Monday, July 20, 2009

A Crisis in Faith...Or a Midcourse Correction Part Two

It was not my intention to do a second part to the A Crisis in Faith piece. But I realized that while I may have answered some questions about why my Christian walk has taken the strange and twisted direction that it has taken, I didn't really get to the real central point.

Over the last year or so watching the Episcopal Church go through the struggles that it has gone through in regards to the role of gays and lesbians in the church, and the battles it has fought against the more conservative churches in the Anglican Communion that have ripped TEC due to its more liberal stances taken with regards to the aforementioned gays, lesbians, plus women, and Christian doctrine in general, I have come to the conclusion that like a bumper sticker I once read, while I love Jesus, I'd like to drop a large amount of high explosives on the institution that He created and left humans to run, i.e. His church.

Reading a number of blogs on the Internet that cover both sides of the debate, I have seen the most heinous and nasty charges leveled against each side by the other in this ongoing battle to understand exactly what God's will is in all this mess. Go on any conservative or liberal Anglican blog or forum, and you may see Christians who may be serving communion and preaching from the pulpit on Sunday morning about how the world should know that we are Christ's own by the love we show one another, spewing forth vile, hateful messages directed towards those who do not believe as they do. Liberals calling conservatives such things as: unenlightened, close-minded, stupid, and backwards, and accusing them of not being true Christians because they may have a problem with same-sex marriage or the ordination of gay and female clergy, or that their interpretation of Scripture differs from orthodoxy. Conservatives will excoriate Liberals by calling them sodomites and heretics, declaring that their salvation is in peril and that they are consigned to hell because they choose to embrace the emerging role of the LGBT community as well as women in the clerical ranks.

I understand that I'm talking about the Internet and the dialog ( if you can call it that) is going to be of a more extreme, long-tailed nature. As the New Yorker cartoon so aptly puts it, " On the Internet, No One Knows You're a Dog." People hide behind psuedonyms and launch their verbal missiles armed with payloads composed of slurs, groundless accusations, and outright lies at others whom they do not even know, nor who's lives they have never experienced, simply because they don't agree with what they read in the Bible, or hear from the pulpit on Sunday mornings. It's not the exclusive province of one group or another. Liberals are just as nasty, petty, pig-headed and condescending as conservatives. It's even worse for Liberals because they like to trumpet from the rooftops and buttonhole anyone who'll stand still and listen long enough that they and they alone are the champions of diversity and demand tolerance...as long as you believe as they do. But I'm not going down that road. I see fault on both sides. I see hypocrisy on both sides. If Christ were to come for his church today, I think He'd be rather disgusted at the steaming pile of shit that we who are supposed to be his disciples have dropped. When we stand before our Maker and He opens the books on our lives and we are called to account for the good and evil we have done, our words and actions will stand out. The way we treated our brothers and sisters in Christ will be held before us and examined. And more than a few of us, myself included, should be prepared to be told that we have been found wanting. It is only through the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ on the cross that will even get a sniff of Heaven. Christian leaders wonder why more and more people are identifying themselves as either atheist, agnostic, or simply as non-religious. They wonder why people aren't as responsive to the Gospel message. They question why all churches aren't as full as they used to be on Sunday Mornings. It's quite simple. would you join a religious community if the members of that community are constantly at each others throats, accusing each other of not being "real Christians" whatever the hell that is?

Christianity by it's nature is a religion that relies on bringing in new people. As Christians, we are called by our Great Commission to go into the world and make disciples. We are called to compell the unchurched to join us, and we are to do so by showing the love that we are supposed to have one for another. As many Christians as there are in the world, there are as many interpretations of Scripture, attitudes towards worship, prayer, doctrine and opinions about the role of minorities in the order of the clergy. We are not required to agree on everything, it's impossible for us as imperfect humans to achieve that goal, but if we are going to be rowing the Good Ship Jesus down the river, can we at least get our oars in the water the right way and pull more or less in the same direction?