Some conservative Episcopalians like to trumpet the fact that some traditionalist parishes have high Sunday attendance. They claim that orthodox preaching and leadership pack 'em in, whereas (they claim) "revisionist" parishes often have trouble even getting people in the door. Well, here's an interesting data point: Despite the Roman Catholic church's overwhelmingly-orthodox leadership, and even before the clergy sex-abuse scandals, an Associated Press article reports that the church's major U.S. dioceses have been seeing only about 20% Sunday attendance, at best. And Europe is probably worse by far. The attendance percentage at my own, very-orthodox parish hasn't been much better that that of the RCs in the past dozen years. When I eyeballed the charts published by the national church, it appears the best attendance percentage we had between 1994 and 2004 was right around 28%. I checked a few other parishes in town, both orthodox and liberal; their numbers tell similar stories.
People go to church for lots of different reasons, but these attendance data remind us that there's an elephant in the room: Educated people have plenty of reason to be skeptical of the claims that traditionalists insist on making; from a purely-marketing perspective, this damages the church's credibility as a bringer of truth. Over the centuries, Jesus's good news has become covered with doctrinal mold that needs to be stripped away so that people can be attracted again by the basics that he taught.
There's Ample Reason Not to Take Traditionalist Doctrines Seriously — and That Damages the Church's Credibility
I'm convinced that as the years go by, more and more people just don't take seriously what traditionalists claim are the key doctrines of orthodox Christianity, and that this damages the church's credibility in other areas. If these folks don't have some other reason to want to go to church, they see little or no point in going there on Sunday morning, so they feel free to attend the Little Church of St. Starbucks (or St. Mattress) instead.
These folks may pay lip service to the doctrines of orthodoxy. When they think about these doctrines at all, they may hope they're true. But deep down, I suspect, an awful lot of them metaphorically raise their eyebrows when traditionalist Christians say some of the things that they do, such as:
• The Trinity: Traditionalist Christians claim that God consists of three Persons — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — united in being as one Godhead. I'm sure more than a few Christians have wondered: How can these traditionalists be so certain God consists of exactly three Persons? Why not four, or two? Why not two thousand?
• Human depravity in a broken world: Some traditionalist Christians claim that we humans live in a "broken" world, and that by our very nature, we are wretchedly depraved, abjectly and utterly so. My guess is that a lot of people instinctively feel very differently than this, and not without reason.
If we concentrate on looking for suffering and evil in the world, then sure, we're going to see plenty of both. That's not to excuse nor to justify the existence of either suffering or evil; there are good and sufficient reasons, in the secular realm alone, why it makes sense for us to work to combat both.
But neither can we neglect the historical big picture — or, more accurately, the movie. And what a movie it is! For millions of years, God's marvelous creatures, including those we call humans, have been patiently and persistently improving our little corner of Creation. Our path hasn't been one of uniform progress by any means. We regularly have setbacks, many of them self-inflicted, some of them horrendous. Even so, for millennia, we've slowly been building a "better" world by facing the facts, taking care of our families, and collaborating with our neighbors. (Other animals do much of that sort of thing too, in case we've forgotten.)
If we have any doubt that our world today is better than that of the past, we need only consider Gregg Easterbrook's thought experiment to realize that few if any of us would ever willingly trade place with a random ancestor of 10,000 years ago, or even 100 years ago.
Even more impressive, all this progress has come:
- in the teeth of the forces of disorder, epitomized by the Second Law of Thermodynamics;
- by humanity's learning as we go, often painfully, and sharing our learning with each other, utilizing our gifts of memory, reason, and skill;
- by our taking inspiration (dare I say it) ... from where?
That doesn't strike me as a broken world at all, but as an amazingly wonderful one. And this "movie" gives us some insight into our alleged depravity. The human race has been reasonably successful in its time on the planet. Maybe we're not so depraved after all: obviously, we've been doing something right.
To be sure, people can do horrendous things. But we don't really understand why we do what we do, for good or ill. We do know that our minds are affected by a complex and ever-shifting mishmash of factors: genetics; physiology; nutrition; drugs; blood- and brain chemistry; education; past experience; and countless other factors. It's an understatement to say that we've barely scratched the surface of how these factors interact to influence what we think and do. I think there's a strong case to be made that, at any given moment, we all try to do what we think, at that moment, is the "right" thing. Being human, however, we're very limited in our ability to process information and to keep everything in mind that we should. As a result, all too often we miss the mark concerning what we should be doing, and sometimes grievously so. But that's a very different thing from depravity.
