I have been getting more questions lately from some in our old church asking why we haven’t been there for such a long time. I got a very heartfelt note in the snail mail today from one of those friends. She said that she really misses my wife and me on Sundays especially in the Bible classes. She mentioned that when I had a disagreement with the pastor on a biblical issue she and her husband tended to agree with me more than the pastor on that issue. She was wondering where we have gone and hoping that we would come back. It is nice to know that some from our old church still miss us six months later.
Since the pastor has evidently chosen not to reveal his actions that resulted in us leaving the congregation, this brings up a serious dilemma for me. I wish all the people there the best and that includes the pastor. Do I take a chance of causing disunity there by telling my friends the truth? It is not my intent to cause dissent in any of the Body of Christ but I also would like them to know that my leaving was at least partially not of my own accord. I don’t harbor any ill will of the pastor who wanted to take away my membership privileges because of our disagreements on biblical interpretations. After all he was just taking a stand, albeit a strict one, on denominational issues. Since I publicly admitted I do not believe in a totally literal and inerrant Bible he felt strongly that I could no longer be one of his official flock. But, I am getting very uncomfortable avoiding telling some of them who ask why we no longer attend. What do I say?
As I have said many times before, it greatly saddens me to see us Christians split over such non-essential things. As long as we hold to the basic tenets of Christianity surely we can come to our own conclusions about some of the other things? Must we always toe the denominational line?
How do I answer my friend who sent the snail mail note today? I just don’t know right now.
8 thoughts on “Where Have You Gone??”
Be honest! Best policy always. BTW: we got a snail mail nice note with the same sentiments too yesterday:-). Very nice.
I agree with Peppy here, RJ. I think you have to be honest that you were told you could not be a member on the basis of your beliefs. You don’t have to be vindictive in stating this, but nothing is gained by silence either. If the church is to really act like a church, its members need to know what the leaders teach in private, as well as in public. I do not see any reason that this situation would need to be held in confidence by you…though the pastor was right not to hold you up to ridicule himself.
Thanks Peppy and Dan. Although I wouldn’t call the pastor making this act public an act of ridicule I think I understand what you mean. Some denominations are just stricter than others about toeing their orthodoxy lines. That is one advantage to being non-denominational I guess; you don’t have someone outside the congregation telling you who to purge.
You are going to have a difficult time finding a congregation that is denominational or non-denominational to sympathize with your feelings on the inerrancy of the scriptures. Wherever you choose to worship, it seems wise to discuss your beliefs with the Pastor should you want to become a member.
Your heart is with the Quakers. Why don’t you begin visiting them? Fellowship with other Christians is important.
Actually Peppy there are several both denominational and non who don’t cling to a totally literal and inerrant scripture including believe it or not Catholicism. They believe scriptures are inerrant in doctrinal issues but not necessarily everything else. But as is human,as all of us are, all do have to one degree or another baggage from past and present practices. It is not a question of being able to find some to fellowship with.
I will have to side with not bringing it up (If alone is a side). I feel because she and her husband tended to agree with you, for whatever reason they have not disclosed this with the pastor. Ergo the fellowship they gain from this church must outweigh any misgivings they hold with the strict stance. Why rock their boat? Pride may be causing this itch to tell them more, but there is really no need not when you could attend but not a “member” and no one would know (I could be wrong here). I believe not telling in this instance is not being untruthful, it is simply a private issue. Tough call, good luck! PS @ RJ the new Pope is putting the hammer down on many doctrinal issues in the Catholic church. I will surely be considered a radical soon if things stay on this track but I will still attend because in the end it is really between me a my Lord.
Christopher, thanks for weighing in on this topic. Actually you are not alone on your side. That is where I am currently. As you say why rock the boat. Yes, my ego might be coming into play here as I don’t want for them to think I am ignoring them but what good would it do if I told them the facts. But,going and not being a member would be very obvious in this congregation. So I can not do that either.
As to keeping your views private that is not always good either. I went deaf over twenty years ago and when that was happening I was sure that I was the first person to have gone deaf as an adult. I felt so alone in the world. Of course that was not true and I eventually discovered ALDA (association of late deafened adults). They provided me much support as I was transitioning from the hearing world to deafness.
In the same way there are Christians out there who feel they are alone in their belief about Christ and the current day Christian establishments. That is one of the primary reasons I started RLL; that is to let them know that there are others like them out there. Tomorrow I start a series of posts about my beliefs about the Bible. I want to let others who may feel like me know that they are not alone. In fact they are in some long standing company all the way back to Thomas Jefferson and probably before.
I have heard that the new Pope is tightening up the doctrinal reins somewhat. I guess that is not surprising given his background before he was pope and the circumstances around pedophiles when he came into that position. But,he certainly is no John Paul 🙂
Christopher & RJ, I respect your desire to keep pride out of the equation, but I really want to lift up RJ’s point about thinking he was alone when he went deaf…I spent nine years in my old church before I met anyone who was asking any of the same questions I was. Nine years is a long time to be spiritually alone, believe me!
There are two reasons I think you need to be candid. First, if the pastor is making secret, unilateral decisions that drive people away, and they all leave silently, he’s not accountable to the congregation. If even Paul could have his words double-checked against scripture, how much more the rest of us?
Second, there may (as you have already hinted) be someone who’s also alone, who needs the validation that another respected brother struggles with some of the same issues.
You need to be careful about the spirit in which you say it, but when someone actually asks you why you’re gone, I still say you need to gently, but candidly, answer the question.
I don’t have to walk in your shoes…I won’t say any more about this…just my $0.02.