Saturday, November 7, 2020

Nothing more dangerous than faithfulness. . .

When, at Judge Amy Coney Barrett's first confirmation hearing, Sen. Diane Feinstein, signaled how uncomfortable she was of her faith, she said of Judge Barrett:  “the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern.”  Feinstein was not unique in expressing her concern.  Indeed, the whole world loves best the Christian who is suspicious of and believes only some of the Church's doctrine.  It is the same regarding the Scriptures.  The world loves best those who believe bits and pieces of the Bible but not the whole thing and certainly not in any literal sense.  We all ought to know that by now.  But what we might not know is that churches are equally hesitant about those who take dogma seriously, who believe the Scriptures, and who confess every word of the creeds and the liturgy.  People in the pew often prefer a pastor who has doubts and rejects some of the unpleasant or unreasonable parts of Scripture and pastors prefer people who do not take to heart every word of the Bible and every phrase of the creeds.  Overall, moderation is preferable to blind belief -- even when that belief is not in man but in the Word of the Lord and catholic and apostolic faith!

I have long said that the most dangerous thing of all is faithfulness.  The world fears the faithful and those within the churches who believe that accommodation is preferable to confrontation also fear the faithful.  Look at how the faithful are treated in the world around us.  Look at how the faithful are treated inside the Church.  The world looks at someone who believes the doctrines taught and confessed and who orders his or her life according to that dogma as a concern.  That is politico-speak for bad.  We ought to expect this.  Jesus warned us against getting too comfortable with the world or seeking the approval of men (women, children, gender whatever, you name it).  But Jesus did not warn us that some of the "concern" would come from those within the boundaries of Christendom.

You can believe anything you want about Jesus in the Episcopal Church but you cannot deviate from the accepted norms of GLBTQ+ stances on nearly every issue on which they have an opinion.  You can believe just about anything you want and be a Methodist but you cannot reject gay marriage or the host of other gender and attraction issues surrounding that position.  You can believe just about anything you want about Jesus in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America but there is little room for or tolerance of those who reject that church's stance on gay and lesbian and gender issues.  Are you seeing a pattern here?  You should.  Believing the Scriptures and holding to the catholic and apostolic faith are dangerous to those outside and inside the doors of churches.  It is the battleground of our age but it is also the same soil we have been fighting on and about for generations.  Do we believe what the Scriptures say and the catholic faith has confessed over time or don't we?  

The worst possible thing you can do is to teach the faith to those who have not heard it before.  They become the thorns in the side of liberal and progressive Christianity.  For example, the Episcopalians, Methodists, and Lutherans in Africa continue to be more orthodox than the folks who planted those missions so long ago.  Indeed, that is one of the reasons why there are splits in these churches.  Most Americans would rather live and let live or be content so long as the worst of it is not in my backyard.  But our brothers and sisters newer to the faith are not ready to ignore such faithlessness.  For the Anglicans and Episcopalians this has become a source of great consternation to the American and
European folks with the checkbook who think that their African (and other) mission partners should put up and shut up.  The ELCA has found a similar problem in churches who are rejecting the cash along with the watered down faith.  Missouri so far has remained more consistent and solid but we have not escaped the shrinking numbers or dollars that the progressive churches are now facing.  All we have to offer our global partners in the faith is faithfulness.  We hope and pray we will not wimp out in that confession or in the consistency of our practice.

If you want to live dangerously, be faithful.  Believe faithfully.  Preach faithfully.  Act faithfully.  Pray faithfully.  Give faithfully.  Hopefully, we will all heed the call to live our Christian faith and life out on the wild side by being faithful -- both pastors and people!

1 comment:

John Joseph Flanagan said...

Let the dogma live within us.....let Christ be central to it,