I began my last post with “I left all the denominations.” Although that is clearly a Protestant-type comment, for Protestants are the only one who have denominations and gladly belong to them, I got a couple Catholic responses.
One of those responses included the following:
If I allow my personal attempts toward holiness and obedience to the Word to determine what the Body of Christ should be, then I basically end up in my back yard with a handful of others calling it “church” (believe me, I know)… I would argue that this is the end result of Protestantism, even if we avoid Protestant terms.
Ah, right here is the difference between those who read the early Christian writings and wind up in an Orthodox or Roman Catholic Church and me. I don’t care about anything in this paragraph. All of it is completely irrelevant to me.
I only care about one thing. On the last day, I want to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.” For that to happen, I need help.
Exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (Heb. 3:13)
Honestly, I don’t think attending a meeting with a speech about the Bible once per week is much help to anyone, no matter what sort of reverence accompanies it. I think the only way we really help each other is by devoting ourselves, together, to fellowship, the apostles’ teaching, and the breaking of bread.
I’ve never been in a denomination that does that.
Show me people who are doing that, whether in a back yard or in a building, whether called a church or not called a church, and I will run not walk to wherever they are getting together in order to be a part of what they’re doing.
Not much else matters to me than that. We have our own little “backyard” church, and it’s exactly what I’m looking for. They seek God together with me. We know each other, help each other, and we exhort each other.
We would be glad to do that with any other Christian that wants to do that with us, but most of them are busy attending meetings with Christian speeches and holding Bible studies with people who are trained to absent-mindedly ignore any correction the Bible might have for their novel traditions.
Show me a LOCAL Catholic or Orthodox congregation that lives like the family of God and that doesn’t require me to do things I can’t conscientiously do, and I’ll stop what we’re doing, and we’ll all go there. Everyone I’ve talked to locally, though, is quite prepared to admit that their congregation is mostly nominal, just like Protestant denominations are.
Thanks, but no thanks. That’s of no use to me. I tried it for years, and after years I see that I’m no use to them, either.
I wrote a booklet once called How to Make a Church Fail. It’s my least popular book, still available on Amazon. No one has reviewed it that doesn’t already know me well. In fact, only my mom and one other person have reviewed it. (Thanks, mom!)
In it, I suggest that adding “the national religion” as an element in bringing people into the church ensured the division, not of the organization, but of the Christians in the organization. The sons of God now spent as much or more time with sons of the devil than with each other.
The organization known as the church has never stopped that practice, except in rare circumstances, so what the Scriptures portray as a church has been absent, except in relatively rare circumstances.
I know that one of the objections I will hear to this is something to the effect of, “You sure are confident of your own opinions that you would dare to suggest that all these denominations and organizations aren’t churches as described in the Bible.”
Yeah, I am. Sorry, I just can’t pretend that the local Baptist, Catholic, or Orthodox congregation even faintly resembles what I read about in the New Testament. It seem silly for me to say, “Yeah, I know that I read the New Testament, and these churches look nothing like what I read, but I guess I’ll just doubt myself, ignore the obvious, and go join one of them.”
Sorry, no. I’ve attended denominations for years, but only to find people who are willing to leave them like I and many others have.