I just re-posted two posts where I responded a little to the question of some classmates as to why I don’t become a Roman Catholic. Part of this question was inspired, no doubt, by my conservatism–to some mainline protestants, inheriting the penchant for defining themselves negatively contra the Roman Church, anything conservative must be Roman (or Fundamentalist, which is the most popular insult toward conservatives…. I sort of take it as a badge of honor myself.) At any rate, I thought I would write a series of posts to follow those up. One will be this, Why I am not a Baptist, since I was raised in the Baptist Church–what made me leave? I will follow this one up with a post on why I became an Anglican and finally I will attempt to summarize why I am a Christian–what does my relationship with Christ mean to me?
I first want to point out that I still find much to respect in the Baptist approach to the faith–indeed, unlike many people, I didn’t leave because of a conservative/liberal disagreement. In fact, I have shocked plenty of people by saying, in summation, that I decided I couldn’t be a Baptist any longer because they are too rational. stunned silence. :-p
Basically, I feel like some of the extremes of the Reformation made the same mistake that the Roman Church made: they attempted to codify and explain the things of God in too detailed a manner while excluding alternative ways of interpreting.
The point at which I realized that I couldn’t in conscience remain in the Baptist Church was during an Easter service in which we partook of the Lord’s supper. After the preamble in which the preacher explained that this was merely a memorial nothing happened in this except our remembering etc… I just felt that the weight of that rationalization killed the spirit for me. I didn’t feel God’s presence (contrast this with a communion service I went to at Church on the Way where, except for the passing of the tray rather than actually moving forward, I felt like I was in my own church, and I believe the Spirit was really present).
I believe that there is strength in the Zwinglian view that it is not the elements of bread and wine that undergoes “transubstantiation” but the body of the faithful people who gather. That being said, I think that this transformative power and grace is something that has been demphasized and not talked about in many contemporary Baptist and non-denominational churches. Additionally, I believe that, like in our understanding of the atonement, we need to have multiple ways of thinking about what happens during the eucharist in order to appreciate in any way the dramatic manner of Christ’s intervention in our lives, and there are multiple biblical foundations for the various views of communion, just as there are multiple tracks for the theology of the atonement, the error of too many churches is in prescribing and proscribing things that are neither prescribed or proscribed by scripture.