Saturday, June 13, 2015

I Want to be Presbyterian, But the Bible Won't Let Me

This may sound odd coming from me, but I'd really like to be Presbyterian. Specifically, I'd like to be a member of a local body of believers that are part of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). Just to avoid any confusion, please take note that the PCA is far different from the PC(USA), which is a far-leftward leaning denomination that has basically given up on the biblical gospel altogether.

I like the PCA for several reasons. First, Presbyterians tend to take the bible seriously. Second, they believe the gospel as presented in scripture. Third, they tend to be Christ-focused rather than man-focused when it comes to their gatherings. Fourth, they care about church history. Fifth, they sing the great hymns of the faith.

I realize that the above paragraph is full of generalizations. It's also based on some of my own subjective likes (hymns). So be it.

Although I like a great about this particular denomination, I just can't be a part of it (in the sense of traditional church membership). Why can I not? The reason is that the bible won't let me. Simply put, too many things about the PCA do not line up with what I read in scripture.

Five aspects of the PCA are huge roadblocks for me. They are, in no particular order:

1. Emphasizing institutional-style preaching
2. Practicing infant baptism
3. Holding to a strict, detailed statement of faith
4. Carrying out extra-biblical, local church membership
5. Governing through a multi-leveled, nonbiblical system

Of course, at least some of the above five apply to almost all denominations, so the PCA is hardly alone. And the PCA is one of the few that I actually like!

My main point in this post is that institutional-based denominations have far too many nonbiblical and blatantly unbiblical practices in place for me to consider being a part of any of them. Although they vary somewhat, almost all still maintain the institutional trio of professional pastor, "worship" ceremony, and expensive building.

As it has been for the past five years for me, so it will continue: no denominations. I'll continue to walk in the church wilderness to one degree or another, and will do so happily. I know it is the same for many of you. It can be lonely at times, but I'd rather follow God's plan for his church than man's.

3 comments:

Peter Horvatin said...

Eric,

I too have been out of the Institutional setting for many years. I know nothing can replace the truth, but what have you done to overcome that loneliness and feeling like your the only one out there in the wilderness?

Pete

Eric said...

Peter,

It's not easy as you know. I try to have contact through the internet with like minded believers, but that only helps so much. I do know some folks here in the Savannah area who want to see a simpler church. However, much of the time I do feel fairly alone. Part of the difficulty of living in the Bible Belt is that most Christians are still very traditional about their church beliefs. They don't even want to consider that God has shown us his plan for his church in scripture. I'll just keep walking this walk and hope to contact others on the same path. That sounds cliche, but it is also reality.

Tim A said...

1. Look around you neighborhood for a man of peace. A young boy in our church made 5 loves of sugar free, gluten free banana bread. I bought them, wrapped them up, made up a little bio on our family with a photo and took them to the 5 families on our block. One man gave me 4 hardy "God bless you's" The next day he knocked at my door with a box of Persian candy and 5 more "God bless you's". A few days later I went back to his house and asked him who the God is that would bless me. He told me he was Muslim but does not like the institutionalized form of Islam. I told him I'm a follower of Jesus and I don't like the institutionalized form of faith either. We will be meeting together occasionally to talk faith.
2. Consider getting connected to a home group from an institutional church. There might be some possibilities there.
3. Are there business associates at work that can provide heart to heart spiritual interaction?
4. Consider going to various institutional churches and meet people. Ask them if there was something wrong with how they do church would they want to know about it? That question asks permission or is an openness check for further conversation. There are many sitting in the pew who know something is wrong but don't know what it is. Look for folks who are sitting by themselves. I plan to do this once a month as a display of unity with fellow believers across brand name boundaries. I know men in many churches that I should connect with. Perhaps you do also. We are all in the same church in reality.