November 21, 2014

Where do I belong?

Image courtesy of markdroberts.com

Image courtesy of markdroberts.com

I want to spend the next couple of Fridays talking about community. This week I want to focus on one way that you can find a church community that is a good fit theologically.

I left the Plymouth Brethren in 1986 over a matter of biblical interpretation, with no idea where I would end up. I spent nearly a year visiting various churches, spending six weeks at each, visiting their services, participating in the their young adult groups, and pouring over their statements of faith and constitutions. I ended up in the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and even went so far as getting a Master’s of Divinity degree at one of their seminaries. I was involved in various Alliance churches in different cities for over 20 years. When the last Alliance Church in our area closed, we ended up at a North American Baptist church where we have been for six years. My views have changed a lot over the years, and I though it would be an intereting exercise to see where I best fit now.

Many have come to this site because they have become disenchanted (or perhaps disenfranchised) with where they had been worshiping. Many are not sure where to look next. Finding the right fit some 27 years ago was not an easy process for me. With the advent of the internet, the initial research can be a lot easier. Here is a brief look at some of the online quizzes I have taken recently and what they suggested would be right for me. If you have questions about where you belong, some of these quizzes might be right for you.

If you want to narrow things down to some very broad religious categories you could start with Belief Net – Belief-O-Matic It is a Multi-Faith quiz that paints with very broad strokes, and there were a couple of questions where none of the answers really seemed to fit. It also gave me my most surprising result: That of Orthodox Quaker.

Another quiz asks What’s Your Spiritual Type?. It gives results ranging from “Hardcore Skeptic” to “Candidate for Clergy” I ranked at the low end of “Confident Believer”, just a bit above “Questioning Believer”. This was not a surprising result at all.

If you want to know What kind of Christian are you? This quiz compares your beliefs with some well know Religious leaders. While I might have expected to come out close to Billy Graham, it identified me as closest to emergent leader Brian McLaren. Which, in hindsight, isn’t really that surprising.

There we a couple of very good quizzed to help identify the best fitting denomination. Probably my favorite was the Christian Denomination Selector. It said that I was a 100% match to Anglican.

Another interesting quiz was the one that asks: What Christian Denomination do you belong to?
It was a pretty straight forward quiz and said that I was a 92% match with both Lutheran and Methodist. (Shhh, don’t tell Miguel, Steve, or Chaplain Mike. i will never hear the end of it.)

I did one final test: The Religion Test. It pegged my as a Catholic, but didn’t say what the alternatives were, or how I scored.

So there you have it. I am a Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Anglican, Orthodox Quaker, Emergent.

Not sure where you belong? Give one of the quizzes a try. I would suggest starting with my favorite one. Even if you are sure, why not try as well. You might be surprised at your results. Let us know what you found out, and whether or not that seems like a good fit.

Comments

  1. Well, Mike…you’ve done it again.

    I was just relaxing, drinking a big glass of milk before bed, when I clicked on the Imonk site and your post…and there it went…straight through my hose.

    You have a real knack for cracking me up at the just the right (wrong) moment.

    By the way, I took the test and came out as a Mormon/Baptist with Shinto tendencies.

    • Steve, you are a Baptist! That’s hilarious.

      This reminds me vaguely of the time a friend of mine, who declared she could not spend another moment in the evangelical bubble that was our shared freshman year college experience, and applied immediately to public universities in California. A few weeks later, she discovered the College Board had switched her request to mail her SAT scores with those of someone else–with the result that she had just sent all her scores to …..

      Bob Jones University, and some small Baptist Bible college in Georgia.

    • Shinto tendencies? LOL!!

    • Shinto tendencies? Is that somewhere between Yin and Yang?

      • It means that Steve has “ancestor worshiping” tendencies.

        • Correction: It means he has a tendency to worship Japanese ancestors!

          • Robert – not ancestor worship. Shinto is animist and belief in kami (nature spirits) is very important to it. There are also gods and goddesses.

