Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How About Some Healthy Persecution?

My beloved Mrs H and I are members at a Baptist church that’s about 35 miles from our home. That’s a long way to go, but it’s also necessary: Finding a church that will make use of the gifts an apologist is hard to do, and actually, it’s hard enough to find one where they know what apologetics is.

There are times, though, when that 70 mile round trip is just not feasible, so we spent some time looking for someplace closer to home where we could go on off weeks. For this, I lowered my standards somewhat: Our regular pastor is very intelligent and well-informed, and doesn’t deliver pap sermons, but we were willing to accept someone less competent for our “closer to home” church home.

Unfortunately, not even with my standards lowered to that level have we found any place suitable. What we did find suggests that we could use a little good old-fashioned persecution of Christians here in America, to help strain out some of the chaff.

Mrs H was raised Southern Baptist, so that’s where we’ve started. The closest SB church was automatically out: The pastor there is one of those “pretty boys” whose appearance and sermons make it clear he thinks Joel Osteen is a suitable pastoral model. I don't imagine that Teflon hair or teeth would have held up well under a Roman whip. Also, I had once gone to this church to hand the education pastor my card, and never heard from him. So strike one.

We then tried the “First Baptist” in a nearby suburb. (The one closest to us is NOT SB; it’s ultra-fundy Baptist, the sort of place where Mrs H would get stared at for not wearing a floweredy hat, and I’d get an Inquisition treatment for my stances on things like hell and eschatology.) That lasted all of two services; the pastor taught on Ezra, and to illustrate how the people of Israel celebrated their joy in the Lord, he had the sound system play Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration”. The whole song. Everyone else was standing up. We didn’t.

We also didn’t come back. Strike two.

Then we tried a tiny little church near us. At first it seemed to be just right. They played the old fashioned hymns Mrs H loves. The sermons were nothing special, but at least they were theologically acceptable. We went 3 weeks and figured this would do it, until after that third service, a woman approached us and said:

“You should come to our Wednesday night meeting. We’re doing Purpose Driven Life again! I’ve been through it twice!!”

Nice to know that the early Christians died so you could do that, lady. Strike three.

That was about 4 months ago, and we haven’t been looking for a “localer” church since then. I don’t know that we will any time soon, and if we do, it may be any denomination that isn’t either Pentecostal or charismatic in orientation. It’s just too exasperating a quest; even with my standards lowered to the point that the pastor could teach sermons that a chimp would understand and we’d still go, it seems that no matter where we attend, we find the place infected with a form of Christianity that would make Peter and Paul lose their lunch.

It’s to the point where you have to wonder if we wouldn’t be better off being persecuted the way they are in places like Saudi Arabia.

Maybe that’d clean the place up a bit.


  1. have you tried an Evangelical Baptist place? The one I go to here is the most solid one in town, the young adult pastor has a ThD in OT & Hebrew and is currently teaching hermeneutic basics for sunday school based on How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, the college group is doing sunday on Jesus Among Other Gods, the sermons are pretty solid, and the young adult pastor also managed to get permission from my college to do a field placement doing apologetics stuff.

  2. I can find only two of those in our area....from the looks of them, they haven't reached that plateau yet.

  3. Is there a Catholic church nearby?

  4. Church hunting and hopping is quite common in the U.S. according to major surveys. At least in Catholic churches you know what you're getting since nearly all of them around the world follow the same pattern: a recital of creedal statements, a Bible passage from both testaments, a short homily, music, and the Eucharist--the central mystery and sacrament of faith according to them.

    Calvin was in favor of the Lord's Supper being celebrated weekly if I recall correctly. (Catholic churches, as I recall from my youth, would sometimes hold Mass not only on Sunday but during the week as well.)

    Along with the Lord's Supper Calvin included a sermon, usually longer than most Catholic homilies I imagine, but I don't know how long Catholic homilies were during the Reformation, just today's. One story about Calvin is that when he was asked to leave Geneva he was in the middle of a sermon, and then a few years later, when he was begged to return to Geneva, he supposedly entered the church, walked behind the pulpit and picked up right where he left off the sermon he'd been preaching a few years before. The man worked himself to death. But that's what a lot of writers do. Can they help themselves? The whole economy of Geneva was changed as Calvin's writings grew more popular in Europe and editions of Calvin's works poured off the presses of Geneva. Two hundred years later those same presses would be used to print the works of Voltaire and even DeSade. I guess the Genevans knew how to make a buck.

  5. JP, What is the image at the top of your blog post? Protestants killing Catholics?

  6. Yeah whatever. I'll allow that if only because it's such a miracle for Edski to say anything even halfway intelligent that we might want to contact the review committee of Lourdes about this one.

  7. Re the picture: Haven't the slightest. For all I know it's Hernando de Soto killing Emeril Legasse.

  8. The above picture is a 1509 oil painting by Italian Renaissance painter Giovanni Bellini, titled The Murder of St. Peter the Martyr.

  9. Oh dear. So it's heretics killing someone orthodox. Don't tell Edski, it'll spoil his day.