy the traditions of the catholic church… I’m sneaky that way LOLSteve Millikan Mary and I have been Baptist, Independent, & Presbyterian (actually we attended, but didn’t join). We have done some serious reading especially about the Orthodox and Lutheran faith traditions.Though I’m not sure how deeply we can apply the principle, I’m intrigued by Rom. 14:1-10 (esteeming one day above another and so forth) and the amount of ‘rope’ we’re given on non-essentials.Trevor HappyFeet Martin Currently worshipping in the Anglican/Episcopal tradition (past 20 years), have been in =Assemblies of God and =United Methodist, as well as Roman Catholic church (my first wife was RC). Have been a leader in them all. I believe it is worth the effort to see Jesus in another believer and in a different tradition.
CMR i grew up in first christian church/disciples of christ. in my youth, a personal relationship with Jesus was the basis of salvation, but when we moved, i began to note some discrepancies in what was stated and the actions of the church. i noted that those that had more money were treated just a little better and given higher “positions” in the church. i also had a problem with allowing smoking inside the church (and yes, i’m a smoker. it still shouldn’t be INSIDE a building with a lot of kids). when i met my husband, he & his family attended an independent church and i started going to church with them. i found there a place that ‘fit’ better with my perception of what God & Jesus intended the church to be. that is still where my husband and i are members. my children attend a different independent church more geared to a younger group. i have attended catholic church, as my mother & her family were catholic. my mom left the catholic church when she married my dad and I think she found a deeper faith and relationship with Jesus because of it. i have attended baptist churches also. there’s my full disclosure.John C. Seekins I have been going to a Presbyterian church for over 20 years. Never thought that I would be Presbyterian. I grew up in about the most conservative and fundamentalist Baptist church one could imagine. The thought that Bob Jones University was going liberal. I went to Wheaton College and that had a great influence on me. In between I attended various churches that were all over the map. It seemed by chance that I started attending the Presbyterian church. As some may know Presbyterian’s range from very liberal to quite conservative. My church is conservative and along the lines of Seattle’s University Presbyterian church. This church has been a very good fit for me. It seems to me that it was the hand of God that brought me to it. Going to the Baptist church taught me al ot about the bible and what I believe was a misuse of the bible.
From all this I believe that None of us are very close to the full truth, and that God uses each church and individual to the degree that we let him.Forum person 1: ”Hi my name is —-, and I’m a recovering church-goer. I grew up attending the Methodist church, and I finally heard the gospel for the first time when I was 28, far away from any church. Since then, I’ve tried out a lot of churches: Baptist, Presbyterian, Independent Baptist, Fundamental, Nazarene, Four Square, Catholic, Church of God, Non-Denomination, and I’ve even gone to a Jewish Synagogue once. In one I visited I just had to walk out before the service was over… and even almost ran out of another one! I haven’t attended church for almost 7 years now because I just can’t find one (which is odd because I live in the Bible Belt). – I withdrew because it seemed to me that the churches preached a lifestyle rather than the Gospel.I came across some statistics (you know me) that revealed (I don’t know their methods, and it’s been a long time since I came across it) that about 85% of church-goers do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. … That makes since to me. It’s sad.KZ Oh ya, I’m a pastor in the evangelical covenant denomination… they broke off from the Lutes years ago… I really like what you said above John ^ I too noticed the misuse of the bible and guilt in my younger years in an earlier denomination I was part of. That stuff turned my dad away from church and God… Now we are attending a tiny Lutheran church… I LOVE that we confess weekly all together and take communion each week and follow the liturgical calender. But things in that denomination as far as social issues are a challenge for me to get on board with. I will not be joining that church.KZ Jean, to me so many churches turn into social clubs and forget that they are supposed to “feed” us so we can go out and proclaim Jesus.John C. Seekins On the misuse of the bible.
