Monday, December 15, 2008

Does Non-denominational = Non-Commital?

I'm not accusing, I'm just asking the question is nondenominational essentially the same as noncommital? I was discussing this with one of my friends. She doesn't claim a religion but she claims a believe in God and Jesus Christ and the bible. She's very quick to tell me "the bible says this...?" and "the bible says that..." but only when it suits her needs. If anyone tells her when she doesn something that isn't very Christlike wether it be deed, word or attitude she gets very defensive and upset. Well in her behalf I guess we all do that. Anyways she and I had a little chat about it.

Caution: I do not suggest having this conversation with someone you don't have strong ties to as a friend. All friendships cannot take this kind of conversation, just know what friendships yours are.

I like Cheryl because we can have these discussions without offense, with humor and knowing that we both care a great deal about each other without the Fear of either one of us trying to convert the other. Just an open minded discussion about beliefs. We actually LEARN from each other which is the beauty of it all.
We got to talking about the divorce rate amongst religious denominations. Here's is some of what we found:

The divorce rate was lowest amongst:
(catholics and Lutherans tied for the lowest)

The divorce rate was highest amongst:
Non denominational
Born Again Christians.

She joked about ours is low only because civil divorce by man cannot undue and eternal marriage in heaven so most LDS divorces wouldn't count in the stats. HAHAH!

I joked about Nondenominational is the same as noncommittal so why we expect a marriage commitment to be any different with them. Hahah!
She actually got a look on her face and said... " You know, I never thought about it that way but I wonder if there's some truth to that."
I admitted to her I didn't really ever understand the standing of "non denomination." And asked her to explain it to me according to her stand point and view.
She started out as most of my "non denominational" friends do saying how she believes in God and Jesus and the bible, but no particularly in organized religion. That there was many of man's corruptions into organized religion and so you really can't trust it. I absolutely understand her thinking on this as we believe there was a great apostasy as outlined in Isaiah 60 & Amos 8:11-12
(Actually there are SEVERAL references in the old and new testaments so forgive me if I only use 1 or 2 of each reference for the sake of time and space)
Basically she believes we are in those days now and believes all religions are massively corrupt and are establishments for power, greed and money.
WOW, thems are some powerful accusations I tell her. She spoke of how ministers and preachers in their new suites, watches and shiny new cars solicit for church donations and pass around the basket for the sake of "tithes and offerings."
She said she'd have more respect if they just come out and say..

"hey, this is my weekly pay check for serving y'all as the preacher so show me the money."
I understand where she's coming from. There's an old country song "Would Jesus wear a Rolex on his T.V. Show."
She said she respected the fact the LDS has a lay ministry and our leaders have regular jobs in the community from high school principles, insurance, salesmen, to New paper editors, Doctors, Lawyers and yes, even constructions workers/carpenters. They don't get paid for their religious duties, it's considered a "calling." A call to serve and with that call should be a standard of obligation to live righteously and not just preach about being righteous.
She's a little puzzled about our Prophet and why we put so much into having a living prophet on the earth today when the bible teaches so much about false prophets and how obvious it.
She feels Jesus Christ was the last true prophet that walked the earth and because of his sacrifice there is no longer a need for prophets. This is where she and I really differ.
I'm reminded of a few scriptures:
Matthew 16:18-19 Where Jesus Christ says that he will build his church and passes off the keys of the kingdom of heaven to Peter.
Sounds like he is establishing a church to me.
Again in Matthew 26:26-28 is where we believe our weekly "sacrament" covenant began.

Mark 16: 15-16 Christ instructed to go and teach the gospel to every creature. He also said he who believes and is baptised shall be saved.
This is why we have missionary work and baptisms.

Luke: 10:1 is where he calls the office of the "Seventy" and sent them 2 by 2 to every city and place he would also go.

Acts:14:23 They ordained "Elders"

1 Corinthians 12:27-28 : Speaks of how in general we are the members of the body of Christ but the Lord has set apart some to be Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, and it even specifies "Governments" in that scripture.

1 Timothy 3:1-7 Speaks of Bishops and their eligibility and also vs 8-9 speak of the office of the Deacon.

Ephesians 4: 11-16 speak to the issue that Christ not only established his church while here on earth, but state he gave to the church Apostles, Prophets, Evangelist, Pastors and Teachers for the perfecting of the saint, work of the ministry and the edifying of the body of Christ.

I truly believe Christ organized his church in this. In the case of the great apostasy and the corruption of the church many of these things would be lost. And for them to be reestablished one would only need to refer back to Christ's Organization of it (in the scriptures) to recognize it once again.
We believe a Prophet was chosen in this dispensation to Restore Christ's Church. I say Restoration because it was already established by Christ.

Acts 3:18-22 speaks of Jesus death and when the time of "refreshing" will come from the presence of the Lord and he will send for his son Jesus, "which before was preached unto you."

