Monday, February 27, 2023

Dealing with the age. . .

There is a charge often laid at the feet of conservatives.  The claim is that conservatives have a closed mind, offering up yesterday's answers to the questions of today and tomorrow.  As with any stereotype, there is some truth in it but seldom the truth that the detractor means.  The answers held up from yesterday are not simply answers but values and a framework in which to see the challenges of the present and the future within the veil of what gives us nobility and identity.  If this is true in politics, it is even more true of Christianity.  For the answers we offer to the issues and conflicts of the day and the days following are not merely our answers but God's answers.  They arise from the Word of the Lord that endures forever and the faithful witness of those who have believed and confessed this truth before us.  They represent our voices with theirs in an unending chorus of faith, witness, and hope before a world which is in love with all things new.  Finally, they are not simply a conclusion from the past but the redemption that happened once in time for all time.  

So our detractors would insist that the Church not be wedded to any doctrine but freedom which may acknowledge the past or the Scriptures but is not wedded to them and certainly allows the Christian to define and decide upon his or her own truth.  They would let Christians deal openly with the questions of the age and leave them to their own conclusions in a liberty which allows every voice except the past and God's voice to have a say.  But this is a failure to acknowledge the most basic truth of Scripture and the most basic confession of God.  We are bound to the moment but He is not.  We live a life defined by years but His is eternity.  We know what we experience or have been taught but He knows all.  We judge by our self-interest and His is the love that comes to serve and to save.  In the end, the voice of the Church is the only thing keeping man from irrelevance and from being so captive to the spirit of the moment that his life is only a wisp of wind and a breath that disappears as soon as it is born.

This is the meaning of the Word of God and all the characterizations of grass that withers and flowers that fade against the backdrop the steadfast love of the Lord that is manifest in time but timeless.  What a shame it is that so many churches have decided that they must listen to the voices of the age and move their sails to captive the wind of the moment.  It will surely move them along but ever closer to that which is here and gone and ever further from that once for all redemptive death and life-giving resurrection that bestows eternity upon the temporary.  What we offer the world is not our opinion or our feelings or our experience but that which is not ours at all -- but God's way, truth, and life.  The world may not listen but it is the only voice that redeems and bestows the eternal upon any and all who confess the holy name of Jesus by the Spirit's prompting.  In the end, the Word of God and the voice of catholic tradition can never keep us from dealing openly with the questions of the age but are the only way to meet those questions with anything more than a "what if."  We are all the blind poking around life as if we thought we saw clearly but Christ is the only one who opens our eyes and gives us to see with His own vision what is true, what is good, what is righteous, what is beautiful, and what is eternal.  If this is captivity, I would trade it any day of the week for an unfettered freedom that can nothing for sure and everything only in part.

1 comment:

Janis Williams said...

Those who divorce the past to embrace their ability to adapt to the present, and what they think will work for the future (not realizing their adaptations quickly become fodder for future critics) find themselves alone, left to the vagaries of life. Switching to another metaphor from Fr. Peters, we are indeed blind, and poking our way. Christ opens the eyes of those who wear His name, though we see through the glass “darkly”. Yet those who willingly remain blind are poking the very grumpy bear of the future.