Wednesday, March 4th, 2009...11:26 pm

Church membership and the revolutionary mind

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Just thinking out loud, which is part of the purpose of my blog.  I’ve had some stuff percolating around in my mind after listening to the 2004 Credenda/Agenda History Conference about Revolution and Modernity.  I had also recently finished Angels in the Architecture by Doug Jones and Doug Wilson.

When people choose to leave the membership of a church for “doctrinal reasons,” I fear that, more often than not, they do so within a revolutionary framework rather than a reformational framework.  In particular, I think of the Baptist who becomes a Calvinist and then jumps ship to a Presbyterian church at his first opportunity.  To generalize, the reformed churches have, by-and-large, been populated by people who have left their churches as revolutionaries rather than reformers.  (Luther didn’t wish to leave the Roman church -  he was thrown out by enemies of the gospel who had positions of power in that church.)  If we are to use the metaphor of the church as a body with many parts, the reformed camp at large is disproportionately represented by gallbladders.

In days when there was only one church in a town and there weren’t automobiles, there was a lot more of an impetus to stick things out and try to work with your borthers in Christ for unity.  There are complexities involved, especially if you have children (since their spiritual welfare is at stake), but what would it look like within a generation if the Baptists who became Calvinists had stayed in their churches (until the church either reformed itself or threw them out)?  We are children of modernity more than we realize, and as such we want instant results.  Our expectations for the Kingdom of God are more like an Air Force flyover than a mustard seed sprouting.  I know it’s easier to leave, but is it better in the long term?  It’s interesting to think of what might have been and what might still be if we do things better from here on out.

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