03 October 2012

Answering Questions #20- Restorationism (1)

You're ideas while interesting seem to lead toward some sort of Restorationism. Your ideas concerning theology and church history would seem to lead to that end. Aside from some doctrinal points, aren't you saying the same thing? Are you ultimately promoting some form of Restorationism? How do you differ?
And practically speaking, where do you draw lines? Sometimes reading your material I feel like with 'Confessionalism' being invalidated the possibilities seem, endless. But on the other hand it seems like you're condemning almost all of modern Christianity. Somewhere you said you attend a PCA, which seems strange considering at times you're quite hostile to Reformed theology and polity. Can you clarify some of this?

This group of questions was not presented to me in this exact form. These questions have been extracted from various question sets I have received both past and present. I have 'cut and pasted' them together here. In light of the last post, the question concerning the PCA has been answered.
Restorationism or Christian Primitivism is the idea that we're trying to get back to the New Testament Church. We're examining both theology (which includes philosophy) and Church History and essentially trying to Reconstruct the physical and spiritual constitution of the early Church.
In many ways this is an impossible task. There's simply too much historical water under the bridge and we live in a very different context. Although it could be argued our present context is in 'some ways' more like the era of the early Church than it has been for perhaps the past fifteen centuries. We live in a period of transition. Christendom has just about expired despite the efforts of those who would work to revitalize it.
In some ways yes, I'm advocating a form of Restorationism, and in other ways I'm not. In some ways I'm taking basic principles that many Restorationists employ but I'm also interacting with historical theology many Restorationists might eschew or completely disregard.
Historically I'm calling for a re-examination and re-interpretation of Church History. The Reformed faction would certainly accuse me of Ecclesiastical historical revisionism especially with regard to the pre-Reformation period. Although they themselves have even engaged in this to some degree. Over the past fifty years or so, many have come to view the previous generation's Whig histories as not only insufficient but in many cases dishonest.[i] These histories at times attempted to claim the proto-Protestant groups as being essentially in line with Protestantism post-Luther.
Again, in some ways this is true, but there are key differences. Today I more often encounter people who wish to 'claim' or 'identify' with Medieval Catholicism as 'The Church' and would view the proto-Protestants as well meaning aberrations. In some cases they will come out and say they were well meaning but ultimately schismatics who did not hold to a proper doctrine of Justification, a proper view of the Church, nor did they possess a Biblical Worldview with regard to culture. These are some of the same points with which they would take issue with me.
Theologically I'm trying to work out and justify the series of ideas and concepts surrounding Biblicism or Scripturalism which is different from the historical phenomenon known as Fundamentalism. There is some overlap, but rather than respond to the challenges and claims of Higher Criticism, and boil down the Bible to essential doctrines, I'm trying to reach further back and interact with the very few ideas we can extract from those who resisted the Medieval Church. Thus far (as of September 2012) I have not had the time to write as much as I would wish on the proto-Protestant sects.[ii]
Many Confessionalists sneer at the idea of Restorationism. Their concepts of the Church are not rooted in history in general sense, but specifically to post-Reformation events and the formulation of the creeds in the 16th and 17th century. The previous centuries were simply prologue, the real story begins post 1517, after Luther and Calvin. Most (but not all) of them would deny this when it's put that way...but I don't think they can escape the charge.[iii]
The most popular explanation is to me the most historically untenable. Many Protestants view the Roman Catholic Church as the "True Church" during the Middle Ages. And they only lost that status when they 'formally' and thus institutionally denied "Justification By Faith Alone" with the conclusion of the Council of Trent in 1563.
At that moment, in an instant the Sceptre (as it were) of the "True Church" claim passed from Rome to the Protestant bodies. Everyone went to sleep on December 4, 1563 and when on December 5, 1563 the Council closed and thus ratified their earlier proclamations (1547) about Justification....the Sceptre flew north of the Alps and landed in Wittenberg, Geneva, and Canterbury. Thus the argument that the Protestants are the 'true' continuation of 'The Church'.
This argument fails at numerous points I've elaborated on in other writings. Practically speaking Rome had been in denial of Justification by Faith Alone for centuries. In fact I would argue that's not even the issue. The issue is Authority and the Roman entity's claims vis-a-vis the Word of God. Sola Fide as formulated by Luther won't be found at any point in Church history prior to Luther himself.
This argument is also rooted in Sacral and Cultural concerns and views the Church in terms of Civilization and Institution. The position assumes many incorrect doctrines, and thus asks the wrong questions.

