Thursday, November 09, 2006

The fatal weakness of the empirical approach to the church and her religion is that one always comes to the data with a prejudice. I do not deny that God is working his purpose out in history, if indeed that is the correct way to describe divine providence. But just what in modern society is the work of the Holy Spirit, and what is the work of that other Spirit in which men have largely ceased to believe? If the civil-rights movement is God shoving us in the direction he wants us to go, why not the conservative backlash? If the youth rebellion, why not the Chicago police? If the peace movement, why not the brushfire wars popping up around the world? All are current social phenomena. We always seem to see the finger of God pointing in the direction we want to go.

We need some criterion from outside the data, otherwise we are picking up any old stick from a pile of lumber of random lengths and arbitrarily calling it our yardstick. To judge the church by the standards of the world is precisely what we all promised not to do when we were baptized. What is really irrelevant about today’s church is those aspects of her institutional life which became relevant to the Victorian age (and which some folk mistake for the gospel), and to become relevant to today’s world is to guarantee irrelevance tomorrow. Somehow I always thought we were to judge the world by the gospel and not the other way round.
- Fr Homer Rogers

From All Too Common.

P.S. I know Fr Rogers’ grandson.

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