preacherman

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Is My Church The Right One?

I have been thinking lately about churches and how many churches there are to choose from. Someone jokingly said, "Sunday is the most divided day in the world." Why are there so many denominations? Is it pride, selfishness, misunderstanding of God's word, style of worship? The question that I have been churning on in my brain is how do we know what church is right? Can we know which church is right? I wonder with so many churches to choose from makes unbelievers and seekers confused? Which is the right one? Can we say which denomination is the right one? Wouldn't that be elitist and boastful?

Think about your own faith why do you believe what you believe. Is your faith your own faith or does it belong to your parents or grandparents? Is it important to have your own faith? Why? Is it because your grandmother and grandfather, mom and dad go there and so you are expeted to go? How would you explain to somone that your congregation is the only right one, or would you explain it? How would this come across to the unbeliever? What message do we send to the lost world by having so many churches to choose from? Will we ever answer the prayer of Jesus in John 17? If so, how? If not, why not?

Answer any of these questions?
What do you think?
Share your thoughts.

61 Comments:

Blogger Mork said...

GREAT to have you back!!!! Pray all is well.

I never say ours is the right one - I say, come and see.

To be honest many might feel a little out of place if they came along to the Bridge, it's ordered disorder. Our morning service is fairly conversational. Being in a small town like Albany (25,000) the different Churchs often come together, once a month for a time of prayer and praise each denomination gets a turn.

11:15 PM  
Blogger japhy said...

Well, I'm sure to take a lot of flak for this comment, but I would be dishonest if I were to say otherwise. I make these comments as a Catholic.

I would say that there is one primary reason why there are schisms, heresies, denominations, and sects in Christianity, and that is, of course, Satan. But he gets his work done through us, and mostly in two ways: confusion and pride. People misunderstand the Scriptures, and refuse to accept some other entity's interpretation and explanation (be it another person, a group of people, or even the Church).

And then I think a third weapon of Satan's is employed: ignorance. I don't mean this in a derogatory manner; I don't mean "stupidity" or "idiocy", I simply mean ignorance: lack of knowledge about something. In this case, history. When you remove something from its historical context, you can make it mean anything. You can do that with a verse or passage from Scripture, and, sadly, you can do it with whole book! If you take the Scriptures out of the living history (and therefore tradition) of the Church, you can re-interpret them and produce a new "Church". People do it today ALL the time.

I am convinced that those three ingredients -- confusion, pride, and ignorance -- are what brought us from the initial Protestant Reformation to where we are today. I've heard numbers as high as 30,000... that's the number of "denominations" of Christianity. The Baptists don't believe the same things the Pentecostals do, nor the Lutherans what the Anglicans believe, nor the Presbyterians what the Methodists believe, etc. Most of them are convinced, of course, that the Catholic Church has it (all) wrong. :( It's not a pretty picture.

There is blame on all sides, of course. The Catholic Church had allowed some corrupt practices (not beliefs, mind you, but practices) to go unchecked. Luther (over)reacted, and the Church was slow to respond, and Luther took himself (and others) elsewhere. If the problems had been resolved in the Church, we'd be much better off today. But instead, there's a veritable publishing industry centered around writing lies about the Catholic Church.

Here I will make my boldest claim yet, but it is the one the Catholic Church has made Her whole life.

The Catholic Church is, historically, the single Church founded by Jesus Christ on Peter and the Apostles and all the prophets. If you come to learn the Jewish culture that gave birth to the Church, as well as the Gentile (primarily Greek) culture that God saw fit to graft onto Her (Israel), you will understand the Catholic Church better. If you look at the writings of Christians in the first few centuries, you will see how they interpreted the Old and New Testaments. You might be shocked to read what some Christians in the second century wrote about the Lord's Supper (aka the "Eucharist").

The Catholic Church is greatly pained by the divisions plaguing Christendom. And She desires that there be unity among all who claim the name of Christ. But this unity cannot be a false one. She adamantly believes that the unity of Christians will be accomplished by God's will in Her, in the one Church and Bride of Christ, under the earthly leadership of the Bishop of Rome (the successor of Peter, whom Jesus chose to lead his entire flock). The Church isn't into "agree to disagree" when it comes to Jesus Christ. And anyone who tells you Vatican II changed all that is either a liar or has been deceived.

Why do I believe the Catholic faith? Because I have studied the Scriptures, in the light of Her Tradition, under the guidance of Her teaching authority. Because the Old Testament reveals the New Testament in such amazing ways. Because it challenged me, and I confronted the challenges, prayed, studied, and was convinced.

I am Catholic because of the grace of God. I am proud to be Catholic, but I am Catholic to be humble.

I don't mean to "hijack" your blog, Kinney. I'm sure many here have serious doctrinal issues with the Catholic Church. If people want to take issue with my post, I ask that they do so on my blog; I'll start a post there specifically for this dialog if people so desire.

May God's blessing rest on you, Kinney, in your time of tribulation, and may His surpassing peace comfort your soul. Benedicere!

