Friday, January 07, 2011


To Grow or Not To Grow Roots

Chaplain Mike reprints an iMonk classic who asks:
Where would they go within their own evangelical, Protestant tradition to find resources, guidance or direction?

OK. I can hear the Catholics and Orthodox giggling already. Cut it out.

Before I leave the open thread to you readers, let me say that this is a REAL PROBLEM.

No one knows how many Protestants and Evangelicals develop a hunger for holiness and spiritual growth, then discover that what awaits them in their own tradition is paltry, often shallow and frequently almost completely unaware of what that hunger needs to be satisfied.

Is it any wonder that it is at the point of seeking out spiritual growth and formation that so many evangelicals are first introduced to the riches of the Catholic tradition, and soon conclude that the greatest resources for the spiritual journey are on the other side of great denominational divide?

Spencer wrote this as he struggled with his wife becoming Catholic and his own search on the same question. His sort of nose-holding comments about turning to Catholicism are there for understandable - if sort of missing the point.

I dod not grow up Roman Catholic, but I did grow up mainline and at one time, we also had a deep tradition of spiritual formation, but as we have "gone evangelical" that has largely been lost.

But he has made a heck of a point here with regards to most Protestant churches.

Here is what concerns me about it at the deepest levels. Christ has said "Many are called, few are chosen." The church is therefore likely to be full of people that come, but do not have the thirst. But now, in the name of "evangelical success" we cater to them rather than simply extend hospitality - we make the church "for them." OK - evangelism.

But is there not a sense in which that is purely manipulative? Aren't we playing with people's relationship with Christ? Aren't we being a tad bit selfish? BY catering to their lack of depth instead of calling them ever deeper - are we not saying that those depths are for us alone?

Or, alternately, does it say that we ourselves have not plumbed the depths? Are we as shallow as the ministries that we create?

In either case - shame on us!

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