Thursday, March 22, 2012

NYT-- "It's Time To Quit The Catholic Church"

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Please be aware that there is a Freedom Rally in Tacoma tomorrow. Please attend if possible. Click here for details.

Although the New York Times has rejected a paid ad titled, "It's Time To Quit Islam," they have accepted a paid ad titled, "It's Time To Quit The Catholic Church," paid for and written by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist organization.

The issue? Abortion and birth control. But I see a much broader issue at play in both this article and in our culture.

Annie Gaylor, the co-founder of Freedom From Religion opens with, "It's time to quit the Roman Catholic Church. It's your moment of truth. Will it be reproductive freedom, or back to the dark ages? Do you choose women or Bishops and their wrongs? Whose side are you on anyway?"

She continues downhill from there advocating throwing out the old doctrines and moldy decrees.

"You can change the church from within," she proclaims, "get it to lighten up on birth control, gay rights, marriage equality, embryonic stem-cell research---you are deluding yourself."

There's more. It is enlightening and concerning to read the piece because it reflects a larger problem that is not exclusively related to the Catholic Church. It raises some serious questions for all Christians---Catholics, Protestants, evangelicals, etc.

Father Peter West has responded with what I believe is a reasoned, thoughtful and wise response, including the remark, "You might be surprised to hear that many practicing Catholics agree with you, and wish that those who reject the Church's teachings would leave." I recommend you read it.

I'm not a Catholic, but think about this:

"It's Your Moment of Truth. Whose Side Are You On Anyway?"

The "truth" she is advocating is a relative truth. One she defines as modern, not old and moldy. One that has been designed to fit the times---mesh with the present culture. Affirm current cultural beliefs as she sees them.

Post Modern Relativism says truth isn't fixed by outside reality, but is decided by a group or individual for themselves. Truth, they say, is not discovered, but manufactured. Truth is ever changing, including in matters of spirituality, morality and reality itself.

Are there absolutes? If so, should the church not be the voice of that Truth?

"Obama has compromised, but the church never budges."

That observation is not intended to be a compliment, but it is.

"You Can Change The Church From Within."

Is the church's mission merely to be relevant? Is the priority of the Christian church to adapt to changing moral and ethical views so people will attend our services, and become or remain members and feel affirmed?

Is the church to be shaped by contemporary culture or is it to shape the culture with absolute, eternal Truth?

Is to be culturally cool the goal?

Personally, I believe the church must be relevant, but not at the expense of the Truth. Relevance and Truth are not mutually exclusive. I found that to be true in practice during the years I was a pastor. The outcome of abandoning the Truth is evidenced in the departure from biblical Truth we see in the religious left.

And the Emergent Church Movement.

Should the church be a contrasting light in the darkness or should it be indistinguishable from the darkness, in order to attract people?

The Emergent (or emerging) Church movement, led by Brian McLaren, Stanley Grenz, Rob Bell, Doug Pagitt, Dave Tomlinson, Donald Miller and others essentially have a similar view, to that of Ms. Gaylor.

In fact Donald Miller in his book, "Blue Like Jazz," writes, "My most recent faith struggle is not one of intellect...I don't believe I will ever walk away from God for intellectual reasons. Who knows anything anyway? If I walk away...I will walk away for social reasons, identity reasons, deep emotional reasons..." (page 103).

He and others claim, "There are no reasons for what we believe."

Brian McLaren writes in his book, "Adventures In Missing The Point," "Drop any affair you may have with certainty , proof, argument---and replace it with dialog, conversation, intrigue, and search" (page 78).

This is at the heart of the cultural struggle we are engaged in. What was once considered sin, we now affirm.

While to many these positions may seem extreme or not related to my life, they are more commonly held then you may think and they do relate to your life.

There is a vocal segment of society advocating not only the re-making of America, but of Christianity itself and a complete revision of "truth."

And unfortunately they are cloistered, with tenure, in colleges and universities, the media, entertainment---and in many cases churches that bear the name "Christian".

May God help us.

Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Prayerful. Be Faithful. Be Blessed.