Out of pure curiosity, I attended Catholic mass. The traditions are vastly different than my Christian upbringing. Initially I felt very uncomfortable because I was not expecting the church service to proceed as it did. Similarly, I attended a southern Baptist church service which was completely different than the Catholic church service and my own faith. I would love to attend a near Eastern church service to compare the traditions as well. I am starting to realize that much of what we do in our own churches is based off of tradition… Not doctrine. I have also started to ponder the effect many of the early creeds have on the modern Christian views of western culture. Though we claim the Bible to be the only source of the word of God, it seems we have begun to place much of our viewpoints of the gospel through the lens of those creeds, influencing our perspective of the Bible. How much of what we know and do today is because of the Creeds vs the Bible? Unfortunately, I feel the doctrines and viewpoints contained in the creeds are what divides western and eastern Christianity when we have absolute unity in the Bible and in Christ.
I have done this quite a few times actually. I find it very revealing about the religion and the history behind it. There are clearly difference but there are also similarities that I appreciate as well. The biggest similarity that captures my thoughts each time I have done this is the denominations strong belief in their religion. I think that we can all appreciate deep devotion and the want to grow deeper within our religion. A long time ago I attended a Greek Orthodox Church, while I do not remember the sermon, the overall message of the night was do good to others. While their history might be different than Christianity the messages they are trying to give to their flocks are similar to our own messages we receive on Sundays.
Recently, for the Fest of the Cross, I was fortunate to attend a Greek Melkite Catholic Church. It was a profound and exciting experience demonstrating how diverse and beautiful the Catholic faith is. Seeing how people pray, communicate, and run their services has made me more understanding and accepting of not just the Eastern Catholic faiths but also how great the Catholic faith is regarding language, traditions and cultures worldwide.
Ever since I was born, I have followed my parent’s religion with the Body of Christ Christian denomination. This religion has been tough for me to accept now that I am twenty years old. This is due to the fact that within the Body of Christ religion church, the rules are very strict in regard to how to conduct myself. The dress code is very different for men and women where men are mandated to wear pants and shorts, whereas women have to wear dresses and skirts. This distinction has to occur because my religion believes in following the Old Testament. However, I have recently been attending a liberal Christian denomination church called the Church of Salem. I have been transformed in many ways by attending this church because the worship, communion, and message of each service day transform me in many ways. I began to see Christianity as a relationship with God instead of a religion that has provided me with love, peace, joy, and grace to be able to confidently say that I am a Christian. The biggest challenge that it has done with my preconceived notion was learning how to be open-minded. This new type of mentality I have gained has allowed me to be able to listen to others and be understanding of people whether or not they agree with my beliefs.
Love that you visited a church from a different tradition, Cara! It’s fascinating seeing the similarities and differences between them.
I feel so grateful for all the rich history in the Christian church and the diversity of believers. I think we are better off for it!
Thanks for your observations!