[i] D'aubigne and Wylie are examples of this. Their histories are helpful perhaps even necessary but narrative driven, very biased, and are guilty of glossing over things in some cases to the point of misrepresentation. With Wylie especially, the narrative is driven by a 'progress' narrative and all the historical characters are artificially united and all building toward the capstone of Reformation Christianity. There's a lot of dishonesty and anachronism is pervasive.

Most solid historians would discredit Wylie and consider his history to be somewhat childish. I'm also thinking of characters like John Knox who in the past have been elevated. Knox used to be one of my absolute heroes. But then upon close examination it is discovered that not only were many of his ideas erroneous, he at times seems almost unstable. His views of history and the way he tied 16th century happenings to the Bible would not be endorsed by anyone today. It is well known that he drew parallels between Edward VI and himself with Josiah and Jeremiah. Besides being patently wrong, when you look at his own statements and the glimpses we get of his own mind you start to see how really mistaken he was.

He literally thought of himself as some kind of predicative or inspired prophet and were he alive today would be completely discredited by the people who claim to follow and revere him. His history has been largely whitewashed by Reformed historians. If you're interested in Knox, see 'The Mind of John Knox' by Richard Kyle. His treatment of the Scottish Reformer is a bit less biased.

[ii] Ironically it was years of reading the Whig histories that drove me to examine such groups as the Waldenses, Lollards and Hussites. According to Wylie they were almost Reformed Christians before the Reformation. And in some ways this is true...with some of them. But the issues are more complicated and in time I came to identify significant differences not only among them but with the later Reformation. But what I realized was Wylie and others are being misleading in trying to 'claim' them as earlier historical versions of their ideas. It's not that simple.

I always found the narratives concerning the Waldensians to be tantalizing but I was always frustrated at the lack of attention and information. Why was this? It's almost like they were being mentioned but largely ignored. I've come to the conclusion that this has occurred for two reasons. One, they are not perfect replications of the post-Reformation Church, in fact there are significant fundamental differences. Two, to identify them as 'the Church' in the Medieval period is to cast down the Sacral-Dominion thesis and it's claims regarding Western Civilization.

The modern Dominion minded historian wants to be able to identify with the civilization that built the universities, the cathedrals, produced centuries of art and music, warred against the Islamic world, helped to create the Western concept of the state and prepared the way for the modern world...namely the civilization that for over a thousand years persecuted the people trying to uphold and adhere to the Bible alone.

[iii] Although I have lately seem some rather disgusting attempts by certain factions of Theonomists to try and hijack and 'claim' the Celtic Church. But listening to their discourse I am convinced they know very little of what they're talking about. The Celtic Church was not quite what someone like Wylie would have wanted. But they weren't Dominionistic Theonomists either! God willing I will address that in another piece.

Go To Part 2


Cal said...

What book would you recommend for reading/understanding the Church in the Emerald Isle (aka. Celts)?

Protoprotestant said...

Oh boy, that's not an easy question. I have several and have read many more, but I can't say that I would 'recommend' any of them.

I would say read everything you can get your hands on from the absolutely hokey (as in the Celtic Church were Theonomic Presbyterians, i.e. perfect continuity with Scottish Presbyterianism).......to the minimalist (they were basically Roman Catholics with a different ecclesiastical structure, date for Easter, and a different form of tonsure).

Then there's everything in between.

I think the popularity of the Celts in terms of pop culture have made the whole thing much worse and muddied the waters.

I've been quite interested in the Celtic Church for years. While in Britain I visited Iona, Lindisfarne, Whitby and many other sites. The same is true for Ireland. I even named my oldest son after one of the famous Celtic 'saints'.

I seriously intend to write about them some day. I don't think anyone can 'claim' them. I don't think they fit into any of the boxes. There are things to be admired but also some less than 'encouraging' aspects to them as well.

They weren't proto-Protestants in the sense of pre-Lutheran/Calvinists. No way.

But there are some affinities with the ideas I'm expressing.

But they're a far cry from the Waldensians.

Gotta run. I'm going to try and sit down and answer some other comments tonight.

Protoprotestant said...

Maybe I should bump a Celtic article up my list of priorities. I have a feeling that's a topic that would interest a lot of people.

Anonymous said...

This is pretty clear and very helpful to me.

