09 April 2008

Paschaltide Greetings or, Why I am Incensed at the Christian Church Today

Well, April has sprung up with some wonderful days here in Central Indiana. Over the past two days my wife and I have managed to get in some good exercise, walking all around our neighborhood (and nearby shops), having a snack outdoors at Starbucks, and just getting some good fresh air in our lungs (though the freshness level is probably debatable by EPA standards).

While all this is wonderful in and of itself, this has been a very frustrating week for me, as I have been mulling over my thoughts and concerns about life, ministry, and the faith. So tonight, I want to share a little bit of what I am feeling.

I think the alternate title of this entry, "Why I am Incensed at the Christian Church Today" says a lot about what I am feeling. Incensed is probably the best way to phrase it. At least it has the scent of sanctity about it. (Pun absolutely intended.)

First, let me differentiate between the Body of Christ and the worldy Church (with whom I have my gripe). While my commentary will, by necessity, irritate the body of Christ, my comments are directed to the institutional (for lack of a better term) Church. I have no issue with Jesus, and if anything the past few weeks have managed to deepen my relationship with Christ while, at the same time, leaving me very angry.

The Church is a twenty-first century train wreck of monumental proportions. People continue to lay exclusive claims to the faith that they cannot support, excluding people who adhere to other traditions from genuine consideration as true brothers and sisters in Christ. For all the talk of the ecumenical movement of the latter half of the twentieth century, Christianity is a fractured house that shows no sign or real desire of restoration to anything remotely resembling her ancient purity.

Now, while those who have read my writings or have spoken to me personally know that I tend to view the primitive Church with great admiration, I don't labor with rose colored glasses on the topic. They had their own issues - even the apostles themselves did! - and I don't expect that just 'getting back to the most ancient form' is the perfect answer.

So why isn't anything else working?

I am sick to death of watching ecclesiastical politics drag on and on and on. I am sick of seeing the earnest hearted attempts of Christian clergy dismissed as illicit or invalid based on the rulings of people who have no clue what is actually going on in Anytown USA (or anywhere else). I am tired of seeing the Christian faith cave in to government or social pressure to comprimise the Gospel's message of peace. I am tired of seeing widows and single mothers duped out of their rent money each month because a man with a LearJet needs to buy gas for his private flight to some major arena where he will dupe more people out of their money... all in the name of Jesus.

It frankly makes me want to puke.

I am thankful that I don't trust in popes or televangelists for my salvation. I'd be doomed. I am thankful that I don't believe that the label on my nametag will ensure my place in heaven. I am sure I would probably be doomed then too.

My place in heaven is assured because Jesus Christ died to make me at-one with my Creator, the Father, Son, and Spirit. His atonment reconciles me to God, and though I am not perfect, I try to do better every day. My trust is in him and the means of grace he gives to me... and in those alone.

Right now, I don't know where my future leads on my path of faith. I am a Primitive Catholic. That is the only way I can identify myself. I am absolutely linked to liturgical worship, sacramental interaction with God, and the ongoing sanctification of the mundane and ordinary moments of my life that only a Catholic/Orthodox tradition can bring. I admire the Restoration Movement (even if it didn't quite live up to the ideal of restoring the ancient Church), I admire the Oriental Churches and the Celtic Churches of the ancient era... and I admire all those with the bravery and tenacity to engage in Christian ministry today (genuine ministry, not leeching people!) in an increasingly hostile world.

Where to go. What to do. We shall see.

Please pray for me.



All original material (C) 2007-2010 by Father Robert Lyons.

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