Where does one find fellowship?

I sympathize with you completely. My wife and I are in a similar situation. My wife found a couple of friends who attend their own churches but enjoy participating in a free-ranging Bible study with her as well. I take my fellowship where I can get it. There is a reason Jesus assured us that he is present wherever two or three gather to honor him (Matt 18:20).

The churches in our area either mock science and actively reject historical evidence, or else take their moral values lock, stock, and barrel from the culture of the world around them. I have not found an exception where I live, sorry to say.

Believers don’t have to agree on everything to be mutually edifying, but they need to love truth. The lack of this love is pervasive among churchgoers. I don’t buy all the excuses to the effect that believers can actively oppose truth and yet honor the Lord who is its personification.

Keep praying for guidance in all you do, of course.

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Really good thoughts, I appreciate it Derek. That really resonates with me. It’s either one extreme or the other. Many here in this thread are talking about evolution - makes sense, after all this is BioLogos - but it’s not like that’s “the” thing for me. It’s the fact that science denial seems to be the common threat among a slew of issues that I think are toxic to church culture, at least here in America.

I’m always telling my kids, friends, coworkers, and any one else who will put up with me: my #1 value is truth. It’s not about how something makes you feel or what you prefer, it’s about what’s really real and what isn’t. And increasingly it seems the evangelicals around me are growing immune to objective truth in favor of tribal preservation. Fortunately my kids are intelligent enough to see tribalism and how dangerous it is for those who care to examine this life and discover what’s true - but this also means one must be very careful in what they allow to be presented to those kids as “Jesus adjacent”. If the kids learn that church is a place where intellection is frowned upon, they may come to reject Christianity altogether.

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You and your kids should not be required to check your brains at the door when you attend church. Jesus takes away our sins, not our brains.

I have to tell my own kids often, when confronted with the anti-science or anti-intellectual or simply anti-curious attitudes of some believers, “Well, remember that they’ve had a lot of poor spiritual teaching so we have to cut them some slack.” It’s tricky to explain in a constructive way, for sure.

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That echoes what the article that @Christy posted above says about science and intellectual pursuits.

“Much of what is distinctive about American evangelicalism is not essential to Christianity,” Noll has written. And he is surely correct. I would add only that it isn’t simply the case that much of what is distinctive about American evangelicalism is not essential to Christianity; it is that now, in important respects, much of what is distinctive about American evangelicalism has become antithetical to authentic Christianity. What we’re dealing with—not in all cases, of course, but in far too many— is political identity and cultural anxieties, anti-intellectualism and ethnic nationalism, resentments and grievances, all dressed up as Christianity.

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Exactly. And this is why I’m not responding to the “just linger quietly” or “just deal with it” posts. It’s one thing for me to figure out how to glean fellowship and even edification out of whatever church I find myself in… but the cost to our children of letting them learn from observation what Christianity looks like is too high. One day when my kids ask me, “then why did you make us go every week and LEARN from these people - at a time when we were most impressionable?!” I want to be able to say I did my best to guide them toward a healthy paradigm of faith.

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I’m finding it quite easy to glean fellowship right here albeit virtually. When we travel we sometimes visit old churches. Nice ambiance but for human interaction regarding what is most dear to us, online seems to be enough for me.

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Having children in the mix definitely complicates the decision. It’s hard to know how much to shelter them from or whether to just let them be “on the journey” with you when it comes to assessing church cultures and choices (probably a lot depends on age).

A while back someone here on the forum made the comment that many people are feeling like they either have to be liberal among conservatives or conservative among liberals – not necessarily in a political sense, but just in the way that church cultures are often polarized. It’s not a fun choice to make, and I don’t know which is best. Sometimes, having been on the conservative, literal-minded side my whole life, I wouldn’t mind a more liberal setting (and just end up disagreeing about different things), but it’s not just my decision or just about me… so it’s hard to know what is right for our current circumstances.

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If you really believe that God is God of everyone, please do not overlook Black Churches.

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True… unfortunately since we’re in a pretty rural, mostly white (northern) area, I don’t know of any nearby except for immigrant congregations that don’t have services in English, though it was a blessing to visit one in the next city over (pre-covid).

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You would not be the first… Or send… Or third person to tell me about Black churches. Of course I have questions I’ve been asking my Black friends, like what it looks like to begin to engage with a Black church without it looking like we’re doing it for the wrong reasons, etc. But yeah if it were me alone, I’d probably already be attending a Black church. I believe at this point I’d feel a lot more comfortable there than any of the white evangelical churches around here.

As an aside @Christy, I noted way above that in your breaking in to my unspoken thoughts about university level fellowship (and after encountering preaching from the chaplain of a prestigious red brick English university, I shake my head), that you choose to swim carefully with evangelicals. That’s not a criticism. The opposite. It’s real. I volunteer with char/con evos to a wo/man.

As for collapsing US evangelicalism, that’s all to the bad; it’s fascism’s gain, not liberalism’s.

