Changing your religion

Anthony Sacramone at Strange Herring cites a new Pew Study that suggests earlier findings about Americans’ spiritual rootlessness do not necessarily mean that Americans are becoming more secular. Rather, Americans often change their religions.

More than half of American adults have changed religion in their lives, a huge new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found. And there is no discernible pattern to the change, just “a free for all,” one of the lead researchers told CNN.

“You’re seeing the free market at work,” said Gregory Smith, a research fellow at the Pew Forum. “If people are dissatisfied, they will leave. And if they see something they like better, they will join it.”

Many people switch because they move to a new community, and others because they marry someone of a different faith, he said.

Some don’t like their ministers or pastors; some like the pastor at another church better.

And many people list more than one reason for changing, Smith said.

Sacramone comments, “So it appears that people are not so much losing their religion as simply changing their religion.” He also notes that the study does not distinguish between changing religion (i.e., from Buddhism to Christianity) and changing denomination (from a Baptist to a Bible church). In the context, it appears that the study is counting denominational change as a religion change. The report goes on:

The survey supported a study released last month in that it found about 16 percent of Americans are not affiliated with any religion. The American Religious Identification Survey, from Trinity College in Connecticut, found the number to be about 15 percent.

But Smith warned against labeling those people “secular.”

“Upwards of one-third of newly unaffiliated people say they just haven’t found the right religion yet,” Smith said.

And many people who had no religion as children later join one, he said.

It seems to me that in a society in which religion is a matter of conviction, rather than culture, this can be a good thing. On the other hand, there are good reasons and bad reasons for leaving a particular religious tradition. Another factor today is that so many denominations and non-denominations have become so much alike they are indistinguishable, so it doesn’t mean much to go from one to another.

I would certainly be one of those half. I grew up in liberal, mainline Protestantism and ended up as an evangelical and confessional Lutheran. If the numbers hold, I suspect half of you readers must have also changed churches. Why did you change?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Manxman

    The first major change was leaving Roman Catholicism because I just couldn't reconcile Catholic doctrine and claims of infalability with what I read in the Bible. Participation in the charismatic renewal in the Catholic Church got me reading the Bible, and I realized that there was a discrepancy I couldn't live with.

    After that our family moved through a series of different church experiences – home churches, small non-denominational churches, a small Black non-denominational church, etc.

    We're told by Jesus that the Holy Spirit will lead us to the fullness of truth, and in each of our moves, there was a definite focus on some aspect of our faith and the Christian walk that the Holy Spirit used the church experience to provide. We always looked on our moving around as "following the cloud."

  • Manxman

    The first major change was leaving Roman Catholicism because I just couldn't reconcile Catholic doctrine and claims of infalability with what I read in the Bible. Participation in the charismatic renewal in the Catholic Church got me reading the Bible, and I realized that there was a discrepancy I couldn't live with.

    After that our family moved through a series of different church experiences – home churches, small non-denominational churches, a small Black non-denominational church, etc.

    We're told by Jesus that the Holy Spirit will lead us to the fullness of truth, and in each of our moves, there was a definite focus on some aspect of our faith and the Christian walk that the Holy Spirit used the church experience to provide. We always looked on our moving around as "following the cloud."

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    My wife was a Lutheran and I was baptized Catholic but was basically floated around (tried 'em all).

    The Lutheran Church was the first place I'd ever heard the Law (full force) and the gospel (full force).

    By the grace of God, I heard it.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    My wife was a Lutheran and I was baptized Catholic but was basically floated around (tried 'em all).

    The Lutheran Church was the first place I'd ever heard the Law (full force) and the gospel (full force).

    By the grace of God, I heard it.

  • Wade

    Believe it or not, but Bill Clinton is partly responsible for my journey from being a Baptist to being Lutheran. It all started when he said, "it depends on what your definition of the word 'is' is." Well, months later at the Baptist church, when we had communion, the pastor said that when Jesus said "This is My Body" that Jesus really meant that the bread "represents" His body. I didn't get it af first, but later I realized that "Baptists are playing Bill Clinton with the Words of Jesus."

    From then, it was a progression to Confessional Lutheranism. I was Baptist, then dabbled in the Methodist church for a bit, back to Baptist, to the Church of Christ, then to Pentecostal,flirted with Roman Catholicism, but couldn't get over the Mary stuff, then to ELCA, and then to the LCMS. This was a journey that took years to complete. But I thank God for leading me to the hearing of the Law and the Gospel properly divided.

  • Wade

    Believe it or not, but Bill Clinton is partly responsible for my journey from being a Baptist to being Lutheran. It all started when he said, "it depends on what your definition of the word 'is' is." Well, months later at the Baptist church, when we had communion, the pastor said that when Jesus said "This is My Body" that Jesus really meant that the bread "represents" His body. I didn't get it af first, but later I realized that "Baptists are playing Bill Clinton with the Words of Jesus."

    From then, it was a progression to Confessional Lutheranism. I was Baptist, then dabbled in the Methodist church for a bit, back to Baptist, to the Church of Christ, then to Pentecostal,flirted with Roman Catholicism, but couldn't get over the Mary stuff, then to ELCA, and then to the LCMS. This was a journey that took years to complete. But I thank God for leading me to the hearing of the Law and the Gospel properly divided.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/PeterLeavitt PeterLeavitt

    My family has been Congregationalist in the same New England town since 1635. For a few years I switched to the Episcopal church due to a particularly liberal Congregational minister. After he left and and was replaced by an orthodox Reform minister, I am happily back in an orthodox Congregational church.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/PeterLeavitt PeterLeavitt

    My family has been Congregationalist in the same New England town since 1635. For a few years I switched to the Episcopal church due to a particularly liberal Congregational minister. After he left and and was replaced by an orthodox Reform minister, I am happily back in an orthodox Congregational church.

