My religious upbringing


I awakened this morning recalling that I knew a man such as the one in the painting. His name was Ira Redd, and he was my girlfriend’s great-grandfather when I was in my teens. Ira was in his 90s at the time, which was a very advanced age in 1967. Grandpa, as I called him, spent his days sitting in the same spot on the sofa reading his Bible. He was a kindly man who liked to talk of the old days (which would have been the 1800s for him), and one to whom I enjoyed listening. He never spoke to me of God, but I can still hear the prayer that he offered over his food: “Thank the Good Lord.” He was in the Church of Christ and always had been, although he had stopped going because of his frailty. My father’s father and his father before him had been preachers in that church, and most of my relations on my father’s side were still in it.

I had by then started attending the Episcopal Church occasionally, but I hadn’t completely stopped going to the Church of Christ. I even remember driving thirty miles one night to the little community of Four Corners to preach. You might say that I was being “groomed” for the ministry, so it wasn’t unusual for me to preach short sermons before the real preacher conducted the main event, but my Four Corners’ sermon marked the only time that I was the main event.


No C of C sermon was complete without the promise of eternal hellfire for sinners, and the description often included excruciating details about what it would feel like for a person’s entire body to be immersed in a “lake of fire.”  It was sometimes said that it would like touching a hot stove, only the pain would extend over your entire body and never end, which meant that you would be writhing, screaming, and colliding with other damned souls for a million years times a million years, and even that would be a drop in the bucket compared to what awaited you. I was exposed to such sermons from infancy, and would sometimes hide under the bed in terror when I got home.

I was baptized at age twelve. This was about what most people considered “the age of accountability,” which meant that I would have gone to hell had I died unbaptized. My best friend and I had “come forward” after a revival sermon in a country church one night and, the only baptistry being in town, we were taken there immediately because it was believed that, even after you asked to be baptized, you could still go to hell if you died before it happened.


I felt very good about myself afterwards, because I was free of sin, and because I had made a major step toward manhood. The feeling lasted until noon the next day when I had a sinful thought, and was back in danger of going to hell. The main benefit of being baptized was that I could now serve communion in church. The Church of Christ has communion every Sunday, and in my congregation, it took five men (it had to be men) to serve it. One man stood in the middle of the other four behind the communion table, said a few words, and offered a prayer. He would then hand the other men the large, silver-plated servers containing the Matzo crackers, and they would pass them up and down the rows.

Once they reached the back of the church, they would walk back to the front and start off again with trays of Mogen David. The four trays were stackable when not in use, and contained a lot of tiny glasses each of which nestled in its own little slot. After the bread and wine came the collection. There were no pledge envelopes because the Church of Christ doesn’t believe in pledges. Aside from girls, I thought that everything about communion was just the coolest thing in the world, so I helped with it every time I could which was fairly often. I also led the singing at times, despite the fact that I can’t consistently carry a tune (I didn’t know about this problem until I married Peggy, wives being quick to point out that kind of thing).

Everything about the Church of Christ flows from its belief that it’s the only true church, that it has been in continuous existence (mostly underground) since Biblical times, and that it believes and operates exactly as Jesus intended. The truth is that it originated in the late 1800s, and has since split into three groups. The liberal group (ha) uses communion trays for the wine and has women Sunday School teachers. The conservative group uses only one glass for the wine (because that’s all Jesus used), and women aren’t allowed to teach Sunday School. My group was middle-of-the road in that it allowed communion trays but wouldn’t let women teach Sunday School. Because the C of C contains more than one division, and because every congregation is a law unto itself, it’s impossible to make belief statements that apply to every congregation, but, except for the part about women, the following should come close:

The Bible is perfect in every detail and should be taken literally except in cases of obvious metaphor.

If the Bible were shown to contain a single minor contradiction or to be in error about the least thing, the entire Bible would be discredited.

If a person seeks God with his whole heart, God will lead that person to the C of C even if he lives all alone on a desert island or in deepest Siberia.