I'm sure I'll be accused of denying the existence of sin, of personal responsibility, of free will, etc. In response, I merely note that the Greek word hamartia, used in the New Testament to mean "sin," is said to refer, in Homeric Greek, to an archer or spear-thrower who has missed his mark, and who — if he survives his mistake — needs to work on correcting his error next time (which in turn leads us down the rabbit trail to metanoia, a change of mind and heart, translated as "repentance").
• The Incarnation and Atonement: Traditionalist Christians claim that humanity was able to be brought to "salvation" only by the Creator of the universe taking human form and submitting himself to gruesome torture and a protracted execution to atone for man's depravity. There are plenty of possible reasons why some churchgoers likely aren't really convinced of these particular doctrines. These claims are such doozies, it's hard to know where to start.
Let's start with the notion of "salvation." We're not without reason to hope that some kind of potentially-blissful afterlife exists. Making our bets that way is not an irrational life strategy. But there's zero reliable evidence about what happens to us after we die. And there can be no dispute that in this life, humanity hasn't come anywhere close to achieving any kind of salvation through perfecting itself, even assuming arguendo that this were possible. (As noted above, it's likewise indisputable that we're on a generally-upward, albeit difficult, path.) So it is indeed irrational to insist categorically that our religious beliefs absolutely must be grounded on a belief in a life to come.
Moving on to the Incarnation and the Atonement: We can't categorically rule out that these doctrines are true. But then neither do we have any rational basis for thinking they are. For example: The unnamed author of the Gospel of John claimed that the Logos was God, and that the Logos became flesh in the person of Jesus. But we have no basis for concluding the author knew what he was talking about; there's nothing to make us think he had access to any particularly-reliable "inside information." Another example: Many of the Hebrew Scriptures predicted the imminent coming of Mashiach — often rendered as Messiah or, in Greek, Christos — an anointed warrior-king (which is not at all the same thing as God becoming man). Unfortunately, those predictions demonstrably never came true. Ditto with the New Testament predictions of Jesus's imminent return; they never came true either, to the chagrin of the later New Testament authors and church fathers. (Cf. Deut. 18.21-22.)
Trying to defend their doctrines, apologists for traditionalist Christianity point to phenomena such as the empty tomb, the post-crucifixion appearances of Jesus, and (especially) the willingness of early Christians to die for their beliefs. But as I've written about elsewhere on this blog, there are other, simpler, more plasible explanations for all those phenomena; in particular, people have been , and still are, willing to die for questionable beliefs for a long, long time.
Unsupported, Ipse-Dixit Theological Claims Just Don't Cut It Any More
When it comes to assertions about God, his nature, his works, and his will, it's not apparent that we should rely blindly on the raw, ipse-dixit say-so of the early Christians, any more than we would rely on the assertions of the early Mormons or the early Muslims — or for that matter, the agnostics and the atheists. (Neither can we blindly rely on our own say-so either, which is a discussion for another time.) We have no reason to think we're any more intelligent than the early Christians were. They did the best they could to explain the phenomena they experienced. We should be grateful to them for their faithfulness and for helping to transmit the good news down the generations. But we shouldn't assume that they somehow knew more than we do.
If someone chooses to believe the fantastic doctrinal claims of traditionalist Christianity, there's no harm done, at least not without more. But the brute fact is, we have just as much reason to believe that giant Siamese cats inhabit the Alpha Centauri star system and are governed by a hereditary Queen Cat.
Conclusion: We Need to Articulate More-Persuasive Reasons to Follow Jesus
Results matter. This just as true in Christian evangelization as in any other marketing mission. It's been said that Christianity is never more than one generation away from extinction. If church attendance drops, we can't just wring our hands; we need to own up to it and do something about it.
It's going to be tough to do something about it. We followers of Jesus are confronted by a variety of challenges: An in-your-face secular culture. An expanding Islam. Our own children, even: We train them to be critical thinkers, and then unsurprisingly they question and even reject doctrines that our parents took for granted. (Often, our children and others simply vote with their feet, quietly slipping out the door, and not raising their own children in any kind of faith.)
If old "marketing techniques" are not as effective in evangelization as they once were, we need to face that fact and figure out what we should do differently. In marketing terms, one of the things we can do about it is to rethink our "messaging." Traditionalist messaging turns off a lot of people. We need to face that fact.
