July 23, 2011

Git me back to Mt Pisgah!

Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Truth in Advertising:

I notice as I toot around Greenville how the local Protestant churches are shifting away from honest self description. It used to be that they put out a sign stating just exactly who they were so you knew what you were getting when you went church shopping.

The old way was often friendly and inviting so churches were called: Friendship Baptist Church, Fellowship Baptist Church, Welcome to All Bible Church. Other church names were linked with a locality making it homey and easy: Pebble Creek Baptist or Pumpkintown Presbyterian or Silver Falls Church of God or Reedy Fork Methodist or Hudson Road Bible Church. Even the old names of First Baptist, Second Presbyterian or Hortonville United Methodist had clarity, integrity and honesty in advertising. Furthermore the churches looked like churches. They had a porch with pillars and a steeple on top. Even if they were inexpensive warehouse type buildings they plopped a steeple on top and put a cross on the front and made it look like a church.

You also had the churches named with quaint, but obscure Biblical references. These made you feel a little bit confused or perhaps a bit happy because you recognized the Biblical reference and felt you might be privileged enough to be on the inside. Thus, Beulah Baptist Church or Mount Pisgah Church of God or Bethany Baptist or Church of the Nazarene or Zion United Church or Mount Moriah Church of God Prophecy....


....Not anymore. Now the church buildings are indistinguishable from a retail shopping strip or a warehouse or a movie theater. The names are totally misleading. What if you went looking for a church with one of these 'creative' names? It could be a church. It could be something else. Furthermore, they not only don't call themselves a 'church' (that would be so alienating to the unchurched you know) they also don't tell you what denomination they are. The local community church named 'Heartrock' or some such might be Presbyterian or Baptist or Methodist or most anything. This is because most Evangelical Protestant theology is now post-modern eclectic (which is another words for relativistic cafeterianism) But that's the stuff of another post. Instead I'm observing the confusion that arises in their current penchant for creative groovy but goofy Protestant church names. Here's a list of 'community church' names which could lead the consumer to something totally different....

I recently learned that the church of my childhood, Temple Baptist, of La Habra, Californina.... is now "Crossroads Community Church." "Crossroads Community Church is a faith community where the doors are open wide to people from all backgrounds regardless of where they are on their spiritual journey. We have exciting things going on for people at every stage of life. Come enjoy great music with our live band and practical, life-changing messages."

Sorry, not buying it. Sounds like floofy BS to me. "Crossroads." What does that mean? Nothing. Mush.

The cool thing about being Catholic is not that we don't have problems--we have a list of problems as long as my arm. But our problems are not the permanent type. Christ founded his Church upon a rock, and promised that the Gates of Hell would not prevail against it. and so it has worked out, for 2k years, and counting. Nothing else, nothing human, has lasted so long. (That doesn't mean that my particular little corner of the Church can't perish, though I wish it did. But I'm not an island, I'm part of the maine.

...It is the peculiarity of the warfare between the Church and the world, that the world seems ever gaining on the Church, yet the Church is really ever gaining on the world. Its enemies are ever triumphing over it as vanquished, and its members ever despairing; yet it abides. It abides and it sees the ruins of its oppressors and enemies. "O how suddenly do they consume, perish, and come to a fearful end."

Kingdoms rise and fall; nations expand and contract; dynasties begin and end; princes are born and die; confederacies are made and unmade, and parties, and companies, and crafts, and guilds, and establishments, and philosophies, and sects, and heresies. They have their day, but the Church is eternal; yet in their day they seem of much account...

    --John Henry Newman

Word Note logoWORD NOTE: People commonly take the phrase: "and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" as a sort of poetic way of saying that the power of Hell will not defeat the Church. (Example.) But Jesus said that in the days of siege warfare against walled cities. There's nothing cutsey or poetic about it; he meant something tough. It's the Church which is attacking Hell, not the other way around. And the Gates of Hell will be battered down, be they never so strong!

Posted by John Weidner at July 23, 2011 10:22 PM
Weblog by John Weidner