Unorganized religion

Michael Gerson discusses the 20% of Americans who describe their religion as “none.”  It isn’t that the “Nones” (not to be confused with “nuns”) don’t believe in God, necessarily.  64% of them do.  They just don’t want to affiliate with any “organized religion.”

The statistics about “Nones” probably don’t include the number of self-described Christians who feel the same way.  I know of some who haven’t found a church they can agree with or that is up to their high standards.  So they don’t go to church at all.  After all, with their “me-and-Jesus” theology, why do they need a church?  But they do.

The good news is that 40% of those raised as “Nones” drop out of their non-religion to join an actual religious institution.  Hey, isn’t that about the same drop out rate, according to one measure, for young people raised in churches?

From Michael Gerson: An America that is losing faith with religion – The Washington Post:

One group, however, has swelled: those with no religious affiliation, also known as “nones” (as in “none of the above”). In the 1950s, this was about 2 percent of the population. In the 1970s, it was about 7 percent. Today, it is close to 20 percent. These gains can be found in all regions of the country, including the South. The trend is particularly pronounced among whites, among the young and among men.

Not all the nones, it is worth pointing out, are secular. Only about 30 percent of this group — 6 percent of the public — are atheists or agnostics. The rest of the nones describe themselves as indifferent to religion or as “nothing in particular.” Sixty-four percent of the nones, however, say they believe in God or a universal spirit with “absolute certainty.” Even 9 percent of atheists and agnostics — defying both dogma and the dictionary— report themselves absolutely convinced of God’s existence. About equal proportions of the religiously unaffiliated (19 percent) and the affiliated (18 percent) report having “seen or been in the presence of a ghost.”

So the nones are united not by reading Richard Dawkins or by any particular set of theological beliefs but by a complete lack of attachment to institutional religion.

This amounts to a missionary movement, gaining converts (actually de-converts) at a serious pace. According to Pew, 74 percent of the nones grew up in a religious tradition of some sort. Yet while conversion has increased the ranks of the nones, retention is not particularly good. Protestantism, for example, loses about 20 percent of those raised Protestants. Of those raised unaffiliated, 40 percent fall away from the non-faith and rebel toward religion, making for a new generation of awkward Thanksgivings. . . .

Declining trust in religious institutions since the 1990s has been accompanied by declining trust in most institutions (with the notable exception of the military). Confidence in government and big business has simultaneously fallen — and the public standing of both is lower than that of the church. Americans may be less affiliated with religious organizations because they have grown generally more individualistic and skeptical of authority.

 

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.

  • Tom Hering

    Christian @ 1, thank you so much for treating us, here, as objects for your anti-Lutheran propaganda. Instead of people to be engaged in genuine conversation. Is it that you can’t you handle the back-and-forth of a real discussion?

  • fjsteve

    Tom, tl;dr, thanks for the synopsis. I generally don’t see the point in responding to cut-and-paste posters.

  • Random Lutheran

    For an even starker summary of #1, search for the word “I” (search for I, with a space after it, so you’re not getting letters in the middle of words). This is a fine species of what Gerson’s talking about.

  • SKPeterson

    Not exactly the best forum to go into lengthy diatribes.

  • fjsteve

    @ 4, good point. My search for “extra nos” came up nil.

  • Paul

    Interesting treatise…however ad infinitum. (Doesn’t make it althogether wrong tho) As a pastor of a non-denominational rural ranching community church who grew up “Catholic” I am often asked my take on organized religion. My answer has always been: “There is a difference between religion and spirituality – one is man-made (doctrine) while the other is personal.” Our walk with Christ is our own as God directs each believer. Bible precepts do not require a parced legalistic approach to life…doing so can only constrain to the point of distraction that does not assist being good servants for His purposes. As Believers (who are brothers and sisters in Christ) we are all on the same team, maybe just at different positions. If a church does not feel right, then find another. Spending so much time denigrating one religion over another is a waste of time…simply move on.

