Monday, October 10, 2005

Thoughts From the Pew

Yesterday, my wife, my inlaws and I attended our church here in Columbia, SC. It is a Presbyterian church and grew up as a member of a Presbyterian church. I did go to a Methodist church almost as much during my "formative" years especially for youth group. My wife grew up Baptist and in fact her father is a Baptist minister in Georgetown, Ky. I guess when I was sitting there in church yesterday I relfected a bit on the differences and what may have seemed a bit odd to outsiders visiting a presbyterian church.

First, Methodist and Presbyterian are so similar that other than what the builidng may look like there are few visible differences between the two. In fact, the two denominations split over the predestination debate. I think this is semantics for me, but hey if you really get wound up about it then stick to your side. Just to very briefly elaborate on my thoughts, I think that people who really get upset about this see it as God handpicking who is going to get through the Pearly Gates and who isn't. Where I differ from others is that I see this happening in the context that people who "do what they're supposed to" are the predestined. Why do I see this as predestination? Well, I think god knows all and knows who will end up in heaven and who won't and that's the predestination part. I don't think there are people who live Christian lives and still don't go to heaven simply because they were previously not placed on some list God has. But then again I digress.

Some of the things I noticed as being different at the Presbyterian churh are the great number of responsive or unison readings. Some people hate these becasue they want to pray their own way, but I see it as the same as following while someone else leads you in any prayer. Another thing I have been doing for some years now, is looking over the prayers while I'm waiting for church to start. Occassionally, I have found a prayer I don't agree with. Actually, this has only happened twice and both times it was at a Baptist church in Lexington I was visiting. If I really don't agree then I simply don't participate or I go visit a different church (which I eventually did in Lexington).

The other difference in the service is the music. It is very traditional in the Presbyterian church. I enjoy this as church music the most probably because this is how I grew up. My mind just associates it with certain place and I enjoy that it puts me into "worship mode." I have no problem with contemporary music but it just doesn't work for me on a week in week out part of Sunday morning service.

There are tons of other deeper issues I have that makes me choose the churches I do, but that is for another time.

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