Sunday, 29 December 2013

What is the status of non-denominational/ unaffiliated Christians?

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Although I have a church I support to a significant extent and attend sometimes but not regularly; I would not be able to say I was a member of any specific church nor would I regard myself as a member of any specific denomination.

I am thus essentially an unaffiliated Christian. 

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I have been a baptised and confirmed member of the Church of England, or an Anglican - but have come to regard the CoE as gone over to the Dark Side so far and so fully that it would be counterproductive to maintain my erstwhile loyalty to the institution.

In a sense I remain loyal to the best of the CoE and to the historical church - but that best is now so small and feeble a thing - compared with the size and dominance of the evil element - that in practice it means little. And the Anglican affiliation beyond the specifically English church, is mostly a matter of church order, important but not really my business.

Other people I know very well continue to find some people and parts of the actually-existing CoE - and its exceptionally rich textual, liturgical and historical resources - to be a basis for their own spiritual progress. But for me, personally, as a matter of subjective fact; these wonders and delights are in practice overwhelmed by the intensely-dismaying and despair-inducing modern daily realities of CoE policy and practice. 

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What is a specific church or denomination for, in the scheme of things? I am sure that no church holds the keys of salvation and never has - we are saved or damned by our own choice. So what then?

A church or a denomination might help or hinder this choice in any particular time, place and person; but does not determine it. Many self-identified 'Christian' churches nowadays - in my firm view - work zealously and effectively against the salvation of their members.

Probably, all churches do this to some extent, inadvertently, but the process now seems purposive and systematic in many or most situations.

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So, good, useful, genuine churches and denominations are about theosis, sanctification, spiritual progress - they are about building-upon salvation.

I think we can only know whether or not this is actually happening by looking within ourselves, by prayer, by using love to develop a sensitivity to a growth - or shrinkage - of love in ourselves.

A good church will en-courage us (give us courage), and will work primarily by love - but maybe there are no good churches accessible, and maybe the accessible good churches are too exclusive for us personally in our current circumstance? Then we are unaffiliated.

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To be unaffiliated is a seriously-sub-optimal state to be in - it is not something you would wish upon yourself or anybody else; and always there is the hope of finding a good church and a good church which we feel impelling to commit to.

But this ought not to be considered a matter of urgency, rather I believe the virtue of patience is necessary.

I think the unaffiliated need to be patient to hope for, work for, and await change in circumstances, and change in themselves. 

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This hesitant state of the unaffiliated is frustrating, even annoying, for the sincere affiliated Christians, who have found a niche in a church or denomination, who are experiencing theosis, and who are naturally keen for the unaffiliated to commit and join the good and necessary work.

The unaffiliated should be candid to admit and repent that they are parasites on the actual churches and denominations (especially those of the past).

But while it is seriously suboptimal, it is not unreasonable for any specific person at any particular time to be an unaffiliated Christian - and although the unaffiliated cannot progress far or fast in theosis; I would hope that they may be as bold, and devout, and as mission-orientated, and as loving a Christian as all but the best of those within the (minority of) real Christian churches and denominations.  

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