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the Un-Churched

posted by awelborn

From Carl Olson, written for a Protestant website, because, you know, he’s one of those unecumenical New Apologists.

When my final Protestant pastor (a good man and dear friend) saw that I was becoming deadly serious about entering the Roman Catholic Church, he made one last, desperate pitch. “Why don’t you found your own church?” he asked. “Wouldn’t that be better?”

Um, no. I certainly didn’t think so. Still don’t. But it is very appealing to many, many people. The result? Some 35,000 or so Christian denominations in the world, a large number of them in North America.

This intriguing article, “The Un-churches,” in the Denver Post, provides a revealing excursion into the world of small groups that are springing up in the Denver area and, more importantly, into the thinking and beliefs of the twenty and thirty year olds who are founding them.

The “lexicon” is very funny.



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Cathleen

posted January 28, 2004 at 10:14 am


“Jesus rocks, ritual blows”….priceless!!



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ricki

posted January 28, 2004 at 10:33 am


reminds me of a joke:
Joe was stranded alone on a desert island. He had been there for twenty years. Finally, rescuers found him.
When they approached the island, they saw Joe, waving frantically, in front of three thatched huts.
When they reached Joe, after hearing his thanks and his requests, one of the rescuers asked: “But you were here all alone all this time? Why the three huts?”
“Well,” responded Joe, pointing to the first hut “This is my house.” He pointed to the third hut “This is my church.”
“What about the middle hut?” asked the rescuer.
“Oh,” said Joe, “That’s the church I USED to go to.”



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Sam

posted January 28, 2004 at 1:42 pm


Why in the world would anyone think that a viable counter-position to converting to Roman Catholicism is founding one’s own church?
One could almost say that the point of a conversion to Roman Catholicism is that it’s the church that wasn’t started by somebody’s decision to found his own. (Well, by Jesus’ decision to found his own, I suppose you could say, but that’s different.)



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Joseph D'Hippolito

posted January 28, 2004 at 9:05 pm


All Carl Olson is doing is showing that typical boorish arrogance all too common among Catholics when it comes to people who actually try to seek (and occasionally find) Christ with nobody but the Spirit to guide them.
For the past three years, I’ve been attending a Bible study at an evangelical free church in Orange County. This is an in-depth Bible study (both OT and NT) that not only discusses Christ’s mission and life but His connections to the OT, and how the Mosaic Law prefigures Christ.
I’ve had four years of a Catholic high school education and years of CCD, and I never understood what the Gospel was (or why it even was Good News, let alone the OT connections) until I participated in this study.
Olson talks about Aquinas et al as part of the Church’s “treasure” of intellectual depth. Well, who’s teaching Aquinas in the Church these days? Who’s teaching about Christ’s relationship to the OT? What lay Catholic can really define what the Gospel is and why it’s Good News? All we get from diocesan CRE’s these days are treatises about “social justice” and pseudo-spiritual fads (i.e., labrynths). And the only thing the “conservatives” offer is traditionalist sentimentality, cliches and claptrap.
Somebody should tell Mr. Olson that it isn’t a church’s theology or intellectual treasury, or membership in a “faith community” that saves people. The only thing that can is a pervasive faith in Christ as the One Who redeemed humanity from its sin by acting as the ultimate atoning sacrifice.
If that sounds too “Protestant” to some of you, perhaps you should ask yourselves whether you have more “faith” in your Catholic identity and in the Person of the Living Christ.



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Joseph D'Hippolito

posted January 28, 2004 at 9:06 pm


All Carl Olson is doing is showing that typical boorish arrogance all too common among Catholics when it comes to people who actually try to seek (and occasionally find) Christ with nobody but the Spirit to guide them.
For the past three years, I’ve been attending a Bible study at an evangelical free church in Orange County. This is an in-depth Bible study (both OT and NT) that not only discusses Christ’s mission and life but His connections to the OT, and how the Mosaic Law prefigures Christ.
I’ve had four years of a Catholic high school education and years of CCD, and I never understood what the Gospel was (or why it even was Good News, let alone the OT connections) until I participated in this study.
Olson talks about Aquinas et al as part of the Church’s “treasure” of intellectual depth. Well, who’s teaching Aquinas in the Church these days? Who’s teaching about Christ’s relationship to the OT? What lay Catholic can really define what the Gospel is and why it’s Good News? All we get from diocesan CRE’s these days are treatises about “social justice” and pseudo-spiritual fads (i.e., labrynths). And the only thing the “conservatives” offer is traditionalist sentimentality, cliches and claptrap.
Somebody should tell Mr. Olson that it isn’t a church’s theology or intellectual treasury, or membership in a “faith community” that saves people. The only thing that can is a pervasive faith in Christ as the One Who redeemed humanity from its sin by acting as the ultimate atoning sacrifice.
If that sounds too “Protestant” to some of you, perhaps you should ask yourselves whether you have more “faith” in your Catholic identity than in the Person of the Living Christ.



