My mom’s side of the family is a flavor of fundamentalist evangelical Christian (church of Christ, note capitalization).
My dad’s side of the family is devout Catholic Christian, like, good Catholic Christians.
In K-12, I attended and graduated from a Pentecostal grade school based on the PACE program (Church of God, don’t ask me the differences).
I went to moderately evangelical Christian college (Pepperdine).
And attended very Catholic graduate school (Boston College).
This could leave a child/adult very confused. And no doubt, I am, have been. Everyone was a Christian in my mind, but some had it more or less right than the others (depending on what community you were in at what time).
I know it’s not true for all groups of evangelicals and pentecostals, but in the groups I was a part of, it was more important to emphasize not sinning/being obedient as opposed to God’s grace. I mean, in a sense, these things work hand in hand, and who’s to say what is more important. I just don’t remember feeling like there was any grace in my evangelical/pentecostal communities. Contrastingly, and this is probably what saved me, is that there was plenty of love and grace in my family. It had to be that way in order for us to exist in three disagreeing communities.
The catholics ignore the pentecostals and the evangelicals. Evangelicals condemn the pentecostals and the catholics. And the pentecostals don’t realize other types of Christians exist, except the catholics, who are all going to hell.
Either my family had to being loving and graceful, or we had to talk bad about all the communities behind their backs. We weren’t about to do that latter, that’s not very Christian, and living an incongruent life is unhealthy. So we opted for the forgiving, graceful, loving former. This is what each group taught me:
- The evangelical fundamentalists taught me the importance of the Bible (rules, knowing it, sacredness), attending church (like, all the time, aka community), being baptized and communion (sacrament) are awesome.
- The pentecostals taught me that church can be a serious party. Clapping, music, raising hands, dancing, zoo animals, as long as it is for the Lord, it is A-Okay. They also taught me that woman can do stuff in church! Women can pray, preach, lead worship, etc etc etc.
- The catholics taught me also that church can be a serious party (alcohol, Mardi Gras, Easter, Advent, church seasons!), but that the church is more than the Bible and a party. It taught me that there is really old tradition/history dating before the Bible existed (what?!?!?!), and it’s just as important to be educated in that history as it is to be educated in Biblical history/literature. Strangely, the catholics also taught me about grace more than the other two. That is to say, God is good, God said creation is good, and we’re all probably going to be okay (even though we don’t deserve it).
I thought I ought to give credit where credit is due. Because I wouldn’t be the weirdo I am today without all three.