11:27 PM  
Blogger NaNcY said...

hey! glad you are back.
Praise God!
hello to tess.

so, you have been thinking about churches? well, that can lead to a whole lot of thinking!
at least it took me in that direction.

i have decided that i don't have one
iota
of a clue about churches and/or denominations, and that no one else does either, but, i am sure that God does.

my part is to keep my eyes on Jesus so i can walk in the Grace of God through His Holy Spirit.

isn't it the Holy Spirit that gets the message to the world through believers in Christ?


iota

The word is used in a common English phrase,

'not one iota of difference',

to signify a meaningless distinction (lit. "not even a small difference").

The phrase derives from the introduction to the Antithesis of the Law in the Gospel of Matthew (a jot or a tittle), and became common in the theological debate which caused the convening of the First Council of Nicaea, regarding the nature of the Holy Trinity.

The argument centered on which of two alternative Greek words, differing only in a single 'iota' letter, should be used in describing Jesus' relationship to the Holy Trinity.

One word, 'homoousios', would mean that Jesus was of the same substance as God the Father, and the other 'homoiousios', would mean that Jesus was of similar substance.

This distinction separated the Arians, who believed the latter, from the main body of Christianity, and led to their ultimate condemnation as heretics.

11:48 PM  
Blogger David Kirk said...

Glad you are back!

The church will not be "right" until the day we have no needy (poor) members.

12:48 AM  
Blogger Jason Campbell said...

Glad to see you are back and stirring the pot again.

Love the questions. I was a latecomer to the whole church of Christ world, but I realized pretty quickly why I stuck here and not at an old girlfriend's Lutheran church or some other places I visited. The church of Christ has real strengths, and at its core, has the DNA to last through the acids of a postmodern, postchristian, posteverything culture.

I was also a latecomer to a lot of the weirdness and lameness that can be produced by taking some of the basic hermeneutics too far. I have a ton of respect for a lot of the leaders currently in the forefront of churches of Christ and I think they have their heads screwed on straight (as much as my limited education and perspective permit me to see).

I get heartburn on both sides of this issue. Ultimately, I have a hard time drawing hard and fast lines between "my" church tradition and all the others. But on the other hand, I get really uncomfortable with the people who are uncomfortable with drawing clear lines of distinction or who are satisfied with handwaving when it comes to theology.

Ick. It's nice to deal with lost people out in the sticks of Salem up here, since they've got different issues than "I'm a Lutheran; I'm okay, you're okay." I just don't have to deal with that problem. I've got other problems to deal with (like, why can't I live with her before we're married? What do you mean, God can't be a woman? Are you sure God isn't a computer?)

1:35 AM  
OpenID wjcsydney said...

My faith is my own. I was raised in the Anglican church, drifted away in my teens, was converted to Christ about 7 years ago, found myself back in an Anglican church (but a very different kind of Anglican church), started studying the Bible, started discussing faith online, and found my way to my present church. I was baptised in February. My congregation is not the only right one, but it's the nearest to right (there ARE things I disagree with theologically) that I have found. Ultimately the group we meet with must reflect Jesus and the truth of the Word, but no group will get it perfect.

1:52 AM  
Blogger Terry said...

I beleive these characteristics would help in promoting unity among Christians:
1. Kindess
2. Patience
3. Honesty
4. Humility
5. Commitment to biblical truth
6. Loyalty to Christ
7. Seeking to honor God with lives of integrity

6:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kinney will kick me for telling you this, but he is most definitely not well. He hates to appear weak, but he is still very, very sick. His pneumonia is starting to break up, but he is sleeping most of the day every day. His esophagus is bothering him very much and his nerve pain is still so very bad. He also has a migraine most days.

He struggles to give lessons, especially Sunday morning sermons and is absent from the pulpit quite a lot lately. He'll do better when his blood count comes up and will give him a little energy.

I would say our finances are terrible, but you have to have some money to have "finances," but so far my oil jar has never run dry.

Thanks for the prayers. Pray especially for me that I stop complaining because it's what Kinney can't stand the most.

Tess Mabry

9:20 AM  
Blogger NaNcY said...

oh tess! it is soooo good to hear from you.

i like that you tell the truth of what is going on with your sweet husband.

kinney...you need to tell us the truth, or i might have to take a flight to texas and kick some texas butt. and you know i live in oregon, but, i was raised in the corn fields and coal mines of illinois...so i know how...but, even better, God knows how, and you know i will be talking to Him and He is keeping an eye on you.

remember that the grace of God is not about your strength, it is about God's strength.

you should not be upset at tess for anything at all...ever. she is letting go and letting God, and letting God's people do what they do best.

give it all up kinney...God Loves you and so do we.

surrender it all, kiddo.


Love to you, tess
and to that husband of yours.

10:07 AM  
Blogger jel said...

ya know, this has been on my mind for a very long time, and have ask this Question 2 alot of people, and have got~un diff. answers 2 it!

