Wednesday, September 12, 2018

It is all so very English. . .

When the indubitable Professor Stephen Hawking, also a famous atheist and perhaps the most distinguished atheist of his time, died, the question of where to bury his ashes was sure to come up.  In the end, he was buried at Westminster Abbey, interred by the Rev. Dr. John Hall, Dean of Westminster, all suitably attired to commend to God a man who had no time for him in life.  In the end it is so typically English.  Never mind the messy business of faith, he was a national hero and the role of a state church must accommodate state occasions -- in some respects not much different from royal weddings?

This is the problem when the church becomes merely an adornment.  When faith professed no longer means anything, then the faith itself is diminished, rendered weak and powerless before the world, by those charged with the faithful witness to what has been believed and taught.  In this respect, the church seems to be regularly surrendering her integrity by changing the mind of the faith on subjects from the ordination of women to the definition of marriage to the goal of the faith in creating a better today or an eternal tomorrow, etc. . . Our long suffering God must suffer long with His people who not only defer to culture and trend over His Word but who treat the whole religious enterprise as if it were mere window dressing and not something of substance.

We are our own worst enemies.  We whine and complain that nobody pays attention to us and then when the spotlight is on us, we cave in fear of being judged prudish or irrelevant or weak.  In the end, that is exactly how we appear.  We treat things as if it were just about sex and not about God who created us according to His will and purpose.  We treat things as if earthly estimations of justice were of greater substance than the mystery of God who chooses whom He wills for His ministers.  We treat the threats of the world who will corral our thoughts and speech and tame our voice unless we agree to the cause du jour as if these were real threats and then dismiss our growing unfaithfulness to the Word of the Lord as if it were no matter at all.

Worse than it happening at Westminster with a small plot of the floor dedicated to an atheist, it happens in our homes when we register our doubts to our children or complain about the church to them or simply skip worship except on the high holy days where a photo op of a candle and a tree or a bunny and some eggs cry out to go for old time's sake.  We do this when we buckle down on the homework for school but do nothing to encourage or see to our children's progress in learning the catechism.  We do this when we find money for every need, want, and desire but have nothing to offer the Lord, certainly not tithes and very few offerings.  We do this when we gladly give our cast offs to the church for yard sales or whatever purpose the church may find but we satisfy ourselves with the best.  We do this when our mouths remain silent before the curious or the complaining voices of the world and give deference to the skeptics more than to the truth that endures forever.

Why would we wonder at the sad state of affairs for the Church of England or the sad state of Christianity here or there or anywhere?  When we no longer believe the faith or seek to live as the faithful, the world gets the message quick.  It does not matter.


Anonymous said...

Imagine the public outcry if the Church of England were to declare that Professor Stephen Hawking is now suffering in hell. Oh, such outrage! No one wants to be viewed as judgemental because that is considered hateful behavior. How very narrow-minded of the Church to even contemplate such a thought!

This story reminds me of those Lutherans who believe that certain deceased famous athletes and entertainers are sure to be in heaven because they were *so* talented and likeable! Never mind that they either led unrepentant homosexual lifestyles and/or wanted nothing to do with Christianity..... But, but, but they were such nice people!!

Carl Vehse said...

The previous poster didn't name any specific athletes who either led unrepentant homosexual lifestyles and/or wanted nothing to do with Christianity, or name any Lutherans, or their church bodies, who claimed to believe those athletes are in heaven.

Similarly one might speculate there are Lutherans who believe that a politician belonging to a Lutheran church body, which gives a glowing eulogy for the politician, is in heaven, even though the politician advocated and legislated an unrepentant pro-abortion position.

Anonymous said...

Carl, in response to your first paragraph, I am not about to name them all. But yes, politicians and business elites could also be added to the list.

For the sake of argument, it is not hard to find a Lutheran who believes that John McCain is looking down at us from Above instead of looking up from Below. Check out his voting record to see decades of actions taken against the traditional family.