February 27, 2011
What marvelous things these Baptists are discovering! All–ahem– early Christian, y'unnerstand, nothing at all to do with those wicked Catholics.
Well, go for it! There's heaps more of such "Early Christian" stuff just lying around, free for the taking. Why, you could probably fill the whole year with them! Think of it as adding fiber to your diet.
Easter Sunday -- the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ -- is for Christians the culmination of their community life, expressing the heart of their faith. But among Baptists and other evangelicals, an intentional period of preparation for their holiest day is often understated or absent -- in contrast to Christmas, the other great Christian observance, typically the focus of elaborate church festivities for weeks prior to Dec. 25.
Many Baptists are seeking to reclaim that pre-Easter focus -- historically called Lent -- which has been an integral part of many Christians' experience since the earliest years of the church.
"It's a biblical thing, not a made-up Catholic thing," says Kyle Henderson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Athens, Texas, acknowledging a robust Baptist suspicion of spiritual practices seen as too closely associated with the Roman Catholic Church or its distant cousins, the Anglicans.
Some Baptists say they sense those suspicions -- in part a legacy of the Protestant Reformation -- have left them with a diminished spiritual vocabulary.
"There is an uneasy sense that something got lost," says Phyllis Tickle, whose 2008 book, The Great Emergence, chronicles the blurring of denominational distinctions in late 20th- and early 21st-century American Christianity.
Every 500 years or so, says Tickle, the church metaphorically holds a great rummage sale, "getting rid of the junk that we believe no longer has value and finding treasures stuck in the attic because we didn't want them or were too naïve to know their true worth."
The Reformation was one of those rummage sales and the current great convergence" is another, she maintains. For evangelicals, the long-forgotten treasures in the attic include a wide array of spiritual disciplines -- including Lent -- with roots in the church's first centuries....
Of course the thing is, the Church is the center-of-gravity of Truth. She pulls us towards her. These folks are letting down their guard, and I'm looking forward to lots of laughs...
G. K. Chesterton once said of his own conversion to the Catholic Church:
I had no more idea of becoming a Catholic than of becoming a cannibal. I imagined that I was merely pointing out that justice should be done even to cannibals . . . [but] it is impossible to be just to the Catholic Church. The moment men cease to pull against it they feel a tug towards it. The moment they cease to shout it down they begin to listen to it with pleasure. The moment they try to be fair to it they begin to be fond of it. But when that affection has passed a certain point it begins to take on the tragic and menacing grandeur of a great love affair.
Heh heh...Posted by John Weidner at February 27, 2011 10:20 PM