The days of inherited faith are waning. According to the Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life, by 2008 44 percent of American adults had converted from the faith in which their parents raised them — but about 16 percent of those moves were from one Protestant church to another. The most popular reason Christians gave for changing Protestant churches was that they found another one they liked better.
People today enjoy many opportunities to explore faith. The expectation that children will keep the faith of their parents has eased, and tolerance toward other ways of believing has increased. More than ever, Christians have choices — and choices invite introspection. Why am I this kind of Christian, and not that kind of Christian? Or perhaps the question may be, why do I remain in the tradition I chose or was born into, despite the division and the madness?
At the Threshold we are exploring the “Why” question with readers and writers of different Christian traditions.
History scholar Kathleen Mulhern blogs about her sometimes-tenuous hold on the tenets of Protestant Christianity in a new Patheos post titled Why, Today, I am Still a Protestant.
Speaking of his own faith, John Grantham writes that “Anglicans the world over need to remind themselves of just why we are Anglicans, and why we should remain so in spite of our own discomfort or disagreements.” He breaks down why he believes Anglicanism is the world’s best hope for providing a model of Christian unity.
A website called Why I’m Catholic provides a database of conversion testimonies, indexed by the faith heritage of the convert or “revert.” Clicking on the Protestant category reveals an inner index where the testimonies are then categorized by denomination. Note that Mormons are filed under Protestants, and the Eastern Orthodoxy category appears to be empty.
Some Christian traditions tend to be used as foils. For example, a Google search for “Why I am Orthodox” turns up dozens of articles and posts titled “Why I am Not Orthodox” with very little pro-Orthodox material. We found one essay titled My own vision of the ultimate: why am I an eastern orthodox christian? attributed to Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios. In the coming weeks, At the Threshold expects to publish an article by Orthodox priest and theologian Rev. Pr. Laurent Cleenewerck, and another by acclaimed author Frank Schaeffer, who rejected the theology of his famously fundamentalist parents to embrace Orthodoxy.
As you read these stories, we invite you to post your own.
- What brought you to the place you call home, spiritually?
- What keeps you there?
- How does your church challenge you?
- How do you challenge your church?
Explore these ideas in the comments section below, discuss and share on FaceBook, or submit articles for publication via firstname.lastname@example.org.