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Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Interchangable Churches?-Jeffery Collins made a good post yesterday from his sickbed questioning my comment from last month that Protestant churches were interchangeable, closing with this
So, to the question, "Are Protestant churches interchangeable?" I would have to answer, "Only to the extent that they teach the same message of salvation taught by the apostles."
That is an excellent clarification. There are plenty of liberal churches that I wouldn't feel comfortable worshiping in, but I have a number of different options that would meet Collins' criteria. In the last six years, while looking for a church home in Midland, I was a regular attendee at a very conservative GARB Baptist church, an Assemblies of God church, an Evangelical Free Church, a Southern Baptist Church and finally a Vineyard church. In my new digs, I've been going to a Vineyard church in Lakeland but am strongly considering going to an independent charismatic church in Winter Haven near where I'm now living that I went to last Wednesday night and am planning to go to again tonight. All of the churches listed are evangelical in that they preach salvation by faith/belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior. While the churches may have different worship styles and different views on the gifts of the Spirit, they share a common faith and a common Savior. To the extent that they are preaching what the Bible says and trying their best to live it out as well, they are interchangeable from a salvation standpoint. As I was trying to point out in the post Collins’ cited, it's easier to move from one evangelical church to another than to leave the Catholic Church. While we have some confidence that our church is presenting a close approximation of what the apostles preached, we evangelicals typically do not think our church or denomination has a monopoly on the proper interpretation of God's Word. For a Catholic, denying that monopoly is much harder, if not heretical. For an evangelical, it will often lead to bouts of church-shopping, as we look for a church that best fits our view of what a church should be like. Marc of Spudlets is in church-shopping mode now. He's got a good essay on this issue. He's right; if your church isn't preaching the Gospel and stops delivering the truth, you either need to turn the church around or walk with your feet. He also points out that you need to judge individual churches, not just the name on the front door. There are very good churches in lame denominations and lame churches in good denominations. I'd advise Marc and the rest of us who are in that position, to look for a place that they are comfortable in, that their spirit-man feels is the right spot. The music might be a bit too loud/too bland/too new or the preacher might be too loud/too long/too pushy but we aren't going to find the perfect church this side of heaven. We need to find the place God wants us to be, and avoiding going into Siskel and Ebert mode.

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