  • Kelly

    Dissatisfaction with certain teachings and leanings of my evangelical Baptist church began when I was about 17, fueled by reading the works of Brennan Manning and others and listening to programs like White Horse Inn. But I probably wouldn't have been exposed to confessional Lutheranism (at least not for awhile) without meeting my future husband. I was relieved that his church so nicely resolved many of my conflicts, but I still felt weird and wrong about "marrying into" a church body. Until I realized that (A) I'd been raised in the faith of my other church from infancy really, so there was a "cultural" thing there; and (B) if the relationship were to end abruptly, I'd never be able to go back to my former church in good conscience. So I made peace with that.

  • Kelly

    Dissatisfaction with certain teachings and leanings of my evangelical Baptist church began when I was about 17, fueled by reading the works of Brennan Manning and others and listening to programs like White Horse Inn. But I probably wouldn't have been exposed to confessional Lutheranism (at least not for awhile) without meeting my future husband. I was relieved that his church so nicely resolved many of my conflicts, but I still felt weird and wrong about "marrying into" a church body. Until I realized that (A) I'd been raised in the faith of my other church from infancy really, so there was a "cultural" thing there; and (B) if the relationship were to end abruptly, I'd never be able to go back to my former church in good conscience. So I made peace with that.

  • http://www.scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com The Scylding

    Although baptised Dutch Reformed, I grew up in an "evangelical" pelagian sect. By reading and thinking, I was convinced of their errors by God's grace, and left them – returning to the Reformed faaith in adifferent guises (semi-dependant on where we lived). But I continued to read and think (especially on matters Sacramental) , and when immigrating, made use of the oppurtunity to find a church where the truth is confessed, especially regarding the Sacraments. hence us joining a traditional LCC congregation ("high" liturgy only).

    And finally, after many years, I'm at rest, no longer obsessing about the truth and the implications of the preaching, teaching and liturgy of my Church.

    It is an immeasureable blessing.

  • http://www.scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com The Scylding

    Although baptised Dutch Reformed, I grew up in an "evangelical" pelagian sect. By reading and thinking, I was convinced of their errors by God's grace, and left them – returning to the Reformed faaith in adifferent guises (semi-dependant on where we lived). But I continued to read and think (especially on matters Sacramental) , and when immigrating, made use of the oppurtunity to find a church where the truth is confessed, especially regarding the Sacraments. hence us joining a traditional LCC congregation ("high" liturgy only).

    And finally, after many years, I'm at rest, no longer obsessing about the truth and the implications of the preaching, teaching and liturgy of my Church.

    It is an immeasureable blessing.

  • David T.

    I went from liberal Lutheranism in my younger years, to agnosticism in high school, to confessional Lutheranism when I went off to college (Bethany Lutheran in MN) where I was re-introduced to Law and the true Gospel. There I had to go to chapel every day, took a course entitled "The Case for Christianity", and debated with students about truth.

  • David T.

    I went from liberal Lutheranism in my younger years, to agnosticism in high school, to confessional Lutheranism when I went off to college (Bethany Lutheran in MN) where I was re-introduced to Law and the true Gospel. There I had to go to chapel every day, took a course entitled "The Case for Christianity", and debated with students about truth.

  • Veith

    I don't see anything wrong with "marrying into" a church. Marriage is a vocation, a calling from God, so I don't see why that calling shouldn't be God's way of bringing someone into a church.

  • Veith

    I don't see anything wrong with "marrying into" a church. Marriage is a vocation, a calling from God, so I don't see why that calling shouldn't be God's way of bringing someone into a church.

  • John

    I was baptized, raised and confirmed in a Lutheran church (LCMS). But no one, including my parents ever really explained the Gospel to me. I believed I was saved by attending a Lutheran church. After being a functional agnostic (though still a member, and attender, of the Lutheran church of my parents) for about three or four years at the end of high school and into college, some men from the campus Navigator group got me involved there. I joined a number of "evangelical" churches. I met my wife at one of them. Then, about ten years ago I started reading some confessional theology, and listening to The White Horse Inn. It was there, through Dr. Rod Rosenblatt and Dr. Michael Horton, that I finally understood the gospel. I am now a member of a presbyterian (PCA) church, though with sympathies toward lutheranism. Both Luther and John Calvin are heroes in the faith to me.

    John

  • John

    I was baptized, raised and confirmed in a Lutheran church (LCMS). But no one, including my parents ever really explained the Gospel to me. I believed I was saved by attending a Lutheran church. After being a functional agnostic (though still a member, and attender, of the Lutheran church of my parents) for about three or four years at the end of high school and into college, some men from the campus Navigator group got me involved there. I joined a number of "evangelical" churches. I met my wife at one of them. Then, about ten years ago I started reading some confessional theology, and listening to The White Horse Inn. It was there, through Dr. Rod Rosenblatt and Dr. Michael Horton, that I finally understood the gospel. I am now a member of a presbyterian (PCA) church, though with sympathies toward lutheranism. Both Luther and John Calvin are heroes in the faith to me.

    John

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    The Scylding,
    Was there something more than geography that separated you from the Lutheran Churches that are found in South Africa?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    The Scylding,
    Was there something more than geography that separated you from the Lutheran Churches that are found in South Africa?

  • http://www.scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com The Scylding

    I never really investigated the local Lutheran churches much – it was "earlier on in the process" so-to-speak. At the time you could have classified me as a wannabee conservative, Sacrametalist Anglican, maybe? Not sure. Mainly I think you can say that exposure was a major issue. I did vsit a Reformed church here, but was horrified, and finally realised that Calvinism just won't cut it.