We are sympathetic probably with most of the points that Restorationists stress, but not from the driving motive to "go back and recreate;" but with the motive to be biblical. To be now today in context what we should be, the heck with traditions of man. We reject creedalism and systematic structures and "Reformed" thought. Mostly because we reject sacralism/constantinianism.

I think perhaps some of the trouble resulting from reformed theology is that it was created in reaction to error; hence it is in essence reactionary rather than simply going to the Scriptures to try to obey them. You've discussed in other articles how imposing a grid of theology onto the Scriptures can lead to trouble, and I totally agree.

My opinion is that the first and second century church and its writers are a valid source of light to us currently, not authoritative as is Scripture, but enlightening, because they were implementing and living out the apostolic teachings in the first and second generations after the apostolic age (and before constantinianism.)

The post-medieval reformers wanted to "fix" a messed-up church, but my belief is they didn't "fix" enough. Particularly the misunderstanding of kingdoms. We should lay the axe to the root. Rather than "fixing" a terrible monster of religion, we should "come out of her My people" and instead try to be faithful from the ground up.

Before the magisterial reformers, a thriving church existed--the proto-protestants, and during that time the anabaptists. The problem is that these guys were not given any legitamacy by the "Reformers" who held all the cultural and politcal marbles, so we have little of their history or writings. What is written about the persecuted anabaptists is completely prejudicial from the powers that tried cruelly to eradicate them.

Learning a bit of history here is an added treat!

There always has been a true church, but she hasn't always been properly identified by historians or theologians. That makes a big difference in interpretation of history.

Glad you are writing, Brother.


Jim C. said...

Hey John,

...He literally thought of himself as some kind of predicative or inspired prophet and were he alive today would be completely discredited by the people who claim to follow and revere him.

Was it in Richard Kyle's book that you read this? I'm thinking specifically of the assertion that Knox was a prophet according to the Old Testament connotation - that he could not only foresee the future but predict it and believe that it would actually come to pass.

What specific prophecies did he make?

What's interesting about this is that he was also a contemporary of Calvin and was well acquainted with Geneva. In fact, it was he who famously referred to it as "the perfect school of Christ."

To the best of my knowledge, however, Geneva enforced OT law as thoroughly as it could and that included the use of capital punishment for crimes listed in the Mosaic Law as punishable by death. One such crime was false prophecy.

Therefore - almost ironically - if Knox indeed claimed to be a prophet with this supernatural ability and his predictions didn't come to pass, the Genevan authorities would have stoned him to death (or burned him at the stake). They would have also been the first and most vehement to denounce him.

Jim C.

Protoprotestant said...

Victoria you’ve said it right. We’re just trying to be Biblical. I guess part of what I’m doing is trying to work out what all that means….on several different fronts. Everybody’s trying to be and claiming to be Biblical….but most aren’t even close are they?
And I would prioritize it as you do. While I’m not overly keen on certain theological stresses and emphases and how that sometimes is applied….a big practical divider is the issue of Sacralism. I’ll elaborate on some of the pragmatics in the subsequent parts. The division is pretty deep and wide.
Yes the Reformers ‘fixed’ some of the problems, and in some ways created new ones and in others ways retained and perpetuated some of the old ones. We would all disagree a bit on the particulars, BUT….the fact that we can even recognize that and look for a solution in the Bible rather than a Creedal Tradition puts us on more common ground than I would stand with a Presbyterian or Lutheran.
With this mindset there is a possibility of working things out, of charity etc… Denominational walls make this almost impossible. Denominations aren’t just factions, there’s even a theology behind the idea of Denominationalism…one which I object to, one that makes it impossible to function within it unless you are of it.
Though they deny this violently when suggested there is at the very least an implicit claim to being ‘The Church’ in each denomination. They try to get around this through cross-denominational affiliations and councils but at the end of the day….it’s their rules or the highway.
On a Congregational level (hopefully a proper one with a plurality of elders) the men have the possibility of being able to sit down with their Bibles and work it out. They may have some lame or bad rules but there is the possibility of modification or accommodation…an impossibility within rigid denominational structures and Confessing bodies.
I’m afraid with most of the proto-Protestants they build their tombs and celebrate them but were they to show up today….they’d burn them at the stake.
Victoria are you trying to suggest the Church isn’t about cathedrals and thrones, royal families and armies? It isn’t about armies of conquest or massive sculptures and works of art? Are you trying to say that the bulk of Church History is really about a quiet farmer raising his children, a carpenter sawing a board while talking to his neighbour. Is it about people on their knees while trying to figure out how to pay a bill? Is it about people fleeing in the dead of night to escape persecutors?
I know many Reformed men would say it’s both. I would say we have a radically different idea about what the Kingdom of God is all about.

