Losing Faith. In God or the Church? A difficult discussion.

declining-faith-in-church

These days having a discussion about faith in the general sense is like having a political discussion, both can get those participating rather passionate and sometimes (more times than not) hot under the proverbial collar. No pun intended, well maybe a little. In today’s ever-changing political landscape we are seeing monumental reversals, mainly in the Globalism front. We are seeing the one world order crumbling before our eyes in respects to immigration, the LGBTQ2 community and racism, but what about faith and the church, what is happening in that regard? We are seeing the same things happening within the church which is causing the same divisions as we are seeing in the political arena but those same issues are much less publicized, yet they are happening just the same, because we must remember that the church, though it is a building in the loosest sense, is an organization in the more strict sense, and within that organization its congregants are made up of those who are Conservative minded and those who are Liberal minded. That being said, that is where the path becomes dicey, though non believer might say why? what does that matter because it’s all about your God isn’t it? What does being Conservative or Liberal have to do with it? separation of Church and State and all that right? Well yes .. and no. Uh oh now I’ve done it, the can of worms is now open!

I know this is looking like a political blog like all the others, but if you bear with me for a moment or two you will see it may not be what you are thinking. When I say (Political) what is the first thing that pops into your head? Government, either local, state, federal or world right? What if I were to say the word (Politics)? Would you think the same? Probably. I think that in the very broad sense you would be correct in the broad sense. If we narrow it down however we will find that politics is involved in every aspect of our lives, from our homes to the office, to our governments and yes, to the church. The Oxford Dictionary definition 1.3 is as follows 1.3 A particular set of political beliefs or principles: and 1.4, 1.4often the politics of The principles relating to or inherent in a sphere or activity, especially when concerned with power and status: Miriam Webster defines it as follows:

  • 4 :  the political opinions or sympathies of a person

  • 5a :  the total complex of relations between people living in societyb :  relations or conduct in a particular area of experience especially as seen or dealt with from a political point of view politics> politics>

    In our homes the Parents would fit into these definitions right since they are the heads of the household right? At work, it would be the owners of the company we work for, our managers etc. you get the picture. But what happens in the church? Is it God who is the head of the church? Is it God who makes the decisions that affect how we worship? Is it God who sets the standards we follow in our services? Is it God who collects our money every Sunday and spends it on the church and its function? Is it God who decides how our services are run from beginning to end? Is it God who gives the sermons every Sunday? Is it God who directs our Faith? Which one of these questions differs from all the rest? If you answered the last one, you would be correct. Because God is the only One who can dictate that, or should I say direct it. In God there is no politics, there is no political preference, there is no fight for power or status. There is only His word to His people. And the Word is good. Once upon a time, we in the west remembered that and lived by it. Some would say,”Before Satan came and tempted the world.

The answer to the rest of the questions is simple, Man! God was used as a foundation, but Man was the founder of how we worship in the building called the church. Being a Protestant or more directly Anglican our way of worship was founded on the Nicene Creed,  which was formed, yes you guessed it, by Man! It was formed by a council of bishops in the ancient city of Nicaea in 325 CE or AD for most of us, and ratified by yet again, Man, in 381 CE or AD in Constantinople. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing that Man formed because in essence that is what a great deal of Christians believe in as their grass-roots of faith. But that is only one part of our worship service. We also have confession, communion, readings from the Old, New Testaments and the Psalms in accordance with our Liturgical Calendar. But what about the rest of the church and what goes on within it? This is where politics really enter the equation, and this may be where the losing faith part comes in where the church is concerned because on Sundays or Wednesdays depending on which day you attend it is the Hierarchy of the church that dictates the rest of the church operation, Not God! Oh, the governing body of the church, yes you read correctly, Governing body is what dictates the rest of the church operations. From in my case and my fellow Anglicans would be 1) the Archbishop of the Anglican Church as a whole to the 2) Bishop of our Diocese or geographical area, 3) to our Priest who is directly in charge of our worship, 4) to the Wardens, and finally 5) to our Parish Council which basically 2/3 are elected by the congregation with 1/3 placed by the Priest.

