August 24, 2014

Silence ... Part 3

     Having settled the matter of the bill, I returned to my table with a freshly re-filled Pepsi Vanilla and took out a piece of paper and a pencil. I started to write:

     "Just last week, my German friend told me that his church has not changed a single thing about worship in four hundred years. As a result, he has seen fewer and fewer young people choose to say with the church. His church has not changed, but in general, society has been dramatically altered. His biggest concern about the American churches is how faith is tied into being patriotic. As a student of history, he knows all too well that patriotic churches turned a blind eye to the evils of the Nazism.
     Hitler realized that some doctrines stood opposed to his philosophy, so he did what any reasonable power-hungry murderous dictator would do, wrote his own version of Christianity that agreed with him, tied it to being patriotic, and he also forced orthodox churches to either support his Positive Christianity or to shut down. Hitler's empire and the warped Christianity that went with it both came to an end, but the lessons learned ought to never be forgotten.
     Is not making changes the best way to bring Christianity into the future? I don't think I can argue for that. For one, Christianity is no longer the default. Very soon, a whole generation will be looking at the doors of churches asking themselves: Am I properly attired? Do I know how to sing hymns? What does propitiation mean? Assuming that people who seek God will 'get it' - the instruction, explanations, singing lessons - by osmosis is a big mistake. Change will be a necessary component if the church wants to have a future other than an empty, worn-down building. We must carefully consider any changes we do make though, the right ones will lead to a legacy of faith for generations to come.
     Looking back into the history of my parent's denominations, I can easily see that change has happened. Technological marvels like microphones, speakers, and electricity have made it easier to broadcast elements of Christianity further than our ancestors would have thought possible. Theologically, change is slow in coming and not often accepted quickly. For all of our technology, our theology isn't very much different than my grandparents or their grandparents before them.
     I still marvel at how society has moved forward. We're doing our best to overcome racism. The only 'separate but equal' signs remain housed in museums, a testament of how far we have come and a reminder of how far we still have to go. The churches, I think, could learn some wisdom from that. Realizing that our history is not a squeaky clean g-rated movie but has been a dark and bloody business at times. We have come very far, but we still have a very long way to go. Change is unavoidable, but ultimately, each and every one of us must either come to accept change or work very hard to ignore it."

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