Protoprotestant said...

Kyle talks about it and I remember to my surprise the professor at seminary talked about it quite a bit. He didn’t think too much of Knox. Actually there’s pretty good evidence Calvin didn’t either. Knox was a bit wild and out of control. Some of it is just kind of funny, like his First Blast Of The Trumpet Against The Monstrous Regiment Of Women which of course was directed against ‘Bloody’ Mary Tudor, but by the time it was published and circulated she had died and Elizabeth Tudor was on the throne. Oops. Of all the Marian Exiles he wasn’t ‘welcomed’ back into England. Liz didn’t appreciate him.
He was actually kind of dodgy if I recall. He would make predictions about the politics of the day and how people would respond. He really had this OT overlay in his thinking. England and the boy king was Josiah. He was always saying things like….see, I predicted that!
That could be innocent enough but it was more than that. I’d have to dig the book out to find some quotes, or my class notes. I can’t recall specific language. He spoke of himself clearly as a prophet in line with Elijah, Jeremiah etc… and this was prophesying (in the sense of proclamation) as well as prophecy in terms of ‘forthtelling’.
16th century Europe was the OT recast with England and Scotland at various times in the role of England fighting against all the Babylon’s and Assyria’s. I have no problem with such analogies when viewed in terms of the Church v. World. When you start playing political entities off against each other watch out!
And so he would make predictions about events and kind of cherry-pick Bible verses to back it up. He would be subject to withering critique today as wildly irresponsible and abusive in his use of the Bible.
God speaks through his prophets….and by this Knox meant that would include him. He would try to ground it all in Bible passages but he was using them to back up his political ideas and whatever the current political crisis was. See, God’s revealing it right here! It’s actually similar to what many do today. The difference was he as the prophet could rightly declare this or that verse to belong to this or that event. Dangerous and irresponsible…again, like many Evangelicals today.
He would peg a contemporary event to something that was happening with Ahab or Jezebel or Babylon and then predict what would happen next based on what happened to the person in the Bible. God showed it to him that the parallel was correct. Knox talked about Wishart as being a prophet and his ability to declare ‘things afterward felt’. When Knox predicted his and the other’s release from the French galley he believed himself to be ‘illuminated’ and that he could not only interpret the Word but speak the Word. (I grabbed Kyle to look for some specifics like this.)
Kyle talks about Knox’s belief that he had a special responsibility to pronounce God’s Judgment. That could be alright, but in light of the larger context of the discussion it raises some eyebrows. At the very least Knox kind of crosses line from being zealous to being an outright fanatic.
Surprisingly he even quotes Joachim of Fiore to help demonstrate that others have declared Rome to be the new Babylon Harlot of Revelation!
So when I say dodgy what I mean is, he didn’t come out and say look here I’m a prophet I speak for God and He says x,y, and z.

Protoprotestant said...

