A Warning to the Church – Distinguished or Dead!

Here’s another Fr. Robert Barron Video where he reviews a recent survey on religion and some of the basic trends. The first half  describes the largest growing category of religious observance: “None.” If this is you or someone you know there are important insights.

The second half of the video however contains a kind of warning for the Church. Many of the Mainline Protestant denominations have lost dramatic numbers. Why? In large part because they are no longer distinguished from the world around them. Once the distinctiveness of the church experience is lost, its adherents begin to say, “Why bother going since I can get the same things from the world?”  Here then is the warning for us: We have been called out of the world, to be in sharp distinction to it values and priorities. Once we lose this distinctiveness we begin to loose numbers, parishes and schools close, and we shrink away. Dinstinguish or die! We’re supposed to be salt and light! So pass the salt and turn on the lights.

7 Replies to “A Warning to the Church – Distinguished or Dead!”

  1. What a great post! Totally hits the target! It is one of those observations that, I believe, many of us know on some level. But, putting it into words brings it home and hopefully will motivate a response on our parts.

    I would like to share this on my blog with a link back to you.


  2. Good insight, I believe the Catholic Church does very well with its “distinctiveness” to the faithful church goers. But it’s the secular world, the “nones” who believe that they can have faith without having to justify any particular religion, how do we connect the wholesome of the liturgy and traditions of the church to them. We have a work to do!

    1. You’re right. We have a lot of work to do outside the group of Church goers to help them connect to the need for sacraments and the Liturgy. I think we have to start inside the Church however to get the faithful who attend to be able to experience and articulate how the sacraments are more than just “familiar rituals.” Sacraments are encounters with Jesus Christ, they are thus transformative realities more than just rituals we go through just beause that is what we have always done. The more the faithful can connect with the transformative quality and reality of the sacraments then they can “tell somebody” what the Lord is doing for them in the sacraments. Bottom line, the has to start inside the Church but it can’t end there.

  3. The church has not changed it’s view doctrinally, however, how does one practice this simulation of what is true and reject what is false. For example, in protestant churches you have these prosperity ministries, healing ministries, preachers who are very wealthy and so forth and all of these ministries justify themselves by how they interpret the scriptures. I think this is where the laity, need help in the church. Any suggestions?

    1. I think the “prosperity gospel” preachers exist primarily in the evangelical denominations. The truly dying group of Protestants in the survery are the old mainline “liberal Protestants” (eg. Methodists, Lutherans (excluding Missouri Synod), Prebyterians, and Episcoplians, some Baptists et al.) Corporately they are “post scriptural” since, the are dominated by the notion that the gospels are not historical. Gnerally their leaders do not feel bound by the authority of Scripture. (Disclaimer – not EVERY individual congregation of these old mainline Protestant denominations accepts these radical theories. But corporately the old mainlines have radically departed from the teachings of scripture on most modern moral issues). The prosperity preachers you describe do not usually come from the mainline denomintions. But your remark indicates that there are still problems in the evangelical denominations. On the surface they quote a lot of scripture and confirm its authoritative nature. But without reference to Tradition they sometimes fall into an interpretation that is narrow because they promote one text without reference to other biblical texts that balance or distinguish it. Further they so not have a two thousand year Tradition that has pondered and remedied extreme or detatched interpretations of Scripture. Thus, while it reamains true that some texts of Scripture, especially from the Old Testament, promise material blessing to those who follow God, other texts also assert that we must avoid greed, and accept that poverty and suffering are redemptive realities even for those who follow God. Bottom line: distinctiveness alone is not enough. Authentic teaching rooted in the fulness of Scripture and Tradition are also required

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