Communion of the (Select) Saints

I hate to do a blog post that does nothing more than pick someone apart so I’m hoping that after I do some picking, I can actually make some helpful points. We’ll see.

Ada Chalhoun wrote a piece title “Secrets of a closet Christian” and the Chicago Sun-Times picked it up. The title and premise caught my attention. Ada is a (presumably) hip Brooklyner who, unbeknown to her friends, attends church. Why does she go to church?

It reminds you that, yes, those challenges are real and important and folks throughout history have struggled and thought about them too, and by the way, here is some profound writing on the subject from people whose whole job is to think about this stuff.

The idea of an eternal community brings me comfort…

No Jesus but not a horrible reason. I mean if she really is interested in historic Christianity, i.e. “eternal community”, then she may be in good place. We American Protestants, unlike the Reformers, sometimes forget that the church existed prior to 1517. I think we’re enriched if we remember the history of the church that Jesus is building. And if you go with broad Christian reading, you’ll get the gospel with the various emphasis it has had throughout the generations.

Tragically, that’s not where Ada goes at all.

It’s hard to talk about any of this without sounding dumb, or like a zealot or ridiculous. And who wants to be lumped in with all the other Christians, especially the ones you see on TV protesting gay marriage, giving money to charlatans and letting priests molest children?…

[The new atheists have been] mocking the dummies gullible enough to believe some guy a couple thousand years ago was God’s son. But come on. It’s like shooting Christian fish car magnets in a barrel.

I’ll give the atheists a lot: The Creation Museum is a riot. The psychos shooting up abortion clinics and telling gay couples they’re going to hell are evil and anyone of faith has an obligation to condemn them. Abominable stuff has been done in God’s name for centuries. Up with science and reason!

So I’m left wondering exactly who the “eternal community” is to her? The “dummies gullible enough to believe some guy a couple thousand years ago was God’s son” pretty much sums up and the rejects all of orthodox Christianity from St. Peter on. It even rejects Jesus himself. Her “communion of saints” begins at the turn of last century with very few going back to the 1700s. How tragic. She has no Jesus and really no community of faith so what do she have? Not much really.

On the other hand we have Brit Hume giving advice to Tiger Woods. Basically he said that Buddhism offers Tiger no forgiveness and no redemption. He tells Tiger to become a Christian. And he did it one network TV. And when asked about it later, he didn’t back down! What is this man thinking? In an interview with Christianity Today, Hume said, “I don’t want to practice a faith that I’m afraid to proclaim. I don’t want to be a closet Christian.”

Two things to close. First, Hume finds strength in the group where Calhoun wants to distance herself. Calhoun only wants to associate with the form of Christianity that won’t embarrass her or demand too much faith from her. This is what Hume said about having all kinds of Christians involved in his life after his son died. Compare it to Calhoun’s desire for isolation from the “unclean” and ask which one sounds more Christ-like:

My secretary and I were sending out notes to people that said, “Thank you for expressing your sympathy.” We sent out 973 sympathy notes in a matter of weeks. I read them all. My mailbox would be stuffed with them night after night. I’d weep over some of them. Some of them were prayer cards, some of them would tell me a tree had been planted somewhere. I felt that I was seeing the face of God. I felt people’s support and love. To me it was a miracle. I’ve been trying to face up to the implications of believing in Christ and believing in God ever since.

Second, Calhoun needs to hear Hume’s words about true Christianity. Christianity without the Son of God is limp and useless or worse.

Some people might say, “What about Christians like Ted Haggard or Mark Sanford?”

I don’t think I would blame Christianity for the failings of people like that. Christianity is the right religion for people like that. Christianity is a religion for sinners. Christianity is not about the salvation of perfect people. Christianity is a way for people who are not perfect to be saved. What Mark Sanford needs is not less Christianity. He needs more of it.

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One Comment

  • If “The psychos . . . telling gay couples they’re going to hell are evil,” then I guess that the doctors trying to give medicine to sick and dying people are also evil. Why is negligence considered the ultimate expression of love these days?

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