  • fjsteve

    Paul,

    With all due respect, I think your distinction between religion and spirituality is a rather modern one. If you call yourself a Christian then you have a religion, no matter what you want to call it. Also, you are absolutely correct when you say that “Bible precepts do not require a parced legalistic approach to life”, and I would say that proper understanding of Christian doctrine will help believers avoid parsed, legalistic approaches to life.

  • Gene Veith

    Friends, I don’t approve of long attack threads like the first one here, so I’m taking it down.

  • Gene Veith

    Friends, I don’t approve of long attack threads like the first one here, so I’m taking it down. Do you think I should post it separately for discussion and refutation?

  • sg

    Paul did you attend seminary and learn the biblical languages? How would you characterize your hermeneutic for reading and interpreting scripture?

  • Tom Hering

    Dr. Veith @ 9, if Christian himself/herself wants to have a conversation with us, then sure, post it as a topic for discussion. Short of that, it would just feed a troll’s ego, and encourage further attacks of the same sort.

  • fjsteve

    Please don’t post it again. It was obviously lifted verbatim without proper citation which, alone, would be grounds for removal in many forums.

  • http://www.caryschwarz.com saddler

    “Of those raised unaffiliated, 40 percent fall away from the non-faith and rebel toward religion, making for a new generation of awkward Thanksgivings. . . .”

    Rebellion is always a matter of perspective.

    I would make the case that “Unorganized Religion” is also “Disorganized Religion” …and if it is not organized it is almost certainly disorganized.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist

    Well, why not? In a non-sacramental understanding of the faith, church is primarily about the acquisition of knowledge. Certainly actually going to church is the least efficient means of doing so in our age. Furthermore, the imbalanced hobby-horse approach to preaching and a failure to distinguish law and gospel would turn anyone off. I can’t tell you how many baptist churches I have been to that swore up and down that a person was saved sola fide, and then spent most sermons telling everyone how much they needed to get their act together to start pleasing God. So, no, I am not surprised that a host of people who claim to believe in God would reject organized religion.

  • Paul

    Fjsteve…maybe I appear too simplistic in my take on religion vs. spirituality (and where I believe too many focus much of their contention), but I don think it’s strictly a modern definition. Religion, for me (which is, of course, subjective) is the practice of ones faith, while spirituality is our connection with God. Hence my point of “parsing the Bible” which tends to cause lost context. Yes, you are correct, calling oneself “Christian” can easily be defined as “a religion”, in practice. But my point was not so much definition as it was to assist those who ask another option for insight.

    Sg…I did not attend seminary, but then again, neither did the disciples. (just kidding) I was fortunate to have a fifty year pastor – a wonderful man of God – as a mentor. And I endeavor to never lose humility as instructed (the role as pastor in God’s church is too critical to the Kingdom for self-importance.) To your second question: I read the Bible…it’s that simple for me. I use respected translations (mainly NIV) for study, and read other Chrisitan sources. I also listen to other pastors, etc…all to gain perspective and balance while praying for God’s leading. I have an easy crowd…salt of the earth folks who prefer straight talk versus intellectual/philosophical argument. Not to say they don’t ask the hard questions. At the start of my tenure I was reminded by one of the woman, “The bible says what it says, no need to complicate what God has written.” Beautiful perspective, don’t you think?

  • sg

    Paul have you read St. Athanasius On the Incarnation? It is not long or difficult. There is an edition with a forward by C.S. Lewis, in which Lewis notes how much more convoluted modern treatises are than were the earlier works. I would say that before ever reading early church fathers, I would have assumed they would be dense and inaccessible, but really they are very clear and even concise. Probably many here would recommend them. Definitely salt of the earth straight talk sorts. There is a lovely devotional volume from cph.org called Year with the Church Fathers: Meditations for Each Day of the Church Year. My husband has really enjoyed it. It is not pretentious or dense, but very beautiful. Best to you, Paul.

  • SKPeterson

    Athanasius’ tract also has the benefit of being fairly short for a theological treatise as opposed to, say, Moltmann.

  • Paul

    sg..Thank you so much for the recommendations, I will look into them especially because I came to pastorship later in life and am playing a bit of catch up ball and m grateful for learning opportunitis – clasic or moden authors. God bless.