          • My ancestors may not have been animals…but I do think some of them (my ancestors) were hanged for stealing some.

          • Robert F says:

            Well, actually, human beings, if they’ve lived exemplary lives, may after death become gods and goddesses in Shinto, having their own shrines in which worship is offered. These are the ancestors I refer to. Animism is also part of it.

            I mean no disrespect to a religion when I say that ancestor worship is part of it; this is a universal religious instinct of the human spirit, and our own Communion of Saints is partially rooted in it. But Shintoism is particular to the Japanese people, and the ancestors honored and worshiped, as well as the other gods and goddesses, are specific to Japan; the idea that Steve Martin has Shinto tendencies is, therefore, comic.

            Unless, of course, he was adopted into the Japanese people, which I doubt.

          • Faulty O-Ring says:

            It means you visit shrines on certain lucky occasions, bow, clap your hands, and buy lucky charms from the gift shop.

          • Genke deska, Robert.

            Arigato

          • Faulty O-Ring says:

            Tsukini kawate, oshiokiyo!

          • Robert F says:

            GATE GATE PARA GATE PARASAMGATE BODHI SVAHA!

          • Robert – you’re right; Shinto is complex. But I do think it’s important to note the pervasiveness of the kami – you can see that in Japanese folk/fairy tales and mythology, as well as in popular culture (movies like Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away and others + lots of Japanese costume dramas).

  2. Faulty O-Ring says:

    Those Beliefnet quizzes are poorly designed. The one that chooses your religion wrongly supposes that Taoists do not believe in hell. On the Religion Test, one question asks whether gender is important or not, without clarifying whether the test-taker is a feminist or a complementarian. Another one asking what we want done with our corpses overlooked my choice (donating organs / body to science). The denomination selector relies on multiple-choice questions whose answers seem narrowly formulated. I half-suspect the test only has four possible denominational answers, and is simply counting whether there are more (a)’s than (b)’s etc.

    Yes, I realize this is just a joke / game, but it could be much more cleverly designed, and for a religion website to reveal such basic ignorance about religion is not a good sign.

    People who have grown up in churchgoing families often take it for granted that they ought to belong to one, and that they ought to derive their sense of community from this membership. But true community is very different than what most churches are capable of providing. If a group can kick you out over theological differences, or if you can walk away from them over theological differences, then what you have is a club (a voluntary association), not a community.

    Meanwhile, Catholic and Anglican churches are more like bars / pubs in that no promises are made about community (though this may arise in some cases)–the main thing is to serve drinks and collect money! Although the bartender may make polite inquiries about your life.

    • Faulty O-Ring says:

      P.S. They even spelled “Dalai Lama” wrong!

    • I really resent your comment about Catholic and Anglican churches. How would you know? Exactly how much time have you spent in either kind of church? You don’t know what you’re talking about.

      Every Sunday, in each these churches, our baptismal promises are re-affirmed when we say the Apostles or Nicene Creeds together; these are our altar calls, and our commitments to community. What you say about the absence of such promises is clearly incorrect.

    • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

      I agree very much that the quiz is designed by someone without DOE experience. I have no idea what you are trying to say in your last paragraph. Having lived in 12 or so US states and attended dozens of churches and denominations, I can tell you that bad churching cuts across denominational lines – and so does good churching.

  3. Since I’m not sleeping well tonight anyways… my results in the order that Mike linked them:

    -Jehovah’s Witness
    -Confident Believer
    -A Brian McLaren Christian
    -Assemblies of God (100%), Mennonite Brethren (100%), Methodist/Wesleyan Church (100%)
    -Methodist
    -Christian

    At least my Protestantism is consistent… kinda??

  4. In order of link:

    link was broken
    high end of “confident believer” just missed candidate for clergy
    not interested in taking this quiz
    PCA
    Puritan (huh?)
    Catholic

    Hey, I’m a Puritan Presbyterian Catholic! LOL I think these things labeled me mostly because about a third of questions were not answerable for me, yet I had to choose one so that it could give a result. How do I pick the closest one when I don’t believe any of the options?

