Thursday, April 5, 2012

From Judaism to Reformation Christianity

The latest issue of Modern Reformation has an interesting article by Shane Rosenthal sharing his faith journey beginning with the nominal Judaism of his childhood to the Reformation Christianity where his family of six have found a home. My journey is quite different from Rosenthal's, but I can relate to his story, and I share his reasons for leaving generic (for lack of a better word) evangelicalism for a more robustly Reformed faith.

Here's a bit of the article picking up at the point where Rosenthal became a Christian at age 18.

. . . . Still, even after this event [the author's baptism], no one took me aside to talk with me about my understanding of the faith, or the meaning and significance of baptism. No one so much as signed me up for a class, a discipleship program, or anything. Months went by and I began to realize that I wasn't being fed, but was kind of a self-feeder who was on my own in this megachurch. Even as a brand-new Christian, I instinctively knew something was wrong with this model. I knew that showing up only when I felt like it wasn't good for me, and yet my attendance became more and more infrequent. But no one ever missed me. So I found myself praying for a home church with real community and accountability.

In 1987, I found such a community at St. Luke's Reformed Episcopal Church in Cypress, California. Kim Riddlebarger was taking his adult Sunday school class through the book of Romans, and a young Michael Horton was preaching semi-regularly. At St. Luke's, I was introduced to the enchanting beauty of the Book of Common Prayer, the mystery of Word and Sacrament, and the assurance of regular confession and absolution. I became a part of a community of like-minded believers who really wanted to learn more about God and his grace in Jesus Christ. I was finally being discipled. Now, with new Reformation categories, I was able to see some of the problems inherent in American evangelicalism as I had experienced it over the past few years. I no longer considered myself an evangelical. It was like a second conversion.

Since that time, I have made the rounds in a number of different conservative Reformed denominations, and my family currently worships at an Orthodox Presbyterian church with a solid liturgy, weekly Communion, and Christ-centered preaching. But my wife and I decided some time ago to regularly introduce our four children to other kinds of churches so they know what's going on outside their own walls. We have visited all kinds of places: Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, and various evangelical megachurches. We do this about once a year, and it always makes for great discussion afterwards. On one occasion I asked, "So, what was the first thing you noticed when you walked into the church?" "Well," replied one of our kids, "it sorta reminded me of a movie theatre." "It was loud," replied another. I still find both of these answers fascinating and provocative.

Click here to read the whole thing.

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