But he did believe God was showing him things in a special way. He had a gift of interpreting the events of his day and tying them with specific Biblical passages. That could just be atrocious hermeneutics but he seemed to think it was God-given in some kind of immediate sense. And then he also believed that when he predicted certain personal/small scale events this vindicated his ‘call’ and ‘role’
In my opinion, Calvin wouldn’t think too highly of any of this. He’s so cautious when it comes to ‘prophecy’ that some of his commentary is lacking and of course he totally avoided Revelation.
Yes I used to quote Knox regarding Geneva. Now I would find it an awful place. I would have to sneak out in the dead of night. The history class was a good shock for me. Just a few months prior I had been visiting Knox sites in Scotland. The ruined castle and cathedral at St. Andrews were practically holy ground. I never bothered with the golf course. I was there for Knox and Rutherford. When I was in Berwick I was thinking of Knox. Had to stop in Haddington for Knox. I remember feeling tingles seeing Knox loom over Glasgow and being offended when I met Scots who did not seem so keen on him.
Edinburgh Castle, Knox’s house on the Royal Mile, St. Giles Cathedral, his parking lot grave, Holyrood palace…the very rooms were Knox had his showdowns with Mary QofS. All holy ground.
So to meet this Reformed professor who appreciated him but was also pretty critical of him really piqued my interest and I started to realize that many today were making him out to be something he wasn’t. I still admired him but he wasn’t quite as wonderful and perfect as I had thought.
Same with Calvin. 6 or 7 months before I had walked around Geneva, visited St. Peter’s, saw where Calvin’s house was, visited the Reformer’s Monument. This was all big medicine for me. I remember being almost in tears.
Funny now isn’t it?
Anyway, Calvin I think frowned on his wild Scottish comrade but that kind of predicative prophecy was actually quite common. A lot of the language and activity was cast in apocalyptic terms. They thought they were in the midst of the book of Revelation. We are, but not like that.
That’s kind of the funny thing about a lot of charismatic-type stuff. I’ll point the problem if they even get one prophecy wrong and it seems like many of these modern day ‘prophets’ kind of get shifty and non-committal. They seem to differentiate between kind of low or common every day prophecies….don’t go to the store today, something bad will happen. Or, God told me he wants you to drive down Maple lane and help the first person you find.
But these ‘prophets’ rarely prophesy or speak in the way the actual Biblical prophets spoke….their messages aren’t really for the Church, more like helpful hints or something. With Knox, I’m sorry to say it’s almost like he’s constantly trying to build his legitimacy and show that God was with him. He strikes me as rather unhinged which is exactly to my surprise how every Scot I talked to thought of him.
I have this little booklet, a talk given by Iain Murray on Knox. I used to read it devotionally. It really inspired me. You can now find it in mp3 form. I think Monergism has it. Anyway, I listened to it a few months back and was really put off and Murray is pretty guilty of the kind of gloss-over romanticism when it comes to these ‘hero’ figures of Reformation History. The Reformation is everything. It’s the Apostolic Period part 2….no joke.

Cal said...

Thanks John

I learned a little of the Celtic Church from "How the Irish saved Civilization" (sympathizing with my Irish roots, I dug in) when I was a deistic Americana worshiper. I really liked it because when the British Roman Prelates came knocking, the Irish waved them off for the longest time. Being a Voltairian, I cheered as I saw priests shooed off by rugged Irishmen, wandering naked and freezing as a testament to the indomitable spirit of man. Obviously, I had it wrong! :)

Anyway, reading your comments, I have the same struggle in finding a "giant" to point to or find some stream of the Church that roots in history. Reading more, the glow from Luther and the other reformers dimmed. At one point earlier in my walk I even believed the baptist "trail of blood" myth.

I can see why Rome or Constantinople is so appealing. They're like Chelcicky's net: huge and glorious and yet they have a gaping hole caused by caesars and popes.

I don't feel like I'm a Protestant and I'm certainly not a Catholic. I sympathize with Anglicans but without the Sacralism and some Presbyterians without the bureaucracy.

It's all awash.

Protoprotestant said...

That's interesting. How the Irish Saved Civilization was whipped against the wall on at least a 1/2 dozen occasions when I read it. I really dislike Cahill. He kind of represents the 'other' side of the whole Celtic issue.

It's such a mess. Everyone's trying to 'claim' them. He's trying to claim they were kind of a modernish syncretistic movement...as well as bunch of other stuff.

Again like almost everyone else...somewhat true but the total picture he paints...inaccurate.

They did like the cold naked bit in the streams though. That's for sure.

It even gets further complicated when you have Christian authors like S. Lawhead writing of the Culdees and his whole Patrick series....not to mention the Arthur books he wrote which were huge back in the 80's.

Ah, the Arthur issue. It grows even more complicated and entangled.

I did all that too! Glastonbury, saw his supposed grave discovered during the Plantagenet era. Saw the thorn bush Joseph of Arimathaea brought over....walked around the Tor...the Isle of Avalon.

I used to be REALLY into some of this stuff. A lot of my ancestors are Irish, Scottish, and Welsh. Thankfully for the sake of my flesh which used to glory in this stuff the other half of my ancestors are solidly Old English Anglo-Saxons....Normans (yuck)....and Germans from all over Central and Eastern Europe.

I used to lament being a mutt. Now I'm thankful for it. Tie in family history with nationalism....formula for deliberate blindness. I figured out that most of my family...were probably the bad guys. Actually it's interesting how many of them would have hated each other. Give it a couple of generations and they're getting married!

Protoprotestant said...