  • sg

    Paul, I came to an interest in early church fathers after discussions with my friends who are members of the Church of Christ. One friend told me that the idea was to have a church more like the early church. That impulse seems similar to other reformers who were weary of the inconsistencies and innovations that had accumulated over many centuries, and which they felt were obscuring the teaching of scripture. Perhaps there is something of that concern among non denominational church leaders and members these days as well. Obviously writers from the second through the fifth or sixth centuries who wrestled both against heresies and to preserve the truth would not be influenced by what came after them, so I was interested in their perspectives on Christian life and the church. The ones I have had time to read have been refreshingly forthright.

  • Grace

    The young man, Jefferson Bethke in the VIDEO was on Huckabee Saturday night.
    Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus

  • Grace

    When I watched the video above, I recognized the ‘style which Jefferson used to explain his views, and then realized it was Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Washington – Emergent Church. It’s a style which is mimicked by those who want SNAPPY, rather than serious thought. That’s the Church Jefferson Bethke attends, no surprise with that one!

    This is just the kind of ‘religion many young people are falling for –

    Michael Gerson makes some points, but doesn’t zero into the real problem. Today young people especially, without being grounded early in life, being taught who Jesus is, and HIS Word, are easily swept away by anyone, that sounds, looks like they do, which is to mean, clever, quick and right now SNAPPY. That’s the ticket most of them buy.

  • Grace

    Dr. Veith @ 8

    I didn’t read the “attack threads” so I have no knowledge as to what you aree referring to.

  • larry

    The difficulty in these kinds of discussions is that few settle on the substantive terms, what the mean, in order to actually discuss the subject. E.g “religion”, in one sense true Christianity is the end of all religion, if by religion one means all those who in reality go under what may be captured by the conceptual idea of theologies of glory, including those that explicitly say “not-christian” and those that prance around as if “Christian” but are in principle and doctrine no different than their unchristian counter parts. If religion then = theology of glory, man’s fallen natural religious inclination under Satan by many different names including “God”, then yes Christ and Him crucified or theology of the cross is the dead end of religion.

    If however you expand your definition of “religion” to mean that true or falsely all men are “theologians” quite naturally and inescapably whether they be of the true faith, another faith, a “none” or a secular atheist, then no Christianity is not the end of religion.

    Thus, one escaping from “organized religion” depends. They might be truly just building their own God, that goes part and parcel with fallen man’s religion and “me and my Jesus”. As someone once aptly stated the most dangerous man in the world (or woman) is the lone man and his bible. From this he/she build all sorts of christs, spirits and gospels and they do.

    On the other hand some who escaped “organized religion” do not flee, as it were, the true faith but have fled what they only know as the “true Jesus” and that “true (really false) Jesus” is one distilled from the plethora of false teaching heterodoxies out there that ultimately have a “fine print gospel”. They’ve never been exposed to true teachings and confessions but only know that the “jesus” under heterodoxy is someone they cannot live up to. I.e. they are dying for forgiveness to be given for and to them, they just don’t know THAT Jesus, who is REALLY Jesus, actually exists. They are use to all those other “jesus’s” under heterodoxy that is the “fine print jesus”.

    Now if you can get a “none” or similar to understand that the free-forgiveness-giving-all-ready-done-whether-you-believe-it-or-not-delivered-actually-truly-and-really-in sacraments Jesus actually exists and then they reject THAT Jesus (the real One), you can say as Dr. Rosenbladt well pointed out once, “believe it or not that’s progress”. Put more succinctly if a man has left “organized religion” for the “none” position and his only previous confession was some form of one of the heterodox confessions, I’m not so sure he actually left Christ but a false church.

  • Grace

    It appears Jefferson Bethke has recieved lots of attention.

    Jan 18, 2012

    The Washington Post
    ‘Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus’ goes viral
    By Elizabeth Tenety

    “The night Jefferson Bethke, 22, posted his “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” video on YouTube, he made a bet with his roommates about how many views the video would get by morning.
    “The lowest bet was 1,000 and the highest bet was 6,000,” Bethke said in an interview.

