Thursday was just a typical day, until I got a call from a friend of mine named Markie. As we began to discuss the Lord and all that He has been teaching us, Markie stopped and asked me if something was burdening me. At that point, I had not even recognized that I had been carrying a burden; then I recognized it and realized that I had been burdened for most of the week and it was killing me. Markie then proceeded to give me a word from God that he felt impressed upon his heart, and honestly the method he used to deliver the “word” was he spoke in tongues and interpreted it as he spoke it. Now, if your reading and your already kinda freaked out, I know because I wanted to be as well, but the words that Markie interpreted were words that only the Lord knew and were spoke from a tone that is only the Lord’s. And on top of all that the presence of God was very evidently confirming this message.
Okay, so if that got your attention and your still here and you don’t think I am a heretic then you will appreciate the events that happened the next couple of days.
After my experience with Markie which really encouraged me. (The Lord’s words were comforting and confirming). I began to seek the Lord again like I haven’t in years I began to realize that I had spent too much time looking at others and trying to fit in and I needed to look to God and be who he had called me to be.
Two days after my experience with Markie, I visited my dear friend Father John and we went to Belmont Abbey to a Mass to see two brothers make solemn vows into the monastery. This was my first Catholic mass and boy it was very different from anything I could have ever imagined. I have been asked to give some sort of assessment of it since it was my first real experience at mass. And I don’t know if accessing it would be fair. But I will say that the service was completely planned, performed, and attended with complete confidence and perfection. The feeling I got of the experience was very reverent and respectful towards the Lord and towards Church leadership and each other. The gospel and Jesus were the most reveared topics in the entire event, this was completely refreshing. The liturgy was solemn and peaceful, yet was not very kind to newcomers, but I guess there is a reason why I was introduced to the Abbott as an “evangelical”. The most exciting moment was when the Church was preparing communion, it was sacred, obviously held in the highest regard. If I didn’t recognize the spirit of God previous to that I did in that moment. It was the heat of the presence of God, but as we were beginning to take the elements I would soon be confused by the strange and methodical ritual and the potency of the wine (that was the best wine I had tasted and the first time I had any alcohol in about a decade). The experience was real and I went away feeling like “I had been to Church”.
Then on the strange pendulum of this past weekend, Sunday we had a very prophetic preacher visit our church from Italy, Pastor Roslyn. She spoke with the authority and authenticity of God. Many people heard what God was saying to them and we all experienced a powerful visitation from God.
So I mention all these things as if they are being critically weighted against each other, As if there is and us and them and let me tell you how “they” have it wrong and “we” have it right. But you know what I don’t think that’s fair. I don’t think that it’s fair because I think our perspectives of each other (protestants and catholics) are based upon the SIN of Judgment mentioned in a little teaching called The Sermon on the Mount and maybe you’ve heard of the teacher, awe man he is Awesome, I think they call Him Jesus, The Son of God in the flesh! What I realized is that the people I met after mass on Saturday including Matt and Scott are strong, hungry, well seated believers in Christ. They are not wavering on what they are “feeling”, they are seated on the rock of solid foundational teaching and time tested traditions. And what most of us are deceived into believing is that we have it right and they have it wrong. All the while the truth is that none of us can make it without Christ that’s why he came.
I find it interesting that in the charismatic movement so much is weighted on feelings, for example today a good friend of mine was upset at what a “prophet” said at his Church on Friday and is ready to find a new church. I guarantee Matt or Scott for any peripheral reason would not”look for a new church”.
We could look at each of these types of churches as the left and right side of the brain. One church could function more on one or the other side of the brain and another a mixture of the two. The liturgy an religion being the left side and the feeling and the gifts of the spirit on the right. Some churches don’t function too highly in the liturgy and tradition of the church and gravitate towards the gifts and the feeling of the spirit. Other churches function in the more structured acts of the church and less in the emotions, but what seems to be the ultimate truth about it all is that weather or not this or that happens in the church if the individual Christian does not live in communion with God outside of the church then they are dead in the water. If you are experiencing the liturgy of “your” church but not experiencing God in you prayer closet then you probably are not healthy. And if you are a fire breathing spirit filled believer and can’t explain the trinity the you are probably also unhealthy.
The meeting place is not the point, the actions of the church are not the point, Jesus Christ is the point. Not my writing… not your thinking… Jesus Christ.
I would like to hear what you think, I don’t by any means want to come across in this blog as authoritative just determined to seek truth. If you have any thoughts or a simple response hit comment below.
2 thoughts on “Protestants Vs. Catholics… Round 1”
I love this post, Jason. How insightful and true. I grew up in a pentecostal church but had many, many Jewish experiences. I often felt the same as you described. I loved the “feeling” of the Lord and the gifts of the Spirit that were incorporated in my church. But I longed for the reverence and ritual of the Jewish traditions. I always felt my Jewish friends were somehow more serious and even perhaps more willing to put themselves aside in a way that us Pentecostals weren’t.
The idea of holding on to some Old Testament traditions while living everday as the New Testament church (as Jonathan says) is so beautiful and respectful to me. However, you are totally right, Jason. Whatever your means of worship may be, as long as Christ and his teachings are at the center of your life how can anyone be judged?
Jason, I really enjoyed this post. I remember reading a book a while back where the author, who is also a pastor of a Lutheran church, described the work of the Holy Spirit and the “charismatic” movement in his own Lutheran congregation. One of the things that really stuck with me from this book, was the author’s belief that the God we worship is so big that the various orthodox Christian traditions all have elements of divinely revealed truth. In a sort of way, God is too great to be completely captured by any one Christian tradition (of course we are talking about true Christian traditions here). What the author advocated was the idea that whether Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Pentecostal etc., all denominations and traditions needed the Baptism of the Holy Spirit leading to a passionate pursuit of Jesus. I like your analogy of the left brain/ right brain. I remember our pastor a number of months back speaking about the importance of the body of Christ to have a faith that is well integrated in terms of its practices. Our pastor favors the term “integration” over “balance”, I think because it better emphasizes the importance of having all of the elements of worship and discipleship at work in our lives with the Lord. If certain truths concerning our heavenly Father do exist in the various Christian traditions, we need to be careful to embrace each other in the love of Christ, so that HE is exalted and the unity of the faith is promoted. The body of Christ is comprised of those of different races, nationalities, ethnicities, genders, life experiences, generations, etc; therefore, we should not expect the God of Holy Scripture to speak and reveal himself to all of us in the body in the same manner- I am glad that the God I worship is bigger than any constraint I might try to put on Him!