Thursday, February 22, 2018

Killing me softly . . .

A kinder, gentler church.  That is what we need to counter the decline of a harsh, rigid, doctrinaire church without compassion. . . without love.  The church is being killed by people who put doctrine above people and ritual above people and truth above people.  We need to soften the church and take away its spine to make it grow.  Surely a gentler church would be more inviting than a strong and unbending one.  Right?

Germany is currently the hotbed of places and people dedicated to the task of stealing away doctrine and emphasizing a more compassionate, a kinder, and a gentler practice.  Read some of the German Cardinals and their take on Amoris Laetitia.  A more accommodating church to those on the fringes.  That is what many of them think they need.  Right?

However, at the same time the German Roman Catholic Church is rolling in dough, it is without much yeast.  In 2017, only 76 priests were ordained in all of Germany.  Go back almost a generation and you would see that in 2000 twice as many, some 154, were ordained.  When the stats were first kept, in 1962, there were even 557 ordinations to the priesthood in Germany.  Remember that 1962 was before Novus Ordo and all the efforts to make the mass more participatory and more user friendly.  And it was long before anyone had a hint of needing to address issues of divorced receiving the Sacrament and making some sort of opening to GLBTQ folks.  So, now that the church there is kinder and gentler, they have fewer people going to mass and fewer priests to say mass.  The Roman Catholic Church is being starved.  The dough is a lump without leaven -- no means of grace and no priests to administer the sacraments through whom the Spirit works to grow and give life to the Church.

We would do well to watch.  Liberal Christianity is NOT vibrant and alive.  It is deader than a door nail.  It has no confidence in the Word of God, no certainty even in Jesus and in what Jesus has done (the Gospel), no belief that the sacraments actually have any power or do anything, and no answer to the world except "I'm sorry" and "you are right."  Accommodation is not the answer.  Kindness that chooses to ignore sin and diminish the cross is not kindness at all.  There is no gentleness in looking away or patting the sinner on the back as they make their way to meet the Lord in judgment.  There is no compassion in people who refuse to speak the eternal truth to a specific moment in time and a people who are caught up in that moment, in their feelings, and in the throws of desire.

Church renewal comes by proclaiming the truth without embarrassment or apology.  It comes with the real kindness and compassion of the God who puts our sins into the light of day so that the blood of Christ may cleanse us from those sins.  It comes with the real love that challenges sin, immorality, and error.  And, surprise of all surprises, this is what encourages vocations to the Ministry.  A therapeutic Gospel does not encourage vocations.  Who can find meaning and purpose in helping people become comfortable with their sins?  But those who wish to find meaning and a purpose in life are drawn to the cause of the Word that offers real rescue to the sinner and real life to the dead in trespasses in sin (awaiting their bodies to catch up and surrender their lives also). 

Recruitment of good men to the pastoral office is aided and encouraged by a church confident in the truth of God's Word and the answer the Gospel gives to any and all sinners.  Faith comes by hearing.  We know that.  But hearing what?  The Gospel of Christ crucified and risen.  And how shall they hear unless there are men to send?  Think about it as the German Church (both Roman Catholic and the EKD) withers and dies. . .

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