A migration away from the Catholic Church over the last five hundred years has taken place. But in many cases, it is not away from faith altogether but away from the Church. But to what, to whom? In our times, it is usually the newest form of Christianity. I rarely hear a Catholic leave for the Episcopal or Lutheran communions, more times than not it is to a vibrant, new expression of Christianity. This lends to a few considerations in which I hope one may invest the time to consider my thoughts.
These churches are loose associations in which the members have very little commitment regarding salvation. That is, the church itself has nothing to do with whether they get to their goal–God. In fact, I might say they offer a vibrant form of community.
The Catholic Church offers a means to heaven through sacramental grace, such as confession, the Mass, infallible truth, and governance that dates back to the Apostles. They also offer many Apostolates in every generation that lends to faith vibrancy, like the charismatic movement. Thirty miles north my kids are benefiting from Catholic Youth Expeditions that was started a few years back by a young man that became a priest with a vision to inspire a vibrant faith life in the young.
What I am trying to say is simply this, that separated from the Catholic Church, they offer a less extreme form of church, a lower form of the Holy. The holy is in heaven, but on earth let’s keep it light and call it heavy, because we think about the heavenly in our minds.
We agree upon the absolute authenticity of the Bible and that is where it ends. They have no interpreter of the text that carries any weight, but private judgment of a public record of God; we have a final interpreter, a single voice made up of many.
They have a form of the Lord’s table that varies in practice from once a year to once a month, generally. They believe it is anything but Jesus Christ Himself. We take the table of the Lord every chance we get, because it is the Lord, like Peter in the boat, diving off the side to meet Jesus on the shore, that He might say the words,”Do you love me?”
They have no formal form of confession of sin except to God alone, as if this is noble; we confess to God and to the Church family which we have violated.
Their leaders are like community social workers that maintain a good social life for all involved; our leaders operate in persona Christi, marked by heaven with a holy seal.
This is a strange belief indeed–Jesus established an arbitrary private religion that functions fallibly according to the dictates of private interest and social wellness, whose ordinances or practices offer no hope for salvation. The truth they hold is subjective Jesus at best, and there is no Grace given except through private gifts that individuals may or may not have. This is nothing more than a Jesus social club. I need not go to church for this, I could simply do this with myself and my Christian friends. Many of them realize this and even attempt to practice such home church Christianity.
Is this really the Kingdom Jesus came to establish on earth? No more than me, myself, and I having church in my house with Bible open with some friends?
So here’s the question, did Jesus establish church-lite with only 64 calories, or a fine wine, aged to perfection, worthy of a King–even the King of Kings.