This began as a Facebook note, but I thought it was worth giving more public access, after the response on Facebook. As one who converted from what I would call mainstream Evangelical Christianity to Confessional Lutheranism a few years ago, these are the things that struck me thinking back on it this week.
After converting to Lutheranism 6-ish years ago, I rejoiced in finally having a theological foundation on which I could base my understanding. I didn't have to "figure it out for myself" anymore. I didn't have to wander from church to church to church looking for one that "had the right fit for me" or that was *really* based on the Bible only (uhhh....) or challenged me in just the right way. The Lutherans were *right,* and so I didn't need to look around anymore. Huzzah!
I've been reminded recently, though, just how this decision has been viewed by my Christian friends: like I'm insane. Not only did I join a church they viewed as antiquated and exclusive (Communion), but the idea of fully embracing an entire theological perspective without *knowing* every detail of it is *dangerous.* Because how can I trust it's right without taking each element and turning it over, digging it out, and deciding for myself how it should be interpreted?
I'm writing this tonight based specifically on two things that happened this week.
1. I read this blog entry (http://musicalcatechesis.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/our-trip-to-mars-hill/
), reminding me of exactly how church used to be for me - and why I'm glad it's not like that now.
2. I mentioned to a Christian friend that I had been watching the Worldview Everlasting videos on YouTube about some Lutheran view on some topic or another. And he said to me, "Oh, what view does he have?" and I said, "The Lutheran one." He asked me to remind him what that was, so I explained in brief the Lutheran view and he said, "oh, sounds like this guy has a pretty good understanding." At which point everything came crashing down on me...
I forgot how *individual* Christianity is out there.
I forgot that church services were about the pastor's personal Biblical convictions primarily and trusting him was good, but also to be continually tested, in case the church down the road might be better.
I forgot how defining Christianity is for you to do for yourself - hopefully coming to the "right" conclusions along the way.
I forgot how I used to think someone who "blindly" followed a church's (denomination) beliefs was unintelligent or weak of faith or both. (Lord, have mercy.)
When my friend was talking about "this guy," he probably meant "this guy's personal understanding of the Scriptures, which if he's doing it right is drawn from all manner of Biblical resources and insights, ultimately choosing for himself what the right answer is." The idea of drawing from Lutheran sources only is closed minded and foolish, which is probably how I appear to him.
I say I'm a confessional Lutheran, but there's a lot of the Book of Concord I haven't read. There are plenty of aspects of Christianity and being Lutheran that I just plain can't explain or haven't even given that much thought to. I'm a sham.
It doesn't mean I won't read all the confessions someday or learn how to speak more intelligently about my faith. But *that* doesn't mean that I will analyze every word of everything I read or hear, looking for the loopholes or errors or to decide whether or not it's right. Instead, I'll read with the hope of learning something new, and I'll continue to depend upon my pastors and Lutheran friends to guide me along the right path and not lead me astray.
In light of these reminders, I cling all the more, as one weak in so many aspects, to the hope of Jesus' forgiveness of my failings - apart from my feelings today about it, or my deep understanding of it. I remember now how scary it is out there, and how I want to hide under a pew from all that stuff I used to walk in. While being the crazy abandoner of my friends is hardly fun or easy (and has gotten no easier), I can bear that when it means confidence that God is present each week in Communion, declares His forgiveness through my pastor, and speaks through His Word, which is read in abundance.