I don't even know what Denomination that I am,but does that really matter, what denomination you R? I know that I'm a christian, that God gave us His Son JESUS, for our sins!

when it comes down to it, are we not brought to Complete UNITY!
IT'S ALL ABOUT PRAISING HIS NAME!
IT'S ALL ABOUT HIM!



Kinney & Tess, I hope that ya both are doing well!

blessings

3:17 PM  
Blogger Milly said...

Tess,
You have prayer time with me.

4:21 PM  
Anonymous David said...

I believe to say one denomination is the only right one is a group who extremely prideful and cultish.

4:52 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Kinney,
Great question.

I think we have to major on what is major and where we disagree, admit that it is secondary. That it is what unites us that is essential, other matters such as mode of baptism, whether one is "eternally secure" or not, etc., etc., are secondary, even though in love, I still hold to this or that in regard to them.

I also doubt seriously that most people, particularly those who are students of theology, will ever agree 100% with any one group, so that would include their own. I think even so it's good to attach ourselves and be committed to a group. But then I think our group (example: my denomination, The Evangelical Covenant Church) should be committed to unity with all Christians insofar as that's possible practically, and in confession definitely to all. We must live that out before the world. This unity must be more than just some sort of Holy Spirit invisible unity, known only to God- it is meant for the world to see, if words mean anything in John 17, I think.

Tess,
Thanks for giving us that valuable information for prayer. Kinney is indebted to you for doing so. You're being honest and sharing your heart with us, and that is good. Will be praying steadfastly for you, your finances as well as for Kinney's health.

4:54 PM  
Blogger japhy said...

david: "I believe to say one denomination is the only right one is a group who extremely prideful and cultish."

But you wouldn't say it's prideful or cultish to say, in general, that the Christian religion is the only right one, would you?

The Apostle Paul went to great lengths to keep the various churches in doctrinal unity; I would hazard a guess that he thought straying from the truth (in a matter of faith and morals) was enough to get worked up over!

5:10 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Japhy,
Thanks for letting me know the difference between prideful and cultish. I just had a still have a strong feeling between the two.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

I agree with a few comments above. Denominations are a "man thang." After deciding that my faith had to be my own (and not my parents), my study led me in a different direction than the denomination in which I was raised. I pastor in a non-denominational (Stone-Campbell) church for that reason.

That said, I'm not naive enough to think we have it all figured out. I can worship with Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, etc. In fact, I appreciate what each one brings to the table. Ted is right by saying, "...agree on what is major and admit the secondary is secondary."

-- still praying for your health Bro.

6:11 PM  
Blogger Dwayne Hilty said...

Ah Kinney, even in your time of health challenges your desire to ask questions and create conversation never cease to amaze me. I want to respond to your questions, but first want to let you know that we are praying for you and your beautiful family.

A couple thoughts...I like what Japhy had to say about putting scripture and ecclesiology into a historical context. In fact, not to generalize your thoughts Japhy, but this is one of the things I truly respect about the Catholic Church when it comes to this type of question. I think one of the overarching themes in this type of conversation is humility. Specifically, the ability for each church heritage to pony up and admit faults (and by this I mean all of Christendom) and the honesty to articulate some of the great strengths that each heritage brings to the table.

I am the pastor of a new church of Christ in Salem, Oregon and what's funny is that I was just at a monthly prayer time with pastors from other heritages this morning. I'll be the first to admit that I don't theologically agree with every tenet of each heritage, and yet, we share a common bond as Followers of Christ. I often look forward to our monthly prayer time because it becomes one of the most enriching spaces in my life.

I can't remember who made the comment towards taking care of the poor, but I completely agree. Theological convictions are vital in "being" the people of God, but I'm bothered by the fact that the church is known for this (James Dobson's latest Obama comment is a great illustration) rather than for serving the poor, standing up for the oppressed, or laying our lives down for others.

My apologies for the blog hijack as well, but I'm wondering...how well do our actions reflect our beliefs? Example: many of us would say that abortion is wrong, but how many of us are willing to nurture a pregnant teen mother or offer to adopt an unwanted child? Likewise, does our ecclesiology square with Jesus' call for us to live in a way that is different than the world?

7:47 PM  
Blogger jeleasure said...

Kinny,
As a Baptist from my roots, I became unrested in the doctrine of the Baptist. So, I began to seek to answer some questions on my own.
Romans ch. six is where I began to really want to learn. Because Paul used words that I always considered to be synonomous with 'going to heaven'. You've read my manuscript on my blog. So, you know what I am refering to.

Anyway, I thought I had found a doctrine that noone else had yet. I began teaching it to my Baptist friends. I was called a heretic.
So, I began to look for another church by actually studying the church doctrines. When my wife and I married, I said, we would attend a Nazarene church. It was what most closely matched my new found doctrine. It was either that or the Weslean or Methodist. Then I found out that the Nazarenes came out of the Methodist. And that John Wesley and Charles Wesley founded the Wesleyian church. (I don't know much about the differences).
What I am not saying is that these three congregassional denominations are the right doctrines. I now attend and belong to an Assembly of God. I just wanted to mention the very strange relationship that my preferred churches have. And, I did not know it until I attended a Nazarene membership class. My focus up to that point was on how they define holiness, righteousness and salvation.
Jim

9:20 PM  
Blogger Terry said...