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liz

posted January 28, 2004 at 9:14 pm


heard ya the first time, Joseph.



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Mark Shea

posted January 28, 2004 at 10:06 pm


Carl, you boorish arrogant man:
Don’t you know that the True Love of Christ is to earnestly desire to nuke millions of innocent men, women and children? Lord, how your esoteric intellectualism has blinded you to the Truth[TM]! Repent, and learn the Christian lust for mass death before it’s too late! It’s where the Spirit is leading, doncha know.



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Christine

posted January 28, 2004 at 10:28 pm


Well, at last Joseph D’ finally ‘fesses up. Joseph, for all practical purposes you ARE an evangelical already.
I’m so very grateful for my solid confessional Lutheran roots. When I fell away from Christianity in my late teens and early twenties they served me well when the good Lord finally called me back to his community, the Church. Because of my solid Christocentric faith, nourished in Luther’s small and large catechisms (because Luther had a very “catholic” faith, you know), rooted in the Scriptures and especially baptism and Holy Communion, I was well-armed when some well-meaning evangelical friends took me to their services and tried their darndest to convince me that all I needed was the Holy Spirit to guide me in my understanding of Scripture and that the belief in the Real Presence was a fabrication of Roman and Orthodox Christians.
Not to worry, Joseph. As the Word says, every knee shall bow at the Name of Jesus. Let’s leave it to him to judge who the “true” Christians are. Please stop trying to save us from ourselves. One really CAN be Catholic AND Christian.



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Daniel Baker

posted January 28, 2004 at 10:40 pm


While I share Mr. Olson’s concerns about faith severed from Tradition and kooky worship, I also recognize that lots of twentysomethings (my age group) are completely ignorant of the Gospel, indifferent (at best) to “religion,” and desperately in need of encountering the Risen Christ. An acquaintance of mine in Colorado attends Scum of the Earth Church, which doesn’t exactly conform to my High Church sensibilities. Yet, at this point in his faith journey, finds spiritual nourishment there. Yes, I pray he moves on to something more substantial. I also see how, for the Un-churched, epiphanies can come in the most unusual guises.



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Daniel Baker

posted January 28, 2004 at 10:42 pm


Also, what’s the deal with Mark Shea’s post?



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Christine

posted January 28, 2004 at 11:20 pm


Daniel, interesting, I checked out their website (someone needs to tell them its “canon”, not “cannon”). Although they transliterate freely they are basically stating the same tenets that became the Apostles Creed in the early Church (although the aspect of Biblical literalism would be understood a little differently in all the liturgical Churches, who consider the Biblical word to be a witness to the one true and eternal Word of the Father, Jesus the Son). Whether they like it or not, this is the catholic Christianity of the early Church.
And as for Mark (God love him), methinks it has something to do with our Muslim friends and Joseph D. But better Mark should speak for himself.



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Ken

posted January 29, 2004 at 1:08 am


Of course, no one does find Christ “with no one but the Spirit to guide him”.
In the first place, the information about Jesus is there because Christians transmitted it over the past 20 centuries. To pick up the Bible and read the New Testament is to read information about Jesus written by men, under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and selected from many writings to be the Scripture by men. Beyond that, no one reads the scripture without all sorts of influences – from family, friends, Catholic schooling, whatever.
No, you don’t get to Christ without the mediation of people, which makes sense because God became a Person.



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Rinon Mavar

posted January 29, 2004 at 7:06 am


35,000 denominations, huh. Canards like this don’t help.
That would make six congregations per denomination.
Look around you. That is manifestly false.
Real Catholic apologetics wouldn’t have to make up false claims.



