Friday Challenge: What Did You End Up?

If you’ve left fundamentalism, the challenge to day is to tell us where and what you are now. Maybe you’ve got a new denominational label, maybe you’ve decided to abandon labels all together, or maybe you’re just plain confused.

It’s rather difficult to leave somewhere without ending up somewhere else. Share a bit about your greener pastures.

271 thoughts on “Friday Challenge: What Did You End Up?”

  1. I agree about the Restoration of the Imago Dei. Positionally speaking , only when we are in Christ is it perfected in us. In our sin poluted vessels, in our natural state, it is not (ergo: Total Depravity). So regarding redemption… we are not worthy and even the Imago Dei of the original creation is polluted and unworthy of redemption… which is the whole point of Grace.

    At least that’s how I understand it.

  2. @Phil I’m sure it’s not spot on, and I don’t mind Calvinists at all, just to me it fails to acknowledge the problem of good & beauty in creation & humanity even those that are outside of the body of Christ. There’s plenty of evil in the world that Total Depravity explains well, I see the problem of good/beauty as the problem that I can’t get past to get to T.

  3. BTW IDK if that makes sense. It does to me, and I’m fine if not everyone gets it or agrees. I don’t mind Calvinists, it’s just how I see it. We all believe in the necessity of Grace. Even Arminians, which I don’t count myself among either, believe in prevenient Grace (or should if they are true to Arminianism/Wesleyanism.

  4. “both baptists & Orthodox believe that works are essential for salvation. The Orthodox are just honest about it.”

    To be fair, I don’t know that many run of the mill baptists are being dishonest about it – they just haven’t thought about it. I know I never thought about it… until I did. And then I realized that Baptists don’t believe in NO works, they believe in one work… praying that saving prayer. Unless you’re a Calvinist, there is no other way to see that than as a work.

    And to be totally clear, we as Orthodox don’t believe that works save us – we believe that GRACE saves us. But that exists in a cooperative relationship, which implies us DOING something, as opposed to God just foisting something on us that is not our decision.

    Just thought I’d add a bit more to make it clear as mud. πŸ™‚

  5. Rob, Love ya Bro! We can still have good fellowship and kid around on here.

    I used to wrestle with the “total” part as well, but the “total” is not so much a moral statement as it is a quality statement of our fallen state compared to the “otherness”, the Holiness of God. Compared to one another we can place ourselves on a moral line and put markers going from “good” to “bad.” Good being, say, Saint Francis of Assisi, Polycarp, and Mother Teressa. Bad being Genghis Khan. Pol Pot, Hitler and Stalin. We would put ourselves somewhere on this continuum… but when we compare the best of the best, along our line, we find that even they are on the most extreme polar opposite of an absolute fixed point of comparison with the otherness of a holy God. In fact there is no comparison, God and fallen man cannot even be compared to one another. Yet that is the Standard: Perfection. We cannot attain perfection therefore we have to have Grace extened to us.

  6. RE: Sinner’s prayer

    The Romans Road to Salvation- I grew up with the teaching that several verses in Romans (+ John 3:16) contained all the knowledge of what it takes to get saved.

    I don’t remember if it was actually presented that way, but that is certainly the impression it left on me and other students and church kids.

    Indeed, all the referenced verses in Romans are remarkable and powerful, even quotable. But, are they what salvation is all about? Spare me the cliff notes punctuated with highlight verses.

  7. @Don Yeah, I totally understand that point of view, and I know ‘all our righteousness is as filthy rags’. But do believe that universal Grace is present even in unredeemed, and that like Solzhenitsyn famously wrote/said that the line between good and evil runs through each of us (as opposed to between Communists & those opposed to communism, or in this cased saved & unsaved).

  8. “they believe in one workÒ€¦ praying that saving prayer”

    I’ve never understood this argument.

    God required many works of believers in the Old Testament and New.

    Take up your cross and follow me was a work that was required by Christ

    God requires action

    Faith without works is dead

  9. Currently attending and a member of a church that is affiliated with the United Church of Christ (UCC) and the American Baptist Church (UCC). We have lots of members who don’t all agree on minor theological issues but we love Jesus and we love LOVE. We partner with other churches to shelter the homeless in the winter, we work with local ministries that provide food and utility assistance to those struggling financially, we welcome singles, couples, families, all races, all sexualities … it’s great! I love my church. πŸ™‚

  10. @Mitch Smith: It was incredibly eye-opening to me to read through Romans and see the Romans Road verses in their context.