Tess,
You and Kinney are in my prayers.

10:22 PM  
Blogger Keith Brenton said...

If we can all pray with all our hearts for Kinney to be healed and restored to full capabillity in serving God and telling the Story of Jesus ... how can God consider us to be members of different churches?

We can cling to all the personal theories about which doctrine is better; which church structure is better; which heritage is better all we want to ...

... and all of them pale in strength and importance and relevance compared to the overwhelming common belief we share: that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; that He died to obliterate our sins and was dead in the grave until God raised Him up; that He empowered us with His very own living Spirit to tell and live His Story in a world that is absolutely stinking rank with sin and self.

Somebody tell me where my perception is wrong there, will you?

I'll be glad to listen - I might even argue with you - but I will still love you like crazy and my guess is that if you believe in the same Jesus of Nazareth I'm talking about, you will still love me.

12:18 AM  
Anonymous Trent Tanaro said...

We are so "off the mark" when it comes to "true Christianity". Look around, people are hurting, suffering, and dying in a world of endless pain and suffering.
In the midst of all of this, we are smothered in meetings, committees, and so forth trying to decide on the carpet color, lighting and sizes of our "sanctuaries". True church is the people and New Testament Christianity.
I would have to strongly agree with Kirk's comment.

Good words Kinney
Is. 61:1-4

1:23 AM  
Anonymous David said...

Japhy,
As I married my wife who is Catholic. They required me and our boys to be catholic as well. They also have views on birth control that is different than other religions.
I was just wondering if the catholic church thinks it is only true one then how do we come to terms with them.

8:42 AM  
Blogger japhy said...

(Again, I don't want to hijack Kinney's blog; unless he doesn't mind, I think it's more polite to move this thread of the conversation to my blog.)

david - "They required me and our boys to be catholic as well."

Well, a person who marries in the Catholic Church does have to consent to have their children brought up in the Catholic faith, but I don't think there's a requirement that a non-Catholic spouse be converted... I know of many Catholics whose spouses aren't Catholic. (It is a difficult situation to be in, though; marrying a person who does not believe the same things about God that you do can be very stressful!)

david - "They also have views on birth control that is different than other religions."

As far back as can be traced, the Catholic Church has condemned artificial birth control. The Church's stance, simply put, is this: the sexual act between husband and wife cannot be closed to procreation (a condom, a drug, coitus interruptus, etc.). Sex during an infertile period -- and abstinence during a fertile period -- is not "unnatural"; rather, it is making use of the cycle of fertility which God gave women, and even then, the act itself is still open to procreation, because it does not present a willful barrier to the possibility of conception of life.

The Church's official doctrinal teaching on this matter is found in the 1968 encyclical of Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae ("Human Life"), and is also found in the Catechism.

As recently as 100 years ago, the same could be said of all other Christian communities. But in 1930, the Anglican communion voted to allow contraception in SOME circumstances... and that list of circumstances grew and grew until there was no restriction. And various other Protestant communions followed suit. There's no standard interpretation of Scripture across the Protestant denominations on this topic... and I fear that when something like that happens, the topic gets relegated to the "secondary things" department (where Christians are allowed to disagree with one another).

I see that as terribly dangerous, because eventually, you will get different Christian sects disagreeing on things that, to a sensible Christian, are really and truly "primary things" (e.g. that the second Person of the Holy Trinity (who is known as the Word, as the Son, and as Jesus Christ) existed eternally; that Jesus is fully Man and fully God (the "hypostatic union"); that God is a Trinity; that there is a bodily resurrection; that Mary was a virgin who conceived by the Holy Spirit and not by Joseph or any other man) and people might be tempted to then relegate that formerly "primary thing" to the "secondary thing" department. It's a slippery slope. :(

For more on the Catholic Church's teaching on contraception, read here.

david - "I was just wondering if the catholic church thinks it is only true one then how do we come to terms with them."

I'll answer both sides of that question, but first I want to present a scenario that's apropos to the question of "Is My Church The Right One?".

Let's assume there was one unified Church at the beginning of Christianity, and everything it believed to be "the faith" was true. Then, at some point in history, a Christian or group of Christians started believing something slightly different (maybe that Jesus wasn't God until his baptism -- this was a real heresy that was condemned in the 2nd century, called "adoptionism", that Jesus wasn't eternally the Son of God but was only "adopted" by God at his baptism).

