Discussion: How important is it for you to agree with every part of theology that your church teaches?

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The last three churches I have attended are outside of the denomination I generally identify with.  Each of these three churches have many things I could and want to align with, but each church also was opposed in one or two beliefs that I am very convinced of.  They aren't issues that I would be faced with every day, but occasionally it would show up in services, whether in the sermon or in the actual practice of the church.

This morning I was faced with one of those things, and although I was only an observer, I found myself trying to answer the question I asked you.  How important is it for me to agree with every part of theology that my church teaches?  I don't know the answer to that.  Right now,  I don't have children, so it is a relatively small issue for my husband and I.  We can disagree, and we can go on with things as usual, but when we have children, will we be able to explain why we disagree?  Will our explanation be enough?

It is very difficult to find a church that is perfectly aligned with your own personal beliefs, especially if your own beliefs do not perfectly align with one denomination or another.  How important is it that you find one that matches exactly with what you believe? 

I really want to know your thoughts on this, so I hope that you will comment and then share this post so that others can put in their thoughts as well.

edit:  I have since learned that the practice of sprinkling is very rare at my church; the vast majority of baptisms done are by immersion.  I do find some relief in that, but the fact sprinkling is practiced there at all is still a concern to me.

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11 Responses to Discussion: How important is it for you to agree with every part of theology that your church teaches?

  1. It's hard to weigh in on this discussion without knowing exactly what you do and don't disagree with. Some things would be absolute deal-breakers for me {total forgiveness of sins, Jesus as the Messiah, for example}. Other things might not bother me as much {grape juice vs. wine for communion, for example}.

    However, for me, I would say it's pretty important for me to agree with the theology of our church. It's honestly one reason we attend where we do. It's non-denominational {with slight Southern Baptist ties}, so it isn't so much that I agree with a particular denomination, but more with their specific theology {which is heavily Calvinistic}.

    Some people in our small group don't associate with Calvinism and it perplexes me how they can listen to sermons each week, as EVERYTHING our church preaches comes from this basic theology {Christ is obviously preached, but the lens through which the Word is preached is clearly Calvinism}. However, they still come and enjoy!

    Ultimately, I think joining a church is about submitting to the leadership. So if you can trust and believe in what the leadership decides, maybe some of the smaller theological points aren't as important? This is an interesting question!

  2. Stephanie, thank you for sharing! Our previous church had Calvinistic leanings, but we didn't notice it taught on a regular basis, so we were able to overlook it in favor of the many things we did agree with.

    Our current church practices sprinkling instead of immersion, which I have never understood the reasoning behind. If our children come to the point of baptism while we're attending this church, we'll find ourselves making other arrangements.

    These are things that, as an educated adult, I can recognize that I disagree with but not feel like I have to leave because of. But when children are part of the picture? I don't know.

  3. That makes sense to me. When we found our current church, we knew we wanted children soon, so we looked more specifically at their children's ministry and the way children were incorporated/taught in the church. It was really important to us and we found something we were really happy with! I can't imagine going to a church where I disagreed with something {especially since, when I believe something, I tend to be pretty passionate about it}. Adding kids to the mix would make it even more complicated, as you want to teach your kids what YOU believe to be true!

    And, for the record, I never understood the sprinkle over immersion thing either! :)

  4. I can justify it as a temporary solution when enough water is not available (prison, desert, etc.) but not a regular occurrence. The word means immerse!

  5. I see several issues here. The mode of baptism in the scriptures is immersion. It had been changed by some simply for convenience. The question would be, "What is the purpose and value of baptism and how important is to follow the biblical example?" The other broader issue is, "What does the doctrine have to do with salvation?" The vast majority of our church doctrines have nothing to do with salvation. They are customs and men's opinions. If you see the church you attend as being biblical on salvation, the rest is immaterial. If not, GET OUT NOW. The church we attend won't make or break our salvation but it can hinder or help. In some church, being saved isn't even taught and you would have to find salvation on your own with no help from the church.

  6. Steve, thank you so much for coming by and sharing. I think you're definitely right that if your church isn't properly teaching salvation you should be headed out the door. Outside of salvific issues, would there be anything that would cause you to start looking for a different church?

    I would appreciate if you share this post so others can join in the discussion.

  7. A lot of where I stand is based on my upbringing. As such that would bias my feelings toward a 'different' church. It is easy to get caught in a trap that says this church or that church has all the answers.
    Anytime we get comfortable and thing we have all there is, we are ready to stagnate. We need to constantly be digging for more. I would be looking for a church at is not tied up in tradition so as to prevent it from moving forward.
    So much of the 'christianity' today seems to be an intellectual gospel. I would be looking for a church that presents the gospel as a personal heart relation with God.
    I would look for a church that is alive and the power / presence of God is apparent. A pastor that is obviously being led by the spirit, not by his own intellect.
    Beyond that, what type of worship are you comfortable with, etc.

  8. Excellent answer. I don't think I could even add anything to that.

  9. Great conversation going here, so let me add something from a teaching point of view. I lead in my church and as a leader I signed a statement of faith. That I not only agreed to what my church believed but that these same beliefs were my own and that I would teach from that perspective. Because of this, I remind myself of James 3:1 quite often ("Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly."). What I teach must be in line with God's Word and if I'm off base, I'll be judged accordingly. So I feel it is necessary for me to agree with the beliefs and teachings of my church and that they are biblically sound.

    And another thought to consider, the Restoration Movement "slogan" states, "Where the Bible speaks, we speak. Where the Bible is silent, we are silent." This allows for strong biblical teaching, but room for opinion when the Bible doesn't speak to a specific topic or issue.

  10. I agree with you. That is assuming the Statement of Faith is specific enough to cover actual biblical truths and not denominational or church doctrine that is subject to opinions or is extra-biblical. I would NEVER go to a church and then criticize their doctrine. If you can't at least live with their doctrine, don't go there.

    On the other hand, if you are a leader, teacher, etc. in your church, it is important to you and to the church that you are on the same page. There are doctrinal issues with the church I attend. Nothing serious or salvific. These are simply areas of opinion. I am careful when preaching to preach the truths and not get into the areas of opinion. We ALL need to focus on what we agree on and not on our opinions, etc. How many sermons do you hear in which the only 'doctrine' you hear is man's opinions.

  11. I agree. If you're teaching at a church, you should be many times more concerned with how you fall in line (or don't) with the beliefs of the church. If you are going to be expected to teach doctrines that you don't agree with, you should be finding a different place to teach.

    At my college, there is a professor that has a belief that is directly in opposition to one of the core beliefs of the school. It is not a salvation issue, and it is not in the area he teaches, so he was asked to not speak about it, and everyone goes about their way. But I think many if not most of the students know about the arrangement. It's strange, but since everyone is able to live with it, and it's not a salvation issue, it seems to work okay.


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