  • http://www.scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com The Scylding

    I never really investigated the local Lutheran churches much – it was "earlier on in the process" so-to-speak. At the time you could have classified me as a wannabee conservative, Sacrametalist Anglican, maybe? Not sure. Mainly I think you can say that exposure was a major issue. I did vsit a Reformed church here, but was horrified, and finally realised that Calvinism just won't cut it.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    The Scylding,
    Thanks, the reason I asked is I used to live in Botswana as a boy, my dad was a missionary there. So I am interested in such things.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    The Scylding,
    Thanks, the reason I asked is I used to live in Botswana as a boy, my dad was a missionary there. So I am interested in such things.

  • fws

    dr vieth, could you please delete my posts to this thread? intensedebate is not letting me log in, so I cannot delete, and I decided that these posts were not pertinent to the thread and are too long. thanks!

  • fws

    dr vieth, could you please delete my posts to this thread? intensedebate is not letting me log in, so I cannot delete, and I decided that these posts were not pertinent to the thread and are too long. thanks!

  • fws

    Bror, I hear that botswana and sw africa are amazingly lutheran. I suspect that is because they were german colonies for a long time, but I am not sure. the missionaries there and in tanzania must have been amazing. how did that come about since the german state church does not seem so lutheran…. or is the lutheran churches in africa not as strong as I think they are?

  • fws

    Bror, I hear that botswana and sw africa are amazingly lutheran. I suspect that is because they were german colonies for a long time, but I am not sure. the missionaries there and in tanzania must have been amazing. how did that come about since the german state church does not seem so lutheran…. or is the lutheran churches in africa not as strong as I think they are?

  • http://www.scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com The Scylding

    Dumela mfetu! (Although, strictly speaking that is Sesotho, not Setswana, although they're pretty close…)

  • http://www.scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com The Scylding

    Dumela mfetu! (Although, strictly speaking that is Sesotho, not Setswana, although they're pretty close…)

  • kerner

    When I was born, my parents had no religion. But I was the first grandchild, and my Irish grandmother spent a small fortune on a hand made baptismal gown. So, I was baptised at Holy Family Catholic Church, in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.

    My family didn't go to church at all until I was about 11. At that time, my parents had become involved in conservative politics, and were coming into contact with people who would now be called "the Christian right". So, yes, it was through right wing politics that my family was led back to the Church.

    But which church would it be? First my family tried the Unitarians (I don't know why; maybe they just wanted to keep their options open). All I remember about the Unitarians is that they unsuccessfully tried to get me to make a ukulele out of a cigar box in Sunday school. After that we became Congregationalists, and all my younger siblings were baptised.

  • kerner

    When I was born, my parents had no religion. But I was the first grandchild, and my Irish grandmother spent a small fortune on a hand made baptismal gown. So, I was baptised at Holy Family Catholic Church, in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.

    My family didn't go to church at all until I was about 11. At that time, my parents had become involved in conservative politics, and were coming into contact with people who would now be called "the Christian right". So, yes, it was through right wing politics that my family was led back to the Church.

    But which church would it be? First my family tried the Unitarians (I don't know why; maybe they just wanted to keep their options open). All I remember about the Unitarians is that they unsuccessfully tried to get me to make a ukulele out of a cigar box in Sunday school. After that we became Congregationalists, and all my younger siblings were baptised.

  • kerner

    cont.

    We were congregationalists for about 3 years, when my parents began checking out other churches. One was independent, but was very Baptist doctrinally. Another was also independent, but was very Calvinistic. But somewhere along the line my parents sere reading Lutheran doctrine, because we visited a WELS Lutheran church, and My parents and I began to take adult confirmation classes. So I was confirmed a Lutheran at the end of my Junior year in High School. But things went badly. There was a dispute between my family and others over a matter of Synod policy. It's a long story, but the end was that the WELS congregation we attended voted us off the membership rolls, so I was unchurched. By this time I had completed my freshman year at Bethany College in Mankato, and had transferred to Marquette University.

  • kerner

    cont.

    We were congregationalists for about 3 years, when my parents began checking out other churches. One was independent, but was very Baptist doctrinally. Another was also independent, but was very Calvinistic. But somewhere along the line my parents sere reading Lutheran doctrine, because we visited a WELS Lutheran church, and My parents and I began to take adult confirmation classes. So I was confirmed a Lutheran at the end of my Junior year in High School. But things went badly. There was a dispute between my family and others over a matter of Synod policy. It's a long story, but the end was that the WELS congregation we attended voted us off the membership rolls, so I was unchurched. By this time I had completed my freshman year at Bethany College in Mankato, and had transferred to Marquette University.

  • kerner

    I had pretty much decided, in my own mind at least, that I was a Lutheran, but I had no church home, and so was somewhat adrift. But in my senior year at Marquette (a Jesuit University in Milwaukee, WI) I met and fell in love with a graduate student who(it turned out) was also the first Lutheran woman I met there. She went to an LCMS church in one of the North Shore suburbs. The LCMS took me in without making me get confirmed again, and I married the grad student. I figured it was providence. I've been in the LCMS ever since.

  • kerner

    I had pretty much decided, in my own mind at least, that I was a Lutheran, but I had no church home, and so was somewhat adrift. But in my senior year at Marquette (a Jesuit University in Milwaukee, WI) I met and fell in love with a graduate student who(it turned out) was also the first Lutheran woman I met there. She went to an LCMS church in one of the North Shore suburbs. The LCMS took me in without making me get confirmed again, and I married the grad student. I figured it was providence. I've been in the LCMS ever since.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    OK, fws, I will, at your request. But I did find your story illuminating.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    OK, fws, I will, at your request. But I did find your story illuminating.

  • kerner

    I don't know, Frank. Your comments kind of give your positions elsewhere context.

    Dr. Veith, as others have said before, I really don't like intense debate. Is there anything we could do to go back to the way things were?

  • kerner

    I don't know, Frank. Your comments kind of give your positions elsewhere context.

