What is the point of Mainline Christianity?

Discussion in 'Navigating Through Church Life' started by Midwest LDS, Jan 20, 2018.

  1. Midwest LDS

    Midwest LDS New Member

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    Hi! I grew up pretty secular, but when I was a teenager I became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka The Mormons) along with one of my parents. I threw myself into the faith and really liked it. However, around the time I got into my late teens, I felt burned out and kind of overwhelmed. However, I have always held dear to the positive aspects of what I call my LDS upbringing.

    At 19, I began attending an Episcopal Church with my surviving parent. They had attended LDS church services for several years, but had never joined. They remained committedly, and still remain, a nominal Episcopalian. I was initially wowed by Episcopal church services. I appreciated their emphasis on intellectual exploration of the Bible, and their ancient and complex traditions.

    However, after about a year or so, I began to feel that there was something deeply wrong with this kind of Christianity. While most of the people I encountered in the Episcopal Church are very nice and pleasant, their standards of conduct did not align with the standard of Christian conduct that I had been taught. In fact, the most important values taught from the pulpit of the Episcopal churches that I attended seemed to be "compassion" and the Democratic Party platform.

    It was such a contrast to my experience in the LDS Church where virtues like marriage, chastity, fidelity, family, charity, service, compassion, and kindness were emphasized. It's all well and good to study the Bible, but I never hear discussions about resolving some of the root of the social ills that plague our society. I have never heard an Episcopal clergyman say anything about addressing the decline of marriage or out-of-wedlock births. I've never read about what the Episcopal Church or Anglicans are trying to do to make sure that its members pursue and receive an affordable education (see the $5k/year LDS Church-sponsored bachelors degree programs). I could go on and on.

    This is not a criticism of Mainline Protestantism or Christianity. I am really trying to see if I am missing something, because I am just not understanding how these churches amount to anything more than a social club. What are the Episcopalian's and Anglican's thoughts on things like pre-marital/extramarital sex? What are their thoughts on the importance of marriage and family? What are their thoughts on the responsibility of members to other members?
     
  2. BibleHoarder

    BibleHoarder Active Member

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    Don't confuse the Episcopal Church (TEC) with traditional Anglicanism, which adheres to historical Christian orthodoxy for the most part. These Anglicans actually care about traditional marriage, the lives of the unborn being lost to abortion, euthanasia, and matters of salvation, among others, which TEC has largely abandoned. Episcopals shouldn't even be called Anglicans. They broke with the Anglican communion because they stopped caring about protecting orthodox Christianity and wanted to be politically correct. Originally, the Episcopal Church was merely the American branch of its Anglican counterpart, and was a Godly denomination. There is still hope for restoration and healing, however, in which God will repair the bridge between TEC and the Anglican Communion.

    The whole idea of Anglicanism is about God preserving the essential matters of faith throughout history by making sure there was always someone there to teach Christianity as it was in the beginning, although there have always been some parts where varied opinions existed, but as to faith and morals, I would disagree that God allowed the church to disappear for almost 1,500-2,000 years with no one teaching the most crucial aspects of the faith. Even the reformers did not ever feel moved by the spirit of God to correct what was 'wrong' with the church regarding homosexuality, marriage, abortion, and all of those things, so they cannot be used as a case against rejecting orthodoxy. The Episcopal Church does have some orthodox, Godly members, but they are very few in a denomination that does not understand the concept I have just described. There are probably more Presbyterians teaching orthodox, apostolic Christianity, and they're going through the same problem.
     
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  3. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    You're basically right in your criticisms. For this reason the Episcopal Church has experienced a crisis and collapse in numbers. This should not however affect how your understand the Anglican Communion as a whole, around the world, which deplores what is happening in the United States and Western Europe. In the US, in the wake of the Episcopalian crisis, there have been movements of traditionallist Anglicans, such as the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) which I'm a part of, whose aim is to return to the classical Anglican concerns with virtues and holiness that have been our hallmark for centuries. In fact the LDS, Adventist, and Baptist preoccupation with holiness can be traced directly to the Anglican tradition of prior centuries. I'm a traditionalist Anglican in ACNA, never been an Episcopalian even for a day; working on rediscovering the Faith Once Delivered To The Saints.
     
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  4. Tuxedo America

    Tuxedo America Member

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    I was associated with TEC for many years in my childhood, and I understand where you're coming from. "Social justice", which includes SSM, abortion, open borders- basically whatever the Democratic Party emphasizes- seems to be stressed more than any theological virtues. Church seems to be little more than a social gathering when the secular outweighs the sacred.

