This is a post about why I go to church. There are three angles to cover.
THE PERSONAL ANGLE
There was some talk earlier about doing some posts at TTC on the topic of “love letters to the Church,” a topic which mixes with my personality like oil with water; and I don’t think we’re talking about the base of some delicious salad dressing (I only like ranch anyway).
There was also talk of doing a series on why we stick with the Church despite its foibles. That concept is a bit mysterious to me. I don’t have to stick it out because I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I’m usually quite happy with the Church. In North America, I especially like the Southern Baptist Convention and the Presbyterian Church of America. I’ve been with the SBC arm of the Church pretty much my whole life, usually with connections to Pentecostals, Mennonites, Non-denominationals, Presbyterians of other stripes, and Baptists of other stripes and in other countries—and with friends from all over the Church.
I maintain the unfashionable stance that the SBC is a great place to be. My memories of feeling differently about the SBC arm of the Church are old and faded like discarded blue jeans, and mostly connected with a few very personal problems with a very few persons.
So the fashionable distaste for orthodox Christianity is just something I’ve never shared, and the fashionable distaste for orthodox Christians has only been a tiny, tiny part of my life.
I’m well aware the there are atheists, deists, and folks from other religions who’ve contributed to the economy, the legal system, or the vaccinations I’ve benefited from in my life.
Nevertheless, generally speaking, I can say that I owe just about everything I am and have to the Church, without which I would be much less personally, spiritually, financially, physically—and probably any other -ally you can think of.
THE C. S. LEWIS ANGLE
But I really don’t know why you should care what I think. I hardly care what I think myself. What matters is what the truth is.
Here is some truth expressed in what I’m pretty sure is C. S. Lewis’ way of talking:
The Christian and the church are not separate and distinct entities. For a Christian to abandon the church because there is something wrong with it is for a man to abandon his baby because he makes scary diapers, to leave his wife because she is sometimes annoying, or to cut off his own leg because he has a bad ankle.
THE BIBLICAL ANGLE
The Church is a community. Describing exactly what that community is is something I’m not prepared to do in this blog post. Roughly speaking, it’s the community of those human beings who love God, the community of those human beings who are redeemed by Jesus Christ, and the community of those human beings who profess Christian orthodoxy.
This community has gone through some changes over the centuries. It wasn’t always called “the Church.” Its first members were Adam and Eve; it was formalized somewhat with Abraham; it was a theocracy under Moses and a monarchy under David; it was sent into exile when Babylon destroyed the first temple; it returned to Palestine during the Persian empire, but in large part it remained a scattering of assemblies in cities all over the Persian, and later the Grecian, world; it met its Messiah when Jesus Christ came in the flesh, and was bound to his name ever after (“Christianity”); it formally took in Gentile members when Peter met Cornelius, and a little later Paulexplained why this is ok.
And that is only the beginning of the Church’s story.
And that is the beginning of the story of the community of which I am a part. This is the community of God’s people, the redeemed of Jesus Christ. It still exists in the form of various assemblies—now scattered all over the world.
How could I abandon these assemblies? Even if I wanted to, it would be wrong.
Dr. Mark J. Boone is a teacher and researcher in philosophy, especially the history of philosophy, primarily the ancient and medieval eras, writing his dissertation on Saint Augustine. Dr. Boone is the Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Forman Christian College. Mark is an occasional book reviewer for the journal Augustinian Studies and has written articles dealing with Plato, William James, theology and the arts, and religious epistemology. In some of his precious little spare time Mark makes animated cartoons based on famous speeches and dialogues in the history of philosophy, available on YouTube and Vimeo under the username TeacherofPhilosophy.