Musings of a Recovering Lutheran: The Church Lite
I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, 

Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?

Then said I, Here am I; send me.

Isaiah 6:8 (KJV)

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Church Lite

Only 15 percent of members of the Church of Sweden believe in Jesus. Another 15 percent are atheists.

I am shocked to the very core of my being: I had no idea there was still a Church of Sweden.

Key quote from the article:

"Many are members, not for religious reasons, but because of the role the church plays in society, or because it serves as an organisation which maintains Swedish traditions," said [Jonas] Bromander.

"In fact, there are many members who would rather that we focus more on our social work in Sweden than on Sunday services."

That is the ELCA in a nutshell. Less of that pesky troublemaker from Nazareth who claims to the Son of God, and more protests, campaigning, and signing petitions.

Theologically and intellectually the ELCA's laity and clergy are very weak. The ELCA is primarily a political organization in thrall to a god of secular politics. Gone is the Lutheran tradition of salvation through grace alone. Gone are thousands of years of Biblical scholarship. Gone is the testimony of Christian witnesses and martyrs for the faith. Gone.

Instead, a purely secular doctrine has become the new gospel, in which race, ethnicity, gender, age, and income are the real measure of our character. And forget Heaven - the ELCA believes that paradise on Earth can be fashioned by government laws and regulations. Thank Darwin the ELCA can fix what God screwed up! In fact, this calls for a new Beatitudes:

Blessed are the petition-signers, for they shall be praised in the pages of the New York Times.

Blessed are the political protestors, for they shall be on TV.

Blessed are the community activists, for they shall hold a two-thirds majority of the seats in Congress.

Blessed are those who spend taxpayer money for all sorts of social programs, for they shall receive the praises of the glitterati.

Blessed are those who deconstruct the Bible, for the Bible was written by a bunch of racist misogynist homophobic dead white guys who lacked our modern scientific understanding of the world.

Blessed are those who fashion their own gods in their own images, for they shall be called the fathers of gods.


Ken & Carol said...

If what you say about the Church of Sweden is true, it might be hard to make a case for call it Christian at all, even with the "lite" adjective. Or is this simply trying to be nice?

Recovering Lutheran said...

The Church Lite is what some US denominations have been promising. They start off by portraying Christianity as a religion that was hijacked by "legalists" who imposed a bunch of unnecessary rules and regulations. Then they promise a better Christianity, one that makes no demands and does not challenge their beliefs.

The end result is something like the Church of Sweden - a mostly-forgotten rump whose dwindling membership is held together by a vague desire for "social work". An atrophied church, in other words.

Ironically, these same denominations are busy erecting their own legalism - a purely secular one. The doctrines of homosexual marriage, multicultural education, immigration reform, campaign finance reform, global warming (or whatever the heck it is called these days) are sacred to these denominations.

One incident from my time as an ELCA missionary will perhaps illustrate my point. Before leaving for Tanzania I attended a two-week orientation along with about two-dozen other missionaries (including their families). One Sunday some of us attended a small ELCA church - and by small I mean that the maximum capacity of the church building was about 50 people (I counted the seats). Even then our little contingent outnumbered the regulars. The sermon was given by a representative from the local bishop's office (the church did not have even a part-time pastor). He talked about the need for Christians to be witnesses for justice and peace. He talked about the local bishop's efforts to lobby the state legislature, and even provided the names and phone numbers of the local state representatives and how best to contact them. After leaving I realized what bothered me about the sermon: it was like a speech given by a political candidate who is running third or fourth in the polls. There was no mention of Jesus.