When I view religion today, I do not see this greatness. When I view churches, I no longer see them through the eyes of innocence. I’m incapable of seeing the image that most churches wish to portray; I see the reality. I see businesses that are to a greater or lesser degree executing marketing plans to bring in more traffic. I see the complex interrelationships that often dissolve into pettiness and gossip. I see either the pastor who is worn down because of his sincerity to serve God or the craftiness of a pastor who understands “the game.”
I’m stuck between the spirit of that article and the reality of having some grounding somewhere so that my faith doesn’t float away into something meaningless.
I believe that we do need some form of institution, to ground our faith to, that reflects how we believe. For some that is a new community, for some that is an age old church full of ritual, for some strict adherence to Bible literalism, for others Biblical interpretation in historical context, and so on.
Even with a scientific background that knows those who wrote down the Bible had a less full view of the physical reality of the world we live in, I still choose to have faith. Though I see a wider world of faith out there, I believe in Christ. Though I’d like to transcend the church as an institution of people I am wed literally, being the spouse of a pastor, to the institution of church.
Being spiritual is meaningless. Satan is 100% spiritual, as are every last demon and angel in existence. Being spiritual doesn’t mean diddly squat. It is through religion that spirituality is directed towards the God who created us and who loves us.
And especially through the Sacraments!
I have no idea what the author is trying to say.
I understand that he is has issues with the often dysfunctional nature of organized religion. He has some vague defined problem with putting restrictions on God, or putting God in “a box”. What restrictions are these? What is about the nature of organized religion that puts these restrictions there? What would any faith post-religion look like? Would it be faith without community? Would be a free-for-all: would be just do whatever they want? Would be choose their own canon of Scripture? How can one be a Christians with Scripture when all that we know of Jesus comes from scripture which, in turn, is the product of organized religion (guided by the Holy Spirit)?
The problem with this sentiment, and others like it, is that they don’t really mean. They take the justifiably upsetting parts of organized religion, throw the baby with the bathwater, and propose nothing except some vague spirituality to take its place.
Does the author see values in a wedding or a funeral? Because those are provided by organized religion (or a secular proxy). Does he understand that an essential part of the Christian life (barring, maybe, a hermit’s) is community? Is it OK to worship together? Because that’s organized religion too. Organized religion has its problems, but it also provides something essential. Consider that even secular humanists are popping up with Sunday services meetings. Religion is universal. Its written into DNA. Religion, or some sort of secular analogue, is just part of being human.
Sounds “New Age” to me. The person who says “I’m Spiritual, but not religious.”
Maybe this is what is in the author’s future - given that they say this is an article on the future of PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIANITY. Also, the author defines himself as a “Christian Skeptic” whatever that means.
The article just misses the basic trend that churches that are growing are conservative and/or liturgical because the mainline churches are selling out on the social issues.
Outside of the fact that he points out that most people distrust “institutions” these days, I really just couldn’t give much weight to what he said. In the end, progressive Christianity doesn’t have much to offer people and deserves to die.
At least, be honest and don’t call it Christianity.
Tsk tsk tsk…
Perhaps Mr. Dixon has never been exposed to a real Catholicism. It’s not so much that the universe is caged in by the religion God has given to us. The world is as God has ordered it, and man is part of the order God has seen meet and right to give the world.
He says at one point:
not only has religion been unable to answer the great questions of our time, religion has not even been allowed to explore them in meaningful ways beyond “god.” When we don’t understand something, we say, “That’s just how God wants it.” This is no longer acceptable in a world of constant discovery where we can answer many questions that the men who were inspired to pen the Bible were unaware even existed.
Does this sound like the Christianity which the Fathers, which the Scholastics, which Catholics have believed in, and which drove scientific progress in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance?
Does that sound like Aquinas? Francis of Assisi? Albertus Magnus? The Irish missionaries? Charlemagne? Alfred the Great?
It doesn’t to me. Shame Mr. Dixon has never heard of it.
The bible speaks of the good of true religion. Where do people get this false conflict?