Saturday, September 20, 2008

Journery Home - Part 1 - Choosing a Tradition

I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan by a wonderful God fearing woman. My mother has always been and always will be a great blessing to me. She taught me a lot, but most importantly, she taught me to love God and have a thirst for Christ.

With the state of things in Detroit, she made it her mission, and sacrifice, to keep me out of the public school system. Instead, she chose to keep me in Christian private schools - which was an incredible sacrifice on her part for being a single parent and having to pay my tuition all of those years (thanks Mom). I have attended many different schools of many different denominations - including Non Denominational, Lutheran, Baptist and Catholic.

If you have never attended a Christian private school before, it is worth mentioning that each of these schools had a religious class that was mandatory. In each of these classes, I learned about the Christian faith from their respective tradition / bias. Besides the love of God, in the Baptist religion class, I learned that dancing was not allowed. In the Catholic class, I learned that spontaneous worship was nowhere to be found at Sunday Mass. In the Non Denominational class, I learned that if the Holy Spirit moves you to jump and dance during Sunday Service, then that is alright (maybe even encouraged). Overall, I was most comfortable with the Non Denominational tradition.

One of the main reasons why Non Denomination was a good fit for me was because I also learned about the religious prejudices and superiority complexes found within various denominations. Each major denomination seemed to teach that they had it all figured out and we were encouraged to pray for those that were not part of the right denomination. I did not really want to associate myself with any particular denomination because, in my mind, there is no way that one of them could have it all figured out. There were good things about each of them - and being a student of many of the major ones, I saw proof of this.

I also saw proof that all of the denominations did not agree on everything, and therefore to label myself as Baptist or Lutheran or Catholic carried with it the weight of those disagreements. Since I had not done the necessary research into all of the doctrinal stances of each denomination (and the fact that I have always disagreed with the separation of Christianity into separate factions), it was a lot easier for me to say that I was Non Denominational as oppose to claiming a particular denomination that I did not completely understand. In my mind, I was claiming the more pure route of Christianity. I was not going to get tangled up in the web of confusion caused by so many different denominations. Instead, I was just going to follow Jesus.

While my motivations were pure and correct, what I recently discovered is the way that I was choosing to worship God was not the way that He intended. With this Non Denominational line of thinking, I was the one who had ultimate control of how I was going to worship and what God had really wanted from me through self interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. For example, when confronted with two opposing viewpoints of scripture, I was the one that ultimately separated fact from fiction. In essence, I had become my own Magisterium and Pope, answerable to no one but myself and the Holy Spirit.

No comments: