Has Christianity become nothing more than a manufacturer of creeds, doctrine-centric rhetoric or a defender of traditionally defined morals? Has Christianity become nothing more than a narrowly defined interpretation of the sacred living scriptures? Has Christianity been enslaved by the “minimizing and reductionist” paradigm? In other words, can “life” be reduced to a couple of phrases trapped in ancient scriptures? Can the “divine” voice only be heard from a literal reading of the ancient literature of believers? Can “love” be defined by morals held by a declining group of people?
Has Christianity become nothing more than a creator of social programs for the needy? Is Christianity just a producer of hospitals, orphanages, hospice centers, clinics, food pantries, and tutoring centers? Is Christianity more than a crusader of equality among all persons? Is Christianity irrelevant when the marches against racism, sexism, heterosexism and all bigotry come to the end? Is Christianity nothing more than a preparation for a “new world” that leaves us only responsible for ourselves and frees us from the care of this world and each other? Has Christianity become nothing more than a gathering of like-minded people affirming our already convinced ideology whether progressive or traditional?
Christianity’s relevance is bigger than being a “doctrine factory” for our intellect although we need “touchstones” for speaking about our divine encounters. Its relevance is bigger than cries of injustice for the “marginalized” found in our world although it seems we find it expedient to diminish each other’s dignity. Christianity’s relevance is more than providing spiritual context to our lives and world although abandoning physical and emotional essentials for the supernatural experience empties it of its life-affirming gift.
Could it be that Christianity finds its relevance not in the “either/or” but in the “in-between”? Could it be that Christianity’s relevance is found in both the life-affirming rituals and symbols and the abundant practice of compassion for each other? Could it be that Christianity’s relevance is found in both the responsibility to each other and the freedom to rise above well-established rules and definitions?
Can Christianity live in the “existential abyss of the in-between”? Can it existent in-between truth and evolving reality? How about in-between tradition and new-language? How about in-between reason and experience? How about in-between scripture and interpreter? Or to use New Testament language, Law and Love?
“Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion- its message becomes meaningless.” -Abraham Joshua Heschel