Don't Shop There!

In a recent interview with the Washington Post, The Episcopal Church’s (TEC) new leader in the nation’s Capital, Dr. Mariann Budde, had this to say:

“We’re like a boutique. We’re the most inclusive church in the world that’s the tiniest church in Christendom. . . . I’m not interested in being the leader of a boutique church.”

Leaving aside the remarkable irony of this statement, Forward in Christ has to agree. TEC is a “boutique”, a small shop selling an esoteric blend of cult liberalism to its high-end, progressive left clientele. And what a blend it is, labyrinths, abortion, transgender rights, gay marriage, Millennium Development Goals, carbon footprints, communism, atheism, a bit of paganism, a little witchcraft and of our old friend “The Goddess.” The list goes on and anyone would be forgiven for thinking it was all a parody of one our enormously expensive liberal arts degrees. But this isn’t a series of course electives at Berkeley, it’s a church that still calls itself Christian.

The problem is, this particular boutique sliver of religiosity isn’t attracting many customers. People are showing a marked reluctance to darken the doors of this exclusive little shop, much less pray in it. Figures for 2009-2010, for example, show a steady decline in average Sunday attendance of 25,132, or a little over 2000 persons a month. Lawsuits, gaia and gender politics just don’t seem to be cutting it in the religious marketplace and no wonder, who wants to be part of a dwindling esoteric sect with nothing to proclaim than the arcana of civil rights spirituality.

To put it bluntly, boutique Christianity is failing, in TEC to be sure and wherever else the faith has grown dim. What’s needed and the need is universal, is something larger, a faith that does more than reflect the fads and passing enthusiasms of this time or any other. To borrow from Budde’s phrasebook, we need a church that is truly inclusive, a church that includes and is defined by all that the Incarnate Son of God gave to His Apostles and to us. 

This church has a name, it is called catholic, which means whole, complete and entire. It is the church that Jesus founded to be the ark of our salvation, whole in herself as the Mystical Body of Christ, possessing the entirety of the means of salvation in the sacraments while possessing the fullness of the divinely ordained ministry of bishop, priest and deacon. This same church proclaims the whole Gospel to the whole world and holds fast to the truth of the faith, the faith that is complete in itself, applying to all men, at all times and in all places. 

It is, in sum, the whole thing, synonymous with Christianity itself, as opposed to the piecemeal negations of heretics throughout the ages.

Anglicans, despite our modern aberration in the Western world, have always claimed to be a part of this, claiming that we are nothing other than catholic Christians. As Archbishop Fisher reminds us:

“We have no doctrine of our own. We only possess the Catholic doctrine of the Catholic Church enshrined in the Catholic Creeds, and these creeds we hold without addition or diminution. We stand firm on that rock.”

Now, as our part of God’s holy church is realigning in North America, we must not cease to assert that catholicism which is the rock on which we stand – the whole faith given to us by God Himself in the person of His Son. 

Where this will lead us is known to God alone, but we may be sure that He will bless the endeavor. 

O gracious Father, we humbly beseech thee for thy holy Catholic church; that thou wouldst be pleased to fill it with all truth, in all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, establish it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of him who died and rose again, and ever liveth to make intercession for us, Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.

Forward in Christ

Proclaiming the Faith and Order of the Church, given to us by Christ.