Now, either a) it's a "primary thing", and the new group is wrong about part of the faith (and can't be called a true Christian Church), or b) it's a "secondary thing", and the two groups are still Christians because of a "common denominator" of the "primary things" -- something C.S. Lewis would call "mere Christianity". But scenario "b" means that the first Christian Church DIDN'T believe the entire truth, because they thought something was true about the faith that simply wasn't true. This is distressing, because that would mean that Jesus didn't leave us a Church that was protected by the Holy Spirit (which he said would guide it into all truth).

So then, perhaps, the early Church knew two things: 1) what it knew about the faith was true, and 2) there were some things it knew that it was not able to articulate until later (because the Holy Spirit guides the Church into all truth).

This can be seen in the book of Acts! The Council of Jerusalem (cf. Acts 15) makes a solemn pronouncement regarding Gentile converts to Christianity. There were SOME Jewish Christians who thought ONE thing (Gentiles must become Jews), but the Church decided on the OTHER thing (Gentiles are not bound to the Mosaic Law). The Church always believed what it pronounced in Jerusalem that day, but it had not solemnly defined it until that day; it was always part of the faith (not something new), it was simply not articulated until then.

Now on to your actual question. (Sorry for the digression, but I think it's a problem we all have to face.) I'll answer it from both angles.

FROM THE CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE: Here is what the Catholic Church teaches about Herself in relation to other Christian communities; this is from the Vatican II Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium (The Light to the Nations), n. 8:

(QUOTE) This is the sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic, which our Saviour, after his resurrection, entrusted to Peter's pastoral care (Jn. 21:17), commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it (cf. Matt. 28:18, etc.), and which he raised up for all ages as ``the pillar and mainstay of the truth'' (1 Tim. 3:15). This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him. Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible confines. Since these are gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, they are forces impelling towards Catholic unity. (ENDQUOTE)

So the Church teaches that, although She is the true Church founded by Jesus Christ, there are elements of "sanctification and truth" that exist outside her visible boundaries; but that these are properly gifts of the Catholic Church, and so "they are forces impelling towards Catholic unity".

The Church teaches that God wills the Church to be necessary for salvation (because the Church is the Body of Christ). People who are not visibly connected to the Church may be saved in spite of that because of "invincible ignorance", meaning that it was never made known to them a) what the Catholic Church is, and b) that it is necessary for salvation.

FROM THE NON-CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE: In all honestly, I think you should learn about the Catholic Church, to understand why She makes the claims She does, why She believes what She does. I'm not necessarily here to convert the readership of this blog to the Church, but if at least one of you decides to investigate what the Church is really about, then I will know that my words have not been in vain. I'd rather you form your own opinion about the Catholic Church than accept what some anti-Catholic preacher or writer tells you to believe.

I believe the Catholic Church has the fullness of truth, and it would be dishonest of me not to desire to share that fullness with everyone who believes in Jesus Christ.

(I reiterate, this conversation should probably move to my blog.)

10:07 AM  
Blogger Royce Ogle said...

Kenny,

I sincerely hope you are well soon. Many of us are praying for you.

As for your topic, a good one! Denominations came to be because of differences of opinion about what to do on Sunday and how to do it, how the church should be governed, etc., etc. In fact they came to be for the same reasons churches that were born of the Restoration Movement have split and divided. Personal preferences usually trump Bible doctrine and the law of love taught by Jesus and his followers.

My church is the right church, for me that is, but it might now be the right one for you or someone else. I could likely feel comfortable with any group who teaches the truth about what God has done in Christ on behalf of sinners and are depending on Him and Him alone for salvation. I prefer many of the traditions we in the church of Christ hold dear but they should never be a cause of contention or disunity.

My total trust in not in the church of Christ but rather the Christ of the church. There is a huge difference. I would say to my Catholic friends if you are depending on the "church" for your salvation you are on dangerous ground. But, I hasten to add that you are no more at risk than a church of Christ member who trusts his "church" in the same way.

The church doesn't save, only God saves and He does it only based upon work of Christ on the behalf of sinners.

There will be multitudes in heaven that you and I likely would not have approved but because they trusted the claims of the gospel and put their faith in Jesus they were justified by a just God and saved. There will also be a multitude that will not be there and expected to go. They counted on their personal goodness, being in the right church, the right family, and on and on.

There will not be one person in heaven who did not come through Jesus Christ. There is no other way.

His peace,
Royce

3:17 PM  
Blogger Kansas Bob said...

Seeing you back makes my heart glad Kinney!

I love that there is such a diversity of church experiences out there. Many are most comfortable with a quiet contemplative expression of church while others like a louder exuberant expression. Some need a pastor/teacher while others a pastor/shepherd. There are many ways of doing church.. it is not an issue of right or wrong but more of where God has directed a person.

4:15 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Great to have you back again. We all missed you and the conversation.

You have many questions here so I will tackle just one, “Think about your own faith why do you believe what you believe. Is your faith your own faith or does it belong to your parents or grandparents? Is it important to have your own faith”.

I grew up in a non Christian home so my faith is very much my own. I have tried to form my theology based upon what the bible says. This in fact is what everyone else does. So we have to be humble. No-one has all the right answers, we are just poor disciples finding our way.

