Looking at my label

Ortho-Bapti-Presby-Costal.

It’s the self-made moniker I used to use when trying to describe where I stand on the theological landscape. I’d previously heard others use similar terms as tongue-in-cheek descriptions (“Bapticostal”), but I found that they didn’t quite cover my particular viewpoint sufficiently. When trying to describe my personal take on theology to new friends, I’d often say, “Well, on the theological landscape, I’m somewhere between the Zwinglians and the Calvinists…”, and most people would politely smile and nod… and not really have much of an idea of what I was talking about.

That’s okay… I’m *used* to seeing that look on people’s faces…

However, I was reading a blog this morning that caused me to look at my current position on the theological landscape… and I find that OrthoBaptiPresbyCostal doesn’t quite fit anymore. You see, while I appreciate the Orthodox view of the presence of Jesus, I’ve never been in an Orthdox church, so I can’t really *own * that label. I want to find a new “piece” to fit in that Orthodox hole that I’ve appreciated from the outside, but never experienced.

As I was preparing for worship today, I came across a lectionary-based blog with some very interesting entries. In one of them, I found a viewpoint worth sharing with you:

“Faithful people can see things differently. [A blogger who attended a mainline seminary] may not care for the ‘aesthetics’ and ‘atmospherics,’ but, at my seminary, the ‘aesthetics’ and the ‘atmospherics’ were–and are–critical elements of our spiritual life and spiritual formation. When evangelicals need encouragement in the faith, they talk about their personal faith in Jesus. When [traditional mainline Christians] need encouragement in the faith, we do a liturgy.”

In reading that paragraph, it struck me: in our church family, we do a little of BOTH. We express our personal faith in Jesus with liturgy. It’s a very nice blend.

I’ve discovered that I’m becoming quite familiar with my new theological surroundings as the pastor of a conservative, mainline church. We’re an interesting mix of old school Reformed theology, a healthy dose of Congregational governance, and something I’ll describe as “agricultural self-reliance”. We have both the “we’ve always done it that way” mentality, and the “hey, we can probably try that new thing once – we might like it”. How refreshing!

As a congregation, we’re grounded by knowing who we are, because we know where we came from. At the same time, we’re willing to step out in faith, and see what God will do among us. That’s rare.

So, I think I’ll trade in my old “OrthoBaptiPresbyCostal” phrase, and just be comfortable using a new nickname:

Congregational.

KFJ – Pastor Ed

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1 Response to “Looking at my label”


  1. 1 Anonymous May 1, 2012 at 3:30 am

    Ha! Good job Ed. You know Jenny and I promised ourselves when we started saying “we’ve always done it that way” we would leave the CE board and let somebody else have a turn! Yikes now I’m back lol


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