We discussed a bit on these perceptions and thoughts and it turned into a really good conversation. Some of the scriptures she was familiar with and others she wasn't. She is another one of my friends who believes in the bible, but doesn't really have one on hand. I tease her a bit about that as well. But that is a common theme I'm noticing amongst many of my friends of ALL denominations. We call ourselves men and children of God yet we don't take it upon ourselves to read his word on a daily or even weekly basis. True I have my Scriptures but I'm not in them on a daily basis.
I set a goal one year that I needed to read in my scriptures or any spiritual literature that would help me become closer to God and help build up his kingdom at least 1 hour a day before I could watch any TV, Jump on the Computer or read any other type of book for entertainment.
We're told to "seek ye first the kingdom of God."
So let it publicaly be known... this will be on my goals for 2009.

I'm still confused on the Nondenominational thing. It must be nice to believe in God and Jesus Christ but not commit, really, to any practices or actions on a regular basis supporting it. Cheryl admits she likes not having to feel or obligated to sit in a congregation regularly, and feel she's being preached to or hear testimony of how the Lord has blessed others in their lives.
But I was quite surprised when she shared with me the following.
She feels it's easier to justify and live with her own short coming and what she feels is a lack of blessings and a list of failures. Being Nondenominational justifies her lack of enthusiasm and ambition in doing what she admit can be a better job religiously. But she also says it spill over into other aspects of her life. She knows she's only fooling herself and not so much of anyone around her, but for now, she's OK with willing to live like that.
With that being said, I must say to some it should seem like I should blast Cheryl for her lack of desire to make her religious actions consistent with her religious claims. But I don't feel that way one bit. First of all, "we believe that others can worship whomever, where ever and how ever they want." Its a little irritating when she quotes me things like.. "the bible says...." I have to remind her... "girl, I have a bible, I read it, I know what it says." But I feel we all do that to some degree.
I respect Cheryl a great deal. She knows she is at conflict in her spirit. I appreciate her willingness and humility in recognizing it. She's miles ahead of those who "know what they know and can't take into consideration anything but what they know.." when in reality what they know and what they do are in conflict, inconsistent and those around them see it but they themselves are oblivious to it. Actually it's kind of fun to watch that sort of person. Trudge forward in self pride whilst making a fool out of themselves.
OK, shame on me, for that last few sentences but I find that sort of person quite entertaining.

Cheryl asked me if I could give her any religious council as a friend what would it be. For me I told her it was simple.
Get a bible and read it. I know she read it as a child, teenager and what not. But as we grow older and wiser with life experiences, we see things differently, Although the words are the same, as we are humble and childlike and toward our father in heaven, deeper meanings and perceptions are revealed to us that we understand on a deeper level as adult.

Also I believe with fullness of heart in the following Scriptures:
James 1:5-6

Luke 11:9-10

Especially Luke. I've heard a lot of people say "well God hasn't revealed such and such knowledge to me." And when I ask them.... "have you asked??"
And the response is usually something like "he's revealed many other things to me I'm sure if it were truth he would have revealed that also."
In my opinion that's spoken like a person who has MUCH to learn. I do believe God reveals things to us as we need them and in our own due time. But I whole heartily believes he reveals even more to those of us who ask. Or why else would he command us to
"Come unto me...."
"Ask and ye shall receive..."
"Seek and ye shall find..."
"Knock and it shall be opened.."

We have an obligation to become humble before the Lord and call upon him, not just for the asking of blessing "to be healed, keep us safe, finding a job, gimme gimme gimme." And all of us have a lot more to be thankful for besides "food, fellowship and family." Or the Three F's as I've heard some of my Baptist friends call it. We have an obligation to him and ourselves to ask about the truthfulness and integrity of people around us and our families, the righteousness of political issues and those who are running for political office, if a career path is right to take or even who to court and marry. Why WOULDN'T we ask he who is all knowing on these issues? Of course we're expected to act for ourselves but we're also expected to study things out the best of our knowledge, ask in faith believing and act in according to the answer we receive. I also believe it we act in accordance to what we believe to be correct the Lord will interfere in our best interest before we make those drastic mistakes. Some mistakes we are allowed to make because from them we gain wisdom. But I believe in seeking his council and asking for knowledge the mistakes we make are minor and give us wisdom and strength.

So Cheryl, My Non-committal/non denominational friend, That is my council to you. Know that I only gave it Cuz you asked me for it. You are my friend regardless of religious differences, you always have been. I enjoy our discussions and the things I learn from you make me a better Daughter of God as well.


Anonymous said...

Girl, I love you too! I love our discussions and get so much from them. Thanks you for being my sister in Christ and for teaching me that faith and works, actions and intent all matter when we say we're Christians and women of God.


Jahn said...

I think your original premise is pretty much spot-on. Or maybe the proper expression would be "not yet fully committed". There is such a thing as "brand loyalty". :-)

WRT prophets and continuing revelation, you left out Amos 3:7. (I can't quote it very well in English, but it's the verse about God doing nothing without first letting the prophets in on it.

Mark Mo' Boy said...

Your advice to "Get a Bible and read it" is profound. If everyone got out their scriptures and read it daily, this country would be a very different place.

I get there most days. I've been plodding through the old testament, and I've just finished Job. Great insights and some really cool quotes in that one...

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