    Dr. Veith, as others have said before, I really don't like intense debate. Is there anything we could do to go back to the way things were?

  • Joe

    Kerner – I live in Whitefish Bay. Do yo still live in the area? What northshore suburban church took you in? Was it Luther Memorial in Shorewood? Maybe it was my congregation, Our Savior in Witefish Bay?

  • Joe

    Kerner – I live in Whitefish Bay. Do yo still live in the area? What northshore suburban church took you in? Was it Luther Memorial in Shorewood? Maybe it was my congregation, Our Savior in Witefish Bay?

  • M Burke

    We're told by Jesus that the Holy Spirit will lead us to the fullness of truth <– you personally or the Apostles who wrote Scripture, what is the context of that passage?

  • M Burke

    We're told by Jesus that the Holy Spirit will lead us to the fullness of truth <– you personally or the Apostles who wrote Scripture, what is the context of that passage?

  • M Burke

    So Jesus IS, physically and in all ways a vine, tree, lamb? Prior to the crucifixion, when Jesus distributed the elements, was he present in/under them? If not, how can "is" in his statement mean something different now.

  • M Burke

    So Jesus IS, physically and in all ways a vine, tree, lamb? Prior to the crucifixion, when Jesus distributed the elements, was he present in/under them? If not, how can "is" in his statement mean something different now.

  • M Burke

    Homosexuality is sexual immorality, and thus sin.

  • M Burke

    Homosexuality is sexual immorality, and thus sin.

  • M Burke

    Raised Charismatic -> general Evangelical -> Reformed. Reading the Bible and coming to understand that there is a context for what is written therein, I left one position for another more conservative one.

  • M Burke

    Raised Charismatic -> general Evangelical -> Reformed. Reading the Bible and coming to understand that there is a context for what is written therein, I left one position for another more conservative one.

  • Fred

    I've been United Church of Christ, Assemblies of God, Free Methodist, Evangelical Covenant, Baptist, Calvary Chapel, ELCA, nondenom charismatic, and now confessional Lutheran (LCMS).

    You know what's interesting? I find that this is not uncommon among baby boomers. I think it's mostly a good thing — depending on where you wind up!
    But I wish I'd discovered the riches of Lutheranism twenty five years ago — would've saved a lot of running around!

  • Fred

    I've been United Church of Christ, Assemblies of God, Free Methodist, Evangelical Covenant, Baptist, Calvary Chapel, ELCA, nondenom charismatic, and now confessional Lutheran (LCMS).

    You know what's interesting? I find that this is not uncommon among baby boomers. I think it's mostly a good thing — depending on where you wind up!
    But I wish I'd discovered the riches of Lutheranism twenty five years ago — would've saved a lot of running around!

  • Rose

    In 1978, the new hymnal of the old Lutheran Church in America appeared, making the Confession of Sins optional. I became a Lutheran refugee. Actually, I didn't leave the church, the church left me.

  • Rose

    In 1978, the new hymnal of the old Lutheran Church in America appeared, making the Confession of Sins optional. I became a Lutheran refugee. Actually, I didn't leave the church, the church left me.

  • Booklover

    Wow, that first paragraph is very powerful.

  • Booklover

    Wow, that first paragraph is very powerful.

  • Booklover

    But is it wrong to marry into a Baptist church? :-)

  • Booklover

    But is it wrong to marry into a Baptist church? :-)

  • John18:38

    Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1

    There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1,2

    Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation. To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation….For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19, 21

    Stand fast therefore inthe liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage…..For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. Galations 5: 1,5,6

    Dear Brother Burke….in fullfiling your duty to point out your perception of the sin in the narrative of fws, don't overlook the majority of fws comments of his deep faith and sincere love of Jesus, and his trust in our most Beautiful Savior that has grown strong in spite of dark trials and deep doubts. I hope you will rejoice and support our dear Brother in the Lord and remember, whatsoever things be of good report, think of these! God Bless you Brother Burke….and Brother FWS!

  • John18:38

    Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1

    There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1,2

    Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation. To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation….For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19, 21

    Stand fast therefore inthe liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage…..For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. Galations 5: 1,5,6

    Dear Brother Burke….in fullfiling your duty to point out your perception of the sin in the narrative of fws, don't overlook the majority of fws comments of his deep faith and sincere love of Jesus, and his trust in our most Beautiful Savior that has grown strong in spite of dark trials and deep doubts. I hope you will rejoice and support our dear Brother in the Lord and remember, whatsoever things be of good report, think of these! God Bless you Brother Burke….and Brother FWS!

  • http://dominanceanddelusion.com/aboutbook.htm Becky

    I just recently finished reading "Dominance & Delusion" written by M.A. Curtis and I have to say that this book is making me see a lot of things, especially religion in a new light.

  • http://dominanceanddelusion.com/aboutbook.htm Becky

    I just recently finished reading "Dominance & Delusion" written by M.A. Curtis and I have to say that this book is making me see a lot of things, especially religion in a new light.

  • Veith

    I tried to delete your comments, but while they are gone in the editing mode, they still show up on the public site! It must be something with IntenseDebate. i'm working on it. Meanwhile, the Lord must want someone to read what you had to say!

  • Veith

    I tried to delete your comments, but while they are gone in the editing mode, they still show up on the public site! It must be something with IntenseDebate. i'm working on it. Meanwhile, the Lord must want someone to read what you had to say!

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Like what, Becky?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Like what, Becky?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    I’m considering dropping it. One of the features of Intense debate is the ability to do polls. When I get a chance, I’ll set up a poll and see what everyone thinks.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    I’m considering dropping it. One of the features of Intense debate is the ability to do polls. When I get a chance, I’ll set up a poll and see what everyone thinks.