    By the time Bethke woke up the next day, the video had more than 100,000 views. Eight days after the video posted, it has been watched more than 14 million times.

    The viral video, Bethke said, was not an attempt to bash all religion, but rather “to write a poem against legalism, self righteousness, self-justification and hypocrisy” – the definition of bad religion that is preached at Mars Hill, the church he attends in Washington state.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/under-god/post/why-i-hate-religion-but-love-jesus-goes-viral/2012/01/18/gIQARzXp8P_blog.html

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Grace is actually bringing up a grat point: Non-denominational, or not-religious movements, of whatever vkind, inevitably decends into personality cults – whether strong, big ones like Driscol’s church, or smaller one-man , unafiliated churches. These become religions of one man’s whims.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Grace @ 22, earlier there was a super long comment at #1, a very obvious cut-and-paste job that was so long it made fws’ posts look like telegrams ;) . It was a rather ridiculous screed, therefore Gene deleted it.

  • Grace

    Thanks Klasie @ 26. I had no idea what Dr. Veith was talking about.

  • Tom Hering

    Grace, just think back to some of the cut-and-paste, anti-Lutheran posts you treated us to when you first showed up here. It was like that. :-D

  • fjsteve

    KK @ 26, that post was so long it made fws’ posts look like tweets!

  • Grace

    Tom,

    Obviously you are referring to quotes Martin Luther made, which didn’t set to well with some of you.

    If you’re looking for an argument to pass the time of day, I’m not IN – you’re out of luck.

  • SKPeterson

    Grace @ 22 – Dr. Veith already deleted the post. It was the original #1, which is why some of the comments at the beginning appear a little off. Anyhow, the post was essentially a cut-and-paste operation of a website. Not only overly long, but also a sort of stream-of-consciousness rant against organized religion, or maybe rather against liturgical worship. Suffice it to say, it was rambling, incoherent, and entirely besides the point. You did not miss anything.

  • Grace

    SKP @ 31

    Thanks for the info – it appears as you said “You did not miss anything.” Lucky me! ;)

  • Tom Hering

    Grace, no, I’m not looking for an argument with you to pass the time of day. I have plenty of projects to keep me busy. I thought you wanted to know what the original “comment #1″ was like, and it’s similarity to your own way of commenting here, back in the day, seemed the best way to describe it. I also thought the similarity was very funny. Still do.

  • Paul

    sg…Thanks for the insight. I particularly like DL Moody…his forthrightness and committment to being a fully devoted follower of Christ is inspirational, although I suspect some view him differently. I also fully enjoy Bill Hybels (my wife helped start Willow Creek when he was her youth Pastor). Despite detractors Hybels does genuinely loves the Lord. Here’s the rub: growing up Catholic I was never told I could have a personal relationship with Christ. What a tragedy. Sure, all the concepts were there but the main objective was lacking. I wanted a more direct, more Bible accurate teaching, and less ritual that seemed like Gospel-masking fluff. I wanted substance. It’s that simple for me. And – as some also commented – I too think there are many in organized religion who want more,worse, simply do not know that Christ can be personal for them – which is shameful. To paraphrase Charles Finney, who was perfectly direct in his assessment of the church 100 +years ago: “Societal woes and ills are a direct result of a weak pulpit.” If we call ourselves Believers then we need to do our job and quit pointing fingers at those on our team that have a different approach. Constantly wrestling with doctrinal differences that matter little (which Paul warned the early church against) only wastes energy, gets us off track, and quite possibly squanders opportunity to bring those far from God closer to Him. Yes, education and knowlege are certainly important. However, it’s not how much theology or terminology one knows, it’s what we do for God that matters. That comes from the heart and soul, not the head.

  • tODD

    Paul (@34)…

    Here’s the rub: growing up Catholic I was never told I could have a personal relationship with Christ.

    What does that mean to you? I hear that phrase (“personal relationship” a lot from Evangelicals, but I rarely hear it explained. Is it something more special than believing that Jesus is your Savior?

    To paraphrase Charles Finney, who was perfectly direct in his assessment of the church 100 +years ago: “Societal woes and ills are a direct result of a weak pulpit.”