Rome and Constantinople are super appealing. I understand why people bail on Protestantism and find security. They're wrong of course but it is pleasing to the flesh.

I spent a lot of time in Rome and your flesh wishes you could be part of it all. It's really satisfying to 'do' things and feel righteous and holy about it. Pity it's contrary to the Gospel.

My friend and I were in Lutterworth where Wycliff was at. We saw the church and the river where they dumped his ashes after he was exhumed and burned. We were talking with an interesting old gentleman who identified himself as 'Apostolic Anglican'. We still chuckle about that.

I also know a lady who's part of the Anglican Schism that developed out of the Tractarian/Anglo-Catholic movement. Newman and Pusey are the big names there. These folks actually split and formed their own Anglo-Catholic body. It's interesting how certain Anglican movements also see themselves in some sense as Restorationist.

This last group I mentioned believes that everything stopped in 1054 and until the Schism is healed there can be no further doctrinal development. All the post 1054 ecclesiastical developments (which would almost all be in the West since the East hasn't really changed since then) are illegitimate.

I greatly sympathize with aspects of Anglican theology. Not their polity, Establishment, or liturgy but in the way they deal with certain topics. Mind you I don't mean the Anglican Church of today! I'm talking about the Anglican Church of the Elizabethan Settlement, and the era of the 39 Articles.

What do you think of Ryle? Packer? Stott?

Protoprotestant said...

Well, I think I've made it pretty clear what I think of Presbyterianism. Even Cromwell finally had enough of them had to go and trounce them! Of course it's a disgrace that so many Independent(polity) Puritans went with him on the Irish Campaign.

I think the stream I look for is the Remnant Stream. That's not the Trail of Blood. That's a packaged idea based off of a false premise. They then go looking for this Mark of the Church... Baptism by Immersion. My wife didn't grow up in a Landmark Church but her Baptist church also eschewed the label of Protestant when they were very much rooted and grounded in Protestant history and theology.

I'm with you. I'm probably neither. In some ways I kind of embrace and reject both Protestantism and Catholicism, E. Orthodoxy and Anabaptist streams.

I guess I'm just an inconsistent mess eh?

Cal said...

Yeah, looking back at Cahill I'm not much of a fan of what he presented. Of course he's trying to say: "Look! The Irish were not the potato-eating drunkards and brawlers they were thought to be; they're the real heroes!". Like I said, it was all the Voltaire in me laughing as Roman clerics were sent packing, muttering as they carried their skirts back to Romanized Britain. Thinking back, I think Cahill was amused with the syncretic elements. I image he had a twinkle in his eye as he wrote about the so-called christian kings of Ireland still copulating with a pure bred white steed as ritual for ruling. It was this that made them special.

Of course, it makes the Irish into a rebel race and I liked that.

Haha, I'm not much Irish, but enough. I'm about 80% German from all corners of their lands (all the way from Schleswig-Holstein to the Ostereich). I shamefully admit when I was 13 and I first was exposed to a recording of Hitler's speech, I was floored. It didn't last long, but pride in blood is such an intoxicating, and poisonous, brew.

I also rejoice in my muttish status now, I would've easily been swept into some deluge. I was already blinded by American Nationalistic idolatry.

I'm not terribly familiar with Ryle or Packer (though I know who they are). I liked Stott and thought he was a decent fellow who tried to find some unity in the fundamentals. Of course, he's sometimes a tool for garden-variety American evangelicalism like CS Lewis. I don't think they would like his his high view of the sacraments or the liturgy!

We differ on our thoughts about what is left to the Church. I've been rethinking my dislike of liturgy. Granted, not the binding sort that you find with Rome or Anglo-Catholicism. I wrote a little paper on it, if you want it I can email it and hear your critique.

Anyway, that's besides the point. I agree with you hear. I'm not for the establishment or the high liturgy that many times becomes chains to shadows. I think the 39 are a pretty good creed. Reading through some early Church history, I've taken a much higher view of the Supper and Baptism (I've even moved away from credobaptism). I like Augustine here a lot.

I've sort of given up on trying to think about all of this. As cliche as it sounds, I just want to follow Jesus. My theology starts and ends with: Christ is Lord. The systems and constructs, they can collect dust and crumble. So I'm willing to fellowship with baptists or presbyterians or anglicans or even catholics as long as Christ is Lord. Of course, push hard enough and other things will obstruct it. You get Papacy, relics, hierarchy, hyper or hypo this or that.