    As for your comment on education, I don't think many denominations care if you're a welder versus a school teacher. If you're highly educated, great- but your formal education doesn't matter nearly as much as matters of faith. That being said, as a Catholic, I can expect help from my church if/when I decide to pursue seminary studies, and if I were to have children and decide to send them to a Catholic school, my parish would help out with that. Aside from K-12 education and becoming a clergyman or male or female religious, however, there's not much pressure on you to pursue formal education. I think this would be a "protestant thing" as well.
     
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  5. Anglican04

    Anglican04 Active Member Anglican

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    I agree with what Stalwart said. What do you mean by "What is the point of mainline Christianity?" What is your definition of mainline Christianity? As for Anglicanism, our main point is to give glory to God and repent for our sins.

    When I think of "mainline" Churches I think of a bunch of "church of nice" churches where they teach everyone goes to heaven and don't celebrate the Eucharist, just "Christian Rock". I strongly dislike those "churches".
     
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  6. Midwest LDS

    Midwest LDS New Member

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    I am thinking of mainstream Trinitarian Christianity, not the Latter Day Saint movement or Jehovah's Witnesses or the like. My exposure to Christianity has been strictly through the lens of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Episcopal Church. I have interacted with Christians of other denominations, but I've only ever been a member of the LDS Church and my nearest Episcopal parish.

    I understand that the core of Anglicanism is the same as all Christianity (at least in theory): to repent of our sins and believe in Christ to be saved at the last day for eternal life (or something thereabout). What I don't understand is what the purpose of the church community is.

    The LDS Church preaches repentance and Christ's atonement constantly, but it is also hardline when it comes to the conduct that it demands of its members. The Church is very liberal in its use of 'church discipline' and has a strong communitarian ethos. It is a regular occurrence for members to be placed on probation, be disfellowshipped, or excommunicated for things that secular culture has become very blasé about.

    I guess, even after these past few years, I am still taken aback by the lack of community and the lack of common values binding other Christian communities together. In the LDS Church, there is a set of expectations that one has to meet to be a member in good standing. I go to my Episcopal Church and suddenly there are not only homosexuals in the pews, the rector is a lesbian. I am not trying to pick on anyone. I hate that, but I can only talk about what I see. I have looked at scientific surveys of people of different Christian denominations (liberal and conservative), and I am really baffled by how incompatible lay attitudes on major moral issues are with the Gospel.

    If I seem confused, I am. I am very confused about how I attended a church that seems like it literally promoted sin. I am very confused by the church-going Christian Mingle people I know who are cohabiting and think nothing of it. I am very confused about the mean spirited conflicts between so-called liberals and so-called conservatives that seem to characterize Protestant denominations in the United States. I don't know what to make of it. I feel like the primitive church resolved these issues by casting out those who refused to conform to the Gospel's principles. After attending my Episcopal parish and interacting with mainstream Christian acquaintances and relatives, I am actually afraid to explore other mainstream Christian churches because the moral rectitude of each community is completely unpredictable.
     
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  7. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    If you're asking what the point of Trinitarian Christianity is, (in a secular sense), then what you describe is basically it. A close community of fellow believers, with a strict code of doctrine, a clear line in the sand, an emphatic call to holiness, and all the other things which you allude to.

    Here is Article XXXIII, from the Anglican articles of religion:
    This was published in the 1500s, long before the LDS church was in existence.


    Here is Canon IV, from the original code of Ecclesiastical Constitutions and Canons:

    And here is Canon V, from that same code of Ecclesiastical Constitutions and Canons:
    The code of Ecclesiastical Constitutions and Canons was published in 1604: again, long before there was any inkling of the LDS in the world.

    These and other documents illustrate the proper, authentic, and historic expression of the Anglican Church, in terms of the strength in asserting and regulating the mores and observances of its people.

    If you're wondering that this does not sound like today's Episcopal Church, then you would be right. The Episcopal Church, the Roman Church, and various other liberal/mainline Churches in the US and in Western Europe together are abandoning (have already abandoned) the faith Once Delivered To The Saints.

    Now you might say, the LDS still has those values, and you'd right, but only in a certain sense.
    1. First of all as I say, the LDS only comes into existence less than two centuries ago, it has no antiquity that stretches back to Our Lord. It's a Johnny Come Lately.
    2. Second, all of its moral precepts are taken directly from the Methodist and ultimate Anglican tradition of holiness and piety; Joseph Smith did not codify these moral laws out of divine inspiration, but rather, these moral codes were in existence in America from other sources (Anglican, etc), and the Mormons simply copied them; today the progenitors of those moral values are betraying those values, and the Mormons still hold to them, but that does not erase the parent/child relationship.
    3. And finally, Mormonism, while moral in life, is a heresy in doctrine. There are many other moral groups of people, including the Adventists, some Muslims, and traditionalist Christians, Anglicans, Catholics, etc. Morality of a group is not a stamp of its orthodoxy. We do not earn our way into heaven through good works, so in one sense our morality does not matter unto God. What matters to Him is our Faithfulness, and the Mormons are as faithful to God as the Episcopal Church, that is, not at all. They adhere to numerous heresies, including Arianism, Sabellianism, Docetism, I could go on. Therefore, you should seek those Christians who are orthodox and adhere to Our Lord Jesus Christ while also expressing their faith through holiness and sanctity. I hope I'm making sense here.
     