Every adult who isn’t a member of the C of C will go to hell. Babies and little children will probably go to heaven, but we can’t know for sure.

It is essential to “Speak Where the Bible Speaks, and Be Silent Where the Bible is Silent.” For example, since the Bible doesn’t mention instrumental music, our singing is entirely a cappella. For the same reason, women aren’t allowed to so much as make announcements in church or ask questions during Wednesday night Bible study.

Only C of C baptisms are valid, and they must be done by immersion.


No church was more rigid because we simply couldn’t be wrong or acknowledge that any other church had the least valid point. As with all hardcore groups, the only reason we cared about other people’s beliefs was so that we could point out the error of their ways, yet we weren’t encouraged to look for converts due to our belief that if a person truly sought God, God would lead that person to us.
 

Around age twelve, I started to develop an intense and open-minded interest in other churches. Until my preacher stopped me, I went door-to-door with Jehovah’s Witnesses (at the time, the group consisted of three young men who had come to town to start a Kingdom Hall), and I eventually visited every other denomination in town. On the one hand, I would defend C of C doctrine tooth-and-nail, but on the other, I was losing my belief in it. From age eleven, I was angry with God because I had started to discover that much of the Bible portrays him as uncaring and unjust, although it claims the opposite. In my mind, this made his appear both vicious and hypocritical. A year or so later, I cursed him aloud, only to immediately worry that I had committed “the unpardonable sin.” 

Fire-and-brimstone sermons had left me in terrible fear of God since my earliest remembrance, and this new fear put me almost into a blind panic that returned again and again for years, but I was so ashamed of what I had done that I couldn’t tell anyone. One night, I went to the home of the preacher who had baptized me with the intention of telling him what I had done, but when I got there, I couldn’t bring myself to talk about it. In college, I met someone who said he had once discussed religion with an atheist, and I developed an interest in that, but I couldn't make sense of it, and I had no avenue by which to explore it.

There’s no way I can know the extent to which the C of C made me who I am, but I suspect that the church’s influence is far-reaching in my life even today and even into my relationship with Peggy. For example, I have wondered if her customary certainty that she is correct about all manner of things comes from her Baptist childhood, and my need for endless validation from my C of C upbringing. I say this because when a person is determined to not be the way he or she was raised, it’s easy to unknowingly carry out the same mindset but in different channels. In both our cases, religious certainty was emphasized, but her church lacked the requirement that she never admit that another person’s viewpoint was even a little bit rational. Therefore, could it not be that her need for certainty came from what she was taught, and my need for validation from what I was denied when I started to lose my faith?

Likewise, I have two former Jehovah’s Witness friends who complain of their inability to feel close to others. This makes sense when you consider that non-JW friendships were forbidden to them. While it was relatively easy for my friends to escape JW doctrine, they might never escape being the kind of people that the church made them. I know that, in my case, I was regularly told that, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (I Corinthians 15:19) and the like, and while it was easy for me see the idiocy in the church’s teachings about pianos and how much water to use during baptism, I have never succeeded in escaping that, and I’m 66-years-old. Can I know that I wouldn’t feel a similar despair had I been raised a secular humanist? No, because it’s the old nature versus nurture conundrum.

It is my thought that all religion is to some degree like the JW and the C of C, so I strongly believe that religious indoctrination constitutes child abuse or something close to it. Readers who say that religion is a private matter, and I shouldn’t attack it, completely miss the point. Religion isn’t a matter of chocolate versus vanilla; religion is Satan, or at least it would be if Satan existed. The harm of the Hitlers and Stalins is minuscule compared to that of the christs.

25 comments:

Steve Finnell said...

THE DEFINITION AND PURPOSE OF WATER BAPTISM BY STEVE FINNELL

What is the definition and the purpose of water baptism under the New Covenant?

THE DEFINITION?

Baptism as defined in the Scriptures.

Acts 8:36 And, as they went on their way they came to a certain water; and the eunuch said, Look, here is water; what is there to hinder me from being immersed? (Ref: The Better Version of The New Testament by Chester Estes)

The definition of baptism is to be immersed in water.