    But do believe that universal Grace is present even in unredeemed, and that like Solzhenitsyn famously wrote/said that the line between good and evil runs through each of us (as opposed to between Communists & those opposed to communism, or in this cased saved & unsaved).

    I’d consider myself a Calvinist (albeit a semi-convinced and pretty non-vocal one) and agree 100% with that statement. Heck, that Solzhenitsyn quote has been my email signature for the past several months. Truth, beauty, goodness, and justice are ALL present in BOTH the saved and the unsaved. It’s called common grace. Every human being still bears the image of God and is fully capable of all those things. For that reason I have no problem with listening to music, reading books, watching movies, viewing art, etc., that have been created by non-Christians. That idea is actually highly consistent with Reformed theology (which BTW is not the same as Calvinism – all Reformed types are Calvinists, but not all Calvinists are Reformed).

    I think we agree here, even if we disagree on our soteriology (and that’s ok); sin has NOT erased truth, beauty, goodness, and justice from the world.

  11. @Amanda πŸ˜‰
    Well said. I suspect I’m misunderstanding many things about Calvinism, and it’s fine by me for people who are Calvinists. I’ve just never really cared that much either way on soteriological definitions/explanations, and suspect I probably wouldn’t fit perfectly into Arminianism either, although I hear less about it and, don’t know any clever anachronisms for it to remember it.

  12. Again, the view of those who believe in sovereign grace is God’s saving grace is manifesting itself in the works He has commanded. When the Lord Jesus called to Lazarus, “Come forth!” We know that Lazarus obeyed, but he was enabled to obey. When the Lord Jesus said to the blind man, “receive thy sight,” he received his sight by the power of the Lord Jesus. When Peter walked on the water, he walked, cooperating, but he walked *on water* because Christ bid him to do it. So it is no great thing to one who believes in sovereign grace to expect (and even demand) obedience as a sign of salvation. I obey precisely because He has bid me to obey, and this is my confort, because I will also learn to forgive enemies, learn to turn the other cheek, learn to give thanks always, learn to pray without ceasing, and finally, rise from the dead, for the exact same reason: He bids me do so, and even the winds and the waves obey Him.

  13. These conversations have been going on for generations, yet God has not added a clarification appendix to the Bible. God has made some smart people to figure these things out and provide explanation. I am not one of those people. I sigh wearily, and think of God’s love, mercy and grace that he has for me and become content with the intellect and understanding that I have. I’m not sure what position is accurate with any certainty, so I must simply trust God. I consider this trust a great gift from God.

  14. hehe. everybody gets so caught up in the predestination issue that i figured i’d be safe pointing out my opposition to “total depravity”. shows what i know πŸ˜€

    i usually make it a practice not to argue these things (because i spent a long time arguing with people (as converts to/from a religion are wont to do) and found it to be fruitless at best and enraging at worst. also, i’m pretty sure that arguing religion caused me to go bald, either from stress or from pulling my hair out myself.) that being said, let’s not get hung up on the fact that some of us reject the “t”. i also profoundly disagree with “ulip”. πŸ˜› but that was more of an aside. my main point is: the sinners prayer/decision/inviting Jesus into your heart is a work. no way around it.

    and, my dearest help-meet LK (can i use “help-meat” again? i really got a kick out of that :D), yes- i could have been clearer. replace “dishonesty” with “(sometimes willful) ignorance” and i think the point is better made. as for the role, we’re saying the same thing, just in 2 different ways. as always, you’re the sobering yin to my raging yang <3

    anyway- does anybody remember patch the pirate? temper tantrum tilley, anyone?

  15. @ reader mo – I used to have issues with total depravity, too, but, mainly because people have made it into something it isn’t. Total depravity simply means we cannot save ourselves. Somehow it’s been warped into “we are nothing but garbage.”

  16. “my main point is: the sinners prayer/decision/inviting Jesus into your heart is a work. no way around it.”

    So was sacrificing an animal on an altar. And the zillion other things that Old Testament saints had to do. But for some reason God required them to do it to get their sins forgiven.

  17. “Total depravity simply means we cannot save ourselves”

    If this is all that it means, then I would agree to it. Unfortunately when expounded upon by some Calvinists…it takes on other meanings that interfere with free will.

  18. @Reader Mo you done did it now. You’re gonna look like the Mr. Clean by the end of the week! If I could give you permission to use “help meat” I gladly would. Good luck convicing @LK.

  19. I know that everyone is different, but when I grasped the idea of total depravity (as in man was born into sin because of Adam and Eve and without God is a hopless wreck) it suddenly all made sense to me.

    I finally got it. It is like the blinders were taken off.

