Sunday, September 03, 2006

American Christianity at it's Zwinglian Best

Attended today a worship service of a church today and was struck by what I will call it's American individualist Zwinglian Christianity. They probably don't think that much about what they are actually saying, though the Pastor and leadership of the movement the church is part of might.
What brings me to describe the church in this way is first that the worship songs said nothing about Jesus in any specificity, the name of the Trinity was never said, not even in the form that tries not to use father (but I am certain that such issues are not important to this church.) Then there was a celebration of "communion". A table with bread and grape juice was brought to the front, and a passage from Izaiah was read by the pastor, and we were encouraged to remeber that Jesus had died for our sins, then we were invited forward to take little waffers and little cups of grape juice. Then we all returned to our seats holding the waffer's and grape juice. The pastor than prayed a prayer sort of thanking Jesus for taking our sins or something like that. Then we were told to eat the bread the symbolizes Jesus's body and thento drink the juice that symbolized Jesus' blood. We were not enjoined to see that Jesus was present to us in any way, let alone in bread and wine. We simply were to reflect on what Jesus did for us individualy. I was actually relieved, as I realized what this church was doing really had little or anything to do with what I believe about Christianity and the church. There is no ecclessial or sacramental pretense with actually Zwinglian disdain for the mysteries. There were no mysteries, just some individual communion with God based on Jesus' death 2000 years ago. Odd though, that they even practice communion since it is a pretty pittiful and empty ritual. The pastor preached a nearly unintelegable sermon (to me at least), and then we were dismised with "Have a great week." Jesus was mentioned three times, the Trinity was never invoked, God was called most frequently "Lord", and once as "Creator". Oh, and the "Name" of God was praised in almost every song sung but that the name would be "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit", or "Jesus Christ" seemed not to have been a connection that was made. I recognized only remenants of the faith I have and known my whole life.
I wonder if this is a future of American Protestantism, more an American individualistic Gnostic and iconoclastic belief system than anything recognizable as orthodox Christianity. Though, they would still claim to be trinitarian and believe in the incarnation, though their worship denies both.
But I was impressed by the honesty though it was shocking that the only symbol in the worship space was an American flag. (though it is a rented space so the flag may have just been already there, though I think it was intentionally left in the space if it was already there.)
Well, we have a long drive home, tomorrow from North Carolina, I will post again on Tuesday, and check out the comments on my Historicity and Continuity post, when I am back in Chicago.