Acts 8:36 As they went along the road they came to some water;and the eunuch said, "Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?" (Ref: NASB)

The definition of water baptism under the New Covenant is immersion in water.

Romans 6:4 We were, therefore, buried with him by immersion into that death; that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, thus we also should walk in newness of life. (Ref: TBVOTNT by Chester Estes)

In water baptism, believers in Christ are buried by immersion in water. This symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

Romans 6:4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. (Ref: NASB)

To be buried through baptism makes it clear that water baptism is immersion. Men cannot be buried under a sprinkle or by having water poured over them.

Colossians 2:12 Having been buried with him by immersion, by which also you were raised up with him, through the belief of the strong working of God, who raised him from the dead. (Ref: TBVOTNT by Chester Estes)

Water baptism is a burial by immersion.

Colossians 2:12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. (Ref: NASB)

Baptism is a burial by immersion.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF WATER BAPTISM?

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Let each one of you repent and be immersed, in the name of Jesus Christ, in order to the remission of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Ref: The Better Version Of The New Testament by Chester Estes)

One purpose of water baptism is in order to have sin forgiven.

Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Ref: NASB)

A reason to be baptized in water is so your sins may be forgiven.


Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been immersed into Christ, have put on Christ. (Ref: TBVOTNT by Chester Estes)

One purpose of water baptism is to put on Christ.

Galatians 3:27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. (Ref: NASB)

A purpose for water baptism is so men can be clothed with Christ.

Mark 16:16 He who has believed, and has been immersed, will be saved..... (Ref: TBVOTNT by Chester Estes)

A purpose of water baptism is in order to be saved.

Mark 16:16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved.... (Ref: NASB)

One reason to be baptized in water is so that you may be saved from the punishment of your sins.


YES, WATER BAPTISM (IMMERSION IN WATER) IS ESSENTIAL TO BE SAVED.



YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

Stephen Hayes said...

It's too bad that religions don't leave children alone to make up their minds about what form of faith they want to follow until they're old enough to make knowledgeable decisions, because this talk of hell and fire and brimstone is child abuse in my opinion. Of course, most religious organizations want to claim young people before they develop an ability to reason.

Elephant's Child said...

The nature/nurture argument is one that fascinates me.
As you know, I grew up without religion. My father was a lapsed Jew, who said that religion cost too much. My mother was lapsed C or E, who said she believed but showed no other evidence.
We were left to make up our own minds, to the extent I am not baptised or christened though I believe my brothers were. Of my three siblings two are certainly agnostic and more probably atheist like me. The other was received into the Catholic church before his first marriage and still pays lip service at least.
I wonder who you would have been without your religious grounding (which certainly sounds like abuse to me). A questioner still I would think, but I do wonder where your mind would have taken you.
Sorry. V long comment.

Linda said...

It is not necessary for a treatise of doctrine and scripture to know what baptism means. Look to the Greek language. Baptizo means "to plunge into water, fully submerging. That was used in the Bible. Rhantizo means to pour water. Khtacheo which means to sprinkle was not used. Only baptize was used. The word
"baptize" is not a translation, but a transliteration. If the people who translated the Bible had translated the word "baptize," there would be no pouring or sprinkling in doctrine today.

I am not promoting baptism as salvation, just saying it is the only use of water for salvation that can be used.

I think I remember that King James did not want to be immersed, so he would not approve a translation, only a transliteration that he could define in various ways.

Look this up in your Strong's Concordance. Oh, you don't have that on your bookshelf?

By the way, a person cannot rise up from pouring, or sprinkling, only baptism.

Charles Gramlich said...

I never quite understood why so many Christians put more weight on what the bible says than on what the universe says, since that was also created by God by their thinking.

Snowbrush said...

“Steve, I think you've copied and pasted what amounts to a sermon. This blog is about the subjects I choose to present and hopefully discuss, and, as an atheist, I have no interest in chapter and verse quotations regarding what baptism is for and how it is to be conducted. I only allowed your long comment because it so well represents the mentality that I grew up with, by which, on the one hand, God is proclaimed as a God of love, but on the other, he'll send people to eternal hell over the least technicality.

