Sunday, May 17, 2015


Occasionally, there is a knock on the door - usually the front - and my wife answers it. Standing before her are usually two nicely-dressed individuals, with the purpose of introducing her to the ways of their religion. She smiles politely and says, "I'm sorry, but my husband is a minister at our church and we are happy in our faith." That is usually enough for the two nicely-dressed individuals to turn and head for the next-door neighbor's front door.

"A minister at our church." The reason she would say that is that, because I am on the worship team - in the "music ministry" - I am therefore a "minister". I'm neither licensed nor ordained, yet, I AM a minister by association. I like that.

As I've mentioned in a previous blog, I believe I am coming to the end of my sabbatical. The question remains: where do I go from here?

During this time of separation, I've visited a friend's church where I've had the opportunity to join in on their worship team, and have visited my "home" church a few times (worshipped from in the congregation and departed prior to the sermon). I have continued to read the bible (not as intensely as before) and assorted devotionals, so I haven't gone "cold-turkey Christianity".

Here is my conundrum: Can one be involved in a church ministry, when one disagrees with a major belief of that church?

I don't know when it started, but at one point the pastor of my church started praying the following when praying with those who wanted to become Christians: ". . . and I will attend Your church, and I will read Your book." That statement may indeed have been the proverbial straw for me. Taking it from the viewpoint of the person standing before him, "Your church" sounds an awful lot like THIS particular church is Your church - and that is bad enough. The part that hit me the most was the "I will  read Your book" part. My church, like many Protestant style churches, teaches that the bible is the Word of God. As I've stated previously, I've come to the conclusion (and fervent belief) that the bible CONTAINS the Word of God, but is NOT, in and of itself, THE Word of God.

(You can go back and read some of my recent blogs and see some of the details of that statement, so I'm not going to take up too much space here.)

There used to be this cute acronym made from the letters of "bible": Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. You'd see it on bumper stickers, t-shirts, and, of course, bible covers (gotta protect that faux-leather cover). The first I heard of it was back in 1998. It was a song by a Christian band called Burlap to Cashmere. I don't know if they were the ones to coin it, but they were the source to my ears. Being one who also believed that the bible was part of the "Holy Quartet", I reveled in the cleverness.

During a breakfast conversation about this with my wife, I got to thinking: It's called "Basic Instructions". Not "Critical Instructions", or "Intricate Instructions", or "Complete Instructions". "Basic Instructions". My Jeep has an owner's manual. Every time I read it (no really, I DO read it), I get some good tips on how to make my Jeep experience more efficient and enjoyable. It does NOT contain the complete details of every aspect of the Jeep experience. You have to "experience" it (and, if you haven't, do yourself a favor and DRIVE one!! Oh wow!) Yet, there is this "doctrine" that the bible contains the complete, inerrant word of God, and there is nothing else needed. You can find all the answers to this life in it. As Colonel Potter used to say, "Horse hockey!" It's a guide. In it you can find the stories of a lot of other people's experiences in their walk (a.k.a. "relationship") with God, and those things can help you as well. But it is a guide.

So, is it even possible to go back into the music ministry of the church that I disagree with on this? I still love God. I'm a Christian. I just won't put the "Basic Instructions" over that experiential relationship. I guess the question is, what does it take to be a Christian? Belief in Jesus the Christ, or belief in the bible?

© Emittravel 2015

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