Sadly, I have encountered many people who are living off the faith of their parents or some bible college they went too. They never explore new ideas in an open manner. This must hurt their growth and relationship with others.

8:57 PM  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

Preacherman how do we even know that our religion is the right one? Is it faith?

10:31 PM  
Blogger magdalune said...

My thoughts are still with you, Kenny.

And that question... well, I believe you've kept up with my blog and know the problems I've had with the idea of True Christianity (tm) and who to trust.

2:58 AM  
Blogger Bob Clark said...

You are being prayed for as you continue to heal!

9:06 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

Hi Kinny,

I've been offline for a couple of weeks, and it sounds like I missed some important time. I'm very sorry to hear of your illness, and will be praying for you.

I believe that everyone God has adopted as a son/daugher is my brother/sister, and the collection of all such people make up the church.. not the "right one" but the "only one." So your question boils down to this: who has God adopted as a son or daughter? (Gal 3:26ff)

I don't think that boils down to the churches of Christ, nor the Catholic church, nor any other such entity.

Here's another way to look at it. An honest seeker, upon hearing the basic gospel message (Acts 2 etc) can respond and be saved without knowing anything at all about the differences between denominations. Denominations (I include catholicism in this statement) have nothing at all to do with it. Only a few basic facts about sin, repentance, and the Messiah are necessary to salvation. (I'm currently in the process of exploring this question on my blog.)

Hope you're feeling much better very soon.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Arlene Kasselman said...

Kinney
one of the things that I love about the postmodern water in which we swim is this: the issue of "right" or having every answer is unattractive. The mystery of God is what calls us to Him. Our journey is about discipleship and faith and less about religion or "church" even though community is vital it takes on a different role.

Tess or Kinney can you leave a comment on my blog which tells me where you are exactly- I have tried finding your congregation online and can not seem to do it. I would love to know how close we are in Texas?

10:28 AM  
Blogger Cheryl Russell said...

Glad to have you back Kinney! Thanks for the update Tess. Your family is in our prayers.

I don't know if there is a right church. I believe there is ONE Body of Christ. There are many parts of this body scattered all over the world, and in many different buildings, but we are all one in Christ. I think that good churches know that Jesus Christ is the Head, and that great churches try to follow the Head or Walk as Jesus walked.

7:41 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Hey Man, I did an outline of effective ministry in a small town context. Let me know your thoughts on it.

9:49 AM  
Blogger cwinwc said...

1. Although my Mother and Father started me on my faith journey at a local Baptist Church, I feel that my faith is certainly a result of my journey.

2. I pray that I never have that conversation. I need only look at my membership at our church to know not to start the "perfect" or "right" church conversation.

3. Confusion.

4. It will be but only in small pockets of believers.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Brian Bowen said...

You know as I read the comments it even strenghtens why I believe we have denominations.

So many say... I was once this but then I went here and I discovered how I connect with God... so now Im this...

Thats it in a nutshell really if you ask me. So let me give a few statements then tie it all togther:

1. People naturally gravitate towards other people who think like they do

2. God IS three persons. There is Father God, Jesus the son God, and God the Spirit.

3. People relate to one person of God better than the other

So you get a group of people who relate to God the Father and he becomes the primary point of worship. For others its Jesus and still others The Holy Spirit. So when you look at the church... as a whole... she is worshiping God through the denominations. Certainly yall can look around at the different denoms and see what I mean right? Some whos primary focus is Jesus, others the Father and others the Spirit?

But when you look at only one denomination and call it the church... well thats a bit like looking at my little toe and calling it my body.

This does tend to cause division and strife among the body, well... because all these little toes are claiming to be the body.

The thing is, we need God in three persons. When we focus on primarily one person of God, we miss out on the fullness of who he is.

Of course, thats the short simple version of what could be a LONG answer.

8:42 AM  
Blogger jel said...

Morning Kinney and Tess!

10:53 AM  
Blogger jeleasure said...

Brian Bowen said,

"Certainly yall can look around at the different denoms and see what I mean right? Some whos primary focus is Jesus, others the Father and others the Spirit?".

Brian, I see what you mean. And I agree with your assessment of the church. However, I do not agree with the mixed focal points of the church.
Here is why.
Jesus is the mediator. He fills the void. He bridges the gap. He makes a way to have a relationship with the Father when prior to His self sacrifice there was none.

The Old Testament shows us that a relationship with God was informal and superficial. Kind of like having a marriage between two people, each in their own bubble. Very few were priviledged to have an intimate relationship with God. All kings, but David and Melchizedek as far as I can see, (if there were more, not many) spoke to the Lord through prophets.
The Law allowed people to be assembled as a community, but still the only one to commune with the Lord was the High Priest, and this only once a year.
The Gospels bare witness to what Jesus did and commanded. He fulfilled the Law and offered Himself as an atonement that we can "have life more abundantly" (the law hamperred the quality of a man's life for fear there would be some regulation broken. Like becoming unclean for touching something dead. Or having a bodily function and then having to ceremonially cleanse oneself. If not, you were disobedient and considered to be guilty of breaking the Law. So, Jesus took the law away (this does not include the 'social ordinances' of the Ten Commandments.) and gives credit to those who will believe on Him, accepting his self sacrifice as one offered on the worshipper's behalf. The only thing left, is the new law, "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, all men will know you are my disciples if you love one another".

