Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Do the Walls of the Church Make a Christian?

There is a lot of discussion these days about "the institutional church" and a desire to recast Christianity apart from its traditional nature. Christianity is often treated as an individual lifestyle choice, while things like altars and pastors are scorned as being out of step with the current culture, and swapped out for coffee counters and baristas.

You don't need a church building, a service, a liturgy, a pastor, or a dogmatic set of beliefs to be a Christian, we are constantly told. And, "missional worshiping communities" that embrace the new paradigm are rewarded with large numbers - a fact that has not escaped the notice of many officials of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.

An old friend of mine, Fr. Demetri Tonias, pastor of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Concord, NH, has written a great article that takes us back to the church fathers for the answer to the question: "Do the walls of the Church make a Christian?"

Indeed, the swaggering cock-a-doodle-doo of the Emerging Church rooster (who thinks he causes the sun to rise by his crowing) is drowned out by the still small voice of the Word of God in Ecclesiates 1:9. The same discussions about "the institutional church" have been going on since the days of Sts. Augsutine, Ambrose, and Simplicianus in the fourth century.

And if you enjoyed that Fr. Demetri article, you might like this one, about the role of habit in the Christian life.


Peter said...

Thanks, I enjoyed the Demetri article quite a bit. And, as you know, I think the gospel of Luke is a great place to teach Christian habits. As Demetri notes, the simplest, and most important habit, is getting out of bed on Sunday morning to go to church.

kuniklo said...

Yes, I too enjoyed the Demetri article. Statements like: "If we do not seek the company of our brethren before Christ in this world, how do we expect to keep company with the saints in the next?" are probably left on the Witness's editing room floor. I guess I'm just old school when it comes to fellowship. Jesus hung out with the unsaintly and I prefer to do the same. In fact, I'm sure I would attend church regularly if I could be assured that I wouldn't run into an orthodox Christian.

Chris said...

Thank you for the great articles Father. I'm curious, since you recommended an Orthodox priest in a blog post about "walls" of the church, can we expect a link to a Catholic bishop on "funny hats" in the church ;-)...cause that'd be nice.

kuniklo said...

I've always thought that Lutherans should use holy water in our service as a way to remind us of our baptism.