We misuse the bible when we make it an independent source of (gnostic) knowledge. We misuse the bible and the law when we see the law as viable without seeing Jesus as necessary for the fulfillment of of the law. We misuse the bible when we so not see Jesus as the epicenter of the bible and the law. When we do this we use the bible for our own glorification and not for God’s.Forum person 1: I am much different than many of you. But, in the interests of full disclosure to you all, I am ELCA Lutheran. I grew up with parents who never set foot in the church until I married, but I had a friend who was a displaced person/family from Denmark at the end of WWII. The Lutheran church across the street from my home sponsored and supported the whole family, including grandparents, for many years. Grandma ruled the house and Grandma told my friend she could no longer play with me unless I went to Sunday School with her. So I did. The people in that church knew I came from a very troubled home, they treated me with love, honor and respect. The folded me into their circle and exhibited a love a Christ in their actions. By the time I reached confirmation age (8th grade), the pastor bravely came across the street to our home and asked my mother if I could participate in confirmation classes (2 years of 3 hours of instruction every Saturday during the school year), leading to my personal decision about whether to join the church. My mother said that, as long as nothing was required of her or my father, I could participate. It was life-changing for me. As were a couple of other times, when (as many young adults do) I fell away from the church – it wasn’t convenient – and another wonderful pastor took me under his wing and brought me back with love and care. After that, I spent many years in Bible study at various church sponsored studies, a couple of them were two-years long. I have continued in Bible study to the present, in many forms and structures. My husband and I find comfort and hope in our worship service. We rejoice in the hymns and the liturgy, which bring us so much joy, as well as the wonderful sermons by our inspired pastors (man and woman). I am the parent of a gay son and the gay issues have brought much division to our church body, the ELCA, and to local churches and ours is no exception. Many of us have decided on our own, in our church, that this issue, after much anguish and anger, is not worthy of further fighting in our church. We know that we all agree that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, first, and that we will never agree on the issue of homosexuality until there is more definite scientific proof. For me, all I need to know, I saw in my son growing up and the wonderful man he has become. Even involved in his church in Seattle (Lutheran). I know who he was as a 3-year-old, as a pre-teen, as a teenager, as a college student, as an adult. He has never changed and I can confidently say that I always knew he was gay (his father was, too) but I never said a word to him until he told me in his early 20s. The hurt and pain he suffered in junior high and high school was unbelievable. I am a proud parent of a wonderful gay son and no one will ever convince me that he had a choice in this matter. No one would willingly choose to be treated as he was if they could avoid it. For my church, it is still a battle sometimes for the larger church but for our local congregation, we decided to love each other rather than to fight any longer. I never read the Bible completely literally, but with an understanding of the OT history, the NT Gospel and the surrounding circumstances in the Scripture being quoted. But I do understand that different faiths are needed for different people and that is fine with me, as long as they don’t hurt people who aren’t like them. I believe there is one path to God, Jesus Christ, but many paths leading to Jesus Christ. Wow, did I really say all of that? Sorry . . .Steve Millikan Forum person 1:, thanks for being willing to share your story. I imagine you do so with some trepidation, as many here would espouse a different viewpoint specifically on the issue of human sexuality. I wonder if it’s even possible for us to get into a discussion of these matters without it being quite painful for you?Steve Millikan Listening to your story as relates to the Lutheran church is heartwarming and encouraging. We have many close friends who are Lutheran, albeit Missouri or Wisconsin synods, and maybe one ELS.Forum person 1: I’ve heard it all in my own congregation, Steve, and from people I like a lot. Yes, it hurts but I choose to rain silent in most cases because it does no good to argue points which are so dearly held. I am comfortable with the truth as I believe it – that loving one’s neighbor and loving God are the two commands that override all. Go ahead and discuss but it is not for me.Gentry Yeatman Thanks for sharing this Forum person 1:. It really helps us gain more compassion for people struggling with bullying in general and parents whose lives are impacted by this issue in particular. I want to thank our members for the gentle way they respond to sensitive matters, allowing a safe place to be heard and encouraged. We can argue facts, but should always respect each other, no matter our differences. Thank you one and all.JHC I believe science has provided plenty of concrete evidence that there is a spectrum of variations in gender. I am also convinced that people have more of a problem with it than God does. Thank you for sharing your story about your son how fortunate your son is to have a mom who embraced who he was even before he understood it himself. That, I believe, is what love is all about. Unfortunately, we humans have a tendency to be pretty dense and miss the big picture. It is so much easier to be told by others what and how we should think rather than think for ourselves.Forum person 1: It really is painful to hear my son relate how so many of his friends long for their families who have completely rejected them in the name of God. Is it really so hard to love one’s child and does this one thing cause God to reject his children?