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Stacey

posted January 29, 2004 at 7:50 am


Joseph,
you are right in that you won’t get the Truth from the average parish religious ed program. Most CCD programs are too worried about modern social justice to present the Catholic Faith and how it is related to Sacred Scripture. Most mainstream religious ed these days is pathetic.
That said, it is NOT true that there are no lay Catholics out there discussing Christ and his prefigurement in the OT, the Good News, and so on, and quite frankly, you are endangering your Catholic Faith by participating in an Evangelical Bible study. That is not to say that Evangelicals aren’t good, God-fearing, earnest people. They are. But they do not believe that the Catholic Church is THE Church and they interepret Scripture differently at times. (Because there are OT prefigurements of the Eucharist, Mary, the Pope, the Church, etc, too, but somehow I doubt that you’ll be hearing anything about that.)
Soooo, I suggest you head on over to http://www.saintjoe.com and get some good tapes, check out Scott Hahn’s books (A Father Who Keeps His Promises is a great place to start for what you seem to be interested in).
You can email me privately if you want, just take out the nospam part in the middle of my address.



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Mark Shea

posted January 29, 2004 at 9:10 am


Daniel:
Joe, when he’s not explaining to Catholics how ignorant they are of True Christianity[TM], has publicly advocated the mass nuclear murder of the innocent men, women and children of Tripoli, Mecca, Medina, Tehran and Damascus. It’s little hitches like this which make me less than willing to believe he’s in a position to call a good guy like Carl an arrogant boor.



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Christine

posted January 29, 2004 at 9:53 am


St. Thomas Aquinas, intellectual giant that he was, said that in the end all his work was as straw and it was in prayer that he learned to know God. That seems to have been the case
for other Christian luminaries such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer (who warned against “cheap grace” and was highly respected by both the Catholic and Protestant inmates of the prison where he was confined)to St. John of the Cross to whom is attributed the saying “in the evening of life we will be judged on love.”
And then there’s that famous quote attributed to St. Francis: “Preach the gospel at all times, use words if necessary.”
All of the above can be highly taken out of context if not understood properly.
Even the devil can quote scripture.



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michigancatholic

posted January 29, 2004 at 7:44 pm


Stacey, you are right about RCIA, etc. There are a lot of people in the Church completely hung up on politics and/or issues that are substitutes (for them) for the rest of the Faith, which they seem not to want to discuss. All that gets really old quickly.
Joseph, yes, it is possible to see that in Catholic school, etc, especially if you grew up between 1960-2000, which probably everyone reading this did. All you had to do was grow up in a parish with problems–and we all know there’s plenty of those around. It doesn’t invalidate the Catholic faith wholesale though.
Even though I’m a convert, I thank God for my protestant preacher grandfather who taught me some scripture and some respect for Christ. I probably would not have received it at the hands of our very bad catechists here. (It is getting better now, though.)
And BTW, Christine, St. Francis never said that. It was attributed to him much later and it is anonymous. And it is often used to mask a complacency about owning up to being Catholic and owning up to what we believe. People need to be careful using that one.



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Christine

posted January 29, 2004 at 10:34 pm


Michigancatholic,
Notice I said “attributed” — the same is true of the prayer “attributed” to Francis to make us “instruments of God’s peace.” I have a neat little poster that hangs in my kitchen showing St. Francis preaching with that quote beneath. And I think there is great merit in that little quote — it’s much harder sometimes to walk the walk instead of just talking the talk. That’s exactly what Bonhoeffer and many of the greatest saints meant by “cheap grace.” Francis LIVED the Gospel by his actions, not just his preaching. I think that’s the point. It can hardly be said that Francis was not faithful to his Catholic identity.
I grew up in a family of Lutherans and Catholics and had substantial input from Catholic relatives long before my conversion and have had many, many interesting conversations with my cradle Catholic husband, whose extended family lived through the tail end of the immigration and post-immigration eras. The living out of Catholicism in what was a predominantly Protestant culture had longstanding effects on Catholic faith and life in the U.S., including on the catechesis of the past.



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michigancatholic

posted January 29, 2004 at 10:44 pm


So you did, sorry Christine. I have heard that quote misused sooooo many times. St. Francis has got to be the most misunderstood saint in the Church, birdbaths, ecology nuts and all.
Anyway, I’m a convert and I’ve spent years trying to figure out some of these dispositions of cradle catholics. For that matter, I’ve spent years trying to figure out exactly what is going on in the Church. It’s a MESS.



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Rinon Mavar

posted January 29, 2004 at 11:05 pm


BTW, I don’t mean that there aren’t worthy Catholic apologetics. It is just that that ‘factiod’ is just so preposterously false that it is barely above a Jack Chick tract.
Joseph, maybe you can learn how they do it and bring it back, as noted by many above, catechesis is in a bad way. BTW, you must have found an old-style gem of an E.Free church. That is how they used to be. Now they are being prodded towards Willow Creekism.