  5. Asinus Spinas Masticans says:

    Hindu – I do have my pantheistic tendencies

    Confident Believer – low end

    McLaren – much better than the other three alternatives. They’re all Prots anyway, except maybe McLaren

    100% Lutheran, Missouri Synod. Only 98% EO. Probably the quiz makers don’t believe that the EO believe in salvation by faith through grace.

    Episcopalian – not surprising. Once again, quizmaker appears completely ignorant of EO

    Catholic. This was kind of a dumm quiz

    I woould be really surprised if anybody here on this religious ADHD sufferer’s board scored less than 100% on this quiz.

  6. The last test got me as a Catholic. Pretty close, I’m Anglican. One test showed I am a Brian McLaren Christian. I thought that was odd because I haven’t looked into Emergent Christianity and I only thumbed through one of McLaren’s books. But then I saw they put McLaren and N.T. Wright in the same category and I like Wright. One test showed me at 100% LCMS – obviously, they didn’t have a question about Creationism. My next highest score in that test was for EO.

  7. My sister, who has never stepped foot into a Lutheran church before, took one of these tests which told her she belonged in the LCMS. We had a good laugh over it.

  8. And I even gave the “wrong” answer to the question, “Do you eat meat on Friday” and the quiz still called me Catholic.

    • cermak_rd says:

      Well, with Catholics, the requirement of abstinence from meat on Fridays is dependent on where you live. The Bishops of the UK have reinstated the discipline, but the Bishops of the US have not. So in the US, unless you’re in Lent, there’s no requirement for meatless Fridays (though I believe according to the rules & regs, one should observe some form of Penance on Fridays).

  9. I took a couple of the tests, but I think the results are useless. Too many of the questions provided no answer choices that accurately reflect my positions. I think that is quite typical for these kinds of profiling quizzes, and it’s something that I find frustrating and irritating, and disinclines me to participate in them.

    It’s amazing what a consumerist model is assumed regarding religion in such profiling indexes, and how different that is from the experience of most of the human race throughout history and pre-history. Whatever results you end up with, it’s impossible not to walk away from these profiling quizzes without being hit over the head by the clear and consistent message of pluralism: what matters most are your choices, and having the information you need to make those choices.

    The very idea that the designers of such a quiz could master the categories it separates everyone into enough to make accurate assessments is a tremendous act of hubris, even when it is undertaken by more responsible and intelligent sociologists rather than popularizers. But it is the default setting of our culture, and I don’t see how it is possible for it not to be the default setting of each and every one of us that comments and posts here. Such is the power of pluralistic modernism.

    • David Cornwell says:

      Just admit it Robert, you do not fit any of their molds! Which is good.

      • Does anyone actually fit any of the molds? I admit to taking this kind of thing too seriously.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          Ttaking an online/survey quiz seriously, period, is taking it too seriously. I certainly hope you don’t use facebook – What kind of dog are you? Which actress are you? What color are you? … You’d probably run screaming form the room

          • Rick Ro. says:

            Golden Retriever. Helen Mirren. Purple.

            Also…San Diego (what city are you), Splash Mountain (what Disney ride are you), Chekov (what Star Trek character are you), Taco Time (what kind of fast food are you).

          • Robert F says:

            My face is not on book.

          • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

            German Shepherd. Angelina Jolie. Black.

      • Rick Ro. says:

        But isn’t “not fitting any mold” actually a sort of mold itself?

    • cermak_rd says:

      I think that’s baked into a system where one gets to choose one’s religion. Remember roughly 40% of folks in the US have switched religions. I mean, look at the ways before one had a choice, one was one’s parent’s religion like it or not! I definitely prefer a system with more options.

    • Danielle says:

      This is a very fine analysis, which cleverly averts telling us your test results.

      Fess up!