    Interesting. Do you think that the societal woes and ills at the time of Jesus and his disciples was likewise a direct result of a weak pulpit?

    If we call ourselves Believers then we need to do our job and quit pointing fingers at those on our team that have a different approach.

    Like you just did with Catholics?

    However, it’s not how much theology or terminology one knows, it’s what we do for God that matters.

    I’m sorry, but that last bit appears to be, as you put it, “Gospel-masking fluff”. Heck, it even sounds pretty Catholic. It’s what God does for us that matters.

    Also, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Not just his heart, but also his head.

  • Grace

     ‏

    Below you will find, it is very explicit as to God dwelling in us and we in Him, that is a “personal relationship” with our LORD. It doesn’t get more “personal” that that!

    13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

    14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.

    15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. 1 John 4

     ‏ ➞ Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. John 14:23

     ‏ ➞ Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20

     ‏

  • sg

    @25 It is true that if someone is isolated, there is less support, but surely some are conscientious enough that some truth of God’s Word gets through despite his individual weaknesses. I mean any pastor will have some weakness, only human and all.

  • sg

    However, it’s not how much theology or terminology one knows, it’s what we do for God that matters.

    Isn’t it really what God does for us that really matters?

    That comes from the heart and soul, not the head.

    Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that “it” comes to the heart and soul?

    You might enjoy this very short clip. It was the soundbite of the year from a Christian radio program:

    http://issuesetc.org/podcast/sbotywolfy.mp3

  • Paul

    Todd…I appreciate your comments. My apparently poor attempt in all this was to reference what triggered my own personal faith exploration. I was in agreement with the articles premise and certainly not intending to disparage the Catholic Church. Likely not the best forum to espouse too much. When my eyes were opened to what Christ did for me on the Cross I then understood what to do thereafter. This very important nugget was previously unknown to me as a young man despite a good Catholic upbringing.

    Question 1: “Personal relationship” is merely Christian shorthand. It means just that…no human intercessors on a person’s behalf. Exactly what you state. Finding out I could go to God directly in all things was a huge revelation.

    Question 2: No, in his era, we all know Jesus was the New Covenant, up against entrenched church leaders who enjoyed their status and power and did not believe him to be the Messiah. Charles Finney was speaking to years of off-track doctrine that crept into the churches which in turn got leaders/pastors away from the strength of the Gospel that resulted in societal moral decay. Ironically, the same could be said for our modern era.

    Your last points: Yes, it is what God does for us…that is fully understood. And yes, the head is a necessary part of the whole new creation through His grace and mercy in our salvation. I was skipping to the end of the Faith with Works precept. God can easily reveal to anyone with a wanting heart his desire for us simply through reading His Word. That’s not to say education doesn’t make his Word more rich.

  • http://www.caryschwarz.com saddler

    “They just don’t want to affiliate with any “organized religion.””

    When this comment, or one like it comes up, what I sometimes find is that what they really mean is, “If I were in charge things would run differently.”, and thus another reinvented organized religion. This seems like American hyper-individualism run amok.

    Thus, Dr. Veith’s observation, ” I know of some who haven’t found a church they can agree with or that is up to their high standards. “

  • Grace

     ‏

    OK,   here we go –

    “they really mean is, “If I were in charge things would run differently.”, and thus another reinvented organized religion. This seems like American hyper-individualism run amok.”

    That’s what Martin Luther did – he didn’t agree with the Roman Church on a variety of issues, but kept what he did like along with a few “traditions” and built his own, as you call it now DENOMINATION. That’s no different then what others have done when they disagree with the current church, be it Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregational, Baptist, etc. The list is a long one.

    “Hyper-individualism” is EXACTLY what John Calvin and Martin Luther proclaimed, but alas, they were right and all those born after their time, should stick to that era, of course within this venue, it should be Lutheran. See how ‘SNAPPY it gets?

    Does anyone ever, I mean ever, stick ONLY with the Word of God, leaving out all the commentary of those who proclaim they knew, but they didn’t. Many were hateful, – yet the LORD Jesus said we were to love our neighbors but there is no love in hurting those who don’t agree with you, as in; Baptism for infants, the Trinity and Jews.