Now here is where the faith in the church really comes into play; The Anglican Church of Canada recently held its general synod which is defined as follows; A synod /ˈsɪnəd/ historically is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. In modern usage, the word often refers to the governing body of a particular church, whether its members are meeting or not. to decide whether or not to change the definition of our marriage canon to allow same-sex marriages to be performed and blessed by the church. This vote took place in the fall of 2016 with a controversial “Yes” which at first was a “No” but then recounted because supposedly there were some Priests and Deacons who were not counted properly. It seems that somewhere along the line the Anglican Church of Canada or should I say the Governing body of it has strayed away from the Teachings and the Word of God and are bowing down to social pressure instead of remaining steadfast in the Word of God. Not only is this happening, but it has already consecrated its first openly gay bishop. This is the very issue in which The Church of England censured the Episcopal Church of the United States for, but is it going to do the same for one of its own Commonwealths, namely Canada? I guess we’ll see. So, do you see this as political yet?

As a former member of the Anglican Church of Canada, yes I said former, I lost faith in their doctrines because their governing body has on their first of 2 synod votes decided to allow same-sex marriage which is clearly against the Word of God, Genesis 2: 24-25, Leviticus 18: 22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1: 26-27, 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10, 1 Timothy 1: 9-10, and in Jude 1: 7. It isn’t just in the Old Testament, and have decided to give in to social pressure from the LGBTQ2 community who don’t seem to be satisfied to have the civil right to be married, they want to dismantle the church from within and change our faith to suit theirs. In this case it is the governing body at Synod level who are deciding what we are to allow within our faith and not the congregations who should be deciding the fate of what their church teaches. These synod folks didn’t speak for me, nor should they have a right to and my Priest didn’t think so either. My Priest this past summer months before the vote, with knowledge that this vote was forthcoming announced to our congregation his stance on the route the Anglican Church was about to embark and his disagreement with it. I think at that point he had lost faith in the church, Not God. His Faith in God remained steadfast. I found myself in the same proverbial boat, so when he came to me and spoke with me about this issue I informed him of my dissatisfaction with the route the church is taking at which time he offered me an alternative. I am studying to become a Deacon in the Anglican faith so that I can further my faith in the pastoral care, and he informed me that I would most likely with my conservative views not be ordained into the Diaconal order within the Anglican Church of Canada, and that I as a Licensed Lay Reader would find it less problematic in a new network that is growing worldwide. It appears that there are over 100,000 like-minded Christians and growing with the similar thoughts. This is in the form of The Anglican Church in North America, which is a Conservative Faith based Anglican network which holds firm with the 39 original canons of faith. At first I was happy in my new church, as a founding member and one of the original Board of Directors, but again enter in politics.Yes, there is that word again.

I found myself hoping that I would finally be a part of a church where the congregants would have more say so in the operation of the church, yet I am finding that I may have been misguided. One of the other reasons I left my former church was because it appeared that those who donated the most money had the most say in how the church operated and those who were to blinded by their money refused to see it which in my opinion isn’t how it should be. At least for me it isn’t. I was a member of the Parish Council and proud to be a voice for my fellow congregants, yet I quickly found out that politics played a major role in the decision-making. But it was not only the money folks, but perhaps the Priest as well. When I conversed on at least 2 occasions with my Priest I was lead to believe that the congregants would have more say so in the operation and that all would be transparent. Also I was led to believe that I would be able to continue on with my Lay Readership and continue to study for the Diaconal order only to begin to see that this may not be the case at all. As a Lay Reader it is part of my responsibility to see that the readings for the service are ready and in order for the lector and that the service goes smoothly. This however, doesn’t seem to be the reality in the new church as it was faltering with more and more responsibility being taken away from the Lay Readership. This I am finding out has nothing to do with the Hierarchy of the Church as a whole, but rests solely upon the Priest, again politics. I was basically led to believe that I would be asked to be among the Wardens of the new church, but am discerning whether or not to believe this, and if so whether it will be to no avail depending on the desires of the Priest.

