December 12, 2017

The Curse of Knowledge

Square Peg in a Round Hole

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Genesis 2:16-17 – NIV

I know too much.

My theological training isn’t killing me, but it certainly makes it difficult for me to find a church.

If you had read my post from two weeks ago, you would know that a little over a month ago I took the final step in leaving the church that I had been attending for eight years. It was a good church, and it was a really hard decision to make.

My previous Pastor, in one of his last emails to me wrote: “I wish you well in your search, but I feel that you will be hard pressed to find another church that is as loving and as tolerant as [ours] even though we are not the perfect church… If we are not a good “fit” for you, I wonder where you would “fit”.

He is absolutely right in what he wrote, and this is my biggest challenge.

Over the last number of months on Internet Monk I have laid out much of what I believe along with the journeys that I took to arrive at those positions. To summarize (with links), I am or have become:

1. A Theistic-Evolutionist

2. An Arminian

3. A (Quiet) Charismatic

4. An Egalitarian

5. A Fan of the Early Church Fathers

You could add to that list the fact that I don’t hold to inerrancy (though I do have a high view of scripture), am strongly in favor of open communion, am open to different modes of baptism, and reject dispensationalism. I also do not have a great appreciation for a formal liturgical style of worship. There are a number of other items which I won’t get into, and I have a few other areas in which I have yet to make up my mind. If I was to speak my mind on those topics I am sure I would make more than a few people uncomfortable.

A few months ago I visited the first service of a church plant that friends of mine were involved with. Experientially, the service was wonderful, one of the best services I have ever attended. When I looked at their statement of faith, however, I found that we disagreed on points one through four (from my list) along with inerrancy. In short, I could never become a member of their church because I could not be true to myself and my own beliefs and sign on the dotted line. It would have been so much easier if I didn’t have the knowledge that I have, or if I hadn’t drawn the conclusions that I have drawn.

Like Adam and Eve were free to eat from any tree, I am free to attend any church. Like Adam and Eve eating from the tree of knowledge and being barred from the Garden, my knowledge bars me from many churches.

If you look at my fairly short list you would see that I am not a good fit with wide swaths of Christianity. Calvinistic or Reformed? Nope. Lutheran? Nope. Catholic or Orthodox? Nope. Evangelicals? Nope.

I used to be willing to do some pretty impressive mental gymnastics to fit in. Or I would sign a statement of faith holding my nose because of the metaphorical smell I was getting from the document. I find that I can’t do that anymore and still be true to myself.

But I still want to belong. Somewhere.

So here are my questions for our readers. Would your faith tradition/denomination/local congregation work for me if it was transplanted up to Dundas, Ontario? If not, why not? If you think it would, what make you think that? Make sure you tell me what your faith tradition is. What other Christian traditions should I consider? They may be different from your own. Lastly, what would you be doing if you were in my shoes? As always your thoughts and comments are welcome and feel free to interact (respectively) with each other on your suggestions as well.

Update: There have been some great questions posed back to me. I don’t have time to answer them today (work calls), but I will take the time over this week to answer each one, and respond to them in next Friday’s post.

Comments

  1. I read the article, but tired out before reading all of the comments. I am confident many of them wrote of how your journey reflects their journey, and I put myself in that category. My tradition is Southern Baptist, but for obvious reasons that is no longer of interest to me. I have been a pastor, denominational employee, and church consultant, and now a writer and book publisher. My wife and I are now a part of a small home church, not afiliated with any denomination, although I still have many contacts with Baptists. Our church is quite simple. We gather for four purposes: fellowship, studying God’s Word, sharing with a strong emphasis on praying for one another, and communion. Our “mission statement” (although I don’t like that term) is “Christ in the center, but no circumference.”

    We are a very eclectic group with diverse backgrounds, including Baptist, Luthern, Catholic, Disciples, Methodist, Episcopa, and more than a few “none of the above.”. Our political landscape is just as varied ranging from fundamentalist to quite liberal. We have some who are gay and others who classify homosexuality as sinful. The only reason it works is because we have insisted that Christ be in the center, and that we refuse to erect a circumference (fence) determining who can and who cannot come.

    If you come you will be accepted, but it also means we will expect you to be just as accepting of others. We will never be a large group (no one cares). But, we have found a place where we can all fit in and welcome others who don’t fit anywhere else. If you lived in Fort Worth I’m sure you would fit right in.