  10. David Cornwell says:

    “Episcopal/Anglican Church (100%) ” which everything else being equal I might pick even without a test! However many things not included in the test are important. The church attitude toward neighborhood and community for one. I would not attend a church that transplanted itself into a suburb to escape a neighborhood they no longer liked. This indicates a failure of such magnitude, lack of imagination, and abandonment of mission that I would not want to attend it.

    Openness to outsiders, the poor and marginalized, and quality of worship to name some others. Off-hand I can’t think of others, but they are there. I like the idea of attending for six weeks to get a bearing on a local congregation.

    • Many years ago, our church bought property in a suburb with the idea of “planting a church” there, which I think many of us felt was “fleeing the rougher part of town.” Nothing ever came from that, other than too much debt, because about the time we did this our congregation began to diminish in numbers.

      Break, break…now, many years later, we’re finally on the verge of selling the property. Yep, our new pastor is all about staying rooted where we are and fulfilling God’s plan for sharing His good news right in the rough part of town. It’s been an interesting journey! You should see the diversity of our place now! Five years ago we were 85% Caucasian, 85% 20+ year Christians, 85% 40 year-olds and up. Now we’re probably 50% Caucasian, 50% something else (the mix is incredible), with lots of kids and younger families, refugees, new believers, etc.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > I would not attend a church that transplanted itself into a suburb to …
      > This indicates a failure of such magnitude

      +1 I feel the same way.

      Darn, I wish I had time to take these quizzes today; but I’m stuck hoping between meetings. :(

  11. I love stuff like this. Does it mean anything? Not sure, but I still enjoy it.

    I’m a Questioning Believer (no surprise there, as the more I walk with God the more mysterious He seems to become, and much about faith, God, and religion leaves me puzzled )

    I came up as Evangelical Lutheran! Go figure. Close behind that was Methodist/Wesleyan and Lutheran-Missouri Synod, whatever that is.

  12. I took the beliefnet.com quiz. After answering all 20 questions I came out 100% “Conservative Protestant.” No surprises there–for me or anyone else who knows me.

    Now I need to do the others to narrow it down a bit. Hopefully I won’t turn out to be a heretic–or worse, a Lutheran! ;-)

  13. A fair number of what I consider forced choices – e.g., I don’t bel,ive that Jesus’s death on the cross was an “atonement”, the four choices for “14. What do you believe is the best way to organise Christian worshipping?” are incomplete (and “ahistoric”)

    It did decide that I was a good Episcopalian, and I was. But a decade ago I decided that I was “Too historical to go witht he Evangelicals, To Protestant to Go with Rome, and too Christian to stay with the Episcopalians”.

    • Totally off-topic – though I’m sure it will appear in tomorrow’s Saturday Ramblings post – but because people don’t tend to read and comment on posts after a couple days have passed, so the recent comments about this have dried up, I will comment here.

      It appears that even Mark Driscoll’s own people have had enough and have sided with his critics. In other words, this seems to vindicate those who have been calling for action to be taken against Driscoll. Acts 29 has determined that the Mars Hill Board has not been doing what they were supposed to do:

      http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2014/august/acts-29-removes-mars-hill-asks-mark-driscoll-matt-chandler.html

      • Rick Ro. says:

        Taking forever to load the page. Everybody and their brother and sister must be trying to log into that story.

      • I trust Matt Chandler’s judgment. This must have been so difficult for him as they were good friends and Matt would frequently speak highly of Mark.

        But the matter is being handled as it should be, by the Acts 29 Network of which Mars Hill is–was–a part. I pray that the leadership of Mars Hill would handle this matter appropriately and on their own. It’s always best that way.

        • Mars Hill fights back: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2014/08/08/mars-hill-church-board-reacts-to-being-removed-from-acts-29-network/

          Could get messy. From the comments:

          From Merp:

          Having been under Chandler’s leadership for the last 4 years, I have a very hard time believing this. He approaches this type of discipline with a great deal of humitily, understanding how weighty it is. That’s a type of discernment only the Lord could grant someone. Not telling Driscoll or anyone this would directly impact wouldn’t be beneficial and would pretty much go in the opposite direction of why Acts 29 made this decision. I just have a hard time believing that is the case.