"his talk of hell and fire and brimstone is child abuse in my opinion”

I think it’s more than opinion. Any time you have a small child perpetually scared out of his wits because he’s afraid God is going to burn him alive for “his sins” when he’s not even capable of understanding what a sin is, that’s child abuse. Yet, in the C of C, any sermon that didn’t contain the threat of hell was considered weak and lacking. The Gospel wasn’t so much about God’s love as God’s threats.

“It is not necessary for a treatise of doctrine and scripture to know what baptism means. Look to the Greek language.”

Oh, yes, the Greek language. God is so eager to make his wishes known that he requires illiterate and semi-literate people, such as the ones I grew up with, to check their Strong’s Concordance to understand how he expects them to be baptized. My father only had an eighth grade education that he got in a one-room schoolhouse, and his reading skills were so poor that he could only read the newspaper by pointing at every individual word and mouthing it silently, yet as Steve would have it, if such a man doesn’t understand just exactly how God wants him to be baptized (along with other such minutiae), he’ll go to hell no matter what is in his heart or how much he wants to please his Creator. Small people worship small gods. No wonder you emerged an atheist.

“I never quite understood why so many Christians put more weight on what the bible says than on what the universe says, since that was also created by God by their thinking.”

As they see it, the Bible is flawless, and the universe accursed. Also, no amount of natural knowledge will tell a person how many drinking vessels God wants his people to use during communion.

rhymeswithplague said...

I guess I would not call you an atheist exactly, but more of a "recovering fundamentalist" in the same sense that an alcoholic is always recovering (not recovered).

This was a fascinating post, Snow. Thank you for sharing it. I did think of a question as I was reading, which is: Why, then, don't C of C men wear floor-length robes (dresses?) since that is what Jesus wore? Just asking. Oh, and the "Bible" does mention musical instruments, but it is in the Old Testament (see Psalm 150) which the C of C does not recognize because it calls itself a New Testament Church. That reminds me of Abraham Lincoln's old riddle about if you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have? Someone said 5, and Lincoln said, no, 4. Calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg. Calling the Old Testament not part of the Bible does not make it not part of the Bible. Could the C of C have been mistaken?

Snowbrush said...

“Why, then, don't C of C men wear floor-length robes (dresses?) since that is what Jesus wore?”

Think of it this way. You have things that the Biblical people did that were related to belief and worship and thing that weren’t, and it was the former that the C of C wanted to get exactly right. For example, they had no musical instruments, but some of the men who led singing used pitch-pipes, as I think they were called. The idea was that these were an aid to worship rather than a part of worship, and this made them permissible. As for pianos, they were seen as a part of worship, so they were not permissible. Even today, on those rare occasions that I hear a hymn being accompanied by a piano or organ, it doesn’t sound right to me. Yet, I can enjoy the music of the Episcopal Church, for example, because it’s so different from what I grew up with that it doesn’t bring up the same feeling.

“and the "Bible" does mention musical instruments, but it is in the Old Testament (see Psalm 150) which the C of C does not recognize because it calls itself a New Testament Church.”

Also, David “danced before the Lord” (which royally (ha) pissed his wife off, as I’m sure you’ll recall), but we didn’t dance because things that were in the Hebrew Bible didn’t count.

“Calling the Old Testament not part of the Bible does not make it not part of the Bible. Could the C of C have been mistaken?”

The C of C is big on the idea of the “Old Covenant” versus the “New Covenant,” yet if you say you favor gay marriage, I’ve no doubt but what they would drag out “Old Testament” verses right and left. They would justify this by saying that morality is the same under both “covenants.” As for them being mistaken…let me drag out something for you that I read in preparation for writing this. I was wondering if the “one cuppers” have much of a presence anymore, and in the process of looking, I came across this: http://www.christianforums.com/t7331267/. RefrusRevlis is a one-cupper who is upholding his position against people who believed otherwise. You’ll note two things: he knows the Bible very well, and he won’t give a fraction of an inch about anything. The C of C is NEVER wrong, and the C of C will NEVER acknowledge that those who disagree with them are anything but evil.

