Oh and there was dignity. it still had a slightly charismatic flavor but it as orderly, dignified and retained a little formality. it was a nice beautiful balance.
however there was a down side.
Chuck the prophet.
I kid you not.
1000 miles away from the little independent church i grew up in and there on the book shelf were every book that chuck the prophet had ever written. SO I email the pastor and say "what gives". very very good friends. seriously. within a few weeks they had broken from their denomination with all its oversight and sanity. and the snowball of change began. I couldn't believe how fast things spun out of control. I am not making this up. I think we went there for a year and half to two years and by the time we left it was just psycho.
and chuck the prophet was showing up in more and more. (i am not joking about this guy)
In the mean time i was trying to get a handle on my children's behavior. And while I hadn't lost my belief all together I was beginning to feel like any attempt man man made to worship god was a joke and had to be completely unacceptable to God. I met a woman on another message board. She would go on and on and on about her church. more information that you could ever want to know. and this lady was so arrogant as to believe that her church was right and everyone elses was wrong. it was the one true church she said. blah blah blah. and she post long doctrinal statements. over and over. its like she had one for every question. I have to admit. after a while even though i thought she was dead wrong (not that i ever really read what she had to say because I was right and she was wrong so why bother
) I was beginning to be impressed that she knew what she believed and why. I began to realize that I had no idea why I believed what I did. except that I could pull misc. scripture bits up to justify just about anything.
and despite this person being a constant annoyance to any spirituality/doctrine discussion we tried to have on this board, I still subscribed to her blog. I have no idea why. I usually scrolled past it. but she had some beautiful kids and a swell camera. and she posted absolutely wonderful pictures.
in the mean time I am having an all out life crisis. my dh never did come back to church with us (I did offer to change churches at the drop of a hat if he wanted to go anywhere in the world. without a word of anything beside absolute support. submit submit submit blah blah blah) but after i found out he was having an affair i just gave up. all of that crisis plus my church starting to take a walk on the weird side really made me a cynic.
i also started really thinking about doctrine. how come we didn't have a history? how come we didn't want to pin down doctrine and theological issues? If such and such a principal was good why do they completely redefine everything every 5 years or so. whatever fad happens to be sweeping the nation. and things at my church just kept getting cheesier and cheesier. If you really feel like reading you can dig around on my blog a bit. but essentially i started questioning our thinking on salvation. i couldn't respect a God who participated in the "repeat the magic words and then go live like a pig because once you say the words there are no take backs." how did we get there? I started searching and back tracking the whole gooey grace mentality and how things got so easy. I came to the conclusion that there had to be more to "gettin' saved" than repeating the magic words. I also needed to figure out what the law had to do with us. This was Gods heart revealed to his people. we may not have to obey but there is a feeling in some evangelical circles that if we dare obey we are sinning. if we don't hate the law we are legalistic. I loved the law. I saw it as Gods gift to me.
and then I read a book. its funny. I picked it up almost against my will.
Jesus of Suburbia.
I highly recommend it to everyone. It has nothing to do with the Orthodox church (yes I do remember that this is what this post is about
). the main jist is that we have recreated Jesus in our own image and the Christ wanted followers. Not just believers or just lovers but he wanted followers and if you wouldn't follow and obey him he would unceremoniously tel you good by. he also in one sentence brought everything about the law and grace into line. he made two points in that chapter. One that the children of Isreal were not creating and worshiping a new god. The were making the God into an image they were comfortable with. I thought that was an interest8ing take on it. I could never figure out why after He had done so much for them and had so revealed himself to them that they would just pick up and find a new God. It makes much more sense that the whole golden cow was an outpouring of devotion to him even if misguided and confused. then he pointed out that God did not give the law for salvation. it wasn't about earning your salvation. the law was a gift to the already redeemed. First he saved them, freely, without condition. all they had to do was ask for it. and then showed them what it meant to be one of his followers. Old testament but it sounds familiar doesn't it.
This changed everything i thought I knew about salvation and grace and the law and the bible.
I had a panic attack for a few days, wrestled with some stuff. wondered how i would get this information to the entire evangelical church (as if they had just missed this one little key all along
then I remembered that lady and her stinking Orthodox church rambling.
I read a little. hear and there. not much.
then she posted pictures of a baptism and Chrismation. I couldn't believe how serious and long the ceremony as or how many little components it had. and my friend took the time to explain every little part of it and answer at least 30 questions on the specifics. every movement the priest made had significance that went back hundreds and thousands of years.
It blew me away.
So I read some more.
within a week or two I had spent hours and hours and hours reading everything I could get my hands on . all the links in the other thread, plus an orthodox message board (I can PM that to you also). Then i got books. lots of books.
First I realized that anything we had been making up along the way they had been doing all along and better. anointing with oil? yep. spiritual warfare? yep. signs and wonders? yep. prayer and fasting? yep people devoting their whole life to prayer? yep. (My friend and I joke that if evangelical charismatics are just trying to reinventing the orthodox church without even knowing it exists)
they also had a lot of stuff we didn't have. accountability. authority. history. purpose and vision. dignity for crying out loud. and a reason. and they didn't change. 10 years before. 10 years from now. all the same. because God ordained it and they are not making things up as they go.