I went to church yesterday for the first time in a long time. A friend had invited me, as she likes to go on occasion, and since the church’s statement of beliefs passed my idolatry litmus test, I figured I would join her. You see, one of the main issues that I have with Christianity is its foundation in idolatry, and I like to know whether or not a church has its priorities straight before I attend one of their services.
I fully understand that all Christians have to believe that the Bible is the perfect, inerrant, infallible Word of God. That’s what the Roman Catholic Church demanded when they came up with the idea, and regardless of how Protestant a church may claim to be, none of them can protest that idea. Because I don’t believe that the Bible is perfect, inerrant, or infallible, I can’t really call myself a Christian. To the contrary, I believe it is possibly the single-most fallible book ever compiled by man.
While I have come to terms with the fact that we’re possibly never going to agree on how any religion may go about limiting God to fit into their understanding, my bigger problem usually comes when I look at a church’s statement of beliefs. For the majority of modern churches, the Bible is the first thing, followed by God, with Jesus coming in third or fourth. In my opinion, any church that puts anything above God, even its scriptures, is idolatrous, and while I may visit their church, I could never become a member and claim to believe that scripture is more important than God.
However, the church I attended had their statement of beliefs in order, with God first, Jesus second, the Holy Spirit third, and the Bible fourth. They also had an actual homeless ministry, and the pastors didn’t thump the Bible throughout the sermon. The people were friendly, the worship team sounded professional, the lights and video were state of the art, and they had free coffee.
It took me back to my teenage years, when I was really involved in the Southern Baptist church and felt the emotional surge of a good worship session. Nevertheless, I have since discovered some foundational differences I have with mainstream Christianity, and there was a pretty blatant one in the song that seemed to serve as the theme for the worship portion of the service.
The song was about the reckless love of God, and repeated the refrain, “I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it” quite a bit. I’m not sure it’s a healthy or accurate practice to tell people they don’t deserve the love of God, but it’s one that Christianity has carried on for quite a while. Of course, their concept of the victimhood of sinners goes right along with the underlying foundation of the fallibility of God.
You see, as the story goes, God made the world, and he made humans, giving them free will, which they used to eat the forbidden fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. This act of two people confined all of the rest of humankind to a future of sinfulness and an inability to know God, followed by an afterlife of eternal suffering and torment… unless they followed the Christian religion, which would be established roughly 5,000 years later. As well thought out as that may seem, I just have a hard time believing that the omniscient Creator of heaven and earth, who knows all things and put all things in motion, didn’t see that coming and couldn’t have acted more proactively.
Has humanity gone astray? Most definitely. Just look at American politics. We love to chew on the knowledge of good and evil. However, I don’t think it is as extreme as the Roman Catholic Church and its spinoffs have made it out to be over the years, just like I don’t think things in the world are as bad as mainstream media makes them out to be.
Anyway, the sermon touched on the fact that it was Mother’s Day and pointed to times in Jesus’ life where he made memories with his mother. And regardless of any dogmatic differences that may get my cackles up, I do love to see a church being guided to believe in themselves and others.
Whether I deserve it or not, I’m grateful to be able to commune directly with my Creator through each breath I’m given and feel love everywhere I go. I’m glad for the experience of hearing a great message of loving the people around me. And although I don’t agree with a number of their core beliefs, I am thankful for the coffee cup the church gave me for visiting that reads, “Love God! Love People! Love Life!” Amen.