    It helped me take focus off of my spiritual heroes, or any other man for that matter, and put all the focus on God. It brought me to my knees and put God rightfully on the throne in my life. I was blown away by the realization of God’s grace.

    It was life changing for me…but, I definetely understand everyone has their own journey and it is an open handed issue for sure.

  20. WHere am I?
    In between a rock and a hard place…
    Following Jesus, and in the process of healing. Won’t go back to the IFB world but don’t know where that leaves me.
    Husband believes the IFB way is the only and true way.
    It is good to know that there is a God who loves me no matter where I am.

  21. LK is a saint. seriously. i keep waiting for her to figure out that she got the raw end of the deal.

    my other favorite patch the pirate song was, of course, the glorious “wiggle worm”. i can think of nothing more edifying than having a bunch of kids stand up in church and issue a warning, in song, about the evils of wiggling in church. it’s like having a group of fat guys singing and exhorting the congregation not to visit taco bell.

  22. MMM…. Taco Bell…. When I was pregnant with our 7 month old, all I had to do was say “Taco Bell” and Mo would be on his way to buy me a #6, Dr Pepper, hold the ice. yummy… maybe it’s time for another kid….

    …uh, anyway…. @ Loren – your point is taken. I think one of the things that can make discussions such as these more difficult is there can be dozens, if not more, takes on the same thing within Baptist (or similar) circles. Sounds like you already acknowledge that “doing something” is NOT optional. It’s not something you do to “show” you’re “saved” (we don’t believe in that word either, but that’s another story :P); it’s actually a requirement to GET there. So we’re on the same page already. I still think of Baptists as raging against even the idea that repentance is necessary, because that’s what I grew up in. I forget to acknowledge that there is actually a lot of diversity there.

    @ Dan Keller – it really depends on who you ask. When you grow up in a Jonathon Edwards-esque world, you DO think of TD as being “we are nothing but garbage”. How beautiful, and how refreshing it was for me to discover Orthodoxy… to learn that the image of God was only blurred by the fall, not obliterated… that we each still have that image in us and therefore the potential to not only grow into the divine nature, but to partake of it.

    And yes, I am a saint.

    (I keed, I keed….)

  23. @LK

    It’s all good. I try and talk through things and hope you didn’t read too much negative tone into things.

    Dr Pepper hold the ice? Now that’s heresy.

  24. @ I am His beloved, I have been following my husband away from the IFB. It must be a lot harder for you with your husband still in it! “It is good to know that there is a God who loves me no matter where I am.” Yes! Yes! Yes! Cling to that!

  25. @reader mo ha ha, next time argue about the color of paint or something. Actually, it is good to see other perspectives on this from people who have tried to “live it.” As the convert to Catholicism pointed out to me, thinking the accuracy of your knowledge saves you is as bad as thinking any other idol saves you. Ultimately, the only true test and real test of genuine Christian conversion is the benchmark that Christ gave us: the Beatitudes/Sermon on the Mount. I don’t see those behaviors much practiced in Christian Fundamentalism and certainly never taught from the pulpit.

    When we see them in practice we sense that we are with a brother or sister in Christ. That’s really the best we can do, in many ways. Then again, while I don’t think people are garbage (as we are in the image of God), I do think total depravity is far more grave than the inability to save ourselves. We are grossly sinful, but we still have expectations about ourselves, self respect, etc., etc. Conscience is our witness and our prompter. We are in the image of God and as image bearers we have worth.

    But I believe that many 5-point Calvinists will be damned and many Catholics, Jehovah’s witnesses, Mormons, etc., saved, even though I would say their doctrine is quite flawed. They simply love the Lord Jesus and rely on Him as humble children do. And that, I believe, has come about because a sovereign grace has enabled them to do so. But I could be wrong about the mechanics of how it all works.

    All that I can know is seeing the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the peace makers, the merciful, the pure in heart, those who suffer for righteousness’ sake, those who rejoice when they see their suffering on earth and know their reward in heaven is great. In the end, those points still make up the acid test of our salvation, not “did you pray the prayer,” or, worse, “driving down a stake.”

  26. @ Amanda… agreed! (runs to join you under cover) But, as in other things, my husband disagrees with me. It’s his favorite–even though he’s been restricted to diet Dr. Pepper.

  27. Sometimes I think the Sermon on the Mount is a little like the law: it shows me my need for a Savior. I CANNOT live the way Jesus describes on my own. I need His power to enable me to forgive my enemies, to control my thoughts, to rejoice when persecuted.

