Let me reiterate my intention with this entire Holding Up Our Sign series:
We have had trouble finding a place where we feel comfortable. In many churches, there is a terrific theological alignment, but a disagreement over social and lifestyle issues. In other churches, we fit right in to the social norms, but there are doctrinal differences that we just can’t ignore.
I am attempting to present the ideas from a wide variety of denominations that we have encountered, which we found particularly valuable – or particularly troublesome. This will include any number of churches that we know we would never attend, and it not my intention to recommend them to you wholesale.
We’re piecing together the quilt of our Home Church belief system. You get a ringside seat for the process!
I mentioned all the things we adore about the Mennonites, and related Anabaptist churches, in my previous post What We Can Learn From the Plain People.
Since I like them so much, you may wonder why we aren’t a member of one of those churches. Well, there are good reasons for that.
Understanding, again, that there are countless shades of difference among various sub-groups, I am going to go ahead and speak in generalities. After all, my point is only to clarify our beliefs, not make a doctrinal treatise on someone else’s.
A Personal Relationship With Christ
The Old-Order Amish, at least, seem to have a more distant relationship to the Lord than we prefer. It seems that individual study is not encouraged, and that Bible reading is done only aloud (at church services, or at home by the husband/father). They do not make as much an issue of a moment of personal conversion and salvation as they do of the decision to take the vows to join the church.
On the one hand, this does solve the problem we often observe in the church of a too-casual attitude towards the Savior. Wolf commonly says, “Jesus is not your drinking buddy!”
But this also denies a peace and security that only comes with an intimate relationship with our Lord, and the assurances of reading and knowing His Word.
(This is certainly not the case with all Anabaptists).
The Anabaptists are pacifists. They do not serve in the military.
At first this seemed like an issue that we didn’t need to make “an issue” out of. It’s not theology, after all. Right?
The first wrinkle in that comes from the fact that Wolf is, even now, serving in the military. And in discussing it, it became more and more clear that we would find many other things “colored” by their views on that.
I feel that to accept membership in a group that does not believe in that would dishonor the people we love (including Wolf) who serve their country in that manner, which we esteem very highly. It would feel especially wrong when held up against the sacrifice of both Wolf’s Uncles (his father also served, but made it home), and our sweet family friend Matt, who went Home serving in Afghanistan last year (view my Farewell post).
(The cute bumper sticker design is from Zazzle)
It’s somewhat humorous – we wouldn’t be allowed to join most Anabaptist churches even if we wanted to.
Wolf and I are both previously divorced, you see (you can find out stories under the “About Us” tab). And in their eyes, that makes our marriage invalid. We are living in sin, and as such cannot become members of their church.
I totally agree that divorce is wrong. God hates it.
But you know what? I have repented, and asked forgiveness. So I am forgiven. Covered by the Blood of Christ.
The Lord has promised that that transgression is gone. As far as the East is from the West.
So if they Mighty Creator of the Universe isn’t going to hold it against me… Then who are you to judge me based on my past?