A Must-Read Post from Caelius

I commend for your immediate perusal and digestion the latest post by Caelius. In it, he ponders a number of truly important things.

It’s not just about youth in church and confirmation, more importantly he is fussing with the key question of what we are teaching our children and how do we do it. And, based on his experience at his current parish, he reveals the danger at the heart of an intemperate social gospel built on the fantasies of the Jesus Seminar and like groups: transformation of life does not occur because a person has affinities for the teaching of a nice guy who died in a political accident a few thousand years ago. Rather, transformation happens when a person encounters the resurrection power of the Living Christ. This the Christ we proclaim in every Office and every Mass, whom we take into ourselves in every Eucharist.

I’m all for being reasonable.

I’m all for being critical and reflective.

But when our reason and our reflection denies the clear evidence of the movement and power of the God present in our lives, that’s when we have some serious problems…

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4 Responses to A Must-Read Post from Caelius

  1. *Christopher says:

    I don’t understand this vision to begin with, and I hope my friend S may have time to comment on this once she finishes CPE–she runs the youth program at a parish nearby, and her and I ran the youth program at another parish nearby for a couple of years…catechesis, an appreciation for what the Creeds are about, litugical leadership (where the youth actually led and helped prepare worship), prayer, and Bible study were a regular part of the mix. S is a postulant and her husband a UCC pastor, both quite Christocentric.

    We weren’t afraid to talk about evil–anyone look around lately? Only those who live in bubbles of material excess can’t recognize that evil is real and people starve to death literally and in other ways because our hearts are held captive to lust for more that hinders love of neighbor and giving our neighbor their due. We talked about how Christians are called to treat others, to treat themselves, including in choosing to live a “lifestyle” responsive and responsible to God. We had numerous discussions in which the youth discussed matters they faced in their own lives at home and school and how to relate the Gospel to these matters.

    It seems that any “social” Gospel worth its salt must be rooted in a faith that God overcame once for all sin and death and is present to us now overcoming sin and death in our own lives “through, with, and in” bread and wine, and whenever and wherever two or three are gathered in the name of Jesus. ++Tutu is a better model for catholic “social gospel”. I always find it strange that folks like this can love ++Tutu so much when they couldn’t be more far apart on faith matters.

    I would say, rather than “transformation”, “change” or better, “conversion” Transformation, as pschologist Volney Gay, who compares the two terms and their meaning in our present milieu notes that transformation carries with it a sense of shifting shape rather than a sense that in our mutability, we must “let go”, “die” I can’t link to the full article, but here’s where it can be found.

    Change is hard, conversion is painful and a process and we don’t know where it might lead. Transformation sounds to presto-chango in a society in which we like to remake ourselves overnight be it Evangelical understandings of grace in “born again” or the New Age “magically delicious”, be yourself bit.

    I do wish that “gay” were not associated with such things as this emptied-out faith. These aren’t “gay”, indeed, some of the most conservative theological and liturgical persons in my congregation are gay. But then this is also a flipside of Christianity having done harm, that recovery means a loss of essentials rather than grappling with the Living God in the face of hardships, which to my mind, means the God whom we offer our theologies/doxologies in response to his mighty saving deeds as set forth in the Creeds. We end up with a memorialist rendition that we can save ourselves by “imitating” a dead man, rather than that God saves us and our imitating is already in Christ and impossible without the initiative of the Spirit working in us. Hence, my hesitance around imitation language because it now carries this “Pelagian” tendency and because it too often is suggested that this is about WWJD, meaning an exact replication of Jesus’ life, rather than being drawn into loving as God loves by very God–which will require our dying…, our conversion, our changing. Okay, maybe I’ve become too Lutheran, but it seems to me this is at the heart of The Rule as well, take up your cross daily and die to sin…?

  2. Derek the Ænglican says:

    I see the reluctance you have to using both “transformation” and “imitation”. I certainly don’t intend them in a glib way. You’re absolutely right that this work–whatever we call it–is hard, painful and takes a long time. While changes in thoughts may occur quickly, changes in moral action and habits of life take a lot longer and tend to be much messier…

  3. A comment.

    I do wish that “gay” were not associated with such things as this emptied-out faith. These aren’t “gay”, indeed, some of the most conservative theological and liturgical persons in my congregation are gay.

    Why am I not surprised? :)

    39 buttons, birettas, lace albs and cottas on big feasts and tolerant conservatism for ever.

    Orientation and Modernism are nothing to do with each other; saying certain behaviour the Catholic faith teaches is sinful is really something good is another matter.

  4. *Christopher says:

    Derek,

    I didn’t think you were being glib, but I wanted to raise the concerns because they show up a lot in these days in ways used in this social justice way. And don’t get me wrong about social justice, I think there’s a strong Eucharistic thrust for exactly this, but it must be rooted in the Living God, not a memorialist following. One wonders what the theology of Eucharist is in such settings.

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