Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tug of War

I rarely talk about religion in a public forum. It gets you no where unless the ears and hearts of those listening in are receptive. I know this is the eternal paradox facing evangelism which we as Christians are all called to do. Essentially you can't turn hearts and minds unless you talk about it, however, nothing turns hearts and minds away faster than some self-righteous bloviator lecturing to the unreceptive. It's a gift to be able to convey the good news of personal salvation through the grace of Jesus, faith and scripture. Some have the gift, and some do not.

The other main obstacle is that Christianity, Christ himself, is not about harmony and playing nice with the culture in which we find ourselves. Jesus was a reactionary, a radical if you will. Our human nature fights to go along, get along - it's easier - rather than questioning and challenging the status quo.

Born and raised Catholic I had all my life continued "being" Catholic well after most my family and friends had given it up. Partly because I loved the tradition and because I don't change very easily. After the kids grew up we stopped being as regular with our attendance and particularly after all the priest sex abuse cases and coverups came to light. We were disgusted. Still, I maintained that I was Catholic. I would always reconcile the issues within the Roman Catholic Church by convincing myself (rightly so) that evil exists in any institution run by human beings.

Today I find myself in a bit of a tug of war. For a few years I have been following a scholar and a Catholic convert (Othodox), one Mr. Bruce Charlton of the UK. Regulars here have probably seen my many references to his work. His words have made me stop in my tracks more than once. He has a way of making things I never considered suddenly become foundational in my worldview. I am so impressed with his mind.

Lately I've been attending services at a local "mega church" called Woodland Hills in Maplewood Minnesota - a suburb of St. Paul. The founder and pastor, Greg Boyd is what I would consider a Protestant corollary to Mr. Charlton. I have thoroughly enjoyed his messages/lectures. Boyd, like all Reformation based pastors teaches from the Bible exclusively. Like Charlton he has a way of boiling things down to the essence making clear what was once clouded.

While these men would not see eye to eye on everything they are both Christian reactionaries. Both are convincing when they declare that the predominant culture of our time is not in league with our faith. In most cases it's in direct conflict with Christian faith. Charlton struggles out-loud with us over the power of the culture and the Political Correctness that now rules the Western world. Boyd warns us to be careful where we put our allegiance when we feel called by the same culture. If it makes us place faith in anything other than in the grace of Jesus Christ we can cause ourselves great harm. I do not think following both of these thinkers and teachers is in any way detrimental to my own faith. For now I am learning so much.

Am I still Catholic? Good question.



The Crow said...

Are you a Christian at all?
What is a Christian, anyway?
Something for you to contemplate:

Christians once were God's representatives.
Until they started using God, to represent themselves.

StaticNoise said...

Deep questions. I am/was Catholic by rote because my mother was and my wife was. I am just awakening with the help of Mr Charlton and others. I want to think I am devoted to Christ, but I am not certain of anything really.

The Crow said...

Great outlook, I'd say.
To be uncertain about everything is a prerequisite to certainty.
I find BJC thoroughly depressing, in his view of Christianity. But probably only because I have found something that, for me, works so much better.

He views life as a burden, to be suffered, for a future reward.
I view life in the same way, but as something to be unlocked in spite of what it appears to be.
Beyond the struggle lies Heaven.
Here and now.