Jesus's core message — the Great Commandment, the Summary of the Law, and the importance of metanoia, roughly translated as "repentance" but more accurately as a change of mind and heart — remains as vital as ever. To deal with the marketing-type challenges we face, we need to return to that message. If we do, we can articulate reasons to follow Jesus that have a better chance of being accepted by, and persuasive to, today's audience.
We don't have the luxury of using messaging that we like, and then being indifferent to whether our target audience "gets it." That's not the kind of servant leadership that the Teacher commanded us to show.
 For nearly 30 years the Roman church has had indisputably-orthodox leadership. John Paul II, elected in 1978, was about as conservative as you can get. He appointed a huge proportion of today's cardinals and bishops in the church, and was noted for choosing men who shared his conservative views. It's true that for a number of years, local priests often tended to be more liberal than their JP2-appointed bishops. But over time, older priests retired and seminaries began to be run by more-conservative leaders. While Catholic seminary attendance has likewise been dropping, it's been reported that those men who do attend have tended, at least theologically, to fit more in the mold of their orthodox superiors. Presumably, this has led over time to the front lines of the church being manned by more conservative priests.
Many of the Hebrew Scriptures predicted the imminent coming of a Messiah — which is not the same thing as God becoming man — but those predictions demonstrably never came true.
Posted by: DallasMike | April 28, 2006 at 10:46 PM
Michael McCullough, thanks for leaving the links. I'm not going to do a point by point analysis here. The short answer is:
1. It's very clear from the Hebrew Scriptures that the messianic prophecies foretold the imminent coming of Mashiach, a divinely-anointed warrior-king who would rescue God's people from their (usually Babylonian) conquerors. Jerusalem had been, or was about to be, destroyed, its elites and others killed or carried off into exile. The prophecies predicted that the Anointed One would soon come to kick butt and restore a repentant Chosen People to their rightful place in the LORD's service. The prophecies have a consistent tone: defiance in a position of helplessness ("Just you wait, you foreign conquerors, you're gonna get yours!"), often mixed with reassurance and encouragement to fellow sufferers ("Hang in there, Chosen People — Mashiach is coming!"). Unless you count Cyrus of Persia, however, the foretold Anointed One never did appear.
And if you read the prophetic books in their entirety, Mashiach was a distinctly secondary concept — the overwhelming emphasis of the books was that the LORD God would take care of matters; Mashiach was merely what the LORD would happen to use as his instrument in rescuing his people.
2. I don't think we can take seriously the claims that Jesus fulfilled the messianic prophecies, for a couple of reasons.
First, the fulfillment claims have a distinct air of very selective use of the OT predictions ex post facto. Inconsistencies in the NT, e.g., about Jesus's birthplace and genealogy, suggest that some NT authors were willing to doctor the facts to make them serviceable for their purposes. It's as though some in the early church went looking through the OT for potential proof-text prophecies, then tweaked the history to make it look as though those particular prophecies had been fulfilled, QED.
Second, and more importantly, Jesus just didn't do what the messianic prophecies had said Mashiach would do.
3. Incidentally, as to the prophecies of Isaiah: A plain reading shows that the suffering servant is the author himself and not Mashiach, and that earlier "servant" passages in the book refer to the Chosen People, again not to Mashiach.
I appreciate your stopping by; the links to collections of resources were quite helpful.
Posted by: D. C. | April 29, 2006 at 06:11 AM
Well, D.C., many quite reasonable secular folks think Christians are ridiculous for believing in God at all, referring to God as our "invisible friend in the sky."
They think that an invisible Creator God, IOW, is just as likely to exist as "giant Siamese cats, governed by a constitutional monarchy, and who inhabit the Alpha Centauri star system."
Posted by: bls | April 30, 2006 at 02:36 PM
(BTW, here's the website of R.J. Rummel a Professor of Political Science at U Hawaii, who's done extensive research on "Democide in the 20th Century" - which he calls "murder by government." He puts the total death-by-democide during the past century at 262,000,000. And he doesn't count war casualties in that figure, BTW.
So I don't think it's very surprising that many people aren't terrifically sunny about human nature, and don't see much of Enlightenment or Progress there.)
Posted by: bls | April 30, 2006 at 02:43 PM
bls, the difference is that we have hard evidence that is quite reasonably explained by the existence of a Creator. To any given person, maybe the evidence is persuasive, or maybe it's not, but there's no question that a reasonable person could be persuaded by it. In contrast, we have no such evidence about the Cats of Alpha Centauri.
