Thursday, December 15, 2005

Religious Battlelines

I was watching a recent program on TV where the issue of the cultural effort to reduce the term Christmas and replace it with the term “holiday” was the primary topic. The focus of the moderator was on the public position or lack thereof of the Roman Catholic Church in the debate. The moderator who himself was a Catholic had two Roman Catholic priests on as guests to get their perspective on the silence of the Catholic church on this issue.

It was an interesting exchange as I thought the interviews revealed far more about the apparent position of the Catholic Church than just their views on whether Christmas was indeed being subverted by influential secularists, atheists and corporations. First of all, both priests agreed that the Catholic church have indeed been silent on the issue, with the consensus for this being that they had not been given any guidance from the Vatican on how or whether to address the issue. However, just as revealing was the priests’ assertion that the Protestant churches (primarily the Evangelical and Pentecostal groups) had essentially co-opted the role of religious leadership by their constant rhetoric in the public arena not only on the Christmas issue but on others as well. It appeared to be a bone of contention on the part of the priests that the more contemporary denominations had usurped a role that was “never given to them”. They pointed out however that mainline protestant denominations (i.e. Lutherans, Presbyterians etc.) has not been part of the issue.

I thought these interviews were quite revealing on the two issues. What effect can the Catholic church have (positively or negatively) on the fast moving moral issues of the culture, when by their own admission their ability to engage in cultural debates is dependent on the logistically challenging need for constant administrative and spiritual guidance from the Vatican. This position certainly appear to continually put Catholic leaders in being at least a step behind their secular counterparts in the fluid on going battle for the minds of people.

Secondarily, the objection of the priests to the more prominent role being forged by Evangelical and Pentecostal groups suggests a bit of antagonism towards these other denominations. The question to be asked therefore is: is the antagonism warranted? If this observation is indeed correct, this is simply the latest skirmish in a centuries old battle between the Catholic and Protestant communities. To be quite frank, the battle line is centered around the issue of who has the ultimate authority on religious matters: is it the Vatican through the leadership of the Pope or is it the Bible, which conveys virtual leadership on regular individuals through direct communication and guidance from God. Whatever your feeling is on this question, the reality is that the enemies of God has a laser like focus on opportunities to subvert the culture and spread their philosophy of secularism and humanism. Believers in Jesus Christ cannot sit passively on the sidelines or participate in inter-denominational skirmishes and expect that their influence on lost people will not be impacted.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Biblical Christians will loose the cultural war. We are "in the world, but not of the world." Many Protestants and Evangelical...alarmed by the decay of the Judeao-Christian culture of America...have sought closer ties with Rome by forming ecumenical ties to counteract the slide to Humanism and moral relativism. But it is closer ties to Jesus that Chrsitans need...not closer ties to the Vatican. We need to ready ourselves for His appearing (I John 2:28-3:3). As we live in purity before a decaying and dying world...our witness will be a rebuke on their refusal to accept the King of kings. Even mainline denominations, that have denied the authority of the Bible, will not let us join their moral majority unless we deny or compromise our unyeilding claims to Biblical truth that exposes their lies and hypocrisy against the truth. As Jesus' appearing draws nearer and nearer...we will be marginalized, minimized and then criminalized for our alligence to Jesus Christ!

A God who sends people to Hell?