Snowbrush said...

“I guess I would not call you an atheist exactly, but more of a "recovering fundamentalist" in the same sense that an alcoholic is always recovering (not recovered).”

Do me a favor and define God because that’s the only I can tell you whether I’m an atheist or not. If you define God is a supernatural entity, then I’m an atheist because I no more believe in such a deity than I believe in ghosts. If you define God as a property—love for example—then I’m not. To me, that which is good about religion—some religion anyway—can never rise above the level of metaphor. As for being a “recovering fundamentalist,” this is true, of course, only if a person hates something as much as I hate fundamentalism, can he even be said to be in recovery? Reading the tedious arguments of Steve and Refrusrevlips makes me want to spit on them. This is my problem, of course, rather than theirs. After all, I understand more than most the fact that fundamentalists desperately NEED to feel that they KNOW, and that anything less than full knowledge would terrify them. They simply can’t abide uncertainty or ambiguity, and having been raised to also see the world in terms of stark blacks and stark whites, I find it difficult to accept a universe that I perceive to be filled with uncertainty and ambiguity. The worse thing about Christian fundamentalists it that, given free-reign, I believe that they would be just as willing to murder people as Islamic fundamentalists.

Linda said...

I suppose I should have addressed the comment to Steve Finnel, the one who wrote you a sermon. That was not intended to be for people like your father.

This is where those who know better should be telling people who do not have the same privilege that I do.

Linda said...

I m positive Fundamentalist Christians would murder as Islamists do. I have seen their rage and hate.

Snowbrush said...

“This is where those who know better should be telling people who do not have the same privilege that I do.”

Who know better than what? It’s all opinion. If you ask a Baptist preacher what kind of baptism God prefers, he will say one thing, and if you ask a Presbyterian, he will say another, and I’m confident that each would claim that the original Greek (or is it Aramaic?) supports his view. And this is assuming that you’ve already gone to the trouble to establish that Christianity is God’s preferred religion (how do you REALLY knows it’s not Hinduism?), and you’re convinced that regardless of the word those ancient and anonymous people used, God even gives a rip about how much water is used and how it’s applied. If I were a Christen, it would be my view that baptism is a symbolic act rather than a test in which one must either learn Greek—or trust someone who has learned Greek—in order to get it done right. In other words, I wouldn’t regard baptism as having anything to do with water and everything to do with reverence. This appears to be the view of most of Christendom. It is almost entirely those churches that immerse that refuse to recognize other forms of baptism as valid.

lotta joy said...

I'm sure that Steve Finnell did not realize he was helping your case when he listed his thesis, but it proves the power of the blind leading the blind.

In a church setting, there is the bonding of mass hypnosis that aids each person to believe what will bond him to his fellow believers. If one person at the C of C had suggested another way of baptizing, or offering communion with piano accompaniment, he would have been ostracized. "WE don't believe that" holds as much fear for an adult speaking their mind as it does for a child.

Yet an adult can turn his mind to other things immediately after service, unlike the innocent child. That is why it is, indeed, a form of child abuse.

If a parent doesn't twist the child's mind at an early age, much as the Chinese bind the feet of female infants, then the child might grow up to be a source of ridicule and shame for the parents.

Joe asked how I became an atheist after so many years of christian indoctrination. I said "Joe, read the bible. But NOT as part of a group, for you will accept, ignore, and gloss over the passages they choose not to delve into and you will miss the obvious barbarism of a brutal and unfair lunatic.

Read it slowly, savoring every word on your own. Then your eyes will be opened to the atrocities of murder, feeling joy while bashing the brains of infants, and that rape and slavery is acceptable. And if you think the New Testament is a kinder and gentler god, Jesus is the one who introduces eternal hell."

