Monday 18 April 2022

Doubling-down on the motes: The traditionalist, church-orientated Christian dilemma

It is a very difficult time for traditionalist Christians, whose churches have already aligned with the evil global agenda and who are becoming more converged all the time. 

In times like these a strong, secure and really-Christian church would be more valuable than ever; but such an entity is not on offer. 

The large churches are net-evil-aligned, and the only 'pure' churches are small and weak - in worldly terms (and there may be none of these available, even if such would be regarded as acceptable). 

The dilemma I wish to discuss is that it has been noticed (e.g. by Rodney Stark) that the successful churches of the middle 20th century were demanding of their members - that is, they demanded significant changes to lifestyle. 'In return' such churches gave significant social support; so that membership 'made a difference'.  

By contrast, those churches that did not demand any significant changes or sacrifices from members ('liberal' doctrine, any lifestyle tolerated) were declining, collapsing; becoming numerically heavily-dominated by older women - and without many men, families or the children that are signs of a thriving church. 

But this is (or rather was) a sociological explanation for strong churches - not primarily a spiritual one. And the recently-strong churches have over more-recent years (and especially since the birdemic) suffered (or had imposed) a disconnection between the church as a social group, and the church as a genuinely Christian group. 

In other words; group-cohesion of the church has been maintained by social/ lifestyle elements and at the cost of spiritual Christian elements

This means that church-orientated Christians find themselves in a repeated dilemma where the church authorities introduce anti-Christian practices - but to oppose these will cause fracturing and schism of the church. 

In different words; church cohesion is maintained only at the cost of core Christian values; while maintaining core Christian values will tend to break apart churches, and will also entail that the church members must discern and discriminate within the church - perhaps even rejecting most or all of the leadership (priest or pastors).

This is something that very few traditionalists are willing to do - especially not explicitly; because it goes against the (inevitably) group-ish explanations regarding the special and distinctive rightness and truth of their own churches.  

One reaction I have noticed is traditionalists advocating a doubling-down on the tougher and more demanding aspects of their church - which tends, or until recently tended, to reinforce group strength. 

But the problem is that these lifestyle or theological aspects are (mostly) only 'incidentally' Christian, should not be regarded as core to the faith; and are practices that distinguish and divide the various Christian churches

So - at a time when Christianity is at just about its weakest and most corrupt in history, and when the (small) minority of faithful Christians who have resisted the socio-political convergence of (for example) the Litmus Test issues; some of the traditionalists among these faithful Christians are dividing this small remnant of sincere and courageous believers by their core insistence on that which makes their own church different

I think this doubling-down on the inessentials (and the consequent hostility among Christians) happens as a way of 'dealing with' the traditionalist problem of evil-aligned leaders and the need for discernment within the church. 

By this means, the church leadership can continue to be supported by traditionalists - because the leaders mostly sustain the cohesion of the churches while discarding core Christian alignment with God, creation and The Good - by retaining and emphasizing 'church order' issues that emphasize the specific distinctions between types-of-Christian.  

The 'beam' of vast and escalating core-corruption in one's own church is thereby neglected by this doubling-down on the 'motes' of lifestyle micro-issues and church-order/ church-unity matters. 

This strikes me as an insidiously-effective demonic strategy for further weakening and corrupting what (comparatively-little) remains of the Christian churches after the repeated onslaughts of socio-political Litmus Tests; by ensuring that Christians in traditional denominations expend a great deal of their time and energy on emphasizing their differentness-from and superiority-to other types of Christian - to the point of denying that the other types of Christian really-are Christians. 


John Venlet said...

Dr. Charlton, the problem you note regarding the divide amongst Christian churches is a pressing one, for the reasons you noted. Today, I think an firm argument can be made that the leadership of some of the largest Christian denominations could be referred to a pseudo theistic, rather than Christian, and by Christian I mean followers of the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Prior to Chesterton converting to Catholicism, in his book Orthodoxy, Chesterton defined Orthodox Christianity as Christians who accepted the tenets of The Apostles Creed, and I do not think he was off the mark.

In regards to churches as meeting places where Christians can encourage and uplift each other, though I think the demise of solid churches such as these is something to be mourned, I at times think that the churches of the earliest days of Christianity, where fellow followers of the teaching of Jesus Christ met simply in each others homes may be a more appropriate way to go. "Where two or three are gathered in My Name, there I am also."

Anonymous said...

Humans fool themselves into creating a feeling of security, though being void internally and existentially, by categorizing everything and setting limits on those things that reduce them from things which were required for experiences and knowledge waiting to be remembered. In other words, humans have setup a category called human which only requires a few token gestures of agreement and a social contract to implement a sense of control on reality, which by the way would become far less ambiguously perceived and feared without the terminal categorization of what a human being is. Nationalism and religion are the declining movements of a state of being that was more real than the participation in their systems. Far away from democratic theories, and far away from doing "what is expected" of a man or a woman, there lies a cure from the paralytic outcome of human beings measured up against the symbols we have used to create a standard of no standards. The trap set by exclusive participation of only what can be measured and the predictable outcome of having zero bonds or foundations for the individual to grow forth from, and provide the best chance for adaptation to go beyond, is simply a spiritual disease that has been welcomed into the heart. One only contests themselves and when they have bested that, they have overcome all challenge.