    I believe strongly, that “hyper-individualism” is a rash on more groups than most people would like to admit.

     ‏

  • Grace

    Saddler @ 40 ‘“They just don’t want to affiliate with any “organized religion.”

    Where did this quote come from, who wrote it?

  • Grace

    Saddler,

    I found the quote – top of page, in Veith’s post. Sorry, I looked before and couldn’t find it.

  • tODD

    Paul (@39), thanks for your replies. I guess your explanation about the meaning of “personal relationship” makes sense, though I still hear it from Evangelicals who seem intent on making some point to me — though, as a Lutheran, I don’t believe in Catholic-style intercession. I mean, that exact phrase is used so often that it’s basically an Evangelical creedal statement. But, again, the way I’ve heard it used suggests that we Lutherans are still missing something, even if you don’t seem to be saying that yourself.

    As to your paraphrase of Finney, that was my way of disagreeing with him. Jesus told us we will always have the poor with us, so we can’t blame that kind of societal woe on poor preaching. Likewise, it has often been remarked that the church has most clearly proclaimed the Gospel when it is being persecuted — even though such persecution is, of course, an obvious societal ill.

    I was in agreement with the articles premise and certainly not intending to disparage the Catholic Church.

    But I think you should disparage the Catholic Church — when and to the degree that they teach or act contrary to Scripture. Your statement that we ought not “point fingers at those on our team that have a different approach” appears to leave room for tolerating error. Hopefully that’s not what you meant.

  • Grace

    A “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ has nothing to do with with Roman Catholic “intercession.”

    “Intercession” is a belief Roman Catholics believe, as they pray to Mary to intercede for them to God, which is false – That has nothing to do with a “personal relationship” with our LORD. Jesus is the mediator, between man and God. Anyone who doesn’t know this, hasn’t studied the Bible, if they had, they would see the truth –

    One of the reasons the RCC didn’t want their congregants to read the Word of God, but depend solely on RC teaching, is because they would start to see that which was false – That’s one of the biggest problems people have, they don’t study for themselves, they depend on their denomination to do it for them.

    “With equal truth may it be also affirmed that, by the will of God, Mary is the intermediary through whom is distributed unto us this immense treasure of mercies gathered by God, for mercy and truth were created by Jesus Christ. Thus as no man goeth to the Father but by the Son, so no man goeth to Christ but by His Mother….Mary is this glorious intermediary…”
    Pope Leo XIII, in Octobri Mense (On the Rosary), Encyclical promulgated on September 22, 1891, # 4.

    http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13ro1.htm

    Referring to that in BOLD – who is the Son, and who is Christ? – they are one and the same – Mary isn’t part of any “intermediary” as Pope LeoX111 mixed it together, CONFUSING the Roman Catholics who believe him. Cradle Roman Catholics ‘trust their Church, they don’t listen to anyone else, just like many other ‘cradle __________ fill in the blank, denominational cradle believers don’t study the Bible. They depend upon what was taught them, no matter how false the claim. It’s fear coupled with not wanting to search, that keeps most people from seeking TRUTH, through God’s Word, they have no one to blame but themselves.

    For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
    1 Timothy 2:5

    If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness 1 John 1:9

  • tODD

    So, just to make sure I have this straight, Grace, you’re opposed to Roman Catholic teaching (@45), but you’re also opposed to the Reformation (@41). Not quite sure how that works out.

    And, just so we’re all on the same page, you’re a member of a denomination (Chuck Smith’s Calvary Chapel) that itself split off from another denomination (Aimee Semple McPherson’s International Church of the Foursquare Gospel), which was a subset of a particular movement (Pentecostalism) which expressed itself through any number of charismatic (both senses) individuals, which derived from the Holiness movement, which in turn came out of John Wesley’s Methodism, which was a revival movement within Anglicanism, which split off from the Roman Catholic Church under the leadership of the British monarchy.

    And you’re concerned about the Lutherans splitting off from the Roman Catholic Church. Is that it?