It sounds as though I am losing faith in the church doesn’t it? Perhaps I am! When you are led to believe in one thing only to find out after the fact that indeed that may not be the case, that would lead one to have issues. It leaves one to feel as though they were misled. I have had conversations since leaving one and entering the new church only to have my efforts yet again dashed by my Priest on the church newsletter, I worked for 3 weeks formatting it writing it and getting it ready for publication with the Priest looking on the whole time only to be called to a meeting to be told he was taking it over along with his son and turning it into a web-based publication, basically taking over my work for he and his son to redesign and publish offering me the ability to collaborate on further issues. I think I may have to pass. For 6 out of 9 years of my career, which I will not mention here, I worked under Micro-Management, with that management putting myself and my team in mortal danger because of political reasons and though I don’t think that micro-management in the church would lead to mortal danger, I have seen it destroy a church. I have seen it create an atmosphere where there was no trust, no collaboration and little will to continue worshiping in the church. Does it look like I am losing faith in the church? Well I guess I am. I am wondering whether or not the church is necessary to receive the Word of God. Well, Is it? Does losing faith in the church mean I will also lose faith in God? The answer to that is a resounding NO! it does not!

The Word of God is found in the bible for everyone to read and interpret as they see fit. The Priest or Pastor is supposed to be the teacher of the Word from a theological view and explain that view so that the congregation can understand it better, but I find as leader of our Bible study which so far I have been able to run with no interference that the group is quite capable of interpreting the bible and the Word with the help from commentaries we all can find on-line. So to that end it seems as though that the Word of God is not limited to the church or the Priest. As a matter of fact the Word of God and faith in Him is not limited at all it resides within all of us. The Glory of God is not limited by an altar, or by confessing to a Priest or by our Tithe in the collection plate. Our personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the Father is not determined by the church or by the Priest, it IS determined by our soul. it is determined by our morality and by our desire to live a good and productive life, none of which rests upon the church. The one thing that if I were to leave the church that would bother me is the congregation, they are good faith in God and Jesus Christ people. People with a zest to be closer to their God and creator. People who believe in community. That I would miss deeply. But I would not miss the politics, not in the least. I have belonged to 5 churches in the last 20 years and though 2 of those I was not with long enough to see the politics within and those were Episcopal churches, 3 however I did. 1 Episcopal and 2 Canadian Anglican and I will say that in the first 2 Money ran the church, well money and the Priest. That makes me wonder about this third and current one, It looks as though many decisions have already been made by two or three people so I can only conclude, but I won’t get into that. It is unfortunate because I took the words of the Priest to heart when I asked about this in the beginning and was assured that such a thing was not going to happen. It looks as though however, that may again have been misleading. So I think I will continue as a congregant for a while to see where it goes and continue to lead the bible study, because for now we are able to study as we wish, if that changes then I will make adjustments at that point. As for the church leadership i.e. Warden-ship or Parish Council I doubt that it would be in the cards for I feel as though they except for the fore mentioned person would have little say or be overruled by our Priest. So it would be basically a mute leadership.

Well those are my thoughts for good or bad, take them as you will. My faith in God is stronger than ever and it is the Holy Spirit that guides me and my decisions regarding the church and my faith. My advise to anyone who may read this is this; Place your faith in God because He will guide you in all your decisions in life. As far as the church goes, this blog is of my own personal journey with the church and should not be used as a directory tool for you. It is my deepest hope that your church is good to and for you and that you find the Holy Spirit fill your heart and soul while you attend, if so God Bless you. As for me I will go on Loving and Praising God, learning his Word and continue my studies in Biblical History through Yale University, for my studies have helped me a great deal in understanding my God. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, for ever more!

Richard P.

 

 
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