The Posse hopes you have been enjoying Lent. Last week I made my traditional blood donation. I do it throughout the year, of course, but the Lenten observance – combined with a meatless dinner afterwards – feels particularly appropriate.
I was interested to see the liberal Protestant denominations are continuing to demolish anything that might possibly link them with Christian teaching or morality.
Most religious-minded folks have of course heard by now that the Presbyterians have decided to endorse “gay marriage,” which will doubtless cause their thinning ranks to thin further.
Of course revealed religion in not a popularity contest. One of the reasons I am Catholic is that the Church has for the most part resisted the siren calls of people urging to it “get with times” and do what all the cool people think.
Here we see a Protestant denomination that is utterly, and completely progressive in any way, and yet its membership continues to fall. How can this be? One is tempted to throw up one’s hands and declare it to be a mystery, but I have a theory I will share in a moment.
Meanwhile, another scandal has hit the Anglican Communion – this time due to the vehicular homicide caused by a drunk Episcopal bishop who was ordained despite a known history of alcohol abuse.
The Federalist has a nice summary of the incident, but what I find fascinating is how she apparently has a male concubine.
As Spock would say: Fascinating.
One thread unites both these organizations and it isn’t a nominal devotion to Christ, it is a determination to claim that everything is okay.
It is one thing to hate the sin but love the sinner; it is another to deny the existence of sin at all.
Too many Protestant churches have done the latter, arguing that there really aren’t any temptations of the flesh and that it is worse to be “exclusionary” and “judgmental” than actually call out and condemn evil.
The problem inherent in this is that if God loves us all no matter what we do, why bother going to church at all? Why sacrifice time and treasure to seek salvation if it’s already a done deal?
One of the recurring slurs thrown against Catholics is that they are a bunch of guilt-ridden masochists. Indeed, I think there’s an unwritten rule of British cinema that all historic depictions of Catholics must involve a self-flagellation. Were I more skilled, I’d put together a supercut of these, which often have no bearing at all on the plot. It’s almost like British shorthand for showing that someone is a Catholic. Old prejudices die hard, I suppose, but hateful stereotypes often have a grain of truth to them and in this case that grain is this: Worship and piety isn’t always comfortable.
Of course one need not lash oneself with a whip to practice self-denial and penitence. Fasting and abstaining from meat do quite well, actually. Over the years I’ve come to notice that liberal Protestants have reduced their sacrifices to showing up and loudly supporting trendy causes. Clearly even that is now proving too much for many adherents.
This brings us to my earlier point about losing worshipers. Faith is actually strengthened by hardship and discipline. The early Christians faced certain death, and yet they remained steadfast. In fact, despite the certain knowledge of horrific punishment, the faith continued to spread throughout the world.
The advent of comfort and the theology of “if it feels good, do it” is far more destructive to a congregation than rigid and unfeeling dogma.
One of the few positive signs in society I’ve observed over the past few years is that it is getting more difficult to find an empty seat in church. The pews are usually packed and even the vestibule is filling up. I take that as a sign that while the culture may be faltering, young people are perhaps aware that there is something missing in their world of ipads and easy pleasure.
Maybe someone should point this out to liberal Protestants.