  • Paul

    Todd…if you study the Word for yourself – seeking God’s providence for your life, then as a practicing Luthern you are not “missing” anything. There is nothing incorrect with gathering for worship in one of God’s houses when bringing our best open heart to Him. And he knows your heart.

    I really don’t tolerate wrong-thinking when it comes to Scripture…I just pick my battles. Yes, I could be very critical of the Catholic church’s teachings on certain un-Biblical doctrine (still not sure where they got some of that stuff, but Grace’s comments above correctly point to long before when the Bible was not yet printed for the masses…they owned God’s Word.) I refrain from expressing my differences because here it does nothing for those who attend except disenfranchise and make me sound like a nudge. People wish to purchase, not be sold. Paul teaches us to lead in love…be discerning, but lead in love. Your comment is exactly the point of the article…if churches are not meeting peoples needs for sound teaching they will fall away, or, minimally, be lackluster in their faith…not a good thing.

    I agree with Finney…his actual quote makes it more clear; “If there is decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the public press lacks moral discernment, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the world loses its interest in Christianity, the pulpit is responsible for it. If Satan rules the halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it. If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it.” Amazing he said this so long ago. Look at what is happening today…not much has changed, just the players. Strength from the pulpit, and its listening congregations, can drive a better society…weakness there only allows disintegration. Strong pulpit = better caretaking of those in need. Strong pulpit = stronger families. Etc. The example must set by someone or it will get set by something.

    People need Christ. And they need all God’s servants to step up, be bold, live an active faith, fight the good fight, regardless of affiliation. We can do no less.

    Good discussion. Thanks.

  • Grace

    “And, just so we’re all on the same page, you’re a member of a denomination (Chuck Smith’s Calvary Chapel) that itself split off from another denomination (Aimee Semple McPherson’s International Church of the Foursquare Gospel), which was a subset of a particular movement (Pentecostalism) which expressed itself through any number of charismatic (both senses) individuals,”

    I am NOT a member of any denomination or Calvary Chapel – I am affiliated, but not a member.

    Chuck Smith graduated from, Bible College Foursquare Institution, ordained as a pastor for the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. However,  ‏ Calvary Chapel is not a Foresquare Church, nor is Calvary Chapel a split from Aime Semple McPherson’s International Church.

  • Grace

    I believe strongly that we are to spread the Gospel to everyone, but be prepared to give the Gospel, AS IT IS, not a version which demotes the LORD Jesus Christ, God the Father and HIS HOLY Spirit. There should never be trickery when claiming God’s Word.

    15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
    16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
    17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
    18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
    19 And for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
    20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
    Ephesians 6:16

    If you’re going to spread the Gospel, do it BOLDLY, just as Paul stated. The SWORD is the WORD of GOD, it’s not to be watered down. If you have a plastic sword, you aren’t going to teach anyone a single thing, it’s worthless, you need the real thing, HIS Word, as it is in nearly 6,000 manuscripts.

  • tODD

    Grace (@48), why do people in your denomination play these word games?

    I am NOT a member of any denomination or Calvary Chapel – I am affiliated, but not a member.

    Um, according to you, you’ve been “affiliated with Calvary Chapel” for almost 18 years now, so yours is a distinction without a difference. (Also, any group of churches with a core set of teachings and practices — which, by your own admission at that same link, asks member churches to leave when they differ on said teachings — is a denomination. Sorry to break it to you.)

    And if you’re ignorant of your own denomination’s history vis-a-vis Aimee Semple McPherson’s Foursquare Church, then you might want to look into that.

    Anyhow, remind me again how Chuck Smith’s Calvary Chapel isn’t a product of hyper-individualism or led by men but only by the Word of God (except for those verses we’ve discussed in the past that you disagree with and explain away or ignore).

  • Grace

    I am connected with Calvary Chapel, but I am not a member. You cannot understand that, it’s a shame, but I cannot help you.

    You can twist and turn the words, but you’re still flapping in the wind. The LINK you gave does not make me a member of Calvary Chapel. You use posts that are made from the heart, and turn them against the very person who made them, in this case it’s ME.