So why worry about the depth of water for a baptism? Because it is a smoke screen to avoid the true biblical horrors that christians, as a group, purposefully gloss over.

Indeed, Snow, it doesn't take much introspection to understand how a child such as yourself can become an atheist yet still writhe with ingrained insecurities.

This is how they planned it to work.

Snowbrush said...

“In a church setting, there is the bonding of mass hypnosis that aids each person to believe what will bond him to his fellow believers.”

People who believe the same things validate one another in their beliefs, and the Christian religion as a whole is validated by the presence of hundreds of thousands of churches and the wealth they represent. It’s hard for most of us to look at all that without thinking that there must be some truth to Christianity.

“Yet an adult can turn his mind to other things immediately after service, unlike the innocent child.”

I wrote somewhere recently about reading the Bible while all alone after having taken an overdose of Demerol. Doing so gave me an even worse feeling than I had as a child. To read those stories with a child’s freshness but with an adult’s understanding of pain and injustice was a waking nightmare. Children do bounce back, but I found it very hard to bounce back from my Demerol experience.

“Joe asked how I became an atheist after so many years of christian indoctrination. I said "Joe, read the bible.’”

I can understand why reading the Bible would turn you off to a literalistic Christianity, at least, but I don’t understand how it could make you an atheist. You could have simply adopted another view of God, which is what I initially tried to do, but the only one I found that resonated with me at all was Buddhism, but that was partly because Buddhism is compatible with atheism.

“So why worry about the depth of water for a baptism? Because it is a smoke screen to avoid the true biblical horrors that christians, as a group, purposefully gloss over.”

I think it’s a formulaic attempt to win God’s favor by getting his religion exactly RIGHT, and that only a certain kind of person is attracted to such an approach. I would guess that fundamentalists are typically rigid, provincial, authoritarian, and, if that if they have much education, they received it at an institution that was created to affirm what they already believed. It’s also true that fundamentalism is the only game in town in much of the rural South. Unlike many churches, I didn’t find that the C of C glossed-over anything. As I’m sure you recall, my initial faith-shaking experience was in a Bible study FOR CHILDREN, and we were studying a passage in which God ordered the Hebrews to kill innocent men, women, and children, and steal what they referred to as “The Promised Land.” I must give the C of C credit, because they didn’t hesitate to expose children to unvarnished horror.

“Indeed, Snow, it doesn't take much introspection to understand how a child such as yourself can become an atheist yet still writhe with ingrained insecurities.This is how they planned it to work.”

I will admit that a great deal of effort went into making it emotionally and intellectually difficult to leave the C of C, yet I’m sure that many do, and I very much wish I had a way of knowing their %. However, I don’t give the C of C credit for being designedly conspiratorial or possessing psychological sophistication.

Sparkling Red said...

Feeling conflict between one's rational thoughts and the demands of religion is hugely stressful for those of us who can't turn off the voice of logic. You must have experienced very deep and disturbing anxiety during your youth.

Linda said...

"In other words, I wouldn’t regard baptism as having anything to do with water and everything to do with reverence."

Well, Snow, at the point you were talking solely about the meaning of words, it had everything to do with water. But, in the statement above, you changed the focus of the conversation. I was and am talking words not feelings.

Only immersion is valid if you are following the words originally used--baptize, rantizo, and cheo. They are Greek words and only one is used, baptizo. It was transliterated to "baptize" to follow the form of the English language.

I m not responsible for your father's illiteracy. However, ministers who study the Bible know better. The blame and anger would better be placed with them than directed at me. I cannot and will not apologize for my education. But, I do share knowledge with those who will listen.

It seems that lately most of your responses to me are filled with animosity.

Snowbrush said...

“You must have experienced very deep and disturbing anxiety during your youth.”

It wasn’t all bad, but prior to age 11, I experienced a lot of fear, and after age 11, a lot of doubt.

“The blame and anger would better be placed with them than directed at me. I cannot and will not apologize for my education. But, I do share knowledge with those who will listen.”

