One of my favorite Christian commentators and thinkers is Fr. Robert Barron, a Catholic evangelist located in Chicago. Fr. Barron’s ministry is called Word on Fire, with a website of the same name (http://wordonfire.org). Connected to that is a YouTube account where he shares commentary on books and literature, films, news and events. One of his more recent YouTube commentaries was entitled “The Depressing Pew Forum Study.” The Pew Forum is a group that does surveys and statistics on religions, especially Christianity. In his commentary, there is a rousing idea and “call to arms” about minute 7:08, right near the end. He encourages Christians to know what they believe, to be passionate about it and communicate it. According to the Pew Forum study he refers to earlier in the clip, many non-believers and atheists know more about the Bible than the average person who claims to be Christian. We’re not called to violence, but we must take up arms in order to be sure that the Gospel is not misconstrued or misrepresented in the world. Very important.
Another thing that is interesting is how he talks about how the Catholic Church (and I believe the same is true in all forms of Protestantism too) is bleeding and blending into the colors of the world, losing its hue. In other words, the distinctives that make us who we are are being lost because we don’t know who we are; the lines are blurred. Now, I would agree that one movement in Christianity is trying very hard to recapture the all too important education of Christians. The Lutheran/Reform Church is trying to educate believers on how we got here and what that means, and this is good. The Emergent/Emerging movement is trying to take people back to the basics as well, reintroducing the important practices that defined Christianity early in its day. If we can put together the history that comes from our Reformation and the practice of our progressive “new church” thinkers, we may be able to re-define what it means to be a Christian in the 21st Century.
But we have to wed the two. Our history must inform our relevant practices for today. To bifurcate or split ourselves between traditional/historical and relevant/progressive is be a kingdom divided. Both sides of the pew have to give for the glory of God. Without our connection to our conception, we will forever be a people who flounders in identity crisis. This is why in the Old Testament to be exiled, captured or removed from your land was so devastating. The ancient people’s identity rested in where they came from. To be removed from that was to take their identity away, separating them from the blessing that comes from relationship. Here is the link to Fr. Barron’s Commentary. View it, I think it’s helpful to everyone.