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  8. Anglican04

    Anglican04 Active Member Anglican

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    I would also like to ass Joseph Smith pretty much plagiarized the bible, I believe especially the book of Genesis. In addition, Joseph's mother recorded that long before Joseph had received the gold plates he was well aware of the stories contained therein:

    "During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would to with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life with them." (Lucy Smith, Biographical Sketches, p. 85)
     
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  9. Midwest LDS

    Midwest LDS New Member

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    I don't know where I could possibly find a group of people like this in an Anglican or Protestant community. There doesn't seem to be anything resembling a large-scale cohesive upright community like the LDS community in Trinitarian Christianity. It seems much more disjointed and unpredictable. I am in Illinois. Wheaton is supposed to be our conservative Christian community, and I don't think it could hold a candle to Provo. All of this makes me sad, because your concerns about the LDS communities origins are mine. My fellow Saints would just use this as evidence affirming their beliefs that theirs, or ours, is the Restored Church.
     
  10. Tuxedo America

    Tuxedo America Member

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    If you can't find a theologically conservative Christian community nearby, my recommendation for you would be this: read the works of the Early Church Fathers (if you haven't done so already). They will give you an idea of what theological views the early church held and put you on the right path. Some examples include Sts. Justin the Martyr, Augustine, and Ignatius. Read Eusebius' Church History as well- he got some things wrong, but it gives you a good insight into what the early church was like and the trials it faced.

    Modern men have a million different ideas, but Christians were all united back then. They all believed the same things, and their witnesses are pure. Let them put you on the right path.
     
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  11. Anglican04

    Anglican04 Active Member Anglican

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    Use the ACNA (Anglican Church in North America) church locator. Maybe there is a REC (reformed Episcopal Church) parish near you. Even some Episcopal parishes are still traditional. It is important to note that there should be a sense of uniqueness and diversity in a Church, where one can disagree on a certain thing, even the apostles had differing opinions. Keep in mind there is a line between diversity and heresy.
     
  12. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Again, you judge the world by what you see of the United States. I guarantee you that the Anglican dioceses in Kenya, Singapore, or Hong Kong will blow Provo out of the water. Divine Services that last 3 hours; twice or three times a week. I went on two mission trips to Nigeria in the last three years, and will likely go again later this year. You're taking about people who detest alcohol so much that, if you're seen with a beer can, people will seriously doubt that you're even a Christian.

    Provo happens to be the white version of that. The Mormons don't have anything else like this anywhere else in the world. And in the US, there are several other fundamentalist enclaves around the country. They have similar levels of intensity but carry their own substantial issues with them.

    Now, you might say that you're not in Kinshasa or Abuja or Singapore. You are where you are, and need the same thing. I understand.

    Here is what I'd say at the end of the day. If your friends engage in pissing contests with you of who's greater and holier, then the Anglican Communion has them beat by a wide mile. If you then stumble at the quest of finding a "perfect community in your own backyard", I would say exactly as the Saints have said: help build it yourself. That would be ultimate holiness on your part, would you say? Anyone can mock and compare and detract and backbite. Not everyone can build.
     
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  13. Anglican04

    Anglican04 Active Member Anglican

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    Yeah a mormon friend of mine started questioning me after he thought he saw my priest drinking a bottle of beer before mass. He sounded really concerned. It turns out the "beer bottle" was just some root beer. Even Jesus and the disciples drank alcohol, I do not see the big deal unless it is done in excess.
     
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  14. Midwest LDS

    Midwest LDS New Member

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    Was this person a recent convert? Most Latter-day Saints couldn't care less about what a gentile drinks. A large number of less active and non-temple going/worthy Saints drink alcohol, coffee, tea, or smoke too. The Pioneers used to give their children ale to drink, and Brigham Young was known to drink quite a bit of whiskey. It wasn't until Prohibition rolled around that the LDS Church started to make obedience to the Word of Wisdom obligatory for temple attendance.
     
  15. Anglican04

    Anglican04 Active Member Anglican

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    No, he was raised mormon. When I took him to a Church he burst into tears because he prayed to Jesus for the first time and said Jesus told him his sins were forgiven. Or maybe he said they felt forgiven? He was whispering so I couldn't understand exactly what he said, but I know for sure it was one of the two. I think it might have been both actually.