(I draw here on a standard principle of Anglo-American appellate law: If a jury of reasonable people could have reached a particular verdict after considering the evidence of record, then [with very limited exceptions] the appellate court will not disturb that verdict, even if the appellate judges personally would have reached a different conclusion if they had been the jurors.)
It's nice to hear from you, BTW.
Posted by: D. C. | April 30, 2006 at 04:05 PM
D.C., I can never figure out why you absolutely insist there's clear evidence of an invisible Creator God - and yet categorically deny the Incarnation or the Resurrection. If God could create the entire Universe ex nihilo - and in the process avoid detection by human beings for all eternity! - surely God could become Incarnate from the Virgin Mary and be Made Man. It would be a snap, in comparison. And surely on the Third Day He could Rise again in accordance with the Scriptures.
Oh, well. I guess that's what makes horse races.
(About the Alpha Centauri Cats: it's really just a matter of individual faith. I believe in them, and that's what counts!)
Posted by: bls | April 30, 2006 at 08:21 PM
Sure, he could have. The question is, did he? On that point, the evidence, or at least evidence I'm willing to rely on, just isn't there.
Posted by: D. C. | April 30, 2006 at 08:37 PM
You and John Wilkins both, I'm guessing. :-)
Sometimes beliefs can properly be left in the realm of individual faith. In large part, it depends on how consequential a decision you propose to make on the basis of that belief.
Suppose my doctor believes I have colon cancer and need to have my colon removed (as I read happened to new White House press secretary Tony Snow). That likely would mean I'd have to live the rest of my life with a colostomy bag. You can rest assured I'm not going to regard the cancer diagnosis and surgery decision as properly a matter of the doctor's individual faith.
So now consider this decision: Should I accept that Jesus was God Incarnate, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, etc.? I cannot imagine a more consequential decision. I'm not going to make that decision on the basis of evidence that, in my professional judgment, would not even pass the red-face test in court. It's too important for that.
Anyway, that's where I'm coming from.
Posted by: D. C. | April 30, 2006 at 08:53 PM
Well, if Christ was divine and there's only One God, then I'd say the evidence is clearly there.
If Christ wasn't divine - and Mark's account of the baptism of Jesus implies otherwise - then I'll probably become a Buddhist.
Posted by: bls | April 30, 2006 at 08:55 PM
bls writes: "Well, if Christ was divine and there's only One God, then I'd say the evidence is clearly there." (Emphasis added.)
Objection, your honor; assumes facts not in evidence.
Posted by: D. C. | May 01, 2006 at 07:34 AM
That was a decision tree, D.C. I'm saying if Christ = Divine, then Action 1. If not Christ = Divine, then Action 2.
And from my point of view, the facts are definitely in evidence. "Christ = Divine" leads to profound spiritual experience. Good enough for me.
Posted by: bls | May 01, 2006 at 05:39 PM
bls writes: "Christ = Divine" leads to profound spiritual experience.
(i) Is that a causal relation, or merely correlation? If the latter, what's the cause?
(ii) Can similar profound spiritual experiences arise without Christ = Divine? If so, what are the implications for your own implication?
Posted by: D. C. | May 01, 2006 at 10:05 PM
(ii) Not that I've noticed.
Posted by: bls | May 02, 2006 at 08:13 PM
Well, to wrench the conversation back to the topic of the orig post, I think D.C. is right to call this the Elephant in the Room. If there's any reason more germane as to why church attendance is dropping, I can't think of what it could be.
And the neo-orthodox of TEC are completely unable to deal with this - because they're so wedded to pre-modern, anti-Enlightenment theological stances (heck, the Christian church as a whole is overwhelmingly this way).
If we can't get past this, then maybe we deserve to have our church attendance patterns mirror the EU more & more as time goes by. And I'm not sure this would be a bad thing. Beats an anti-Enlightenment culture by a long shot :)
Posted by: David Huff | May 03, 2006 at 11:05 AM
David, this is the original topic. I'm disagreeing with D.C. about his thesis here. Personally, I can't imagine why anybody would want to go to Church to experience "Enlightenment Culture." Christianity is by its very nature a mystical religion; that's it's whole basis and that's why it began.
And we have "Enlightenment Culture" all around us. We have Philosophy and Ethics and Psychology and Science. Why would anybody need religion at all, in that case? Religion is non-rational by definition.
Again: many rationalists think religion of any kind is crazy. I really can never understand why people find belief in God to be perfectly reasonable and then go nuts over the Trinity and the Incarnation. (And really: the Incarnation is quintessential Anglicanism. Without it, I can't see what's left, and I certainly wouldn't bother getting up on Sunday mornings. I'd be out of the Church in about a second and a half.)
