Suicidul bisericii liberale

Despre câteva dintre patologiile fundamentaliștilor creștini am vorbit cu o altă ocazie (Sclavii credinței), rămânând dator cu întoarcerea reflectorului către cealaltă parte, cea a liberalismului ”creștin” și a bolilor pe care acesta le ascunde sub epiderma sa emancipată. De fapt, în seria de articole Credința fără iluzii am urmărit și comentat cartea lui Andrew Byers, Faith without illusions. Following Jesus as a cynic-saint (IVP, 2011), scrisă ca un răspuns la ”emanciparea” tinerei generații. Ieșirea dintr-un evanghelism anchilozat în conservatorism mai degrabă cultural  decât dogmatic se face zbughind în direcția opusă, către un ”Pop-Christianity” liberal, cinic, supus exigențelor  pieței, a adevărurilor convenabile și decise prin presiunea numărului, a cantitativului. Ar fi interesantă o analiză a liberalismului trendy al multor în/des/”bisericiți” de prin România și, mai ales, fabrica dezvrăjirii sau a evadării din patologiile fundamentaliste pentru a se ”odihni” suav  în brațele largi ale cinismului, ale unor forme de nihilism hermeneutic și unei relaxări a practicilor morale, mulate după  etalonul valorilor și al practicilor sociale contemporane. Cred că merită efortul de a analiza procesul de (de)construcție a unei identități tributare mai degrabă fluidității și cosmeticii sociale decât stâncii care este Hristos, Același ieri, azi și în veci.

Tocmai mi-a trecut prin mâini The Empty Church. The Suicide of Liberal Christianity (Thomas C. Reeves, The Free Press, New York, 1996).

Bisericile protestante tradiționale din America au fost supuse unui proces de liberalizare a leadership-ului, ceea ce dus la o deformare a credinței și practicii eclesiale în funcție de interesele politice ale cetății, intererese ”progresiste” (multiculturalism, secularism, feminism, ordinarea homosexualilor, evoluționism, etc.). Dinamica bisericilor care au renunțat la cerințele inconfortabile ale adevărului biblic în favoarea unei dragoste așa zis atotcuprinzătoare, această dinamică duce inevitabil la pierderea atât a adevărului cât și a dragostei, fără de care nu poate fi conceput creștinismul ca mod de gândire, simțire și trăire. Aceste biserici încă nu au ieșit din ”Iluminism”!

C. S. Lewis ne avertiza cu ceva timp în urmă:

“Did you ever meet, or hear of, anyone who was converted from skepticism to a ‘liberal’ or ‘demythologised’ Christianity? I think that when unbelievers come in at all, they come in a good deal further” (C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, Mariner Books, New York, 2002, p. 119)

După un deceniu de la apariția The Empty Church. The Suicide of Liberal Christianity, autorul Thomas C. Reeves revine cu o evaluare a tezelor sale:

A dozen years ago, I published The Empty Church: The Suicide of Liberal Christianity. It was a comprehensive analysis of the mainline Protestant churches in this country, showing that the future of the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Lutherans (ELCA), Methodists and the others were limited to the degree that they echoed trendy values and demanded little of members, spiritually, morally, and financially. A new study published by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has confirmed my prediction, and has gone on to describe other churches in the United States as well. While the survey is long on numbers and short on explanations, it contains some surprises.About 26.3% of Americans belong to evangelical Protestant churches. Catholics place second with 23.9%. Then come the mainline Protestant churches with 18.1%, followed by the historically black churches (6.9%), Jewish (1.7%), Mormon (1.7%), Muslims (0.6%), and the Orthodox (0.6%).

Fifty one percent of the members in the mainline churches are 50 and older, and the percentage of young people identifying with them is low. In short, as I observed in 1996, these once dominant church bodies are dying out. The authentic faith is about matters far deeper than social work, the nanny state, and contemporary left wing politics. Brilliant young Bishop Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church said recently, “Politically correct Christianity will die.”

