This morning, I had the opportunity to have an impromptu Bible study with a man who introduced himself as Pastor Dr. Armando. He wanted to find a congregation who would allow his ministry and followers a place to work and worship. Prayerfully, I listened to him and looked for my opportunity to turn the conversation from his program to the Bible. After hearing him out, he asked if we would be interested. I told him that he saw some great needs and had some intriguing methods of providing benevolence to our community, but the problem would come regarding what they taught and how they worshipped. As gently as I could, I tried to show him what Scripture said about both–since both were matters he brought up in our discussion. Judging from his facial expressions, he had never heard of a preacher or church approaching the plan of salvation or how to worship or anything else using nothing but the Bible. I told him we had no creed, council, synod, or earthly head who governed or gave us religious traditions to follow. While he seemed very interested in the concept, his “pragmatic” side did not allow him to see how that would work with the group with which he already worked. There were nearly 100 people, black, Hispanic, and white, who he said worshipped with him. They believed how or when one is baptized was not important, and they were very drawn to their drums, guitars, and other instruments in worship. Yet, as strident as he was about their beliefs, this idea of non-denominational, simple New Testament Christianity intrigued him. We ended our hour-long discussion by agreeing to meet to talk further about these things in a more systematic way. I’m optimistic and hopeful!
Perhaps we have bought into the idea that the “restoration plea” has been tried and has failed to find a following. If Dr. Rangel is in any way representative of the religious world, and I have reason to believe he is, there are a great many who are totally unaware of that plea. Could there be a whole world of religious people out there, disenchanted with mainline evangelical denominationalism, who would be open to New Testament Christianity? Let’s pray for opportunities to share it and see what happens!