Posted by: bls | May 03, 2006 at 08:40 PM
(Now that I think about it, maybe you guys are seeing this in a skewed way because you live in Texas and all you see is the fundamentalist forms of religion.
There's a good, mystical version of traditional Christianity, you know. Lots of very smart and reasonable folks were religious Christians: Pascal, Copernicus (who was a priest), Kepler, Galileo, Arthur Eddington, C.S. Lewis, Gregor Mendel, Fermi, Euler, Gauss. Etc.
I really don't think Church attendance (or non-attendance) is related to this theology or that one. Most people outside the Church can't tell us apart, and think we're all crazy. I think attendance is dropping because people don't need Church and would rather sleep in.
And they're not going Unitarian, either, so that should probably tell us something, no?
Posted by: bls | May 03, 2006 at 08:53 PM
(And BTW, Europeans have a totally difference take on religion than we do. They have a pretty bad history of religious war that we don't have here. I'm pretty sure this is a big factor in their avoiding Church.)
Posted by: bls | May 03, 2006 at 08:55 PM
And just to ask: What are these "more-persuasive reasons" you speak of, D.C.? I think you'll have to name them in order to convince us you're right.
Posted by: bls | May 03, 2006 at 09:06 PM
A. I'm not saying I have more persuasive reasons to follow Jesus. I'm saying that what we have, has failed to get the job done.
I do have an embryonic candidate for a more persuasive reason to follow Jesus. I claim that the historical evidence gives us sufficient reason to believe that the following things are going on:
1. There IS a Creator.
2. The Creator's work was not a one-time thing, but has been going on for billions of years. That work has been happening via natural processes, and quite possibly via on-going intervention. (Putting it another way, the story of Creation isn't a snapshot, it's a movie.)
3. If historical trends are any guide, the end result of the Creation is likely to be unimaginably wonderful.
4. We seem to be workers in the Creator's construction crew: Evidently, by living our lives, exercising our gifts of memory, reason, and skill — and, importantly, the gift of desire, the sense that things aren't as we would like them to be and that we should do something about it — we play a significant role in this continuing creation. As a Lutheran theologian (whose name escapes me at the moment) puts it, we are created co-creators.
5. Our service as created co-creators is sufficient to give meaning to life. In fact, it can properly be the primary focus of our lives. (This part needs more work, I know.)
6. We don't know what happens when we die. But it's not unreasonable to conjecture that we will not simply be dismissed when our service in the continuing creation is finished.
7. Arguably THE formula for success in our service — and, not coincidentally, a key to our evolutionary success — is to do as Jesus preached, namely, to strive (i) to follow the Great Commandment, which entails among other things facing the facts; (ii) to love your neighbor as yourself — and your neighbor is whoever crosses your path, not just your kinsman; and (iii) to keep trying to do better, to work to change your mind and heart (metanoia, usually translated as "repentance") when you see that you're missing the mark (hamartia, usually translated as "sin"). In emphasizing these things, Jesus appears to have put his finger on something fundamental in the divine order of things: "Do this and you will live."
I need to elaborate on these points a good deal more, I realize.
B. A mystic's intelligence doesn't automatically mean that his or her understanding of God, his works, and his will, are correct. The acid test is: how well does the understanding explain the evidence of the real world — that is, the evidence we have of what God has actually wrought — and predict future events in God's creation? That's why I keep citing Deut. 18.22: "If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken."
C. From what I've read of UU "theology," the UUs don't offer a lot that would seem to give life any meaning. As you say, if that's all you have, why bother getting out of bed on Sunday morning?
Posted by: D. C. | May 04, 2006 at 05:33 AM
Sorry, been away for awhile :) I mentioned the Enlightenment above not as a "code word" for being opposed to a mystical Christian sensibility, but as a way for saying I'm against the sort of anti-modern, anti-science & reason, "reality-impaired" stance of the neo-orthodox.
Posted by: David Huff | May 05, 2006 at 04:03 PM
Actually, D.C., your philosophy sounds quite a bit like Teilhard de Chardin's - a French mystic of the early 20th century.
What I know of it, anyway.
Let me just respond to your that "A mystic's intelligence doesn't automatically mean that his or her understanding of God, his works, and his will, are correct." I'm sure you're right about this - but is there anybody who does have a "correct" understanding of these things? I wouldn't think so.