The Pew study shows that secularism is booming in America, as it is throughout the West. Some 16% of Americans are religiously unaffiliated, an all-time high. (The unaffiliated are reliable Democratic voters. People who are religious and married tend to vote Republican. See Karlyn Bowman and Ruy Teixeira, “The Search for the Next Soccer Mom,” in the Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2008.) Still, the nation has not gone to the extreme that one encounters in Old Europe. Some 60% of Americans say that religion is “very important” to them, while only 12% of the French and 25% of Italians respond in the same way.

The Pew data show Americans switching churches a lot; 44% of Americans have done this at some point. It difficult to gauge the significance of this motion. Theological ignorance is rampant, and we are a restless people perpetually in search of change Moreover, our tradition of religious freedom permits people to attend a church in which they feel most comfortable. There are thousands of Protestant denominations and independent churches in America, featuring almost any imaginable expression of faith. On the whole, we live rather well with our religious diversity, something that can’t be said for much of the world, of course.

The Roman Catholic Church is the largest single religious body in this country. Still, its numbers are maintained largely by the influx of Hispanics; a great number of Americans born and raised in the church go elsewhere or drop out. The origins of this disaffection are no doubt highly complex. Huge and often impersonal congregations may be as important as the clergy shortage. Then too, Catholics have high moral standards that are spelled out in detail in the Catechism. Some find these standards too high, especially those who are divorced and remarried and those who accept the principle of abortion on demand. The secularism and trendiness that have plagued the mainline Protestant churches have also had a major impact on American Catholics since the mid-1960s; untold numbers of parishes continue a style of worship and a watered-down theology popular when the Beatles reigned over Western culture. This approach is still very much alive in our major Catholic universities (when attention strays from big-money sports).

The good news for faithful Catholics is that their church is growing in the world (the newest data from the Vatican reports a membership of 1.131 billion, up 1.4% in a year) and that a resurgence of orthodoxy, under the leadership of Pope Benedict XVI, is on the move among Catholics all across the globe. In the United States, such evidence is quickly discovered with a look at Ignatius Press, the Eternal Word Television Network, the National Catholic Register, the rise of new religious orders and college campuses, and a multitude of sources on the Internet. The most zealous Catholics in this country appear to be educated converts, such as extraordinarily impressive Scott Hahn, Marcus Grodi, Helen Hull Hitchcock, and David Mills.

The good news for the Evangelical churches is that they continue to grow. The pro-life movement is undoubtedly playing a role here. So too are the often stringent demands of faith and self-sacrifice associated with many evangelical churches. Evangelical radio and television stations dot the land, and the number of their books and magazines produced in a given year is remarkable. In these churches one often finds fervor and commitment.

Leftist political victories this fall should do much to rally the faithful to preserve their churches and prevent the country from absorbing more secularism and succumbing to moral decay. They, along with the Catholics, appear to have a bright future. As long as their mission remains solidly countercultural. (The Empty Church Revisited, Thomas C. Reeves, ”George Mason University’s History News Network”, April 5, 2008)

Întotdeauna suntem tentați să stricăm echilibrul fragil între a fi sare (ceea ce implică o formă de diferențiere, o ”aroganță” de a fi împotriva curentului și  de a fi dedicat Domnului, Cel care este mai presus de istorie, cultură, societate și presiunile ei) și a fi lumină (întruparea harului lui Dumnzezeu care se oferă celorlalți, străinilor, celor fără de Dumnzezeu în lume, fără însă a dicta verdictele scoaterii neghinei din mijlocul grâului). A fi dedicat adevărului în spiritul umilinței și a atitudinii de slujitor este o cerință poate prea mare pentru mulți urmașii lui Hristos! Și totuși, dincolo de eforturi, căderi și recuperări, echilibrul proclamării și trăirii profetice în cetate e posibil! … și foarte necesar!

One thought on “Suicidul bisericii liberale

  1. adi

    Asta este roada protestantilor, cine ii pune sa ii promoveze pe homosexuali??
    Si la delicte am vazut ca sunt primii. Cele mai multe abuzuri sexuale sunt in bisericile protestante. Ce sfaturi sa iei de la pastorul pedofil??

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