The pendulum swinging to a pluralistic view of religion is already happening in our churches in America. As Albert Mohler brings to our attention in his blog on The Secularization of the Church, liberal theology has (in my words) “taken church out of the church.” His focus is a recent article about religion in Great Britain. There are for all of us a couple of lessons to learn from Church of England Archbishop Sentamu’s recent publication Faith in the Nation: Religion, Identity, and the Public Realm in Britain Today as he promotes the idea of the Church of England being viewed and used as a public utility.
Lesson One: We are to welcome all with open arms, even the “least of these.” One of the roles of the church is to model the life in Christ, as a true follower and disciple of Jesus. It is not about membership in a club, but about a relationship. We in the church have unfortunately focused on isolation and separation to the point of not being able to relate to people in the real world. Actions that promote conversations and the building of relationships should be encouraged.
Lesson Two: Unfortunately, some (not sure how many, but it sure does seem like a lot) who follow Jesus have bought into the lie that we have only two choices – either we build relationships with others who don’t share our beliefs by giving up our own convictions and slip into a liberal theology OR we isolate and insulate ourselves from others and build up our “faith” by creating organizational membership structures that protect us from “attacks.” There has got to be a better way. As we have learned that parents have to be actively responsible for raising their children (not just ship them off to school to be raised by the state without any involvement from home), we need to step up and take responsibility for our own faith and belief system. We need to be prepared to examine, express, and explain our faith to others in a way that is welcoming but also unwavering.
Lesson Three: Our time of “cheap” religion is gone – meaning, it is no longer easy or expected that you go to church, are “religious,” or have an authentic faith in Jesus. The cost of taking up your cross daily has become and is becoming more real (in our society) each and every day. Europe and America are “catching up” to the rest of the world.