  28. That’s how I have seen it too. Moses had the law – Jesus came and raised the bar for perfection – the Sermon on the Mount was Law and then some. But then He fulfilled it all for me πŸ™‚

  29. You do see, especially based on the Beatitudes, lives that embrace those distinctives and manifest them, dwelling on them; and lives that reject them, ignore them, don’t perceive them. Christ did fulfill all righteousness for us, and of course we are all sinners, but He also gave us the distinctive behaviors of the Blessed people. And He meant what He said when He described the Blessed People.

    When I deal with these cases of clergy abuse, I often see preachers whose lives are consumed by gender issues, authority (their own, primarily), rock music, voting Republican, etc. And from some of their victims, gentleness, forgiveness, help for others in spite of their own incredible suffering, hope for God’s strength for each day, humility about their own sinfulness. Those are the demonstration of the benchmark test of being Christian. And that behavior does stand out in sharp contrast to the culture of the religion that abused them. If you want examples, go to the Hephzibah House group on Facebook and read the responses and conversations of Susan Grotte and Andrianne Abercrombie, and you will see the manifestation of being poor in spirit, merciful, pure in heart, etc.

    The Bible is true in the most truthful sense of the word, and I don’t mean inerrant in that sterile, dry way that fundies teach, where they quibble about the wording of the KJV and are as ignorant as doorknobs about the purpose and intent of Scripture. Christ said there is a Blessed People, and He described them. If you don’t see those characteristics or see the characteristics of that Blessedness taking root in you, go back to Christ and make those distinctives your constant prayer for yourself, because those are the manifestation of Christ with you. It’s not the prayer you prayed, the card you signed, the type of baptism that got you wet, the church you attend, the clothes you wear, the music you listen to, or the tithe, or the soul winning: the validation of your Christian profession is the benchmark that Christ laid out: those attributes of the Blessed People. Lacking them, we all need to go back to Christ again and again to be made vessels that manifest them. That *is* the Christian life. That *is* living by faith.

  30. @Reader Mo: but the kids loooove the wiggle song! Like I would intentionally “forget” to sing that one in Sunday school with these munchkins and inevitably one of them would pick that one to sing….

  31. 0-10 Southern Baptist
    11-22 Fundamentalist Baptist
    23-25 Messianic Jewish (it’s a long story, but I loved this fellowship!)
    26-37 Southern Baptist (in the absence of any better alternatives in our little town)
    38-present Independent Bible
    Truthfully, right now my body works for and attends an independent Bible church. Occasionally my mind is actually engaged in my job at that church. Most of the time, lately, my mind and heart are elsewhere, dreaming about a grace-based community. I’ve heard they exist, but I’m not sure.

  32. Just discovered this site, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to post here a week late.

    I was raised Catholic in the Bible Belt. As a result, I was a YEC Catholic fundie until I finished high school.

    Going to college gradually morphed me from a liberal Catholic, to agnostic-nominally-Christian-because-I-like-the-symbolism, to eclectic Wiccan.

    I’m still working out some of the guilt issues, which as any ex-Catholic can tell you are legion.

  33. @Loren: Paganism is certainly an interesting journey, I can say that much. Being an Eclectic doubly so, because you basically have to wade through what everybody else does and find what speaks to you personally on a spiritual level.

    I frankly would like to be a bit more open about my faith off the Internet, but I live in a fairly conservative area, and when you grew up watching Mike Warnke videos in your church-run middle school, you can’t help but wonder how many other people you know have heard that nasty stuff. Makes things a bit scary at times.

    I’m in the process of moving out of my (still quite conservative Catholic) parents’ house, so I’ll be able to participate more in the local CUUPS chapter (Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans, for those unfamiliar with the acronym). It can get a bit lonely at times when you don’t know locals who share your religious views.

  34. I’ve ended up United Methodist. I’ve determined what I do *outside* the church building walls is more important than what I do *inside* the church walls (as far as my faith is concerned) is much more important. So, “church” for me and my family is simply touching base with other believers we don’t see during the week.

    Baltimore, Ohio

  35. @BASS:May I know more about your creationist views? You said you are more of a creationist than modern creationist because you “believe in an created order not just a created earth.” Do you think modern creationist have neglected to emphasize a created order and spend too munch time emphasizing a created earth and arguing against evolution?

  36. After 9 years of struggling with fundie and evangelical guilt, ridiculous expectations, and made-up rules, I spent 3 months, sans church, seriously examining my beliefs.

    I’m now a proud Anglican (and my fundie/charismatic grandmother continues to pray for my heathen soul, because as we all know, “true Christians” would never let alcohol cross their lips, even if it is “the blood of Christ.”) πŸ™„

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