aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

An Analogy of Mine

I'm so glad I'm a part of the Family of God . . . I haven't heard this sappy bit of Gaither hymnody in a while, but it sprang to mind this morning. I was re-reading a post in which yechezkiel had an analogy about Western and Eastern theology that drew a lot of fire. The discussion made me think, not for the first time, about the polemics I see among my friends and colleagues. I relate professionally mostly to low-church Protestants; on-line, most of my LJ friends are Anglican, Catholic, or Orthodox (at least, those I talk shop with).

Thinking not theologically, but relationally, I see Christianity as afflicted with the same dysfunctions as many families. The rhetoric coming from my Catholic and Orthodox friends when they start talking about Visible Unity and all that reminds me of nothing so much as a pair of divorced partners continuing the argument over who left whom, whose fault it was, you always . . ., etc. It makes me sick.

We Protestants are like the children of that divorced couple. Our father, who shaped our mind, is the Eastern Church of the Creeds; our mother, who shaped our habits, is the Western Church of our common liturgies. It distresses us when they argue. And it seems that until we pick one of them and admit they were right all along, we will not be acknowledged or loved. Regardless of the ecclesiological issues, as fellow-Christians we Protestants feel either manipulated or rejected.

Looking at the main Protestant traditions is like examining the children of that divorce. We carry the scars and have processed our upbringing in ways typical of such children. The Lutherans are the elder brother, replicating the self-righteousness and argumentative nature of our parents (hey, the Lutherans can't even all take communion with each other -- how weird is that?). The Anglicans are like the eldest sister, trying to earn Mother's approval by being a little momma to the other children, and also hoping that if she takes responsibility for everything, she can fix what's wrong: Daddy and Mommy will get back together and love us all again. And so on.

We Methodists are the step-child -- or maybe the bastard child -- of Anglicanism. Other Protestants I see are like the younger, less highly involved children and grandchildren, who have decided that the whole family is crazy, and so they're just going to go start their own and not get drawn into the weirdness again. Some would like to see the family together again, while others have hit the door and not stayed to see it swing shut.

How sad it all is, sometimes.
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