The people running most of the mainline Protestant churches have given up on a specifically religious agenda to pursue a political one. They don't have doctrine, just ideology. They claim the banner of tolerance, but are as dogmatic (and as gentle) with people with whom they differ as Torquemada.
They are making it up as they go along. Their only guide in making it up is that they want to be slightly more outrageous than they used to be. "To travel hopefully is better to arrive," they say. In other words, they don't want to get anywhere, they just want to get away from wherever the ordinary people are, whom they despise.
Talk about "waterless clouds."
Having ripped on the Lefty-Loonies, one might suppose that I would find a home among those denominated variously as the conservative-evangelical, Confessing Movement types. After all, I went to a Holiness seminary, I believe in the Bible, etc. But to tell the truth, though I speak their lingo fluently, their approach leaves me cold.
They, too, are making it up as they go along. In their case, they really believe that they can just pull answers to questions of governance or liturgy or social values out of the Bible without reference to the (whole) history of the Church. The result is that they keep reading their own time and culture back into the Bible and coming up with culture-bound interpretations and declaring them the eternal gospel.
They make me tired.
The Hierarchs of Oz
So, whom does that leave? Well, there are the apostolic succession folks: Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican (and various minor groups). I admire them all greatly, but for some reason I just don't find their arguments about what constitutes the essence of Christian this-or-that convincing.
The fact is, some of the things they are most vociferous about defending as having been received from Christ himself or the apostles I can find no evidence for. Their defenses for these positions remind me of the old preacher, who wrote in his notes at one point, "Argument poor: yell like blazes." They, too, have made some things up, but they sternly insist that they haven't.
Who is that man behind the curtain? (Doesn't look like Jesus to me.)
I regret that this is such a negative post, but what I'm saying is that my attempts to find a corner of the Church where I could say, "this is it, this is what I was looking for all along," continue to be disappointed. The best that could be said for my search is that I am following the advice of the sculptor who was asked how to carve an elephant. He replied, "Get yourself a ten-ton block of marble, then cut away everything that doesn't look like an elephant."
I just pray that when I'm done whacking on this, I'll have more to show for it than a pile of gravel.
The foregoing is offered with apologies to all my friends who might see themselves in one group or another and be offended. Giving offense is certainly not what I'm trying to do here, and I see good people and good things in all three groups. But I'm still looking for something that I've been feeling the want of for over thirty years, and my frustration sometimes just has to be given a good venting.