In celebration of HM Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday today, a royal instalment:
THERE ARE far worse things than closed churches. The far deeper problem is not dwindling attendance, but the loss of the heart of the Gospel among those that do attend…. I have found that people – in general, in the churches – do not understand what the central message of Christianity is. And so there’s a vacuum at the very core of the Church’s existence, and that affects the whole church, no matter how much one congregation might be an exemption.
There are other messages that masquerade as the real thing and those other messages are more insidious than you might think, because on the surface, they sound more friendly, more inclusive. This mindset has affected our whole culture – including Canada – and it’s becoming more difficult to understand the difference between general spirituality and biblical Christianity.
It’s interesting to see how much this has taken hold in the Church. Spirituality is thought to be more inclusive than Christianity, so people have become a little bit afraid of a robust Gospel. I have a dear Christian friend in Rhode Island, who wrote me of her distress that people in her church don’t want to hear too much about the specificity of Jesus Christ – what we scholarly types call the “scandal of particularity” – because they think it might make someone feel excluded.
Well, yes, it might make someone feel that way. It all depends on how it is presented.
What we need to remember is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ, when fully understood, is infinitely more inclusive than any “spiritual” program.
The Revd Fleming Rutledge, sermon preached at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, Toronto, November 1, 2015.
AS USUAL, the Revd Jordan Hylden has written an excellent piece for the Living Church’s Covenant blog. As Hylden notes, John Kasich, governor of Ohio and presidential candidate, whose faith was renewed in the Episcopal Church in the 1980s, is no longer an Episcopalian. Instead, he is a member of St. Augustine’s Church in Westerville, Ohio, a parish of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). As Hylden writes,
But it does bother me to think that a man like Kasich apparently felt like there was not space for him in the Episcopal Church. And it led me to wonder: Given Kasich’s moderate conservative politics — none of the Trumpian “build the wall” stuff, open to Obama’s Medicaid expansion, and strongly pro-life out of the Christian call to care for the poor and the weak, believes in traditional marriage but thinks that after Obergefell it’s time for politics to move on — in how many of our parishes would a guy like him feel at home? I do not know the answer to that. But I wonder.
We have wondered, too.
“These marginal sects depress Harry. At least the moldy old denominations have some history to them.”
John Updike, Rabbit at Rest (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), 237.
Less is always more. Never forget it.
As always, the St. Thomas Choir of Men & Boys.