Ragamuffin Faith and Patchwork Theology

I was baptized as an infant at a traditional Christian Reformed Church.

Then we switched to a contemporary one

But it wasn’t my Dad’s favorite so he and my sister went Baptist for a while.

Then we all found a Christian Reformed Church we liked and it stuck

But I struck out on my own after high school and was baptized (again…) as an Adult at Mars Hill Bible Church.

Then I found my Best Friend, and she’s Roman Catholic.

After that I fell in love with this Methodist guy I met on the internet.

And we went to a non-denominational seminary before moving to Oklahoma where we joined an evangelical non-denominational church that did altar calls.

This is where my own children were dedicated as infants.

Now it looks like I’m going to be a Methodist Pastor’s wife, or maybe I already am one, they don’t give you an official certificate or anything.

After perusing my impressive list of denominational switching, can you tell where I’ve landed?  Yeah, me either.  I’ve tried a lot of different denominations and congregations and I’ve come to one extremely important conclusion.

The name on the sign doesn’t matter.  

I’m not a methodist, and I’m not CRC, and I’m not Baptist.  I’m just… a child of God.  I have no idea how to classify it and I’m really not all that worried about it.

But, I did’t always feel this way. For a long time in my late teens and early twenties I thought that all these distinctions mattered.  A lot.

I had huge political and theological ideas and a lot of energy to expend on debating them.

I was prepared to go to war and convert the world to my self-proclaimed “right way” of believing.  Which was so post modern and flexible, it had no labels, it was organic… how could anyone else possible do anything differently?

I was determined to convince everyone that my “no-labels” labeling was the right labeling system.

If I couldn’t sway them I walked away wondering how sad it must live in their overly labeled religious world.

I threw around theological slang like it was my job.

Reformed! post-modern! Non denominational!  Progressive! contemporary!

These labels (or lack thereof because again I was SO post-modern) mattered to me greatly and I expended a lot of energy on it all.

And then my Dad died, suddenly and all my family and all my people gathered in my parent’s house and we watched as they took his body to the funeral home.

My world truly and utterly fell apart that day and as we sat in that house, Baptists, Roman Catholics, Non-Denominal, Reformed and Christian Reformed people all grieved the very same man with a line of questioning that transcended denominational boundaries.

Because who cares about trans or consubstantiation when you’re just trying to remember that the blood of Christ will set everything right someday?

And infant versus adult baptism seems laughably trivial when you’re just trying to hang on to the belief that God is good and on your team… when somehow he allowed the glue of your family to leave through the portal of an unexpected heart attack?

I can pinpoint that day to the beginning of the end for my theological battling.  Because on that day it was simply back to basics, trying to hold onto the most simple truth and hope.

the old church nestled in the woods.

That God loves me
He is somehow still here
And somehow ….. still good

I’ve learned that religious and denominational distinctions evaporate in the face of the grieving, questioning thirst of real life.

Because when our lives fall apart we are left with a longing for heaven, a need to be held that supersedes any division that the church has managed to come up with.

And through the losing, the falling apart and the total surrender of allowing God to stitch me back together I’ve realized that I’m this ragamuffin of a person who has a deep respect for the Church in all it’s many forms.

I believe that people are thirsty to draw close to the very same God in very different ways all of which could be validated by the very same bible.

And so my theology and doctrine are now pretty simple, and I see how all the outer branches of believe of it are important but for me?

There is a just a big God, a deep love, a broken world, a savior inside and a hope for restoration.

  • Natalie Hart

    Thank you for sharing these hardwon words. I’ve also found my faith get simpler, and deeper, too. That last line sums it up remarkably well.

    • http://www.leannepenny.com Leanne Penny

      Thank you dear friend. Who knew simplicity could be so freeing.

  • Martha @OurGypsyCamp

    This is where I am now too. My husband and I just seek out the solidest church we can find and join. We move frequently so we’ve seen a lot of diverse and amazing Christians. I was raised Anglican and he was raised in the Controversial Church Movement Du Jour (isn’t there always a scandal?) (but had a great experience) and we’ve just learned that all churches have major pluses and major minuses. I don’t want to say doctrinal issues don’t matter, but I do know that God has plenty of grace for them.

    • http://www.leannepenny.com Leanne Penny

      Grace for Doctrinal differences. Yes and Amen. I always like to think that we are going to get to heaven… none of us having gotten it “all right” and that it won’t matter in the least.

  • http://howtotalkevangelical.addiezierman.com/ Addie Zierman

    Yes. So much goodness here.