Sunday, May 30, 2010

Rattling Your Theological Tradition's Sensibilities

Let's face it. I'm a conservative Evangelical who happens to go to a Baptist church. Over the past few year I've come to appreciate that "tradition" and value it much more then I once did.

I'm not talking about cultural evangelicalism; that culture which at times makes me want to just puke. I'm talking about a solid theological Evangelicalism and the expressions of that evangelical theology worked out in the lives of those who hold to it. It is in that sense I speak of the the Evangelical church as my mother. It was that Evangelicalism working through a campus ministry that the Sovereign God used to effectually call me unto Himself.

Now it is also true we can and do get in a rut in whatever Christian "tradition" we find ourselves at home in. That's why it is good to occasionally get outside of that tradition and expose yourself to something that, though orthodox, yet is different enough to really rattle the sensibilities of your own tradition.

You know in your head that the work of the Holy Spirit is not limited by the boundaries of your particular Christian tradition. But if you want to make that idea more then theoretical, then once in a while you need to go see for yourself.

I had a chance to rattle my Evangelical Baptist sensibilities today when we visited an orthodox Anglican church.

Today was Trinity Sunday and the focus of the worship was the Trinity. Ancient songs such as St. Patrick's Prayer were mixed with contemporary songs such as "How Great is Our God". The sermon was about the Trinity, and the preaching was articulate and orthodox. A recitation of the Nicene Creed was also part of the liturgy along with the Scripture readings from the Old Testament, Gospels, and Epistles.

Then there was the communion. The orthodox Anglicans hold a more sacramental view of the Lord's Supper. This raises the question of what is meant by the real presence of our Lord in the communion. At the same time, even though visitors from another Christian tradition, we were welcome to partake in the communion.

It was very clear that this church was very orthodox on the issues of the Trinity and on Jesus as both God and man. The same God I as an Evangelical Baptist worship was being worshipped in this Anglican church. It is also clear from the conversations we have had with family members who go to this church, that the Holy Spirit is working in the life of the church corporately, and in the lives of members of the church individually.

Yes Virginia, the Holy Spirit is at work in Christian traditions other then my own conservative Evangelical tradition. Frankly I think that's just fantastic, and I thank God for it... I love it when in a good way, my sensibilities are rattled like that.

Will I ever be an Anglican? Very probably not for all the reasons I first mentioned. I did find myself pondering the question of the real presence, and I may do some more study and wrestling with that.

I also found myself thinking of the Evangelical Baptist liturgy used at our church. I found I did appreciate it; that in its essence God is honored and worshipped and the Holy Spirit is working through the ministry of the church in the life of the church corporately and in the lives of the members individually.

Sola Deo Gloria!

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