Sunday, November 3, 2013

Whom do we want in the Church

A few days ago, I was on YouTube looking up the video for the induction of the band, Rush, into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, which I had never seen, despite the fact that I call myself a diehard Rush fan.  But I've had other things to do.  After I had watched the video, I was looking at the videos appearing on the sidebar which are related.  One of the videos was entitled "RUSH Does NOT Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."  I was immediately horrified and offended.  How can anyone make this argument?  I'm glad I watched the video.  (Warning:  Some foul language used)

The person who made the video, who, at first sight looks like someone you would never take seriously (long hair, wearing a stocking cap. He looks like Jay from movies like "Clerks," "Dogma," and "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back).   After I got past that, the guy makes a very cogent and  persuasive argument.  I expected it to be a vitriolic attack on Rush based on personal taste, but it's anything but.  His argument rests that Rush is actually too good and too pure for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame which has repeatedly admitted into its halls many artists who are not Rock and Roll artists period.  This would include people like Michael Jackson, Arethra Franklin, Run DMC, etc.  Now, I myself would never deny any accolades to these artists, but the guy has a point:  They are not rock n' roll artists.  Why are they there then?

To him and also to me, the reason is simple:  Commercial success.  Rush does have commercial success and always has.  But that reason alone has been used to justify the exclusion of other great artists.  Case in point:  Metallica.  Metallica has had great commercial success and is largely responsible for making thrash or speed metal a staple of American mainstream heavy metal music.  Who else has done this?  Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth.  Are any of them in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?  No.  Should they be?  Since they are not as commercially successful as Metallica, probably not.

The guy on the video has a valid point.  Rush does not deserve to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because it was never guided by simply commerical success.  In fact, Rush is a favorite victim of music critics and magazines for as long as they've been around (40+ years). Rolling Stone has constantly and consistently either ignored them or derided them.  But, Rush is now in and the critics can't complain any more (I guess they can, but it's pretty useless now).

This got me thinking about the Church. Should the Church receive anyone and everyone that may want in even if they're even the most nominally Orthodox or Christian?  If the Church is truly catholic, i.e. universal, then it is for all.  However, it seems that many churches today in the Christian world want to be catholic in terms of diversity of opinion rather than in unity of the faith.   True catholicity is the latter, not the former.  The faith is catholic.  The faith is unchanging and for all.

Should the Orthodox Church or any church for that matter, in an attempt to reach out and be truly catholic do so at the expense of her own doctrine?  Should the churches reach out to atheists, practioners of other religions, nominal Christians, etc. and say that they are welcome to bring their own beliefs into the church with them?  I would hope most serious Christians would answer no, but the fact is that the opposite is happening.  Churches are reaching out by saying that doctrine doesn't matter, unity of the faith doesn't matter.  The only thing that matters is that we call ourselves by the same name, whether that be Catholic or Orthodox or Lutheran or Methodist, or what-have-you.  What you actually believe is between you and God.

The inevitable result is that you have many people under the same roof and as many as divergent opinions.  How would you even preach to this group?  How would this group even worship together?  How would this group even decide on a building together?

Our faith is a communal one, not only with God but also with our fellow man.  And that community acts and works together in the worship of God.  It has to.  Otherwise, it is absolute chaos.  So, what are we to do with people in the church who, for whatever reasons, insist on believing what they wish even when it stands in stark contrast to the faith handed down to the saints once and for all?  Are they to be anathematized and cast out or are they to be tolerated within the ranks of the church?

My fear is that such "tolerance" will lead to two things.  First, those who clearly hold heterodox beliefs will demand more and more concessions to accommodate their heterodoxy and if such concessions are not immediately granted, they will threaten to leave.  Second, once concessions are granted and more and more are given, the faithful will break off and there will be schism.  This is exactly the situation we find in today's Anglican Church, the ELCA and even the United Methodist Church.    Why are churches more concerned with the number of people rather than the purity of the message?  Maybe it's the same reason why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame admits artists who are not rock and roll artists:  commercial success.

The sad thing is that even if churches recognize the why, the fact is churches are not making plans to change.  Catholicity now means encompassing the whole regardless of the faith instead of the faith encompassing the whole.


  1. Very good! I was brewing up a similar post in my mind, but you got there first! And nice to hear someone mention the big four without mentioning satanism in the same sentence for a change!

    1. I've seen all four of these bands live. Never was there even the hint of satan. I'm convinced that if hell did have a soundtrack it would be the music of Ricky Martin or Lady Gaga or Katy Perry or Justin Bieber. Slayer, Anthrax, Metallica and Megadeth are too heavenly to be played there.

      Thanks for the comment.

  2. "Should the Church receive anyone and everyone that may want in even if they're even the most nominally Orthodox or Christian? "
    The thing you are failing to recognize here is that YOU are also the most nominally Orthodox or Christian. And so am I. So are we all.

    1. I will let you condemn yourself. But, who are you to judge me or others? Besides you totally missed the point.