Sunday, October 25, 2009

Finally then, after we have all become anabaptists, the question arises, "Why even bother to go to church?" So asks Philip J. Lee in his book on Protestant Gnosticism, and he finds, "Doctrine, sacraments and ordinances have all been, at best, aids to understanding and worship." Sort of like demythologizing the redeeming acts of God in history, we have reduced everything down to symbols, metaphors, allegories - certainly nothing than can be touched or eaten.

The ordinances are reduced to mere command: the New Testament demands it, so we do it. But in the end nothing is received in the waters of baptism and nothing is eaten in the bread and grape juice (of course wine would be too real for our tastes). As Louis Bouyer argues in The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism, the only faith we leave from church with is the same faith we brought in. Everything is internal, everything is based on gnosis.

Lee continues:

Without specific means of grace - the reading and preaching of the Word, baptism by water and Spirit, the breaking of bread at Christ's table - the churches have been hard pressed to argue for consistent church attendance. In fact, many essentially faithful Protestants feel little constraint to attend worship services on a regular basis. Professional inconveniences, company from out of town, the need for family recreation, for example, would be acceptable excuses for not being present at Sunday worship. Church attendance, or the lack of it, in the American Protestant scheme, does not signify very much, for what can be found in church that could not be found elsewhere?


Thomas said...

hmm... HMMM.... maybe we've lost something of the mystical......... but..... etc

Kyle said...


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