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Different denominations all have something to offer

Nov. 10, 2006

By CLAIRE ST. AMANT

I like to play the field.

What can I say, one denomination just doesn't do it for me.

I love the Book of Common Prayer used by the Episcopal Church.

There is nothing common about it. Its thoughtful, beautiful language intercedes for my feeble mind and echoes the desires of my heart. But there is something so wonderfully personal about praying your own prayer, with words that have never been strung together quite that way before.

Rocking out to David Crowder at University Baptist Church is definitely a religious experience, but I also love how sacred it feels to sing "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" out of a hymnal. I don't limit God to one style of worship or even one church doctrine. He's too big for that.

I'm tired of seeing Christians tear each other apart for the sake of "theology."

When Jesus prayed for himself and for all believers before being arrested in the garden of Gethsemane, his words were "that they may be one ... and be brought to complete unity."

Wow. We Christians have kind of missed that part. Instead of uniting, we have split off left and right to form more denominations than there were apostles. And what's worse than the initial split is that we still won't work together.

I'm an Episcamethopist, I should know; I've seen it from three different angles.

When I told my Episcopalian priest that I was going on a mission trip with the Southern Baptist Convention, he looked more perplexed than excited.

And when I reached the mission field in Melo, Uruguay, and the issue of denominations reared its ugly head, I was met with raised eyebrows and wrinkled foreheads.

It seemed I was the only one who was willing to call myself a Christian without inserting a subtitle.

After attending a Methodist Church in Waco for a couple of years, I noticed my friends starting conversations like. "Well, Claire is a Methodist. You should ask her ..."

I had to laugh at comments like that. I'm no more a Methodist than I am a Baptist or an Episcopalian.

I don't know whose doctrine has it all right, or all wrong, but I'd venture to say the answer falls somewhere in the middle.

I'm a kaleidoscope of Christianity, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I have learned so much about the character of God from each denominational experience. I hate to think of all I would have missed by getting hung up on titles.

If you never venture outside the walls of your own denomination, you will scarcely have the opportunity to authentically question what you believe.

I've known people who go to their own priest/minister/pastor whenever they have questions about theological issues or church practices.

Well, that's a great place to start. But please, for the love of God, don't stop there. Pick up the Bible. See what Jesus has to say about infant baptism or transubstantiation.

If you really want answers, if you really want to hear the history behind a ruling, you need to cross denominational lines.

If you merely want your questions quieted and conformed to the beliefs you already hold, then you don't have a very long walk to the church office.

When the apostle Paul said in the book of Galations "there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus," I tend to think he meant there is neither Catholic nor Protestant, Baptist nor Lutheran as well.

I won't settle down with one denomination. Not just yet, anyway. I'm learning too much by dating around.

Claire St. Amant is a junior professional writing major from Katy.