The Son should be where we place our efforts. Because, with out Him, there is no relationship with God. So, how do we do this. Well, in short, with out reading my manuscript, I will simply say it is through the "Royal Law" (James 2:8-12).

The Spirit is important. Jesus said he would send us a helper, comforter, nurse, paraclete..." But, can not be the focus. Again, with out Christ, there is not Holy Spirit. So, we find Christ central and necessary to all denominations.

2:25 PM  
Blogger jeleasure said...

Ammendment,
For Brian,
There were times when David had to speak through a prophet. There were times when he spoke to God directly.

2:28 PM  
Blogger Steven Ridings said...

Preacherman,
I found you through another blog. I hope you don't mind a stranger posting.

I believe the key in John 17 is verse 17. Jesus was desiring that we'd be sanctified (from the world) by HIS truth/HIS Word. We focus on oneness w/out focusing on TRUTH.

The MOST important issue is THE GOSPEL!!! I am not minimizing our differences doctrinally, but we MUST preach Jesus' Death on the cross for the sin of mankind, His resurrection to prove his power over death, and His intercession for His children at the right hand of the Father.

God bless you and heal your body for His service.

Preach the Word my brother
www.desertpreacher.wordpress.com
www.desertpreacher77.blogspot.com

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Steve V. said...

Hello Kinney,
Grace and peace from our Father God and Jesus Christ.
I pray your family is doing well and that you have received comfort and healing.

I don’t want to hijack your blog but jeleasure made a statement that brought this back to mind. I haven’t quite hammered all this out yet and am not sure what it has to do with “is my church the right church?” I really just am looking for input because for some time I have been working out the answer to these questions – Is the Law and the covenant the same thing? If not where does that leave the Law?

Christ said he did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. Paul says in Romans 3.31 that our faith does not nullify the Law but “rather upholds the law.” And Hebrews again claims that Christ fulfilled the Law.

Now here is where I stand with all this. Legalism focuses detrimentally on upholding the law as if salvation is to be gained by keeping it – salvation by merit. Liberalism (a very loose definition of the word that many in church have been throwing around for actually the word means to have no regard at all for rules, regulations and authority) stands precariously on the premise that law no longer has regulation and we are free to do as we please (to an extent). The Law was given to show God’s goodness. Man sees it as a list of “thou salt not’s”, literally that’s what they say. But, if I may be so bold as to say in my own understanding, what is not said in the Ten Commandments is clearly implied. You shall not put any other god before me – what is not being said but is implied – you shall put me first. Thou shall not give false testimony – implied – you shall tell the truth. Christ’s summation of the Law – love the lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind; and love your neighbor as your self. Implied, if I love God that way I will not put anything before Him. Implied, if I love my neighbor like that I will tell the truth to and about him. Conclusion, God’s law was not abolished but Christ gave the example of how we are to uphold that law.

Now we get into the “shadow of things to come”. Two examples, first the Passover. Exodus 12.14 says it is to be an ordinance that last forever. If this is to be cast off as being part of the old law and no longer binding then we can have trouble with God being fickle and changing his mind and that can erode trust in him. But was it really done away with or fulfilled. In Egypt, the blood was to mark the homes of the faithful, those belonging to God. Also the Israelites were to eat the Passover lamb. Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper out of the Passover feast and we continue to partake in that communion. Christ’s blood has marked us as belonging to God and we continue in feasting on the body broken in our place. Second, the six required sacrifices were fulfilled by Christ in his once for all sacrifice on the Cross. In the old sacrifices the one making the sacrifice was to place their hands on it transferring their sins to it then kill it and only after that did the priest start his work. By placing our faith in Christ as our savior our sins are taken onto him then hung on the cross and Christ’s salvation then works in us.

The old covenant was a marking outwardly of the flesh for a specific people; the new covenant is a marking inwardly of the heart now open to all people. Thus, only the covenant has been renewed but the law still exists. In that it shows the Holiness of God and a guidance to man for what is acceptable in his sight. Grace makes the difference, and that is another 400 pages of post that I would not wish to impose on you now.

This is very long, I know, but as condensed as I could get it, yet it still leaves very much out that I have been working on.

What do you think? Am I way out there chasing rabbits?

In Christ’s pure love,
Steve V.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Brian Bowen said...

jeleasure
I totaly hear you. I agree Jesus is the key. He is how we enter into this relationship with God.

I didnt mean to sound like I was saying you can take Jesus out of the picture and still be ok.

Simply trying to explain how I see many denominations as people focusing on one person of God rather than a balance of the three.