          The BoAA has been taking flack for years for not addressing Driscoll’s behavior. If it’s truly coming down to “they said vs. they said”, I think it’s pretty clear who you can trust.

          From DeWayne Watson:

          I’m an ex-Acts 29 pastor. I’ve spent time near, though not with Matt Chandler, and a great deal of time with A29 “leaders”. Surely they are not all broken, but there is a culture of cowardice all around them. Passive aggressive, back stabbing, and generally low. Their treatment of Mark Driscoll and the thousands of people who are Mars Hill Church is not surprising at all. Driscoll like the rest of us, is nowhere near perfect, but he doesn’t deserve and didn’t earn this. Chandler is very small for such a tall guy.

        • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

          I don’t trust Matt Chandler farther than I could throw him, but it does seem like a fully justified decision.

        • Ok, class. Let’s review:

          Spineless eunichs who defend someone who hates spineless eunichs: good.
          Bold, courageous men who stand up to a man who believes men should be bold and courageous: bad.

          This ends today’s lesson on irony.

          Any questions?

  14. Sorry. My post was not supposed to be a reply to anything.

    • cermak_rd says:

      I read the letter. Here are some segments:

      …thanks for making Acts29 an independent body….

      Translation: we’re starting friendly before we get to the harsher stuff.

      “Over the past three years, our board and network have been the recipients of countless shots and dozens of fires directly linked to you and what we consider ungodly and disqualifying behavior.”

      Translation: you are embarrassing us.

      “In response, we leaned on the Mars Hill Board of Advisors & Accountability to take the lead in dealing with this matter.”

      Translation: we thought you’d take the hint and do something to stop embarrassing us.

      ” Because you are the founder of Acts 29 and a member, we are naturally associated with you and feel that this association discredits the network and is a major distraction.”

      Translation: But you are still embarrassing us.

  15. cermak_rd says:

    I tried to take the Belliefnet quizes.

    For the Belief-O-Matic, I got Unitarian Universalist. Not a bad fit, really, but I think Reform Judaism works better.

    For the Spirituality I skipped questions 14 and 15 as they just didn’t apply and then the quiz couldn’t determine where I fell and wanted me to go back and fix them and when I did that, the quiz blew up! I’m guessing I come out more skeptic than anything.

    For the what kind of Christian are you I blew up the quiz, I got an error message! I would guess leaning (heavily) toward Spong, who was my favorite theologian when I was Christian.

    So either the imonk community is overwhelming beliefnet or I am such an outlier that I wind up being a missed corner case. The former would be my guess.

    • cermak_rd says:

      Ok, finally got the spirituality quiz results. I’m an active spiritual seeker!

    • Rick Ro. says:

      Unitarian Universalist. I’m not sure what that is. A person who believes in everything? (And I don’t mean that to sound snide, I’m honestly curious.)

      • cermak_rd says:

        I don’t know a lot about them. I know they accept both atheists and agnostics into fellowship and are essentially about building communities of people who are each living out their own unique spiritual path.

        • Rick Ro. says:

          A non-religious church, then, specifically built for a community of whoever comes.

          • cermak_rd says:

            Like I said, I don’t know a lot about them. I know that at one time, when I needed a chaplain, I chose the UU one because a Rabbi wasn’t available and I knew the UU one wouldn’t take the occasion to proselytize. Now that I’ve encountered Chaplain Mike, it sounds like a lot of chaplains don’t take the opportunity to proselytize.

    • cermak_rd says:

      And as I predicted, the what kind of Christian are you came to Spong.

    • cermak_rd says:

      What denomination of Christianity? 100% on something called Unity Church, 93% with the UU and 85% liberal Quakerism.

      • Faulty O-Ring says:

        They mean the Unity School of Christianity, a New Thought denomination.

