02 March 2009

The Audacity of Idealism

An ex-Anglican friend of mine who recently elected to go the way of Independent Catholicism, has - at times - refered to my viewpoints on certain matters as being 'Anabaptism clothed in a Chasuble'. He has noted before that I need to be a realist about certain things.

Of late, his admonition has continued to touch my conscience... but probably not in the way he intended. To this un-named priest, I ask this question: "What's so wrong with being idealistic?"

For so very, very long the Church has comprimised time and time again with society, the government, and other powers that be in order to secure for herself a more, shall we say, secure future. In the process, the Church has lost her sense of apart-ness. She has lost her idealism. In losing these key distinctives, the Church Visible has, sadly, lost her edge.

The Church desperately needs to reclaim her original idealism in ways that are clearly expressive of the hope that is in us in Christ Jesus. This means we don't embrace society willy-nilly, or scholasticism as all-knowing. We refrain from responding in kind when threatened, and we turn the other cheek for the sake of our Christian integrity. It means bearing witness to the truth, even if our precious tax-exempt status will get revoked. It means speaking the truth about life issues, civics, and the all-around obligation of the believer to live a transformed life.

During this Lenten season, we are called time and time again to return to the Gospel in new and powerful ways. We are called to grab hold of the optimism and idealism that so compelled the Apostles in their audacious mission to evangelize the peoples. Today, nothing less than a return to the message of Jesus Christ - unencumbered by seventeen hundred years of developmental disarray - can bring about a genuine renewal of Christianity.

(At the same time, we must be cautious not to reject everyone who has come before us from some specific pre-determined date as being less than Christian. The Church today can critically reapprobate her original message while still valuing the input of centuries of blesseds and not despising them or rejecting them outright!)

Let us pray for the Church - that she would be renewed by the power of the Spirit, and that, as members of Christ's body, each of us make take our place in manning the ark of our salvation, God's one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church - cleansing her from stem to stern as we continue our voyage to our heavenly harbor.

In closing, if my strong contention for the Primitive Catholic faith makes me an Anabaptist in a Chasuble, than will somebody kindly direct me to the nearest sacristy.


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

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