    I explained to him that Christ is truly present in the holy Eucharist and he was very interested. Sadly, I think his mom told him not to hang out with me which kinda ended my mission to convert him.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2018
  16. Midwest LDS

    Midwest LDS New Member

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    If he was younger that would make more sense. When I was a teenager, I was very judgmental and sometimes a little too outwardly hostile toward gentiles. You all seem pretty familiar with the LDS Church, so I'm sure you know we do the "Holy Sacrament and Lord's Supper" every Sunday. I actually just passed it around earlier today.

    It wouldn't surprise me that the mother told him not to hang out with you anymore. In fairness, people have historically been very hostile to Latter-day Saints too. LDS are very protective of their children and their communities. LDS rarely shun (although it's not unheard of), but when someone leaves, they often lose a lot of their friendships. I know that I would probably lose about 1/3rd of my social circle, and the few LDS relatives I have would probably not be very happy.

    Another thing, I am in my early 20s. The predictability aspect of the LDS community and the positive dating culture is something that I greatly appreciate. My experience dating outside of the LDS community has been very negative. As a male, what is considered very attractive and admirable in the LDS community, is suddenly derided as provincial, inexperienced, and flawed by the secular mainstream. I think I was pretty scarred by that when I supposedly became an Episcopalian. It was revolting and probably played a part in pushing me back into the Church. At 19/20, I thought that all Christian churches had common values with the LDS. I do want to get married eventually, and I do want to have access to a dating pool of women who share my values.

    I did reach out to some sort of moderately evangelical church in the northern suburbs of Chicago. I asked them some questions about holiness and morality. They referred me to their boilerplate mission statement, asked me to attend a service, and to schedule a meeting with one of their pastors. I'll probably take them up on it, if I can find a way to get out of my three+ hour Sunday obligations. You get stuck in the LDS Church because of 'callings.' You can't really just ditch them without losing face.
     
  17. BibleHoarder

    BibleHoarder Active Member

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    American Christianity does seem 'liberal' but there are some things we do that are taken as offensive by some cultures that aren't quite offensive to us because we don't see them in the same way, because it has a very nuanced meaning that only Americans understand. Of course, some of it is indeed an abuse of liberty, and for others it's simply a misunderstanding of something that isn't specifically condemned in scripture but often thought to be. I wouldn't consider someone to be holier because they have a service that lasts three hours, or unholy simply because they have alcohol in moderation every now and then. I have a relative who drinks casually and she is still doing great things for the Lord, ministering when she gets the chance to people and friends in need. On the other hand, some people would only attend a 'holy service' for three hours for a feel good, communal effect and then go home living their life in a carnal manner. Some culturally black baptist and pentecostal churches with a nominal membership are known to be lengthy, and big on the social gospel, but very little on actual substance. They often grow up and attend it for, as I said, communal purposes.

    There is both a good side and a bad side to this kind of liberalism in American Christianity. On one hand, we're way past the idea, for the most part, as to whether it is OK for Christian Rock to exist, or whether a Christian can listen to secular music, while at the same time, Christian Rock now boasts profanity, and some Christians watch risque television shows or read trashy books and recommend them to their friends. The relative I speak of was doing this not too long ago, but has gradually been moving away from it, as a process of sanctification. I also struggle with many of these same problems and am trying to overcome them with God's help as well.
     
  18. PotterMcKinney

    PotterMcKinney Active Member Typist Anglican

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    Mainline denominations tend to be "old money" sort of situations. They've been around a long time in America, and the Episcopal Church especially among them has become somewhat led by folks who view Church as a socio-cultural event. This is, as I see it, changing over time as new-blood less concerned with old-money comes to the ranks. The things you are looking for regarding the importance of marriage and family absolutely exist, but more subtly. I've never met anybody with any authority in the Church have very flagrant opinions on marriage, but we do like to talk about mutual respect.
     
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  19. Midwest LDS

    Midwest LDS New Member

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    This is my extended family! Many members of my family that aren't even religious are very passionate about participation in the Episcopal Church. The family can trace its lineage back to colonial Jamestown, and can count an early Tidewater priest among the ancestors, along with a number of members of the House of Burgesses. Needless to say, I do not think that this is reason to stick with an organization that is essentially providing me with nothing. Sure, I love the old buildings. I love learning about my family history, but a faith community must be more than a pretty building and familiar surnames.

    Do tell how you see the Episcopal Church changing. My impression is that the Episcopal Church is being taken over by political "progressives" and LGBT people looking for a spiritual outlet with the veneer of Christian respectability.

    What is your definition of a flagrant opinion, and what do you mean by "mutual respect?"
     
  20. Anglican04

    Anglican04 Active Member Anglican

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    Sounds like a JW thing. You have to go or they will shun you.
     

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