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February 20, 2005

Thinking, Feeling, and Doing Churches

There are a number of ways into which churches may be divided into three categories. Here they are.

1. God the Father. Ectomorphic/Cerebrotonic. Thinking. Right Belief. Theology. Fatalist. Deterministic. Calvinist. Preaching.

2. God the Son. Mesomorphic/Somatotonic. Doing. Right Actions. Legalist. Free Will. Methodist or Roman Catholic. Song and Ritual.

3. God the Holy Ghost. Endomorphic. Feeling. Right Sentiments. Antinomian. Unconcerned about Free Will. Baptist or Pentecostal. Praying.

. . .

. . . The Thinking church emphasizes having the correct beliefs about God, which involves both correct reasoning and God's grace in helping us come to the correct beliefs. Correct behavior would flow naturally from correct belief, except that we are Fallen and do not behave as we ought. Instead, we must rely completely on God's mercy. It is hopeless to expect a Christian to behave perfectly, and our actions cannot satisfy God in any case, so ceremony is unimportant. The gap between the Saved and the Fallen is important, but it is a gap due entirely to God.

The Doing church emphasizes correct behavior in daily life and correct behavior in religious service to God. These are distinct behaviors, so this kind of church may emphasize morality (as the Methodists traditionally did) or ceremony (as the Jews and the Roman Catholics did). Belief is de-emphasizes, as being too abstract and, in the extreme, ultimately unimportant. Free will is emphasized, and it creates the gap between the Saved, who choose to behave well, and the Fallen, who choose to behave badly. There are gradations in this, however, since behavior itself has gradations. Thus, the Roman Catholics include in the Saved both the Saints, who have an excess of good works, and the ordinary members of the church, who do enough but who must go through Purgatory before they are fit for Heaven.

The Feeling church emphasizes correct feelings towards God. Belief is too abstract to matter, and behavior is less important than motive and general attitude. Correct feelings are a gift of the Holy Spirit, which is given to some people and not given to others. A person can tell if his feelings are correct or not, and others are able to observe them in a Saved person also, but this kind of church, by its nature, is less specific as to what is good and what is bad.

The ideal church balances the three attitudes, as does the ideal Christian. Each of us is naturally attracted to the church type that matches his individual type. I, for example, am at ECC, which is a mix of the Doing and the Thinking, and I often wish the church were more Thinking. This kind of matching might be good, because it does match strengths. On the other hand, balance might (or might not) be more important. Perhaps I should be attending a Feeling church. But I think not-- in my imperfection, I would be more alienated than taught.

Posted by erasmuse at February 20, 2005 10:13 PM

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