But I will say that the mystics were certainly onto something, at least. First, most report exactly the same experiences; that means that what they are doing is real and a method of action. Second, many did live lives of incredible sacrifice and love, sometimes sacrificing their own lives in the process. I don't think it's actually necessary that they be able to predict events; that isn't part of the Great Commandment, or the command that we love one another. And of course, in the religious life there is daily and continual self-examination and prayer and repentence.
Posted by: bls | May 07, 2006 at 07:27 PM
I know, David. Sorry. I do forget that there's this whole other version of Christianity that I rarely see around here, but that exists in a lot of other places. We don't have "neo-orthodox" around here, much.
Posted by: bls | May 07, 2006 at 07:32 PM
With respect, your underlying assumptions are way off base with this post. You seem to want people to believe that traditional Christianity is losing ground to New-Age style churches.
Yes, the "traditional" Catholic church is losing ground from the scandals of pedophiliac priests and because the mother church has drifted away from preaching the simple truth of the Bible -- sola sciptura --and salvation through Jesus Christ.
You did not mention that the Anglican/Episcopalian church has also lost well over 1 million members in its efforts to promote a non-Biblical, feel-good New-Age kind of Christianity that is really not Christianity at all.
What you're missing is the explosive growth of millions of people moving to Bible-based, evangelical churches that preach and teach the good news of the Bible. People are hungry to hear the truth of God's word and desirous of coming to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
It saddens me when someone who does not believe the Bible, and does not accept Christ as divine, refers to themself as a "Christian." Being a Christian means that you are a follower of Christ; how can you follow someone you do not believe in?
The night before he was seized by the Romans, Jesus told his worried followers: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me...I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Christ boldly and repeatedly said that he and the Father are one. If you reject what he said about himself, I would submit that you are not a Christian, you are a Deist or an agnostic.
That's bad news. The good news is you still have time to reach out in prayer to Jesus: acknowledge that you are a hopeless sinner, accept Him as your personal Lord and Savior, then strive to live your life faithfully for Him each day with the Bible as your "instruction manual" and the Holy Spirit as your inner guide.
Through this process --and God's grace-- you are saved and will someday enter Heaven.
P.S: The book of John is an eyewitness account that most experts agree was written in 2 or 3 stages by John the Disciple of Christ beginning around 50 A.D. He later wrote the Book of Revelation on the Isle of Patmos around 95 A.D.
Posted by: Andrew | October 10, 2006 at 01:17 PM
Andrew, thanks for the comment.
1. Actually, my contention is that among educated people, the whole church is losing ground to atheism and agnosticism because traditional Christianity -- and by that I include even the New-Age varieties that still try to patch up traditional doctrines -- simply has too many holes in it to be credible.
(Did you see the recent NY Times article reporting that evangelical leaders are concerned that their young people are abandoning the faith in droves?)
2. I'm a follower of Jesus because I try to live in accordance with his teachings. The trads are unconvincing in their ipse-dixit claim that more than this is supposedly required.
3. As for any of us being hopeless sinners: With respect, rubbish. We seem to be created co-creators who, by learning, aspiring, serving, and trusting, are playing a non-trivial role in the Creator's continuing work. Sure, we're all imperfect, but the glass is half-full at least. It's tragic that so many trads are so obssessed with the imperfections.
4. I guess we'll have to disagree about the Fourth Gospel.
5. I appreciate your having taken the time to comment. And thanks for the good wishes.
Posted by: D. C. | October 10, 2006 at 01:46 PM
I ask you to look at your life in truth. Assess it for its beauty, goodness, and truth. Everything. And then deny try to the need for repentance.
Your article screams denial to me, and I worry for you as a brother. I know you are trying.
I recommend Jeff Cavins' "The Great Bible Adventure". If only to prove me wrong. But I believe then you'll have to try proving God wrong.
I am so concerned for you. I want you to be as close to Him as possible! And I have gotten there, and continue to grow there, through my upbringing as a Catholic. The other day, after recieving our Lord in Holy Communion, I saw a crack in the floor, and was told "Even that crack is sanctified by my sacrifice - you have no idea how close you are to sanctity."
I pray you take a step out of this culture (and I am a huge pop culture consumer) and find a Holy Hour of expostition. MAybe it will prove nothing to you. But maybe, it will be everything.
Your Sister in Christ,
Posted by: Andrea | May 30, 2008 at 10:46 PM
1 Corinthians 9:22-23
"To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it."
Posted by: Matt | April 04, 2009 at 11:27 AM