As our church search continues, hubby and I also end up visiting a lot of different Sunday School classes. Sunday School is important, we believe -- or at least some kind of small group Bible study within the church. You need to have people that you have close relationships with, that you are accountable to, that you are digging deep into the Word with, all that.
But not all Sunday School classes are equal. We've been in some good ones. We've been in some silly ones. And we've witnessed a few real doozies over the years.
This past Sunday, we tried a new class at one church we've been considering. The minute we walked in, I suspected that this wouldn't be the class for us just based on the ages of the people present: we were significantly younger than everyone else. Not that I don't think I can fellowship with and learn from those older than me, but we need connections with people in our own walk of life, also.
One of the first topics that came up was the book they had originally planned to study for the summer: Ministries of Mercy, by Tim Keller. I haven't read the book, but Tim Keller is an author I have enjoyed in the past. However, this class apparently got about two chapters into the book and couldn't stomach his theology enough to read any further. This was the point when the teacher then turned to us and remarked, very amicably, "We're a pretty progressive class. If you're a more fundamentalist type, you'll probably decide this isn't the class for you."
Yeah. We could've made that decision right then.
But we stayed for the rest of the lesson, a lesson which confirmed her description of the group. The teacher had brought in a couple of articles to read and discuss, and the discussion generally revolved around the notion that fundamentalists are silly (if not downright unchristian) to hold so vehemently to the fact that the Bible is infallible and inerrant -- that such beliefs lead to hateful, unloving thoughts and behavior (!?!) -- that they all are so grateful to be free of the shackles of such ridiculous dogma and open to a belief system that makes so much more sense.
I listened very carefully, because as I said recently when I wrote about Facebook, I learn a lot from people who think differently from me, and I sometimes find that I've been wrong about things and need to change my thinking. That didn't happen here. I wanted so much to ask questions . . . like, "So, how do you decide what in the Bible is true and what is not? How exactly do you define 'The Gospel'? What if there is something out there that is absolutely, positively true but that doesn't make sense to our limited human reasoning and that we need to receive by revelation and accept by faith?" Not to trip them up or anything -- just because I genuinely wanted to know their answers and understand their thought processes.
But as hubby and I said to each other later, we could sense this wasn't an environment for such questions. We were visitors (and only one-time visitors, it was becoming clear), and it would accomplish nothing for us to stir up the pot like that. These people weren't just "progressive" Christians (a term I take some offense to, actually); they positively reveled in their "progressiveness". Their progressiveness WAS their religion. We doubted we would get sufficient answers to our questions in our short time there, and it was obvious that such comments from us would get us immediately labeled as some of those dreaded fundamentalists needing to be either converted or dismissed.
So we smiled and nodded when we could with a good conscience. We shook everyone's hand at the end and heard their names. Then we left with a sigh.
Cross another one off the list.