I’m lost here, but it seems that I caused offense where none was intended, so I can but say that I’m sorry for my lack of clarity in what I communicated. I heard many references to Greek words in sermons, but I just didn’t take them too seriously because I figured they’re like English words in that they can mean different things at different times, and preachers can slant them to prove whatever it was that they already believed. I also questioned whether the literal meaning was important anyway. It seemed to me that we (the C of C) made an idol of the Bible by interpreting its message in a rigid way that valued action above intention, yet this seemed counter to the spirit of Jesus’ message. It’s also true that different churches do baptism in different ways, and I’ve frankly never heard the rationale that Methodists, Episcopalians, and so forth have for the way they do it, or for the fact that they do it when people are babies. I do know that in some churches—Catholic and Episcopal, for example—the church itself is seen to have authority. In other words, the concept of “the Bible only” isn’t shared by all churches, but the church you were in appears to have been like mine in saying that “the Bible is the complete guide to salvation,” and that “the way” is clear to anyone who truly wants to know God. In the Episcopal Church, by contrast, there are three authorities, the Bible, the church, and reason.

Linda said...

Yes, I was reared as a Campbellite an opponent of the COC. Mama said people called them "Campbellites" in derision. Their response was that is better to have a Campbellite than no light at all. My church, The Christian Church, nondenominational was the church I grew up in. Every term you use in relation to your church is so familiar to me.

Check out Joseph Campbell in Kentucky for information.

My ex called me a CoC with a piano because I opposed his lying and deceitful ways. In other words, I was overly strict. Well, a lie has nothing to do with the piano. However, he thought he was above everyone and his cheating on me was what he was allowed to do.

When churches decide to bypass the Biblical authority and add "reason" to the repertoire of means by which to 'discern" the "rules."

My daughter married a Catholic man but did not become a Catholic. So, the priest calls her children bastards. The priest ridiculed in front of everyone the little hat her son wore to his baptism. She openly mocked the priest, saying he wore a dress, so she certainly did not think he knew much about fashion. I am so proud she talked back to him in front of the church...lol.

Yes, my church is one you know from the South. I went to church at the huge Christian Church in downtown Jackson, MS. Then, in Memphis, TN, we attended a much smaller Christian Church.

Of course, words matter. You, of all people, work with words.

I love to torture coc people who try to convince me they don't have musical instruments because they are not used in First century Christians. Well, I point out that they use air conditioners, pews, nurseries, baby beds, and hymnals, church buildings, steeples. Yes, coc people tire of me soon.

Snowbrush said...

“My church, The Christian Church, nondenominational was the church I grew up in.”

We come from common roots. The Church of Christ was a conservative break-away group from the Christian Church, so I’m familiar with Campbell—and Stone too. They were originally Presbyterians, I believe. Their intent was to restore the True Church, so I guess that’s why they thought of themselves as non-denominational, which the Church of Christ does too (“We’re not just another denomination, we’re THE Church of Christ”). Here, there’s an old and lovely Christian Church downtown, and it’s actually quite liberal, but I know that’s not the norm. I suspect that there are more Christian Churches here than in the South, at least in my part of the South. As for being called Campellites, the Church of Christ was too, but it was a term that was seldom heard even when I was a boy in the 1950s, the two men having started the Christian Church back in the 1830s or ‘40s. Since then, the Church of Christ has split into at least three groups that I know of, all of them claiming to be just what Jesus intended.

“When churches decide to bypass the Biblical authority and add "reason" to the repertoire of means by which to 'discern" the “rules.’"

I would offer the Church of Christ as an example of a church that seeks to divorce the Bible from reason. Of course, all churches use some reason whether they admit it or not, or you would have men plucking out their eyes because their eyes looked at a pretty woman. The fundamentalist idea that the Bible is so plain that it needs no interpretation is belied by the fact that there are thousands of different denominations.

“I love to torture coc people who try to convince me they don't have musical instruments because they are not used in First century Christians. Well, I point out that they use air conditioners, pews, nurseries, baby beds, and hymnals, church buildings, steeples.”

