Some comments to this blog have expressed concerns that I need to designate my theology and then pick a church based on that theology. As I see it, they are concerned I may visit their church and comment on it when it may be contrary to my theology. So, their point is I should pick a theology and then pursue a church to fit this theology – end of story.
This is more easily said than done and suggests a dogmatic view of religion. If it's that simple, any of us could pursue BeliefNet's "Belief-O-Matic. Answer 20 questions and you will be told what religion you are practicing or should be practicing. Wow!
The recent key findings from the Pew Forum study, quoted several times recently in this blog, shows this belief to be at variance with what Americans truly believe. The Pew study clearly shows Americans are not dogmatic about religion, with 70% agreeing that “many religions can lead to eternal life” and 68% agreeing that *there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of my religion.”
Theology, as highlighted above and here, links to a related entry on Wikipedia with this definition:“Theology is the study of God from a religious perspective.” Additionally noting theology is undertaken to:
• understand more truly his or her own religious tradition,
• understand more truly another religious tradition,
• make comparisons between religious traditions,
• defend or justify a religious tradition,
• facilitate reform of a particular tradition,
• assist in the propagation of a religious tradition,
• draw on the resources of a tradition to address some present situation or need, or for a variety of other reasons.
I specifically choose not to delve into specific theological issues in this blog. My key reason being some will be tempted to dogmatically seize on these issues to press their own belief structure, rather than having a scholarly discussion. Thus theology divides rather than joins.
Clearly, many of you have indicated you are enjoying my foray into the churches of the Anchorage area. There are many reasons why only 3-5% of church visitors will return for a second visit. Some of these things are pointed out in this blog. If individual churches took a critical look, they would discover many opportunities to build good will and create an inviting environment for a continuing relationship.
To those who feel I should settle into a less than desirable church and give it time, I would say that I do worship semi-regularly at a church or two in the area but am not totally committed to any one church. I am still curious about our church community and will continue to pursue my quest. Thank you for your support, comments, and private e-mails from time to time. Let’s continue this conversation and learn from each other. I love hearing from those of you who have shared why they picked their church and what it means to them.