    I have been associated with a number of churches. I’m not a cradle denominationalist, as some are, because they are to lazy to search the Word, to see if what they have been taught is TRUTH.

    14 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.
    15 Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
    2 Timothy 2

    That doesn’t mean books written by those who start denominations or churches, that means the Word of God!

  • fjsteve

    How is one considered a member? I didn’t think CC had a membership? Isn’t everyone just a attendee or more or less regularity? At least that’s how I remember it but it’s been nearly twenty years.

  • helen

    Dr. Veith, don’t resurrect what you decided to remove here! From the description, anyone can read the same sort of anti-Christian stuff in the comments to the Washington Post or the New York Times. (Almost any topic will do as a springboard for it.)

    Happy Easter, Grace!
    I was happier when you said you were not going to have your buttons pushed on this thread, but “it is what it is”. I guess that was Sunday only?

    I would argue that Luther had no intention of “splitting ” from the church. He went back to Scripture and the Christian church as it was before it acquired a lot of unScriptural “barnacles” … had the ark of Christ in dry dock, you might say, got back down to the wood and the teaching that Christ crucified is what matters, not the accretion of “things we must do to save ourselves.” We can’t save ourselves; the Bible is clear on that .
    [But I suppose, if you are reading secular history, the Reformation churches were all "split off" the RC of that time.]

    (Well, I have a vocation, so I’d better get to it!)
    God bless all!

  • Tom Hering

    The original comment #1 was a copy-and-paste from this page:

    http://www.truediscipleship.com/Gtopics/general236.htm

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist

    Good catch, Tom.

  • helen

    Thanks, Tom…. I skimmed some of that. His knowledge of Lutheranism is deficient regarding the sacraments, as only one item.
    It’s too much and too repetitive to analyze in detail.
    I have found in other experiences that people who are “smarter” than the organized church are not teachable, so discussion is a waste of time. E.g., “You still bow to a man in a fancy costume in the front of a church building; what would you know about it!?” (sigh)

  • Paul

    Helen…Excellent comment. Knowledge unmanaged breeds prideful arrogance which in turn breeds unteachability…Hmm, sounds like Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 7:3.

  • Grace

    Helen 53

    “Happy Easter, Grace!
    I was happier when you said you were not going to have your buttons pushed on this thread, but “it is what it is”. I guess that was Sunday only?”

    Happy Resurrection Sunday to you Helen. Ours was a lovely day. We are so blessed..

    My buttons aren’t pushed Helen, I stated it just as it is.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist

    What I find fascinating about the article Tom linked to was that I took the opposite journey. I came to question the self-centered arrogance that was the centerpiece of my baptistic (but not Baptist) non-denom. Then I went to seminary. Over time, I began to realize that what I was reading in the Bible just didn’t match up well with what I had been taught. I approached a professor with some of what I was thinking; he smiled and said, “There’s a name for that. Its called Lutheranism.” I rejoice in all my brothers and sisters in Christ, even when we disagree, but what worries me about articles like the one above is the recursive presupposition. Coming into conversation with two thousand years of church history and writings makes a difference – it makes a humble difference in the heart of the seeker.

  • sg

    if you study the Word for yourself – seeking God’s providence for your life, then as a practicing Luthern you are not “missing” anything. There is nothing incorrect with gathering for worship in one of God’s houses when bringing our best open heart to Him. And he knows your heart.

    Oh, He knows my heart:

    “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”
    Matthew 15:19

  • tODD

    SG (@60) +1.

  • Paul

    sg(#60)…For sure. But there’s no need for unjustified self-loathing, just wariness. In the context of the verse, Jesus – knowing our fallen nature capacity – offers these examples when he states that what we say is flavored by what is prominent in the heart.

    Been pondering why I have spent so much time on this particular blog commentary…never did that before and generally consider the activity unproductive. Seemed important.

  • dust

    sg, ah yes, the heart:

    My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Psalm 84:2

    A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. Luke 6:45

    yes, our heart…..pumps in opposite directions :)

    cheers!


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