In Bryant’s Right From the Heart the other day, he had this line in there:
“A recent Gallup poll found 72% of Americans believe that Jesus was the Son of God, yet 80% felt each individual should arrive at his or her own beliefs independent of any church. Now those two stats show a huge disconnect between belief and practice, between professing faith and living it. It's called hypocrisy and it's the number one reason people outside the church say they have no interest in Christianity.”
I don’t agree with that conclusion. I think that they are not mutually exclusive. I Believe that Jesus [IS] the Son of God, and I also believe that each individual should arrive at his own belief independent of any church. That does not mean that any conclusion reached by an individual is correct, or a way to God. However, I understand a relationship with Christ to be at a personal level. I did not arrive at my belief dependent upon a church. The church is not integral to my belief system. I think it is integral to the way I grow as a Christian, and corporate worship is very important to me… But the church is not part of my beliefs, but a blessing and method to connect with God on a personal basis and a means for “iron sharpening iron”.
I think the church is, however, a much too integral part of Catholicism. It seems to be between man and God, and not first & foremost a platform for worship. My take is that if an individual does not arrive at the personal understanding of Christ as his/her Savior independent of any church, then those beliefs fail when that church fails to live up to the name of Christ. No church can save us from our sins, no church can vouch for us in God’s holy presence. Only the Son of God.
I’m probably just defending the syntax because of the way I would have answered the question as it was phrased, but my thoughts are still my thoughts.