Monday, June 16, 2014

"God, humble me to the dust," my Sunday at Berean Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

Today, I attended Berean Orthodox Presbyterian Church. How was my experience with the hardcore, traditional Calvinists? Interesting.


The church meets in the United Church of Christ building in Ogden as I mentioned before hand, as evidenced by this sign:

The outside of the church is very 60's or 70's modern and accented by a giant cross in the church yard.

The inside of the church has a small chapel that is octagonal in shape and the sanctuary was a very simple design with rock work on the walls and a simple altar and pulpit.

Overall, very homey and simple atmosphere that was warm and inviting.

The People:

The people were interesting. Not a very diverse congregation, I believe everyone there was white and the average age was above 50. Everyone in the congregation was very kind to me. Pretty much every member of the congregation came up and introduced themselves to me, and joked with me a little bit.

After the service, the pastor came and talked to me outside the building. There was a loud crow and he told me how he used to shoot crows with his BB gun when he was a kid and how he wished he had one for that crow. He then told me how he hoped the Lord spoke to me in the sermon and that he can be rather blunt, as you will see in "The Message" section.

Virtually everyone invited me back, and it was an interesting group of people. In general, they were very nice.

The Service:

The service was a simple service starting with a hymn, then an opening prayer, then they had announcements, read from their church's Confession of Faith. Afterward, they recited the 10 Commandments (what people traditionally refer to as the 10 Commandments, but that's a topic for another time) and the 2 Great Commandments Jesus gave. After that, they sang another hymn and read from 1st Corinthians before he got into his sermon. More on that in "The Message" section.

After the sermon, there was another hymn, then a blessing and dismissal.

Overall, it was a very simple service with no frills or ceremony. It was focused exclusively on preaching and music.

The Message:

This was the bulk of the service. There was a formalized sermon, which the pastor admitted he was winging because his computer had experienced issues and he couldn't get the sermon off it in time. But, even though there was a formal sermon, the message(s) were repeated many times throughout the entire service.

Because there wasn't very much structure on the sermon, I will instead do bullet points of some of the quotes that best demonstrate what the message was:

  • In relation to teachings, "If it's new, it ain't true."
  • "If there are contradictions in scripture, it's not an error in the Word, it's an error in our understanding."
  • "There can be no private interpretation of scripture, and no personal revelation."
  • "Worship isn't about you, it's about pleasing the Sovereign Lord."
  • "We must love and FEAR God. A good dose of fear is healthy."
  • "We live for Him (God), not ourselves."
  • "Fear of God is the goal of the Gospel."
  • "Salvation is an ongoing process, not a once in a lifetime moment." In other words, they do not believe once saved always saved.
  • "The grace of God is given, not claimed."
  • "No person is worthy of being on a pedestal," and "Don't think too highly of yourself."
  • "Test everything against the scriptures."
  • "Submit to the elders of the Church." This was in regards to questions or if you were making a big decision in life. Basically, consult with them and make sure what you're doing is godly. "If the elders are corrupt, the scriptures will tell you."
  • He said a powerful prayer to utter would be, "God, humble me to the dust -- make me usable."
  • "God will never let you down."
Overall, the message felt like a barrage of mental abuse. You were completely and utterly evil and inadequate without God. He stated at one point, "Man is wicked, there is not even an island of goodness in mankind." This is a horrible message, and to sit around telling people they are horrible, there's a defect with them and you have the solution, but they must submit entirely to your authority is pretty disturbing. It amazed me how everyone was smiling and taking all of this in like it was pleasant. I can only imagine what hearing something like that every week, and believing it would be like.

Overall Experience:

This was pretty much what I expected from hardcore Calvinists, lots of Hell fire and damnation mixed with messages of living life to please God, but it was still rather uncomfortable to see acted out in person. I would definitely not go back for  a round two.

Until next time, peace be with you.

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