Sunday, August 10, 2014

Do we live in "exile" from our culture?

Carl R. Trueman, "A Church for Exiles" (First Things, August, 2014):
We live in a time of exile. At least those of us do who hold to traditional Christian beliefs. The strident rhetoric of scientism has made belief in the supernatural look ridiculous. The Pill, no-fault divorce, and now gay marriage have made traditional sexual ethics look outmoded at best and hateful at worst. The Western public square is no longer a place where Christians feel they belong with any degree of comfort.

... Evangelicalism has largely wedded itself to the vision of America as at heart a Christian nation, a conception that goes back to the earliest New England settlers.

For Roman Catholics, the challenges of our cultural exile are different. Rome has somehow managed to maintain a level of social credibility in America, despite holding to positions regarded as intolerable by the wider secular world when held by Protestants. Her refusals to ordain women or sanction the use of contraception do not seem to have destroyed her public reputation. But if, for example, tax-exempt status is revoked for educational and social-service nonprofits opposed to the increasingly mandatory sexual revolution, the Church will face a stark choice: capitulate to the spirit of the age or step out into the cold wasteland of cultural and social marginality. When opposition to gay marriage comes to be seen as the moral equivalent to white supremacism, it is doubtful that the Roman Catholic Church will be able to maintain both her current position on the issue and her status in society. She too will likely be shunted to the margins.

Elsewhere—in France and in Poland, for example—Rome has, of course, proved resilient in much worse circumstances. Yet in America, in recent history, she has no real experience of the ignominy of marginalization from which to draw strength. The Know-Nothing era was long ago. It seems to me most Catholics today are very comfortable in, even jealous of, their place in mainstream America. They may not buy patriot Bibles, but Catholicism’s institutional footprint is so large—and Catholic theological (and emotional) investment in it so significant—that the temptation to preserve the Church’s place in society will be very great. This preservation will require compromise, even complicity, and it will very likely blur the clarity and undermine the integrity of Christian witness.

Great questions. How to respond ... ?

[Hat tip to JM]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An interesting piece, but Minister Trueman's central premise is that the Reformed Church, as separate from their Protestant brethren (and of course not we Papists) offers the solution to the growing clash between secular humanism and organized religion in the USA.


He accurately talks about Calvin and Zwingli and others who had to deal with persecution (one might add before becoming persecutors themselves) but leaves unspoken the great divide between the founders of the Reformed Churches and those churches today. While undoubtedly the ember ship of the Reformed. Churches have knowledge of these instituting luminaries, that they are imbued with their spirit - especially as pertains to following the dictates of the Gospel, TO THE LETTER OF THE LAW, I'm not so sure of.

Undoubtedly clergy like Minister Truemann do have such a link with their past, as do many priests in our own Holy Mother Church have a link with the Rock of the Magisterium. that the laity of either Church, and more importantly their respective leaderships definitely not.