Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Cluttered marketplace

Still on about stuff from "Out of the Storm". I had been planning to use this quotation today anyway, but it seems to link to some of the comments under the 'question everything' post.

“The Catholic church had become a cluttered marketplace where a variety of theological, ethical and psychological merchandise was being energetically hawked to a bemused clientele. It should not surprise us that this was so, for the situation today is not markedly different. Among the bewildering variety of Christian denominations and networks some are wedded to sacramentalist ritual, some espouse fiery Pentecostalism, some see themselves as caretakers of old buildings and traditions, some proclaim an intellectualised liberal theology while others trumpet an unthinking fundamentalism and there are those which would have difficulty defining clearly what they do stand for. Were Luther to return he would find few churches marching proudly under the banner of the biblical evangel whose discovery cost him so dear.”

When I read this I was a bit taken aback. Aye, I know that the analysis of the church and our denominationalism is not particularly earth-shattering; but is that how the church really looks? Are the things that divide us so prominent? Does this mean that what unites us is obscured?

Then I thought that the image of a marketplace might have some advantages in our consumerist society – you know, choose whichever church ‘tickles your fancy’. But I can’t convince myself of this. Maybe we need some consultants to solve our image problems – like a new logo or even change our name!!


nonprofitprophet said...

I think when denominations make idols of their sacrements or traditions, focusing more on process than people, is when things tend to come undone. I fear those outside of christianity looking in are simply bewildered at times by our very behavior. I suspect it doesn't appear very Christlike to them at all. ~npp

His Girl Friday said...

I know you're on holiday, but I couldn't help thinking of your question as I was reading on another debate, another blog, another country, yet I wonder if some of the 'traits' of the 'church' are universal?

"As for the Christian Church, it has been so pacified that it is useless in these matters. It is full of fat and spoiled sheep whining about a sermons offensive content. They bitterly fight among themselves, fracturing any unity that may have existed. The Christian Church is the most fragmented institution in America today. Although it will get you votes if you act like you wear wool."

Posted by the blogger Talking Bear at SleepyBearHollow regarding a debate on American health care vs monies for the Iraq war...
(sorry if this isn't something you're interested can tell me to go see to the tea or something!! ;))

I agree with NPP that 'religion' can focus more on the process than the people, and the people of/in the church can lose focus on what it's really all about.