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Hi Eve,
When I was 72, a Bible Study challenged me to verbalize, in writing, what I believe. A Harvard Chaplin was my “sounding board” to discuss my questions. We called my papers the “Rope papers” because he allowed me the freedom to get enough rope for the Seminary Professors to hang me. My Christian home and Southern Baptist upbringing probably parallel your description of a YEC fundamentalist background. With much soul-searching, deep thought, reading many books, and the help of the Holy Spirit, I established my guidelines for continuing in my faith-based relationship with the Lord. First, I read a 500-page technical book by Dr. Chuck Missler that convinced me solidly that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, and only he could have written it. Second, Based on that, I scientifically discovered how the things God did in Creation are true since God’s Word is True. Third, I have found that science and theology fall into place when you begin with the God of the Bible in John 1:1-3. Scientifically, Einstein, his math teacher Hermann Minkowski, Max Planck, and a few more Nobel Laureates extrapolate Creation to the first picosecond of spacetime called the Initial Singularity. I am convinced that the Initial Singularity is the product of ex nihilio creation from the Word of God Himself, and He could do it in His power and His will however He chose. Neither Old Earth nor Young-Earth processes are important in light of the central message of salvation and redemption through the work of Jesus. So, the fellowship of my Christian friends centers on our mutual relationship with the Lord Jesus. Our agreeing simply points to Christ and His work of redemption and the ongoing work of His Holy Spirit in our daily walk.

Last month I visited the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter in Kentucky. I purchased a book that I haven’t read yet entitled “Already Gone, Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it.” by Ken Ham & Britt Beemer. Your 13-year-old son with lots of questions greatly concerns me. Since 2017 I have worked on a book for my grandchildren to, hopefully, supplement secular science classrooms with the scientific compatibility of Creation at the Initial Singularity and forward. Atheists mock the “God did it” reports of the Bible, but none have a better answer than the “eye witness” account of God who was there. The de novo (new “in the beginnings”) Creations of Genesis are consistent with the Initial Singularity from God, the Planck epoch (Big Bang), the Electromagnetic field, Quantum science, and our Universe made from Standard Model Elementry Particles which are field excitations in the Electromagnetic realm. Scientifically and theologically, it is exciting to learn of the unique compatibility of God’s Creation. I am thankful for the light the BioLogos.org shows with their Theistic Evolution information. I think that the best way for your son to embrace the saving grace of Jesus and the spiritual presence of the Holy Spirit with spiritual and scientific integrity is to understand God’s eye-witness account in the Bible and to listen to you and his heart.

Kateulogeo (Hebrew: to bless intensely and incur that which is beneficial)

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Amen. Thank you, Jesus. Welcome, Brother Bill @William_Grady.

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Thank you for your kind words. I’m not sure if you meant this to go to @DaughterOfEve or me. My 13 yo does have a lot of questions; but while I can get scared of them, I remember that God made our brains, and is delighted to hear them. He’s not afraid! I enjoyed Greg Boyd’s “Benefit of the Doubt.” I had lots of questions as a child as well–my faith (and my view of God) has changed a lot. Austin Fischer wrote that it’s not doubts that usually cause loss of faith, but the perception that we aren’t allowed to ask questions (or doubt). If I answered that he could not doubt, then that’d be an admission that God’s position wasn’t as strong as it should be. My parents always encouraged me with asking questions–and I only hope I can be as kind and welcoming as they were.

I greatly appreciate your blessings and encouragement. Please accept my prayers for your wellbeing in return, as well.
Randy

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Thanks for the feedback. As I understand it, ex nihilio creation is Latin for “out of nothing.” I think that means “out of nothing physical.” My view is that God delivered the Initial Singularity by His Word and in the power of His will. After the Planck epoch, I think the "disturbances or excitations " in the Electromagnetic Field that scientifically form all Standard Model Elemental Particles are also initiated by His Word. The Latin word de novo means “new beginnings.” I think that the “in the beginnings” of Genesis are creations being initiated. You can have a great time with your 13-year-old with the Nobel-level science of Einstein, his math teacher Hermann Minkowski, and the Quantum particle discoveries. Let me know if you find a problem with my thinking and these scientific applications. Blessings, Bill

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I appreciate your thought, which reflects more knowledge of physics than I have. However, I hesitate to label God as being present at any particular part of Creation. It seems that I could always set myself up for failure there. However, I hope that my son will appreciate more the wonders of creation (and of God) by learning more physics than his old dad. So this is a good point, too! Thank you. I look forward to learning with him about God’s creation.

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Thanks for your comments Randy, I am 82, and I was over 70 when a Bible Study challenged me to verbalize my beliefs. My studies convinced me beyond any doubt that the Bible is literally the inspired Word of God. Based on that, I set out to see How He did what He said He did. It was then that I discovered the scientific answers of the Nobel laureates. The Initial Singularity, for instance, was never mentioned in my school days, Einstein was still alive, and his relativity was relatively new. Minkowski spacetime was a novel thought project, and Lawrentz transforms were puzzlement. The Quanta of Max Planck was not well defined, and the Standard Model of Elementary Particles was just under development along with the Atomic Element Chart. The Planck epoch became nicknamed “Big Bang,” and Maxwell explained more about the Electromagnetic field and Quantum Field interactions. I believe that all of this describes the work of the Creator in John 1:1-3. Knowledge of these scientific discoveries explains what I think God is doing physically in His creation. It will provide a solid response when his professor claims that we came from premortal soup through evolution Evolution cannot create anything. Start with the Creator at the Initial Singularity, and everything else begins to fall into its rightful place as I think God intended all along. None of the science books will admit that the Creator exists, but I think the Bible is the eyewitness account from John 1:1-3. You get to decide, but I suspect it will help your 13-year-old by knowing the basic science if there is an interest.
Blessings

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I suspect you meant “primordial” soup there - and that it may have just been a misspelling. But if so, it was a profound one. I may have to use that! :face_with_raised_eyebrow: :smiley:

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I have never been a good speller, so I use Grammarly on every word I write. Grammarly has checked over eighty-six million words for me in the past few years. That is how I got the hyphen in eighty-six just now.
Thanks for your comment!!! It made me very happy to have a “profound” mistake that communicates better than the “correctly” spelled word.
I also like Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwitches.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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