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Christine

posted January 30, 2004 at 9:13 am


Rinon,
I would respectfully submit to you that having Joseph “bring it back (from the Evangelical church) kind of misses the point for us Catholics. Catholics bring a somewhat different approach towards the Scriptures, having a different view of hermeneutics and exegesis. We don’t always simply take the straight text and say, “Ha, there you have it.” While we would agree with much of evangelical theology about the person and nature of Christ our assumptions about how that translates into living the Christian life are not always the same. I would certainly agree with you that the Catholic Church in many places needs a renewal of and reemphasis on good catechesis.
Michigancatholic,
Don’t despair, Jesus is still to be found among us. Although its true that the new age types have sometimes co-opted St. Francis for their own uses, his vision of the whole creation revealing the love and majesty of a God who called all that is into being out of nothing will always appeal to a broad spectrum of Christians who view the creation as a type of sacrament from God insofar as it reveals to us something of his tremendous generosity. There’s another beautiful saying attributed to Martin Luther something to the effect that the Word of God is written into creation and every blossom in spring is a message to us. I think Francis would have agreed.
I share and value your commitment to Christ and the Church.
And some of those cradle Catholics can be sources of great spiritual wisdom … :)



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Rinon Mavar

posted January 31, 2004 at 12:22 am


Christine,
I meant any techniques for -having- a study, or even the concept of having one in the first place could be brought back.
Everything should be winnowed, of course.



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Rev. John E Swanger

posted August 30, 2004 at 12:45 am


To: Daniel Baker,
In referance to your comments regarding SCUM OF THE EARTH CHURCH . . . When you say you hope your friend “Move’s on to something more substantial” Perhaps what you really mean is something more Religious? I have been to Scum and must say they have a good hold of the Gosple . . . . Love the unloveable. A Church for the Right brained and the Left out. A Church doing what Jesus did . . . hangin with the homies. . . . Who needs religion? Get real, get with it. I’d rather know 1% of Jesus than know 99% about Him. We need moer Churches like SCUM OF THE EARTH and less of the Churches that are shunning people for their looks. WE need to be more concerned with the conditions of the heart and less with the appearance of the packaging. . . . peace and the love of Christ . . . revjohn



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Rev. John E Swanger

posted August 30, 2004 at 12:45 am


To: Daniel Baker,
In referance to your comments regarding SCUM OF THE EARTH CHURCH . . . When you say you hope your friend “Move’s on to something more substantial” Perhaps what you really mean is something more Religious? I have been to Scum and must say they have a good hold of the Gosple . . . . Love the unloveable. A Church for the Right brained and the Left out. A Church doing what Jesus did . . . hangin with the homies. . . . Who needs religion? Get real, get with it. I’d rather know 1% of Jesus than know 99% about Him. We need moer Churches like SCUM OF THE EARTH and less of the Churches that are shunning people for their looks. WE need to be more concerned with the conditions of the heart and less with the appearance of the packaging. . . . peace and the love of Christ . . . revjohn



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Rev. John E Swanger

posted August 30, 2004 at 12:50 am


PS: “High Church sensibilities” is in itself an Oxymoron



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rev. George Leddy, PhD

posted October 20, 2004 at 10:19 pm


From an outsider’s POV here it seems odd and funny that Christians in this part of the world are so keen on denominatoinal differences. It seems to feed people’s interest in religion and define their faith. But I think this is a spiritual mistake
I wonder if it has ever occurred to anyone that Jesus might not give a fig about this kind of faith testimonial. While there are many wells, there is only one water that promises eternal life. Who am I to judge my neighbor’s well?. I trust that those who sincerely desire God will have their desire quenched. This is what Jesus promised.
I have seen sincere and humble faith in old Catlolic churches in Mexico and I have seen passionate and animated adoration of God in storefront Pentacostal churches in the inner city of LA. I have seen quiet and beautiful serenity in a high Anglican Eucharistic service and I have seen simple and plain reflection in a chapel on a military base.
God is good y’all. With everyone. Infinitely good, generous, merciful, loving and kind. Infinitely.



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Charles E Flynn

posted January 28, 2012 at 11:46 pm


Carl Olson has re-posted his lexicon, in a new context. The link in Amy Welborn’s original post no longer works. Carl and Amy are two of my favorite Catholic authors.

http://insightscoop.typepad.com/2004/2012/01/a-jesus-rocks-church-stinks-spiritual-is-awesome-religion-is-rotten-lexicon.html



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