  • http://castingoutnines.wordpress.com Robert Talbert

    I've been through about a dozen different denominations, including my entire childhood in the Southern Baptist Church and my entire four years of college out of the Church altogether (largely due to my experiences with the Southern Baptists). I came to the LCMS after a long string of Evangelical Protestant churches, and what finally got me to change for what I believe is the final time was worship in general, worship music in particular.

    I don't care much for contemporary Christian music, but that's not the point. What is, is that contemporary worship music as it is embodied today has at its core a theology of glory, a fixation on works, a low view of Jesus, and a man-centered worldliness to it that IMO is fundamentally at odds with the nature and purpose of the Church as Scripture puts it. I don't think CCM always used to be this way (think Rich Mullins) but that's how it is now — and insofar as Evangelical churches have adopted contemporary worship music, that's how the everyday practice of the church is as well.

    Churches tend to become the way they worship. I played in the worship bands of a lot of the Evangelical churches I attended, and even when the "sermons" weren't about how to have your best life now, you'd hear nominal allusions to grace and the Gospel in the sermons but works-righteousness and theology of glory in the music — if indeed there was any content to be had at all — and the worst sort of preening rock-star self-centeredness among my band-mates. (I include myself as one of the worst of the preeners.)

    So I changed to LCMS because in confessional Lutheranism I find correct Biblical doctrine combined with a historic liturgy that is most certainly not about me, what I'm doing for God, or any of that rot. Well, I should say that the congregation of which I'm a part is one of those "evangelical style/Lutheran substance" places that tries to incorporate praise music of the sort I just railed against; I struggle with this. But I do receive the Word and the Sacraments, and I have the Treasury of Daily Prayer to help make up for whatever lack of liturgy I experience in church proper.

  • http://castingoutnines.wordpress.com Robert Talbert

    I've been through about a dozen different denominations, including my entire childhood in the Southern Baptist Church and my entire four years of college out of the Church altogether (largely due to my experiences with the Southern Baptists). I came to the LCMS after a long string of Evangelical Protestant churches, and what finally got me to change for what I believe is the final time was worship in general, worship music in particular.

    I don't care much for contemporary Christian music, but that's not the point. What is, is that contemporary worship music as it is embodied today has at its core a theology of glory, a fixation on works, a low view of Jesus, and a man-centered worldliness to it that IMO is fundamentally at odds with the nature and purpose of the Church as Scripture puts it. I don't think CCM always used to be this way (think Rich Mullins) but that's how it is now — and insofar as Evangelical churches have adopted contemporary worship music, that's how the everyday practice of the church is as well.

    Churches tend to become the way they worship. I played in the worship bands of a lot of the Evangelical churches I attended, and even when the "sermons" weren't about how to have your best life now, you'd hear nominal allusions to grace and the Gospel in the sermons but works-righteousness and theology of glory in the music — if indeed there was any content to be had at all — and the worst sort of preening rock-star self-centeredness among my band-mates. (I include myself as one of the worst of the preeners.)

    So I changed to LCMS because in confessional Lutheranism I find correct Biblical doctrine combined with a historic liturgy that is most certainly not about me, what I'm doing for God, or any of that rot. Well, I should say that the congregation of which I'm a part is one of those "evangelical style/Lutheran substance" places that tries to incorporate praise music of the sort I just railed against; I struggle with this. But I do receive the Word and the Sacraments, and I have the Treasury of Daily Prayer to help make up for whatever lack of liturgy I experience in church proper.

  • kerner

    Joe, it was St. John's Glendale. Now we attend Trinity-Freistadt, and, of course, I DO still live in Milwaukee.

  • kerner

    Joe, it was St. John's Glendale. Now we attend Trinity-Freistadt, and, of course, I DO still live in Milwaukee.

  • M Burke

    This is not MY perception of sin, friend, this is the clear teaching of Scripture.

    By posting those verses are you attempting to suggest that Christians don't sin? Why did you not quote 1 John wherein we're told that a person who practices sin doesn't know Christ?

    A person who claims that homosexuality is not a sin clearly is not rightly understanding the Law of God nor the Gospel. It would be one thing if the acknowledged that it was a sin, just like all immorality, and was striving to fight it by faith. But that's not what we're told, instead we're simply told that the individual has decided that homosexuality isn't a sin.

    The proper understanding however, is that all of us are born sinners with a predilection to one kind of sin (homosexuality) or another (addiction etc) but doesn't excuse the indulging of that sin, nor does faith in Christ suddenly make something not a sin.

  • M Burke

    This is not MY perception of sin, friend, this is the clear teaching of Scripture.

    By posting those verses are you attempting to suggest that Christians don't sin? Why did you not quote 1 John wherein we're told that a person who practices sin doesn't know Christ?

    A person who claims that homosexuality is not a sin clearly is not rightly understanding the Law of God nor the Gospel. It would be one thing if the acknowledged that it was a sin, just like all immorality, and was striving to fight it by faith. But that's not what we're told, instead we're simply told that the individual has decided that homosexuality isn't a sin.

    The proper understanding however, is that all of us are born sinners with a predilection to one kind of sin (homosexuality) or another (addiction etc) but doesn't excuse the indulging of that sin, nor does faith in Christ suddenly make something not a sin.

  • Booklover

    In his book *The Fire and the Staff,* Klemet Preus explains "two-stage Christianity," in which believers are told that there is a second stage they must go through. (Preus is a Lutheran and of course does not believe in this second stage. He says it separates the Holy Spirit from the Word.)

    "Many churches claim that there are two stages of Christianity. The first stage is the salvation stage. . .In the first stage you are redeemed and justified, but you are lacking Christian power or lacking some of the Spirit's blessings. . . The idea of a two-stage Christianity was introduced by John Wesley, popularized by Charles Finney, given an experience by Pentecostalism, and made respectable by the Charismatic Movement. . . First-level Christianity is being justified; second-level is much better than the first, so it becomes the central teaching."