        • cermak_rd says:

          I’d not heard of them before. Their website sounds a bit new agey, and they seem a bit too mystical for me. I prefer a more practical approach to theology. Be good to others, live gently on the earth, live your life, be grateful for whatever good you have.

          • Unity School of Christianity existed prior to the New Age movement, and is closely related to Christian Science. Mind over matter stuff. They publish a daily devotional that gets around, and can be found in the most unlikely places, because it’s easy to mistake for an evangelical devotional. Maybe you’ve heard of it: Daily Word.

  16. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

    100% LCMS, 99% ELCA. Sounds legit.

    • About the same here. I had 100% ELCA and 98% LCMS, with a discrepancy (given most of my answers were quite conservative) that I can only assume was based upon the one question about gender roles.

  17. Southern Baptist. I do love food in covered dishes.

  18. All over the map from Assemblies of God to Jewish. Sounds right!

  19. You’ve all seen Acts 29 news today right?

  20. Danielle says:

    Belief-O-Matic: Apparently I’m a conservative Quaker (congruence 100 percent). Hm.

    Spiritual Type Quiz: I got “Old-fashioned seeker: Happy with my religion but searching for the right expression of it.” That may be true. (*See note)

    Christian Denomination Selector: Evangelical Lutheran Church (100 percent congruence), followed by Episcopal/Anglican (93 percent).

    What Christian Denomination? Episcopalian, by a wide margin. Runner up: Catholic.

    The Religion Test: That was inane. I got Christian. Then I read its description of “Christian.” Now I want to be an atheist.

  21. Danielle says:

    * BUT … the Spiritual Type Quiz questions are befuddling. Are they asking what I know is true? What I wish were true, and will affirm after a bottle of wine or an exceptionally nice walk? What I am afraid is probably true but believe is not true, by desperate existential leap? What if I think the question is stupid? And what does belief in empty spirit worlds, spirit worlds with dead people in them, and spirit worlds with something totally mysterious in them indicate, anyway? Taking this quiz is a very stressful experience, one that requires some sort of alcohol or sugar consumption to make right.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Whiskey makes everything clearer!

    • cermak_rd says:

      I’ll agree with the forced choices. I don’t believe my deity intervenes in the world so news about tragedies whether man made or not don’t affect my belief, not because I have such a strong faith.

      I do believe that man is hopelessly screwed up and apt to cause evil, but I don’t believe there’s any answer other than forming societies where we can benefit from the good in each other whilst mitigating the worst in each other (kind of like Calvin except I don’t think the Almighty can fix it). And I don’t see my religion as offering any hope, because I don’t think that’s its function in my life.

  22. I’m apparently a Billy Graham evangelical.

    One quiz says I’m Catholic (no percentage), another says I’m only 48% Catholic. That same quiz says I’m 100% Wesleyan and 99% Anglican. I’m okay with that since I identify myself as Methodist/Wesleyan and mostly attend an Anglican church. I think I took the same quiz a few months ago and ended up 100% Anglican and 100% Lutheran. How the latter could be I have no idea. Also, one other quiz says I’m 88% Lutheran and only 76% Methodist.

    Yup, these things are totally accurate.

  23. Christiane says:

    if they ever came out with a really GOOD test of questions (the kind that you couldn’t manipulate because you saw right through them);
    then I would turn out with a profile something like this:
    Catholic, catholic, strong on Orthodox humility and spirituality, admiring many Methodists who are socially conscious Christians, and with leanings towards monastic immersion into a place that fosters and nourishes the contemplative life within the context of a Christian community,
    and finally, a person who once picked up something of a spiritual awakening, and years later found out that that area of Flagstaff was once considered ‘holy ground’ and used for a retreat by the Indians of that area (surprised the heck out of me, wow) . . .

    no fundamentalist crumbs, no far-right extremism, no, no, no to lack of free will and enforced male patriarchy in the home . . . and forget the ‘total depravity’ too . . . bleah!

    a crazy quilt of a faith, I know,
    but it’s my crazy quilt and a comfort for this earthly sojourn