Dark Brightness

Bleak Theology: Hopeful Science

Why we should bother with the church [Rom 8, Matthew 23]

The church in the West, in all its branches and varieties, has been invaded by those who want to turn it into a political movement. There are those who want us to be post Christian. The question today is why should we bother, why should we confront, why should we warn.

It would be easier to retreat. To disengage. For the people who preach some form of Post Christian Hinduism love their status and their power, and to resist them is to invite lawsuits.

On July 8, 2012, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached her brand of post-Christian religion while masquerading as a Christian bishop,” reported convention attendee Dr. Sarah Frances Ives.

“She mocked most of the crucial doctrines of the Christian faith, including the God of creation, the Incarnation, and the Trinity. She accomplishes this through her demeaning use of rhetoric. She taunts the Lord by the use of the name ‘Big Man’ and then points her finger at everyone listening and tells them that they have ‘missed the boat.’

“Jefferts Schori then proclaims that she has the answer for this. We all need the ‘act of crossing boundaries’ to become God after which our hands become a ‘sacrament of mission.’

“In this sermon, Jefferts Schori continued her mission of destroying the Christian faith through her rhetorical device of dismissive ridicule.

“Jefferts Schori leaves a wide wake of destruction behind with this sermon: the eternal triune God has been torn down, human beings are to boldly claim our place as God, and the sacraments of the Eucharist and Baptism have been turned into things our hands make. In other words, Jefferts Schori accepts that now humanity, animals and God are one undifferentiated blob. This is essentially a form of solipsism, the belief that self is all that is known to exist. Anyone can see that this is both pure heresy and utter nonsense.

“Episcopalians need to loudly affirm that we are created in the image of God and redeemed by the sacrifice of the Son of God, but no, we are not God ourselves and we are not erasing the boundary between God and humanity. That Jefferts Schori is encouraging humans to cross the frontier into becoming God should be immediately repudiated by all believing Christians.”

The reason why we should do this is that Jefferts Schori has a soul, and though she be our enemy we need to pray for her. Our prayer is not that her ministry prosper, but that she repent. For the current Episcopal church in the USA is like the Anglicans in my region.

Imploding under the weight of the ugly ambition of those who forced their way in.

And they will preach anything but today’s readings.

Romans 8:1-11

1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law — indeed it cannot, 8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

Matthew 23:29-39

29“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous, 30and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors. 33You snakes, you brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to hell? 34Therefore I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, 35so that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36Truly I tell you, all this will come upon this generation.

37“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38See, your house is left to you, desolate. 39For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

There are a couple of things worth noting in both passages. The first is sober. Not all will be saved. When a generation does not past their faith along, and the family secularizes, then the next generation are far more likely to be lost, in the West.

In the East people know better. They have seen atheism in its militant socialist mode, and they reject both that and the tribal religions of their forefathers. They are flocking to Christ. We now have African and Chinese missionaries to the West, to our shame.

The second is that the leaders are accountable.

I attend an Anglican Church which is part of ‘the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (The Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion), using the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. It’s small, but not tiny, and growing.

I’m in my 50s, from California. Attending church was never a part of my childhood as my parents were atheists and my neighborhoods were devoid of church-going people. As a curious “seeker” in my twenties, I attended an Episcopal church, which I later joined, and after a years of listless boredom and putting up with increasing weirdnesses, I found this Anglican church.

Legions of us, children of atheists, struggle with any sort of faith. For me, doubt overwhelms daily. Merely believing the basics of Christian faith seems far more of a struggle to me than it does for those who grew up in the church, that is, in real churches where something other than progressive social policy is/was taught.

In my first grade of school, my parents inexplicably became Presbyterian. This blip in normal secular family behavior has given me memories of wiping oil off seagulls on the beach and wandering around Chinatown in San Fransisco giving sandwiches to hippies. I vividly remember when the Sunday School teacher was told we had to memorize a part of a psalm (23rd, perhaps) so she left the classroom to find bibles. It took a bit of time, but she came back with a shiny bibles and passed them around. This was the first time I had seen a Bible — I wasn’t sure what it was. I thought, perhaps, it had magical powers, that the words within were charmed and so ran my fingers over the text so the magic would stick to my little fingers like sweet honey. Strangely, I licked my fingers afterward because I didn’t want to waste or lose any of the magic they had touched.

I asked the Sunday School teacher if I could take the magical book home for a week … and was refused.

Tragically, I didn’t learn from my own parent’s mistakes and so didn’t raise my own kids in churches. I repeated what I experienced, giving my kids only occasional forays into foreign, churchly places. My children are the latest iteration of a continuing process of spiritual degradation which has been manifested generationally. Seven generations of my family, ending with my grandfather, attended Princeton to train for the ministry. Seven! But my father, who is still alive, became a physicist, a thorough-going secularist/materialist who rejected the hypocrisy of his own father, a corrupt minister. This probably explains why I wasn’t raised in the church. It also explains why my children weren’t raised with any faith. And, sadly, their children won’t be raised in the faith, most likely.

In spite of all the hoopla about “outreach” and “missionary work within our own communities,” the number of converts who raise their children successfully in churches, and then their grandchildren … is vanishingly small. What I see, as a struggling Christian, are churches populated with people who grew up in the faith, not newbies or converts with families. Once an extended family “goes secular,” the path to re-Christianizing that family is long, difficult and usually unsuccessful.

We should care for the church because it is of Christ. The reason that trolls such as Jefferts Schori want to become presiding bishops — against clear teaching that no woman should lead any congregation, nor teach — is because they know in a dark corner of the lump of coal that replaced their heart, that the Church belongs to Christ, and he will reclaim his bride.

During that process all spots and stains will be removed from the church.

Including heresy.

So we need to pray for the leadership of our church. All of it.

And for much of this church — the same rot affects all from the Lutherans and Presbyterians to the Catholics — we have to pray that the Spirit of God brings revival and repentance.

I inadvertently tweeted the link to beliefnet and not to archive.is. Beliefnet is converged. Archive it instead.