    With this "two-level Christianity," "Experience replaces faith and the Holy Spirit becomes unpredictable. Uncertainties divide the church. Christ is minimized as the teaching of grace alone is questioned or denied."

  • Booklover

    In his book *The Fire and the Staff,* Klemet Preus explains "two-stage Christianity," in which believers are told that there is a second stage they must go through. (Preus is a Lutheran and of course does not believe in this second stage. He says it separates the Holy Spirit from the Word.)

    "Many churches claim that there are two stages of Christianity. The first stage is the salvation stage. . .In the first stage you are redeemed and justified, but you are lacking Christian power or lacking some of the Spirit's blessings. . . The idea of a two-stage Christianity was introduced by John Wesley, popularized by Charles Finney, given an experience by Pentecostalism, and made respectable by the Charismatic Movement. . . First-level Christianity is being justified; second-level is much better than the first, so it becomes the central teaching."

    With this "two-level Christianity," "Experience replaces faith and the Holy Spirit becomes unpredictable. Uncertainties divide the church. Christ is minimized as the teaching of grace alone is questioned or denied."

  • Booklover

    This (above) is the story of my life. I think it is a tragedy that these "second stage" churches succeed in dividing the Church. Their message only "works" ("church growth") when they preach to the justified. It doesn't work when they preach to pagans.

  • Booklover

    This (above) is the story of my life. I think it is a tragedy that these "second stage" churches succeed in dividing the Church. Their message only "works" ("church growth") when they preach to the justified. It doesn't work when they preach to pagans.

  • Booklover

    "the worst sort of preening rock-star self-centeredness among my band-mates"

    In our "worship team," the violinist was kicked off because there was no room for her because they raised the keyboard up off the floor so that the keyboardist could be seen. Horrors! (The keyboardist is often me.) They feel that it is good for the worship team to be seen so that others can see how we look and imitate our worshipful demeanor. It would be funny if I could stop crying.

  • Booklover

    "the worst sort of preening rock-star self-centeredness among my band-mates"

    In our "worship team," the violinist was kicked off because there was no room for her because they raised the keyboard up off the floor so that the keyboardist could be seen. Horrors! (The keyboardist is often me.) They feel that it is good for the worship team to be seen so that others can see how we look and imitate our worshipful demeanor. It would be funny if I could stop crying.

  • Wade

    You have to look at the Greek to distinguish, because in the case of the words of Institution, it uses the Nominative case for both the "This" and the "Body."

    You have to look at the context. In instances where Christ says He is the door, vine, etc., the context indicates figurative language, but in the narritive of the institution of the Lord's Supper, the Lord's Supper, there is nothing to indicate that He is speaking figuratively. On the contrary, look back to the Old Testament and the prohibitions against consuming blood. Take for instance Genesis 9:4, which says, "But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood." The same probibition is there in the Passover. Blood is life, and HIs blood, taken in, with, and under the wine gives us life – for it gives us the forgiveness of all our sins. The disciples, as Jew would have definitely gotten the point.

    to be continued

  • Wade

    You have to look at the Greek to distinguish, because in the case of the words of Institution, it uses the Nominative case for both the "This" and the "Body."

    You have to look at the context. In instances where Christ says He is the door, vine, etc., the context indicates figurative language, but in the narritive of the institution of the Lord's Supper, the Lord's Supper, there is nothing to indicate that He is speaking figuratively. On the contrary, look back to the Old Testament and the prohibitions against consuming blood. Take for instance Genesis 9:4, which says, "But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood." The same probibition is there in the Passover. Blood is life, and HIs blood, taken in, with, and under the wine gives us life – for it gives us the forgiveness of all our sins. The disciples, as Jew would have definitely gotten the point.

    to be continued

  • Wade

    Also, you have to look to St. Paul's words concerning the Lord's Supper in I Corinthians 11:27, which says, "Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord." If the Lord's Supper is just an empty symbol, then why the warning, unless the body and blood of Christ are there, just as He says they are.

    Oh, and I do believe that His Body and Blood were present at the Lord's Supper. He is God in flesh, and can be in multiple places at the same time.

    Hope that helps see where us Lutherans are coming from.

    Blessings in Christ!

  • Wade

    Also, you have to look to St. Paul's words concerning the Lord's Supper in I Corinthians 11:27, which says, "Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord." If the Lord's Supper is just an empty symbol, then why the warning, unless the body and blood of Christ are there, just as He says they are.

    Oh, and I do believe that His Body and Blood were present at the Lord's Supper. He is God in flesh, and can be in multiple places at the same time.

    Hope that helps see where us Lutherans are coming from.

    Blessings in Christ!

  • Ryan

    This is not a criticism, but as a Lutheran Pastor I try my best to preach law and Gospel every Sunday and I teach in Confirmation. I do not understand how people never hear the Gospel… I heard many stories of "years later" saying I grew up Lutheran but never heard or had the Gospel explained. This is distressing to me. What is going wrong?

  • Ryan

    This is not a criticism, but as a Lutheran Pastor I try my best to preach law and Gospel every Sunday and I teach in Confirmation. I do not understand how people never hear the Gospel… I heard many stories of "years later" saying I grew up Lutheran but never heard or had the Gospel explained. This is distressing to me. What is going wrong?

  • John

    Pastor Ryan,
    I did not say that I had never heard the gospel (as some have pointed out elsewhere, the liturgy itself contains the gospel. ); only that it had never been explained clearly to me. I was confirmed 44 years ago, in a confirmation of class of nearly fifty. I have since discovered that I have a mild learning disability, so the explanations made to a group of forty to fifty just never sank in. I could memorize all of the Bible verses and Q & A's in the catechism; I could not tie them together coherently. I think I truly believed in Christ at the time, but I couldn not explain it, or communicate it to anyone else. It is said that unless you can explain something to someone else you don't truly understand it yourself.

