Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Reasons not to be Protestant #161: Genericness
[from CatholoDoxies, a blog of an Evangelical seeking to convert to either Orthodoxy or Catholicism]
We went to church on Sunday at a relatively evangelical mainline Presbyterian congregation. It was OK; the hymns were substantive and the sermon informed and informing.
I noticed something disconcerting, however, that I've seen in several Presbyterian (that is, PCUSA) churches I've attended from time to time: the corporate confession does not address the Father, but rather "God."
I know why such churches do this; masculine language for God might be considered offensive to some. But I think such a move treads not lightly into the realm of subtle heresy -- like most everything in life precipitated by good intentions. It's too generic even to be catergorized as an proper particular heresy, covering several bases all at once. It's like Ebionitism and Islam and Oprah rolled into one. (Hence the Unitarian symbol as the picture here.)
At any rate, such language implies that the Godhead is not Trinitarian. "God" is divorced from Jesus, who now remains just a prophet or, worse, someone out of whom God beat the hell in the Crucifixion, the Incarnation having been ever so subtly and subconsciously denied, and the Spirit roams unbridled through the cosmos, doing whatever it is this spirit proceeding ex nihilo does. Apparently inspiring Marty Haugen...
I also think that this isn't an abstruse matter of recondite theological hairsplitting, for our theology has practical pastoral ramifications, quite apart from the importance of speaking truthfully about God and worshipping him rightly for God's own sake. A vague god does no one any good beyond providing the insipid and uninspiring framework of Moral Therapeutic Deism; such a god leaves us in our sins and in our graves. The Holy Trinity, by contrast, rouses us from our slumber unto death, through Sacraments uniting us to Christ, bringing us into full communion with the ultimate reality that is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We need enlivening, theosis, not a mere declaration that somehow some generic god is no longer miffed at us.