Is Christianity Eroding?

In Part One I discussed how many in the Protestant sect of Christianity were having issues with Rob Bell and his apparent embrace of universalism. But the controversies swirling around Christianity extend beyond Protestants to the Catholics as well.

“At a recent Sunday mass at St. Edward Catholic Church in Bloomington, a woman stepped to the lectern on the altar — and started to preach. Before long, the vicar general of the archdiocese was paying a call to St. Edward’s pastor, the Rev. Mike Tegeder, and reminding him that the rules of Vatican II have changed. Lay people, even someone with a master’s degree in theology from St. Paul Seminary like this woman, can’t give homilies anymore. That job can be done only by priests.”- The Deacon’s Bench

Ans there is more.

“Some parishioners at St. Norbert’s Church in Orange describe themselves as “shocked and appalled” after a priest there allowed a Presbyterian minister to concelebrate a Mass and receive Holy Communion on Sunday, Feb. 13. Sources from the parish told California Catholic Daily that Fr. Agustin Escobar (shown in the picture) introduced Pastor Steve Whitney of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Sacramento at St. Norbert’s 9 a.m. Sunday Mass. The sources said Rev. Whitney concelebrated the Mass with Fr. Escobar, took Communion, and was allowed to distribute Communion to parishioners.” – California Catholic Daily

 Much like the “Bell Affair” what seems to be happening is that people with authority from within these storied traditions are starting to challenge the status quo. To me this is not representative of an erosion, but an evolution. Traditions have value, I am the first to admit that. But it is also true that those institutions that refuse to grow will eventually whither and contract.

While no religious tradition should change simply to get members-the recent backlash against the mega-church model is an object lesson in how a business model doesn’t necessarily work in a religious setting- organic evolution should not be stymied.

At its heart Christianity seems to be about two things: developing a relationship with the divine and loving your neighbor. Do any of the above controversies contradict these most basic of premises? If not then they should not be automatically condemned. Serious discussions by people with open minds would go a long way to dealing with issues such as these.

The Teaching of the  Twelve: Believing & Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the  Ancient Didache Community
The earliest forms of Christianity did not seem to wrestle with the amount of dogma today’s versions must deal with. If you’re interested a great description of the earliest form of the religion one can be found in Tony Jones short book, The Teaching of The Twelve.

Calling the Didache the most important book you’ve never heard of, Emergent leader Jones (The New Christians) briefly unpacks the theological and practical lessons to be gleaned from one of early Christianity’s most overlooked texts. Less than half the length of the shortest New Testament gospel, the Didache (teaching) informed new Christians about spiritual practices like baptism, prayer, hospitality, fasting, Eucharist, generosity, and basic morality. Dated between 50 and 130 C.E., it is one of the oldest extant Christian texts not found in the New Testament.- Publishers Weekly