  • John

    Pastor Ryan,
    I did not say that I had never heard the gospel (as some have pointed out elsewhere, the liturgy itself contains the gospel. ); only that it had never been explained clearly to me. I was confirmed 44 years ago, in a confirmation of class of nearly fifty. I have since discovered that I have a mild learning disability, so the explanations made to a group of forty to fifty just never sank in. I could memorize all of the Bible verses and Q & A's in the catechism; I could not tie them together coherently. I think I truly believed in Christ at the time, but I couldn not explain it, or communicate it to anyone else. It is said that unless you can explain something to someone else you don't truly understand it yourself.

  • john18:38

    Kind of confusing, but in 1 John there are many verses that say those born of the Spirit of God sinneth not? But it is pretty clear that we all sin all the time! It also says that if you love God, you will keep his commandments. So guess that might mean that if you are a Christian then you will keep his commandments? Hope not, as Christians can't keep all the commandments! Perhaps that would be a sign to them that they are not a good Christian afterall? Hope not! So, to me, It can all appear a bit confusing, if not contradictory? But perhaps when you do have the Spirit of God, you are called to follow a different commandment. 1 John seems to talk about that? Perhaps the commandment to love God and those who love God? Perhaps just the simple commandment to believe and confess Christ in the flesh as the propitiation for the sins of the world? And perhaps those who have the spirit of God sinneth not, not because of their actions, but because their life is in Christ and his perfect and sinless life is now theirs? Am not sure, hopefully a theologian out there can help. But it does seem from these scriptures that for those with the spirit of God, the emphasis has shifted from sin and more towards faith. That's what it looks like in 1 John when discussing the Spirit of Christ versus the Spirit of the Anti-Christ….it seems the emphasis is all about what you think and confess about Christ and not so much what you have done? Afterall, according to the Galatian verses, nothing you do can save yourslef, and no sin you commit (except against the Holy Spirit..unbelief) can take your salvation away….it's all by grace and faith? So that was a bit of what my main points were in posting those scriptures. Also, it has alwaysbeen my impression that when you do dish out the full force of the Law (reminding someone of the sin in their life, and a good reason for God to be upset with you) it's always good and saluatory to offer them also at least a little Gospel, which is after all what the Good News is all about, remind folks of the love God has for them while at the same time they be miserable sinners. Is that part of the a proper understanding of Law and Gospel?
    Am not sure if any of this is theologically correct, as am not trained in any of this fancy talk…it's just my opinion and wanted to clarify a kind of confusing topic for me. Thank you for listening and God bless you and keep you brother Burke….and brother FWS!

  • john18:38

    Kind of confusing, but in 1 John there are many verses that say those born of the Spirit of God sinneth not? But it is pretty clear that we all sin all the time! It also says that if you love God, you will keep his commandments. So guess that might mean that if you are a Christian then you will keep his commandments? Hope not, as Christians can't keep all the commandments! Perhaps that would be a sign to them that they are not a good Christian afterall? Hope not! So, to me, It can all appear a bit confusing, if not contradictory? But perhaps when you do have the Spirit of God, you are called to follow a different commandment. 1 John seems to talk about that? Perhaps the commandment to love God and those who love God? Perhaps just the simple commandment to believe and confess Christ in the flesh as the propitiation for the sins of the world? And perhaps those who have the spirit of God sinneth not, not because of their actions, but because their life is in Christ and his perfect and sinless life is now theirs? Am not sure, hopefully a theologian out there can help. But it does seem from these scriptures that for those with the spirit of God, the emphasis has shifted from sin and more towards faith. That's what it looks like in 1 John when discussing the Spirit of Christ versus the Spirit of the Anti-Christ….it seems the emphasis is all about what you think and confess about Christ and not so much what you have done? Afterall, according to the Galatian verses, nothing you do can save yourslef, and no sin you commit (except against the Holy Spirit..unbelief) can take your salvation away….it's all by grace and faith? So that was a bit of what my main points were in posting those scriptures. Also, it has alwaysbeen my impression that when you do dish out the full force of the Law (reminding someone of the sin in their life, and a good reason for God to be upset with you) it's always good and saluatory to offer them also at least a little Gospel, which is after all what the Good News is all about, remind folks of the love God has for them while at the same time they be miserable sinners. Is that part of the a proper understanding of Law and Gospel?
    Am not sure if any of this is theologically correct, as am not trained in any of this fancy talk…it's just my opinion and wanted to clarify a kind of confusing topic for me. Thank you for listening and God bless you and keep you brother Burke….and brother FWS!

  • Wade

    Don't know where the second post went, but here's what I wrote:

    Also, you have to look to St. Paul's words concerning the Lord's Supper in I Corinthians 11:27, which says, "Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord." If the Lord's Supper is just an empty symbol, then why the warning, unless the body and blood of Christ are there, just as He says they are.

    Oh, and I do believe that His Body and Blood were present at the Lord's Supper. He is God in flesh, and can be in multiple places at the same time.

    Hope that helps see where us Lutherans are coming from.

    Blessings in Christ!

  • Wade

    Don't know where the second post went, but here's what I wrote:

    Also, you have to look to St. Paul's words concerning the Lord's Supper in I Corinthians 11:27, which says, "Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord." If the Lord's Supper is just an empty symbol, then why the warning, unless the body and blood of Christ are there, just as He says they are.

    Oh, and I do believe that His Body and Blood were present at the Lord's Supper. He is God in flesh, and can be in multiple places at the same time.

    Hope that helps see where us Lutherans are coming from.

    Blessings in Christ!

  • Joe

    Well hello there neighbor!

