I'm in Pittsburgh tonight, and this afternoon I had lunch with Terrific Theology Professor, so I asked him how I might frame a response to the confirmation class (see previous post).
"You don't join a church," he said in some exasperation. "You've already been joined to the church by your baptism."
Our professors here at the seminary invest a lot of time explaining to us that the whole idea of "joining a church" (Church shopping, anyone? Switching churches? Oh yeah, BTDT ~) is a product of our culture of American individualism and freedom of choice, whereas our theology tells us that we are called into the church by God, that our identity as God's children is God's gift to us, that God initiates God's claim on us at baptism, and that it is God, not we ourselves, who is doing the choosing.
Of course, we're Americans, and so we can't stand any of this.
"If you can get through to them that they aren't joining the church," he continued, "but that they've already been joined to the church by God, then you'll have really done something."