Is Christianity relevant anymore?

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

Does God have a Hero-Complex?

It seems inevitable that after a tragedy like a mass bombing, school shooting or someone shoots up a movie theater the articles entitled, “Where is God?” make headlines.  In these “probing” articles, you get the sense that God should have flown down from his lofty throne and scooped up children just before the bomb exploded or a ray of bullets violated their bodies.  When we ask this question, are we really searching for an objective proof of a deity or are we asking, “How do we find meaning is this horrible act”?  In a time of chaos and complexity, our tendency is to move towards our instinctual humanity and search for meaning.  In our search for meaning, why do we ask as if God can only be found as a “protector”? Is it our expectation that God’s role is to “grab our arm and pull us from danger”? But, are we really asking why God did not reach out and save our precious children from this unspeakable act of evil?  It seems as if God’s only reason for existence is to save helpless little ones from a short-lived life. And of course, that did not happen so we must conclude that God is not to be found. Yet I ask, can God only be found in acts of protectionism?   Is God trapped by our primal preoccupation to be safeguarded from the evils of our world?

Or maybe, God is less about guardianship and more about companionship.  Can God be found in the bravery of a man who runs towards the blast to aid the injured? Or in the courage of a police officer who confronts the madmen in order to bring them to justice?  Or in the boldness of a concerned citizen who calls “911” to report blood on his boat? Or in the determination of doctors and nurses who with great skill prevent the death of severely injured people?  Or could God be found in the hope it takes the injured to decide to amputate their leg and replace it with a prosthetic one? Maybe, God is discovered in turning the trauma of losing a child into a life-giving gift by donating her organs and creating a foundation to urge people to register to be an organ donor.  In our wanted pursuit to find God the hero, do we overlook the God of unrelenting love, unwavering courage, deepening strength and restoring presence or more simply stated, God with Us?

 —Move beyond just tolerating each other and towards truly appreciating one another.