Maybe you’re religious, and maybe you’re not. Maybe you’re one of many who claim to be spiritual but not religious—which I take to mean that you hold many of the values espoused by one religion or another, but you’re highly suspicious of organized/institutional religion and its failure to live out its stated values. It reminds me of G.K. Chesterton’s famous line: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”...
Much of what you will read here will be critical of organized religion, since along with Chesterton, I believe in Christianity but seldom see it put into practice. Love is the central theme of the Bible, and yet we find it so hard to live lives of love. The enemy of love is not hate, but fear. When confronted by those who seem filled with hate, I try to ask “What are they afraid of?” with as much sympathy as I can muster. Responding to hate with love is one of the most daunting tasks of those who claim to follow Jesus.
This column will also go far beyond Christianity. God is infinite, and it comes as no surprise to me that there have developed, over time, many credible and faithful approaches to understanding God. In the end, no religion holds a lock on the reality of God. Each religion grasps only a part of the infinite God and offers insight into God’s reality, and we would do well to exercise a good measure of humility in claiming we know God’s will. Better to begin each pronouncement we make about God with “In my experience…” or “From my perspective…” or simply “For me….” At the end of the day, no matter how much we believe we know God’s will, we must acknowledge that each of us is only doing the best she/he can.
Apparently the good bishop (meant as a manner of address and not a judgment on his episcopacy) has not read all that much of Scripture nor is he much familiar with creeds and confessions, notably those within his own tradition. He speaks of Christianity as but one perspective on the great and multifaceted deity whom all religions (including Christianity) know only in part. He may be looking dimly into the mirror but St. Paul was not in doubt as to the faith nor its doctrines handed over the saints to be preserved and proclaimed at all costs until the end of the world. Nor is the book of Hebrews uncertain about the Christian claim to revelation (in many and various ways God spoke to His people of old but NOW He has spoken through His Son). I could go on and on. . .
Let me simply say that once again the wearer of purple has shamed not only himself and his church but the very faith itself. If you cannot say something nice, shut up. That is what my mom taught me. I might expand this to say to any and all bishops out there, if you cannot speak truthfully of the faith and of the Scriptures and of the creeds and of the confessions and of the truth of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, shut up. Take your doubts, misgivings, fears, and false judgements with you to the grave but do not inflict them upon others and do not let them became a scandal, offense, and shame upon the faith and the church you pledged to honor with your faith and your faithfulness at your consecration.
Bishop Robinson knows only part, a dim and cloudy part, of God. But we know Him as He has revealed Himself -- in the fullness of the flesh and blood of His one and only Son and in the salvation He accomplished by His one, all-availing sacrificial death and life-giving resurrection. Let me suggest another old tidbit of wisdom my mom taught me. Better to be thought a fool by your silence than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. Isn't there some hobby you have to attend to, Bishop Robinson? Something to keep you occupied until you either repent or go to meet your Maker? If not, why not take up embroidery. At least it will not scandalize the faithful or shame the faith you were supposed to protect and proclaim... Here's to April's fool. . .
And here's to you, [Bishop] Robinson,
Jesus loves you more than you will know.
God bless you, please [Bishop] Robinson.
[Give us all a break and just be still]
Just be still, Just be still?]
With apologies to Simon and Garfunkel. . .