03 April 2009

Should the Church Adapt to Modern Culture to Survive

In response to an editorial in the Chicago Tribune by Obama's campaign co-chair William Daley was this comment.

Yes. Human social institutions change and come and go. Capitalist economic institutions didn't really exist 2000 years ago; other types of economic institutions predominated. Representative democratic political institutions didn't really exist 2000 years ago; other types of political institutions predominated. Religions are also human social institutions. That the Catholic Christian institution still exists after 2000 years is remarkable. Its persistence probably is a result of the Church's successful adapting itself to other changing institutions in the world. Is it, then, reasonable to expect that the Church will continue forever? Is it reasonable to expect that the Church will even continue for much longer, especially if it insists on refusing to associate with the social institutions of today and tomorrow? Can it survive if it fails to find ways to 'live with' underlying consensus assumptions that support other predominant social institutions of our time? Is the noise about ND's speaker a sign of stress in the Church, resulting from some Church factions' inability to adapt to modern social realities?
The answer to the last question is Yes. There is a stress within the Church but it comes from the faction of dissenters who refuse accept the authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church on the question of faith and morals. Throughout it's history there have been those who became infatuated with the customs of the day. The Arian heresy was one of those times. Many in the Church turned to this heresy no doubt due in measure to its popularity. The Protestant revolt was another and most of England followed Henry into apostasy, including most of the clergy. Today we are living with the re-emergence of the Modernist heresy, which St. Pius X aptly called the "synthesis of all heresies."

The writer incorrectly asserts that the Catholic Church is just a human social institution. The Church exists and will always exist because it was founded by Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Therefore it is a Divine, not human, institution and will exist forever despite the fear of those who predict it's demise for refusing to "get with the times." Still it is true that it may not always be a large institution. Christ Himself questioned whether there would be any faith when He returned.

It has not survived for 2000 years because it adapted to the culture around it, it survives for the opposite reason, because it is counter-cultural. It stood in opposition to everything pagan Rome believed and was persecuted because of it. Yet the Church survives and Rome died. Today a pagan culture has re-appeared that parallels that of ancient Rome and once again the Church faces persecution. But now as before the Church will survive and it's enemies will disappear.

Many people like to throw out quotes from the Gospel, like a previous comment; "judge not lest ye be judged." Yet the Gospel is full of paradoxes. Jesus said that, but he also said He came to cause division. "Not everyone who calls me Lord will enter into my kingdom, only those who do the will of my Father." "I have not come to bring peace but a sword." Jesus warned his disciples that they wouldn't always be warmly received when they preached. Their mission was to preach the Gospel and to those who would not listen, Jesus instructed them to kick the dust from their sandals and leave that city.

In many of Gospels passages people went away who could not or would not accept this or that teaching of Jesus, even after He told them what was necessary for their salvation. But Jesus did not call them back to dialogue or find common ground. In fact at one point Jesus turned to his Apostles and asked them if they too wanted to leave. Peter's reply was clear, "to whom shall we go?"

The incessant cry from the enemies of the Faith, to "dialogue," to "reach consensus" is simply a deception meant to maintain the status quo for those who oppose the teachings of the Church. If they are unable to silence it, at least they hope to marginalize the Church's voice. The Devil once tried this tactic when he tempted Jesus in the desert. "All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me." But Jesus replied, "Begone, Satan: for it is written: The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve."

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