  • Joe

    Well hello there neighbor!

  • Snafu

    I'll split this comment in several messages:

    In Finland the situation is such that people are not so much changing their denomination but leaving the church membership. As you might know, we have a former state church (now a "people's church") and almost everyone used to be a member of the church. However, the Sunday service attendance has never been very high and is at the moment ca. 1-2 % of the membership.

  • Snafu

    I'll split this comment in several messages:

    In Finland the situation is such that people are not so much changing their denomination but leaving the church membership. As you might know, we have a former state church (now a "people's church") and almost everyone used to be a member of the church. However, the Sunday service attendance has never been very high and is at the moment ca. 1-2 % of the membership.

  • Snafu

    ELCF measured by members is roughly twice the size of LCMS. At the moment the members-leaving-the-church rate is about 40,000 a year. Most of this is happening via a website eroakirkosta.fi (freely translated: "leavethechurch.com") hosted by a certain atheist organisation. At the moment 81% of Finnish people are members of the Lutheran people's church and it's getting down. Sweden is a bit ahead of us, they're in about 70%. In Germany, ca. 10-15% (if I remember right) are members of a church, whose confession at least on paper is excplicitly Lutheran. The number is going down while it is approximately the same as the number of muslims in Germany. And this is the home country of Luther!

    Europe is getting more and more secular and more and more islamic. Well, you might know already that.

  • Snafu

    ELCF measured by members is roughly twice the size of LCMS. At the moment the members-leaving-the-church rate is about 40,000 a year. Most of this is happening via a website eroakirkosta.fi (freely translated: "leavethechurch.com") hosted by a certain atheist organisation. At the moment 81% of Finnish people are members of the Lutheran people's church and it's getting down. Sweden is a bit ahead of us, they're in about 70%. In Germany, ca. 10-15% (if I remember right) are members of a church, whose confession at least on paper is excplicitly Lutheran. The number is going down while it is approximately the same as the number of muslims in Germany. And this is the home country of Luther!

    Europe is getting more and more secular and more and more islamic. Well, you might know already that.

  • Veith

    My impression, Snafu, is that these state Lutheran churches are very, very liberal and modernist, that they don't believe in the Bible or the confessions and that they hardly care about the Gospel. If that's so, why WOULD anyone go to them? What are they offering that people can't already get from secularism?

    What is your situation as a believing Lutheran Christian in that context? Isn't there a small confessional remnant in each country?

  • Veith

    My impression, Snafu, is that these state Lutheran churches are very, very liberal and modernist, that they don't believe in the Bible or the confessions and that they hardly care about the Gospel. If that's so, why WOULD anyone go to them? What are they offering that people can't already get from secularism?

    What is your situation as a believing Lutheran Christian in that context? Isn't there a small confessional remnant in each country?

  • Snafu

    You're very much right, dr. Veith. It is true that the state churches are very liberal. There was a poll a few years ago showing e.g. that 30% of the clergy did not believe hell existed at all. This year we have seen a pastor (female) coming out of the closet and getting full support from her bishop and another pastor "changing" his sex through a surgical operation, also getting full support from his bishop. And let me tell you, it's not going to stop here.

    To answer your (big) first question even a bit: The mental frame of the Finns is still that "to be a Finn is to be a member of the church". This is also the reason why the older, Bible-believing members don't know where else to go. However, this is changing and the younger believers are also leaving the church: 1/7 of those 40,000 report they left because the church is too liberal. I have friends who have then switched to Eastern Orthodox or Pentecostal (the next biggest churches in Finland).

  • Snafu

    You're very much right, dr. Veith. It is true that the state churches are very liberal. There was a poll a few years ago showing e.g. that 30% of the clergy did not believe hell existed at all. This year we have seen a pastor (female) coming out of the closet and getting full support from her bishop and another pastor "changing" his sex through a surgical operation, also getting full support from his bishop. And let me tell you, it's not going to stop here.

    To answer your (big) first question even a bit: The mental frame of the Finns is still that "to be a Finn is to be a member of the church". This is also the reason why the older, Bible-believing members don't know where else to go. However, this is changing and the younger believers are also leaving the church: 1/7 of those 40,000 report they left because the church is too liberal. I have friends who have then switched to Eastern Orthodox or Pentecostal (the next biggest churches in Finland).

  • Snafu

    To answer you second question (also a big question that no short answer would suffice).: there is a small remnant of confessional Christians in each country. However, these groups can be quite different from each other, others being quite revivalistic or piethistic, others confessional Lutherans, others charismatic. If you rule out the question of baptism, the state churches include almost all the possible protestant denominations.

    My home is a confessional Lutheran movement "Luther foundation" that within a couple of years will start as an independent diocese in the church. A corresponding diocese in Sweden is the Missionsprovinsen, to which we have good relations. (and neither is recognized by the heads of the state church). The situation is a bit complex, and would take long time to explain but you can read a bit more in a blog: http://tentatioborealis.blogspot.com/

    The writer is a friend of mine who studied in Ft. Wayne last year (a good friend of prof. Pless).

  • Snafu

    To answer you second question (also a big question that no short answer would suffice).: there is a small remnant of confessional Christians in each country. However, these groups can be quite different from each other, others being quite revivalistic or piethistic, others confessional Lutherans, others charismatic. If you rule out the question of baptism, the state churches include almost all the possible protestant denominations.

    My home is a confessional Lutheran movement "Luther foundation" that within a couple of years will start as an independent diocese in the church. A corresponding diocese in Sweden is the Missionsprovinsen, to which we have good relations. (and neither is recognized by the heads of the state church). The situation is a bit complex, and would take long time to explain but you can read a bit more in a blog: http://tentatioborealis.blogspot.com/

    The writer is a friend of mine who studied in Ft. Wayne last year (a good friend of prof. Pless).

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