In all fairness to them, you miss the point. The things you mention are not a part of worship in the same way that pianos are. I gave the example of C of C song leaders sometimes using pitch pipes. These pipes help them find the key, but pianos go further in that they become a part of the worship. I’m not saying that is reasonable—far from it—but you portray as them as inconsistent hypocrites, whereas they are actually being consistent. It’s a strained consistency—as with the method of baptism—that sounds much more like something the Pharisees would have done than something that Jesus would have cared about, but it is a consistency.

Snowbrush said...

According to the Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Churches_of_Christ):

“In 1906, the U.S. Religious Census listed the Christian Churches and the Churches of Christ as separate and distinct groups for the first time.”

Whoopee, so that’s when the literalistic idiots split off. However, I think this was simply an acknowledgment of a split that had occurred some time previously. Wikipdedia also says that the C of C has now split into four groups. This is what happens when you placed “doing it right” above such trivia as love and harmony. I really have no words to express my contempt for the religious environment that I grew up in. The best I can say for it is that it could have been much worse, and, certainly, not everyone was harmed by it as much as I. Also, most people who grew up in it probably stayed true to it, so they would deny that they were harmed at all, but then this probably true of people were beaten as children too.

Linda said...

I know some coc split over orphanages. One group in town thinks children without homes is not the Lord's work, that money should not be spent on orphans. We have a coc orphanage here in town. Some of the Christian churches split over whether there should be a cloth on the communion table or not, one cup or many individual ones, such silly stuff.

I am surprised that you were not aware of the Christian Churches in the South.

Snowbrush said...

"I am surprised that you were not aware of the Christian Churches in the South."

I was aware of it okay, there just weren't any nearby. Once I moved to the Jackson area to go to college, I started visiting the various denominations in earnest, and First Christian was one that I have a good memory of. There were no Quakers in the whole state of Mississippi though, so I was sorry to have to miss that one.

The First Christian here has the following in its Mission Statement: "...people of all sexual orientations and gender identities are welcome in the full life and ministry of our church."

I should think this would be rare among Christian Churches, but First Christian here is really quite liberal. Its preacher is well known as a good man and a champion of the poor. Peggy's father grew up in the Christian Church, but somehow turned Baptist, a denomination that I hate much more than most.

Linda said...

The Campbellite remark ws one Mama told me in the 50s that happened in her childhood, not mine.

Yes, I like to rile up the coc who tell me how I am going to hell with the piano. I think there would be few who could worship without ac. Really, I only was standing up for myself. Here in town, just before we moved here, a young woman wanted music at her wedding in the coc. So, the put a piano on a pickup, backed to a front window they opened and allow the wicked instrument to waft its horrible strains into the church. The whole town was talking and the derision was thick.

Another wedding used a tape recorder or whatever would have been used in the late seventies (70s). We all laughed and shook our heads. Now, none of us are immune to this type of hypocrisy, but it was a little shocking.

Thankfully, my childhood church experience did not frighten me. However, my younger sister went screaming down the aisle to be baptized ever six months or so. At 13, how many sins could she have committed? My mother was not frightened. When I asked her about anything unclear, she made light of punishment. She was heavy on the "do what is right just because we should do right." Doing right was not to escape punishment.

Joe Todd said...

Snow I was originally C of C but much later joined the Lutheran Church though I haven't been to a service in years. My Great Great Grandfather was a C of C preacher and I have many of his sermons, poems and some lectures from the 20's and 30's. His lecture on "tongues" is interesting and I may post someday. I was recently "studying" The Gospel of Mary Magdalene and found it interesting. Have a good one

Snowbrush said...

“I was recently "studying" The Gospel of Mary Magdalene and found it interesting.”

I think it generally true that the gnostic gospels paint women more favorably than the ones that got into the Bible. The “powers-that-be” not only decided to leave the gnostic writings out of the Bible, they did all that they could to destroy every last copy of them. It’s a wonder that any of the gnostic writings survived.