Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

05 March, 2011

A SIMPLISTIC LOOK AT CHURCH RELEVANCY

Being of a relatively simple mind, I lack the ability to "intellectualize" when it comes to religious matters.  Generally I have more questions than answers.  I take some solice in the words of Augustine: "If you understand it, it's not God."

Classical theology has acknowledged that we cannot know much about "Our Father who art in Heaven", whose essence is hidden and incomprehensible to mere human intellects.  Blind faith is a hard sell
for many in this day and age of high tech hype when single narrative teaching tends to fall short.  The American writer John Updike said:  "Faith is a force of will whereby a Christian defines himself against the temptations of an age.  Each age presents its own competing philosophies..."

I acknowledge that we live in a postmodern age where attitudes question institutions and their underlying certainties.  One religion writer recently suggested that it is this fundamental questioning about whether truth has any objectivity or universality, that is a contributing factor in people not attending church services today.  The relevancy of God in every day life has all but been lost/ignored for many of those among us.

As too often suggested though, I do not think that there is a wholesale turning away from a belief in a Superior Being (God).  Most Canadians, I am convinced, believe...The question is, however, what do they believe and who do they trust to discuss it with?  Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, it is not in church and not with a priest or minister of The Word and Sacraments.  The end result is that there is a void in many lives today that may not even be recognized, or acknowledged.

To address the demise of church involvement and the public profession of faith, several national general
assemblies have taken on the task of studying what church membership might look like in the future.  Understandably, discussion is bound to involve traditional vs. the previously-mentioned postmodern thinking and this is where there is a problem for me.  I am all for change, but not change that dilutes the intensity of individual faith and long-held traditions and practices.

If we insist on continually revising faith according to the whims of society and our own interests, we will be in danger of cutting ourselves off not only from tradition but the church universal.  I wholeheartedly agree that confession of faith in a secular age is not fundamentalism; it is simply Christian.  Church worship should not be compromised for convenience any more than it should be for entertainment value.  Our churches do not need more, or different membership rules; rather they should focus on creating comfortable conditions where people can encounter the God that has been missing from their lives.  Create a familiar, welcoming church environment conducive to relevancy in a present-day context and they will come.  There is an inherent need in the world today for benevolency and a robust, joyful, holistic kind of faith.

As for this simple father's son, I yearn only to return to the God of my childhood, the God of Abraham and Moses -- the God that at one time I felt that I had outgrown.  I yearn to "cling to the old rugged cross and to exchange it some day for a crown."  Amen. 

The story of unseen things foretold is my heritage.  I pray that church legislators and scholars, do not make it unrecognizable for me.

To be certain, we are individuals in this life but we must recognize that we are united by the Divine membrane of love and forgiveness.  We should not look for, nor expect more than that.  Would that I could better  "intellectualize" it, but perhaps that would be a mistake.

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