Moving God offshore
Father Stephen has put his finger on one of the causes of the malaise of modern Christianity, especially (but not exclusively) in the West.
In August of 2007 I wrote an article on Christian Atheism. At the time I was seeking to describe the strange phenomenon of modern Christianity – one in which life as we live it and life as we say we believe it are two separate things. This is not a problem of hypocrisy but of shipping Christianity to an off-shore location in which all significant spiritual activity is accomplished somewhere other than where we live.
Thus salvation is something accomplished in history (on the cross) or in the mind of God (a forensic or legal atonement) or anywhere other than here and now. Sacraments become memorials, a testimony to Divine Absence rather than Divine Presence. Initiation into the Church is accomplished by an “ordinance” which is simply viewed as a sign, a public act of obedience in which nothing happens (except perhaps in the off-shore location).
The result of this bifurcation of faith is an empty world in which we may speak of the “death of religion.” Modern Christians have a relationship to faith much the same as they have a relationship to a political point of view. Indeed, in many modern churches, the substance of the faith is itself the subject of political debate. What God would have us do as sexual creatures, for instance, is a matter of cultural perception and persuasion – not revelation.
It’s well worth reading the whole thing.