Sunday, February 22, 2009

What's In A Name - Part 1

I live in the rural south. The Confederate flag flies freely alongside the US flag on many flagpoles. I have always wondered how they could fly side-by-side, but I am a native Texan and we flew our flag alongside the US flag, too. Understand that those of us born Texan remember the Alamo and that we were an independent Republic before we were a United State.

Churches here where I live are rural. That is not to mean they are bad, or backward. They are simply rural. So, when the new family, who had moved from a metropolitan area came to our church and the mother said, "You're not like any other Baptist church we've been to here," it didn't bother me. We are solid in our doctrine. We just do things a bit differently, a bit less rural than others here (but very rural compared to "city"churches). If we were in a metro area, we would be just like many other churches, and more country than many others. It's all relative, but everyone assigns some set of expectations to the name, Baptist.

Presbyterian used to mean conservative, reserved, Calvinistic, Christian. Last week three in a growing number of churches left the Presbyterian Church USA because it has refused to affirm that Christ is the only way to God and it has refused to condemn sexual behavior outside of heterosexual marriage. What does Presbyterian mean?

Martin Luther campaigned to clean up the Catholic Church, was excommuicated, and hunted for believing in the Scripture alone and Grace alone. Today, the Evangelical Luthern Church in America is deciding to allow local congregations ordain homosexual clergy. What does Lutheran mean?

Saturday the mormons came by the house. I declined their offer to discuss the "restored" truths of Christ. They were polite as they handed me a photocopied ad for a Mormon photographer's exhibit on the life of Christ. At the bottom of the ad, I read this, "Sponsored by First United Methodist Church of ******** and The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints." John Wesley, if he were not in heaven, would certainly roll over in his grave. Methodist used to mean holy, evangelistic, firey. Now it means Open Minds, Open Hearts, Open Doors and apparently, in at least one church, open to the heresy of a cult. What does Methodist mean today?