Great Stuff — The religion incapable of delivering its promise…

November 29th, 2012 Post by

Another great article posted by Pastor Peters on PastoralMeanderings:

 

George Weigel wrote in First Things of the inability of shallow, tribal, institutional-maintenance religion to meet the challenge before Christians, to sustain the life of Christians wearied by the changes and chances of this mortal life, and intimidated by the press of cultural religion and generic spirituality.  Only a robustly, unapologetically evangelical [Christianity], winsomely proposing and nobly living the truths about the human condition the Church teaches, will see us through…. [read it here]

Though Weigel certainly directed his comments to Roman Catholics, his words are worth a wider reading.  Christianity in general, and my own Lutheranism in particular, is well in need of the same chastening comments.  It is not a matter of the institutional survival but the feeding, care, and nurturing of a people with the resources of the Word and Sacraments given by Christ to His Church.  It is not about merely keeping what we have but marshaling the resources God has given to His Church to fulfill His purpose in the world.  It is not about fixing the world’s wrongs and leaving the world better than we found it but about shining with Christ’s light into the encroaching darkness of a world in decay and on a path of destruction.

I have long said that ecumenism is best served by churches serious about the Scriptures and about maintaining and passing on the best of their confession and identity rather than watering down faith so that it is easier for anyone to accept but harder to recognize as the Church established by the blood of Christ.  I have long said that no one is best served by promoting a Christian lite version of their own denominational identity.  The world pays scant attention to the watered down Christian identities that offer nothing to those already within their pale much less something for those caught in sin and its death.  If Christianity is to continue, it will not be due to our accommodation to culture and its skewed values or our denial or redefinition of the Scriptural faith once handed down by the saints.

Liberal Christianity as promoted by the critics and scholars, evangelical Christianity and its repackaged health and wealth gospel, and cultural Christianity with its nod toward legacy while embracing a modern, entertainment appeal are utterly incapable of offering the sinner captive to death anything.  Distraction, maybe.  A feel good moment, maybe.  But we need an answer to death, a remedy for guilt, a means to holiness, and a medicine of immortality.  We need a robust and unapologetic Christianity.  It is and has always been my appeal to Lutherans and it is one I commend to others.

Seeking to know what Scripture teaches means confronting the evangelical and catholic tradition.  Seeking to confess what Scripture teaches means embracing that which is evangelical and catholic in the very best sense of both of those terms.  Seeking to witness to what Scripture teaches means listening to the fathers even as we speak in our own language the timeless and hopeful Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified and risen.  Weigel is absolutely right.  Christians can afford no more cafeteria adherents who pick and choose from the buffet of truth and then go home stuffed full of themselves but empty of anything to offer their neighbors.  Now is not the time for those ashamed of Christian doctrine or embarrassed by Christian truth.


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  1. Martin R. Noland
    November 29th, 2012 at 12:16 | #1

    Dear Norm,

    Wow! This one is really great stuff! I had to read it through several times – its like a high quality steak that you want to keep chewing to get all the flavor out of it (i.e., its meanings). It got me thinking about lots of things . . .

    I don’t have any comments to add, except I hope BJS readers pass this one on to their Christian friends and relatives.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  2. November 29th, 2012 at 13:27 | #2

    Great article! It proves too truly the meaning behind the epitaph on the gravestone of the cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840-1902): “He who practices HIS [Christ's] teaching is crucified.” Just look at the lives of the real saints of the church.

  3. Josh Radke
    November 29th, 2012 at 13:37 | #3

    “I have long said that ecumenism is best served by churches serious about the Scriptures and about maintaining and passing on the best of their confession and identity rather than watering down faith so that it is easier for anyone to accept but harder to recognize as the Church established by the blood of Christ.”

    This is a phenomenal article. I just have one context question about the above sentence.

    I presume the “their” is “churches” and not “the Scriptures”. Thus what if “the best” of a church’s confessions/identity is “reason” or “the prosperity gospel” or “mysticism/Holy Spirit baptism” or “universalism” or “40 Days to a Better You” or “cultural relativity” or “perpetual guilt falling short of the G-Law-spel”? How does this help draw folks to the Church of the saints? Or do you mean that sentence in the context of 1 Corinthians 11:19?

    Thanks again for the “great stuff”!

  4. November 29th, 2012 at 13:50 | #4

    Powerful, and convicting. I for one confess to being at the “truth buffet” far too often instead of taking the whole of truth and consuming it.

  5. Pastor Dave Likeness
    November 29th, 2012 at 17:31 | #5

    Christianity Lite can also be defined as people
    who want Christ as their Savior, but not as their
    Lord. Everybody wants to be saved and go to
    heaven Few want to live the life of an obedient
    faith in Jesus Christ. The world tells us the 10
    Commandments are obsolete and too many
    Christians believe it. The world tells us that
    truth is relative and all religions led to the same
    God. Too many Christians have bought into
    these lies.

  6. November 29th, 2012 at 19:02 | #6

  7. Jason
    November 29th, 2012 at 19:09 | #7

    @Mark Huntemann #6

    +1 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I like it! (but I also have a soft spot for the Navy)

  8. November 29th, 2012 at 19:28 | #8

  9. helen
    November 30th, 2012 at 13:06 | #9

    @Mark Huntemann #8

    Thanks for reposting the link, Mark.
    (The other one didn’t work for me.)

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