Against the German bishops ready to commune non-Roman Catholics and against the backdrop of those who see the Church as primarily a community of do-gooders, German Cardinal Brandmüller had a response. You can read him in his own words. Thankfully not everyone in Germany is ready to exchange the soul of Christianity for some good feelings in the moment. There is a great deal of dishonesty going on that must be pointed out.
Cardinal Brandmüller first states that it is important to discern what is meant when we speak about the “Church.” Is this “a company to help make better the world? An NGO for aiding people in life?” Answering these questions himself, he says that “the ‘Church’ is a reality” which does not think in these terms. “The Church is a work of God, she is the visible, experienced form in which the Risen Christ continues His salvific work in the world.”I like the questions he raised. Is the Church a company to help make a better world? Is the Church an NGO for aiding people in life? But that is entirely the issue. Liberal Christianity has, in effect, abandoned the Gospel rooted in the incarnation, obedient life, life-giving death, and triumphant resurrection of Christ for the redemption of the world and has put in its place a community of do-gooders who aid the down-trodden, herald the cause of the oppressed, advocate for those whose cause is not in favor, and protect the environment against the onslaught of humanity. None of those are necessarily bad things, of course. We ought to help the poor. We ought to advocate for the child in the womb and the aged in their frailty. We ought to cry out against the injustice of war, violence, and oppression. We ought to call for faithful management of God's creation. But none of these are the Gospel and none of these are the specific reason for which God has established His Church (it is HIS Church last time I checked).
The reality is that it is hard to keep our focus on Christ, to keep preaching Christ crucified, and to keep raising up the goal and shape of our lives here, in preparation for the real and eternal life to come, AND do all these things. Somehow or other, it is easier to put off saving the soul in favor of saving the earth, to confuse helping people to a better life and proclaiming to them the gift of eternal life, and to exchange the cross for whatever cause happens to be in fashion in our culture today.
The danger is not that the poor will be ignored or injustice forgotten or the earth raped. The danger is that we will do everything in our power to make a better today only so that the people will not be prepared for the Day of Judgment and therefore deprived of God's desire to give them everlasting life. We do good works because Christ lives in us and He seeks to live in all who hear His voice and, by the Spirit's power, believe. We do not do good works because there is something more important or urgent than this salvation by grace through faith.
I will admit that sometimes we forget to feed the belly while we are feeding the soul. But what good is it to feed the belly while the soul remains empty? We can do everything in our power to make the Church more acceptable, hospitable, and friendly to those not yet of the Kingdom but we dare not abandon the very Gospel itself for this cause. That is what liberal Christianity has done. Whether it comes from the educated elite who find the Scriptures no longer credible or the evangelical star preacher who finds it no longer relevant to the wants of people in the moment, we exist to proclaim Jesus Christ in whom there is life and salvation and in no other name under heaven and on earth.
I am sure that there are many things the good cardinal and I disagree on but when it comes to the Gospel of Christ as that which defines the Church and shapes her purpose in the world, we are probably not so far apart.