Monday, September 19, 2011

Reflection for the Week

Quitting church is reaching epidemic proportions. Caught in the vice between those who exchange the gospel for a social code and those who market it as a consumer product, streams of people are flowing out of churches. From what I can tell many of them long for God, love, truth, credibility, justice, and redemption but are disappointed with what the church is offering. Bagels and coffee, and promises of health and wealth are limited and breaking down. Thus, today’s pseudo–gospel is having less and less traction and for this we should rejoice. Yet, the fallout is serious, in that the legitimate questions people are asking are not being addressed, nor are these folk being provided with a place to dwell, which has more to do with spirituality, than merely a geographical home. Rich and diverse gospel centered communities are essential to renew and redo the faith in what appears to be the demise of what has been known as church for all too long.


Sisyphos said...

I think for many people being Christians is very much defined by going to church. They need this objective criteria for knowing that they are in. It is hard to live in fear and trembling but easy to spend two hours in church on Sunday. There might be some other crutches such as reading a little bit of Scriputre every day and praying at least 5 minutes. Again, you can mark that you have dont that and know you are in.
Destroying those visible criterias means uncertainty and we are left with the fear of judgement.
Who is a philosopher? Well, what is philosophy? Unending question.
Who is a lawyer? He has a licence. Clear and cut. No discussion. He has this diploma.

Sisyphos said...

When I think of living in fear and trembling two images come to my mind: the strong, differentiating endurer and the weak, crying one in angst. Can one in the second condition learn to walk without crutches and learn to walk like in the first image presented? Is that even possilbe. Dont we all have our crutches, we lousy dustbeings?
Can Sripture be the one reference point? Which Scripture? Robert Spaemann points out that Sokrates didnt write because he was afraid of losing control of the interpretation of his texts. Hermeneutics. Spaemann senses the same danger for Scripture and appeals to the Pope. The Catholic Church AND the Pope as the nanny of the runnaway meaning, the interpretaion clipper, the one who cuts into the conconction of situated interpretation and carves objectivity.

Sisyphos said...

This is consequential but a bad choice.

Sisyphos said...

This reminds me of "the Grand Inquisitor" an excerpt of the "Borthers Karamasov" by Dostojevsky:

In the story told by Ivan Karamasov Jesus returns to earth and arrives in Sevilla. He is captured by the church and the Grand Inquisitor comes to talk to the prisonor Jesus. Now an excerpt from Wikipedia:

"The Inquisitor frames his denunciation of Jesus around the three questions Satan asked Jesus during the temptation of Christ in the desert. These three are the temptation to turn stones into bread, the temptation to cast Himself from the Temple and be saved by the angels, and the temptation to rule over all the kingdoms of the world. The Inquisitor states that Jesus rejected these three temptations in favor of freedom, but the Inquisitor thinks that Jesus has misjudged human nature. He does not believe that the vast majority of humanity can handle the freedom which Jesus has given them. The Inquisitor thus implies that Jesus, in giving humans freedom to choose, has excluded the majority of humanity from redemption and doomed it to suffer."

The Grand Inquisitor states that most people need miralces, mystery and authority and cant handle the freedom Jesus is offering
Interesting point: the church as actually distorting Jesus' message for the sake of the ones who cant live strongly and vigourously and freely. But he states it compassionately. He cares about them. He gives them those crutches because he thinks they need them to believe.
The response by the way from Jesus: He kisses the Grand Inquisitor and he releases Jesus.
Well, that is it. I guess there is much more in the story and in Dostojevsky to talk about and I cut out a little piece of it.

Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

Translation to German only:

Kirchenaustritte erreichen epidemieartige Ausmaße. 'Wie in einem Schraubstock' im eisernen Griff zwischen denen, die das Evangelium gegen einen sozialen Kodex eintauschen und denjenigen, die es als ein Konsumgut vermarkten, fließen Ströme von Menschen aus den Kirchen. Von dem, was ich sagen kann, sehnen sich viele von ihnen nach Gott, Liebe, Wahrheit, Glaubwürdigkeit, Gerechtigkeit und Erlösung, aber sind von dem, was die Kirche bietet, enttäuscht. Bagels und Kaffee, Versprechungen über Gesundheit und Wohlstand sind begrenzt und brechen zusammen. So hat das heutige Pseudo-Evangelium zunehmend weniger Traktion und darüber sollten wir uns freuen. Dennoch sind die Konsequenzen / ist der Ausfall ernst, weil weder die berechtigten Fragen, die Menschen fragen, angesprochen / behandelt werden, noch diese Leute einen Ort zum bleiben+rasten bekommen, wobei dies mehr mit Spiritualität zu tun hat als nur mit einer geographischen Heimat. Reiche und vielfältige Evangelium-zentriert Gemeinden sind unerlässlich, um den Glauben in einer Situation zu erneuern und wiederherzustellen, die wie das Ende dessen scheint, was für zu lange Zeit für alle als Kirche bekannt war.

Greg said...

Thanks. Just back. Sorry for the delay in responding. I agree with your first comment. Church has all too often defined Christianity for people. Insiders and outsiders is one of the intriguing themes in the gospel of Mark - Jesus' teaching there tends to reverse what many assume following him means.

Greg said...

To be strong has something to do with recognizing who we are and not pretending that we can set ourselves up as the only legitimate authorities.

Good questions on which texts and which interpretation - and add to this Who is speaking and interpreting . M. Westphal has recently published a book on these issues. And Wolterstorff's Divine Discourse is interesting.

The dialogue between objectivity and subjectivity is a crucial issue.

Greg said...

I guess I would have some questions: what is freedom and then who is free?

Greg said...