I still dont think a total focus on Jesus alone is the way God intended this relationship thing to work.

Yes Jesus is the door through which we enter in... but its entering in, to a relationship with God... all three of him that I think we need.

I mean, Jesus didnt do anything seperate from the Father right? He gave up his divine power to be fully human (and fully God) so it was the power of the Spirit sent from the Father to do all that Jesus did (miracles and such).

And are we not to try and be like Jesus? And the same authority given to us? And aren't we suppose to be doing even greater things than these?

To do that... we need all of God. Not just Jesus. imho anyway :)

11:43 AM  
Blogger jeleasure said...

Brian Bowen said:

"I didnt mean to sound like I was saying you can take Jesus out of the picture and still be ok".

My reply:
No, I understood.

Brian Bowen said:

"Simply trying to explain how I see many denominations as people focusing on one person of God rather than a balance of the three".

My reply:
Yes. I see that in some denominations there is more focus on the Holy Spirit to the point a new convert will miss the entire message of the Gospel. It is bad enough now. American Family Association reported a statistic about three months ago that "only six percent of all people who call themselves Christians truly understand the core message of the Bible". I believe those figures to be true. Which is why I posted my manuscript on my Blog. I feel if people would read it, it may help to make an impact and decrease the lack of Biblical understanding. I see it everyday. I here people on their radio programs misusing scriptural vernacular. Steven Curtis Chapman's song, "Blind lead the blind" has lyrics in it that reflect a church which has its focus on the wrong things. And the eloquent delivery is so appealing that the people miss the fact that the preacher's theology is skewed.

Brian Bowman said,

"I still dont think a total focus on Jesus alone is the way God intended this relationship thing to work".

My reply:
I believe you are correct. But what is at the heart of the "New Law" is love. Jesus said, "A new command I give you. (I won't go into all of the details. But we know the command is not new. It is mistranslated though. It should say, "Law". Love one another. As I have loved you, so you MUST love oneanother".
Yet another aspect that requires our focus toward Christ for our relationship with God The Father is our interpersonal relationships.
James calls it a "Royal Law". It is the family imagery type of "Law" or the rules of the house, so to speak. Love one another as we are all in the Human Family. However, some choose to abandon that concept. And so, we have the story of the prodigal son.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Mork said...

Back again...
yeah, I think my Church is the right one otherwise I would not be attending. But because I am saying mine is the right one I am in no way indicating that yours is the wrong one.

7:58 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I appreciate everyone's thoughts and opinions on this subject. Thanks all for a great discussion.

I am getting better day by day.

I want to thank everyone for still visiting, praying, encouraging us during this time of difficulty.

9:48 AM  
Blogger PaPa said...

Say, Preach!

Was sent here from jasonincalifornia. What a blessing!

Seems like I am reading more and more from our younger ;-} folks concerning which is the "right church." Well, if you are talking about the denominational "Church of Christ" I have found us to be the most devided church among the denominations. We divede of a glass or a cup or a sip, ferminted or non, one or two or many. Wow the list can go on and on and on.

If your are talking bout the asemblies of Christ, yep that is the one with out daubt.

Remember "it is for freedom that we have been set free." Let NO man set in judgment on you for the King judges all things righteously and with grace. One day He will come and take from ALL races, nations and denominations HIS people that have been born of the water and have His Spirit.

May God bless you in your efforts.

CAH

2:21 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Good to read that you're getting better, Kinney. Take it slow. Am praying.

7:55 PM  
Blogger jeleasure said...

Preacher Man,
I have elected to honor you with the Arte Y Pico award.
See this article Arte y Pico beneath my article on the Jewish Wedding Ceremony.

7:48 PM  
Blogger jeleasure said...

Preacher man,
It appears the link failed. I am going to ask you to use this link. Arte y Pico

7:51 PM  
Blogger Terry said...

I just wanted to check in with you. How are you doing? Any word from the doctors?

5:54 AM  
Blogger Debbie said...

Jesus was a Jew! He taught against the laws that had been inflicted on the people by the leaders, not God himself. The rock he referenced was the knowledge that Jesus was the Son of God revealed to Peter by the Father.
Matthew 16: 15-18 I understand this passage to mean that his church will be built upon the knowledge revealed to each of our hearts by the Father that Jesus is the son of God. ALL who come to the knowledge of Christ as our Lord and Savior are the Body of Christ and HIS CHURCH. Man finds comfort zones within denominational differences, that in no way excludes Christians that worship in different ways than we do. I say we all need to step outside our little comfort zones and fellowship with all of those that believe Jesus is the son of God who was the living sacrifice for all. I am personally fed up with the Body of Christ not embracing the Body of Christ. We have allowed our own rules and regulations to creep into our Churches and that is no different than the Pharisees in the time Christ came to save us all. God be with us! I like Mork's example, that will not happen in our small town, and it greatly grieves me. I do think this actually turns people away from the church. It sure aggravates me.

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