Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Faith and the Future. . .

“The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will lose many of her social privileges. . . As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members.”

“It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek . . . The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution – when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain . . . But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.

And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already with Gobel, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.”

So where do you think these quotes came from?  Perhaps the latest and greatest church growth guru?  A Barna style watcher who charts the ups and downs of the church's life and faith?  A sociologist commenting on the fragmentation of our culture and its relation to religion and faith?  A Protestant?  Who?  Try Pope Benedict XVI writing then as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in a little known book called Faith and the Future published in 2009 but written some forty years earlier...  It is but 150 pages or so but I surely desire to read it in full...

Read these in line with a previous post here entitled Best Quote of the Day....


Janis Williams said...

Well, before T.M. takes a stab at my 'RC-loving' pastor, B16 is probably correct, though not prophetic.

I don't know when the book was published, but the signs have been around a long time. Anyone with a little ability can see where the seeker senstive movement will go. The law of diminishing returns is still in effect. As for the rest of the church....

The diagnosis is one which even the average 'serious' Christian can make. What Benedict's prescriptions are would be interesting to me, also.

Anonymous said...

Visible church? Invisible church? True church?

Which church was Ratzinger referring to?

Anyway, I was reading about Jeremy Lin. Turns out the church he went to in California is a Chinese church in Silicon Valley. They have spawned an English ministry congregation who "strive to reach the un-churched in Silicon Valley so that they may know Jesus and joyfully worship God."

I mean, you have to give it up for the Word of God when Chinese nerds in California turn to evangelizing the hipsters and techies in the Valley.

Anonymous said...

The Pope is right. Europe is finished. In fact, the Northern Hemisphere, including Australia and New Zealand, are lost. The Southern Hemisphere is the future of Christianity.


Since most Americans are descendants of people who fled religious persecution, the USA will always retain a remnant of the faithful, no matter how small.

Janis: At what point will people get tired of the entertainment and the empty theology of the seeker-sensitive churches and yearn for traditional Christianity. How long will they continue to believe Joel Osteen's broken promises of prosperity if they would only pray harder.


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