Being a Bapti-terian

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This last weekend I had the honor and privilege of preaching at the church I grew up in: Northminster Presbyterian Church in Bakersfield, CA. That’s where my spiritual life with Christ began as I asked Jesus to be my Savior when I was 16 years old. My mom is still very active there, serving as an Elder for many years. I had a delightful time preaching to this congregation – many of whom were instrumental to my spiritual pilgrimage as a teenager.

As many of you know, I serve as one of the pastors at Community Baptist Church (CBC) in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. What makes it interesting is that my Senior Pastor (and very close friend, Dr. Rob Acker @robackercbc) also grew up in a Presbyterian church but is now a Baptist pastor. We joke around as we call each other “Bapti-terians” (which sounds better than “Presby-tists”). Every once in awhile, a little bit of our Presbyterian roots will “seep” through. For example, Rob and I snuck in the Gloria Patri into our prayers at CBC the last two weeks. We use the “debts” version of the Lord’s Prayer. And we now stand for the reading of Scripture. It works the other way too, as last Sunday I gave a good old Baptist sermon to the wonderful Presbyterian folks at Northminster. It was probably longer than what they were used to, but I think they got a lot out of it (at least, that’s what they told me!)

It is a blessing to have both the Baptist and the Presbyterian traditions in our background. We appreciate the stateliness and the grandeur of God expressed through Presbyterian readings, hymns, and liturgy. But we also love the solid Biblical teachings and the emphasis on evangelism we have in the Baptist church. It’s all good! I’ve also had wonderful opportunities to pray fervently and worship passionately with my Charismatic and Pentecostal brothers and sisters. I’ve been blessed by experiencing the intimacy of foot washing ceremonies and deep fellowship with my Grace Brethren colleagues. As well, I appreciate the brilliant writings on spiritual formation by Henri Nouwen, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross and others in the Catholic tradition, the artistic icons and paradoxical mystery of the Orthodox, the spiritual experience and whole life application of faith by the Wesleyans, the radical “Sermon on the Mount” pacifism of the Mennonites, and the list goes on and on. They all have different methods, different approaches, and different strengths. But the one thing we have in common is that we all worship Jesus Christ as our Lord.

As the Twila Paris song goes, “How beautiful is the Body of Christ!”

I think it is a shame that so much of the focus regarding the diversity of traditions has been historically negative: “They have the wrong theology,” “Their worship is irreverent,” “They don’t interpret the Bible correctly,” “They practice baptism and communion in the wrong way.” And while there might be some legitimacy in our disagreements, I think most of the hostility between traditions and denominations is silly – if not, stupid and downright prideful. Most of all, by ignoring the beauty of our diversity we miss out on valuable perspectives that enrich our understanding of God, our connection with Him, and how we can effectively minister to a broken world in His name.

Whole Life Worshipers seek to grow in whatever way possible that helps us to offer our lives to God and be transformed from the inside out. So we need to appreciate and learn from Christian traditions that are different than the ones we come from or presently reside in.

As for me, I’m proud to be a Bapti-costal-brethre-tholic-wesley-luther-menno-terian! Because it’s all “Christ-ian” to me.

What Christian tradition did you come from?

How have you been blessed or enriched by another Christian tradition?

An excellent resource to explore the diverse beauty of Christianity is: “Streams of Living Water” by Richard Foster

7 thoughts on “Being a Bapti-terian

  1. Have so loved and drunk in all of your posts but this one speaks to whombI have become. God bless the work that you do. BTW you were recommended by Wdward Fusge. We went to college together

  2. I think I am “Wdward Fusge,” and if so, I endose this blog article today. It could have been a gracEmail (except for personal details) and no one would know the diiference! I loved an incident in a Dallas Willard video I recently watched. John Ortlund was doing the preliminaries and observed what an ecumenical group was gathered. Then he asked the audience, “How many churches do you think are here today?” Then he turned to the board and wrote in huge printing:
    “1”.

    • I love that story, Edward! Actually, today’s blog was also influenced by your last gracEmail. Reading about how the Western and Eastern Church viewed Jesus Christ (crucifix vs. icon, the sacrifice vs. the life of Christ, precision vs. mystery/paradox) jogged my mind about the wonder and necessity of all the expressions of Christian faith to give us a better and bigger picture of who God is.

      For those Whole Life Worship readers who do not receive Edward Fudge’s bi-weekly blog, go to edwardfudge.com, subscribe and be blessed!

  3. And, I might add, I have been heavily influenced by Richard Foster, Dallas Willard and the Renovare movement. The 1999 Renovare Conference here in Houston was a watershed in my spiritual life. I might add that Edward has been a powerful influence in my life. I think it’s because he lets God flow thru him!

  4. Captist raised a catholic and saved as a Baptist
    nothing can compare to the awesome reverence and tradition of the Catholic faith . The sacraments embody Gods gifts to his children in a logical and meaningful program. where as the Baptist is the free emotion and joy that God has for all Christians. Both paths lead to the Cap part of Captist that is to be Captivated by Jesus savior and King of the Universe

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