Having just finished De Young and Kluck’s “Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion” I thought I’d share one of the best paragraphs ever written in defense of the Church today. It’s popular to cut the Church down, to highlight her faults and ignore her contributions, but are we consistent in our critique.
Consistency is not a postmodern virtue. And nowhere is this more aptly displayed than in the barrage of criticisms leveled against the church. The church is lame crowed hates Constantine and notions of Christendom, but they want the church to be a patron of the arts, and run after-school programs, and bring the world together in peace and love. They bemoan the over-programed church, but then think of a hundred complex, resource-hungry things the church should be doing. They don’t like te church because it is too hierarchical, but then hate it when it has poor leadership. They wish the church could be more diverse, but then leave to meet in a coffee shop with other well-educated thirtysomethings who are into film festivals, NPR, and carbon offsets. They want more of a family spirit, but too much family and they’ll complain that the church is “inbred.” They want the church to know that its reputation with outsiders is terrible, but then are critical when the church is too concerned with appearances. They chide the church for not doing more to address social problems, but then complain when the church gets too political. They want church unity and decry all our denominations, but fail to see the irony in the fact that they have left to do their own things because they can’t find a single church that can satisfy them. They are critical of the lack of community in the church, but then want services that allow for individualized worship experiences. They want leaders with vision, but don’t want anyone to tell them what to do or how to think. They want a church where people really know each other and care for each others, but then they complain the church today is an isolated country club, only interested in catering to its own members. They want to be connected with history, but are sick of the same prayers and same style every week. They call for not judging “the spiritual path of other believers who are dedicated to pleasing God and blessing people,” and then they blast the traditional church in the harshest, most unflattering terms.
They’d like to have their cake and eat it too.