My name is Angela, and I am a recovering Protestant. For those who have known me well, that statement may come as a bit of a surprise. For those who know me intimately, and have been privy to my life’s circumstances over the past few months, it may come as no surprise at all. Regardless, the journey to (and through) faith is a very personal experience.
We are each unique beings, created to reflect certain divine attributes of God. Attributes such as love, mercy, justice and self-awareness. Attributes which, when fleshed out as God intends, convey His righteousness and His holiness. However, since the fall of man, those attributes have been continuously perverted and distorted. Over time, human beings have exchanged love for hate, mercy for wrath, justice for injustice, and self-awareness for deception. How could that ever end well?
I was raised in Pentecostal church, but for much of my life, I’ve self-identified as a “non-denominational” Protestant. I adopted that description as a protest against the church culture of denominations, which, in my opinion, does more to divide the true church of Christ than any cultural issue ever will. And yes, it is my sincere belief that the Protestant faith is a much divided body of believers. That is part of the reason that we (as a family) have committed to such a radical change in terms of our beliefs. But it is only part.
We came back to this small town to enjoy closer fellowship with a small body of believers. For a year and a half, we met together, ate meals with one another, and explored some of the more challenging concepts of life as believers in Jesus. And then, quite out of the blue, it all ended suddenly and painfully. It was the most extreme paradigm shift of my life, but in the end, we were able to reconcile things in our hearts to gain a measure of peace. But grace.
Over the past few years, I’ve come to believe that the Protestant church is not meeting the Biblical mandate to be “salt and light” (Matt 5:13) in the world. We have, in my opinion, lost our saltiness due to doctrinal divides and even cultural disagreements.I believe that this is why the world today is in such a shape that it is in. It isn’t because sin has grown greater, but rather that the church has abdicated its responsibility to live among (not in) the world, and keep the moral decay at bay by living Holy lives, set entirely apart for Christ. We don’t entertain sin as some little thing that human beings must endure when the Bible is clear that we are enabled by the Holy Spirit to put off the old man (Romans 6:6).
So what is the answer? For us, it is a profound departure from the faith of my youth. I am preparing myself to dive headlong into a new faith, the Ancient Faith of Orthodoxy.Thankfully, where I couldn’t see a way, the Lord had prepared one. I have no expectations of human perfection in this Church, but I do believe that doctrine is consistent and settled. It is also a very beautiful expression of the Christian faith. It affects me deeply, and when I cannot attend Divine Liturgy, I am grieved in my heart. There is also a feeling that every person there is united in purpose and in love for Christ.
I awoke one morning with a Bible passage on my heart. In Matthew, chapter 14, Jesus calls Peter to reject his fear, step out of his boat, and walk on the water towards Him. And Peter did it! He placed his hands on the side of the boat, climbed out, and stood (probably trembling and fearful) on top of the raging seawater. He walked towards Jesus, and as long as he kept his eyes fixed on the Savior, he did not fall beneath the raging waves. But at some point, he became aware of the viciousness of the storm around him. His eyes left Jesus, drawn to the massive waves that threatened to overtake him. And overtake him they did until Jesus reached down and saved him from certain death. And this passage spoke to me, because I had become so hurt with the storms around me (in world and in the church) that I took my eyes off of Jesus. I was sinking fast, and death ( of a spiritual nature) was imminent. But grace…
So there you have it. I am a recovering Protestant, intent on recovering an intimate relationship with the One who saved me. The One who is remaking me. The One who valued me enough to suffer an agonizing death for me so that I could be reconciled to him and never die. It’s for Him that we begin down this road.