Thursday, 17 September 2015

Christian, Protestant, Reformed, Evangelical: The Need for Labels

For approximately two millennia the followers of Jesus Christ have been known as Christians. Acts 11:26 tell us that 'the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch', the name being given to them as a result of their adherence to the teachings of Christ. Since that time other names have been given to various grouping within the broad spectrum of Christianity. The east/west schism of 1054 divided the Christian church into its Roman and Orthodox branches, both describing themselves as Christian but using more specific terms to distinguish themselves one from another. At the Diet of Speyer in 1529 the term Protestant was attributed to princes and rulers who protested against the decisions of the Diet, and since that time those who have opposed the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church have generally been known as Protestant. As the centuries have advanced further labels have been added to the various branches of Christian belief; reformed, evangelical, Calvinist, Baptist, Presbyterian and more, highlighting the particular theological viewpoint or denominational affiliation of those concerned, and distinguishing them from other Christians. There are some today who would reject such labels; they do not like the term Protestant, but prefer simply to be known as a Christian. Is this a reasonable view to take, and should believers reject the supposedly divisive denominational and theological labels which set them apart from others who likewise identify as Christian?

Saturday, 12 September 2015

The Sunday evening service and why you should attend it

In most churches today it is the case that the Sunday evening service is more sparsely attended than the morning service. In some congregations the difference is minimal, yet in others it is significant; a church which is more than three quarters full in the morning may be less than half full in the evening. Although there can be prevailing circumstances in the lives of some church members which genuinely prohibit them from attending the evening service, with others their absence is harder to explain. There are those who have been associated with the church for decades, have professed the name of Christ, yet have rarely if ever been seen at their local church in the evening. In dealing with this matter we are not taking issue with those who have genuine reasons why they cannot frequently attend the house of God twice on a Sunday. For parents with young children it is understandable that there are occasions where both parents cannot be out twice on a Sunday. Amongst the elderly of the congregation there will be those who through age and infirmity are simply unable to attend two services in the one day. Where church members are employed in the emergency services it is accepted that as a result of their shift patterns, there will be occasions where they cannot attend as many services as they would desire. These are justifiable reasons for why some people may miss church services and we would not seek to condemn them. Our concern is with those who are regularly, and sometimes always, absent from their local church on a Sunday evening.