Yet still the Roman Catholic Pope and the conservative Protestant churches persist in imposing an exclusive view of God. What draws people to them? While not all Catholics accept the infallibility of the papacy (many dissenters remain in the Church, hoping for the restoration of the Second Vatican Council), conservative churches in general are chosen by people who need a simple familiarity in their lives, even at the price of receiving the dysfunctional message recognized by Bakker: "It's all about right and wrong and dos and don'ts... It's very unhealthy."
Years ago a Roman Catholic priest had to leave his teaching position and his Order (and was thereafter labeled "DisOrdered") because he had fallen in love with and chosen to marry a nun who was also, not surprisingly, rejected by her Order. It seems to me it was the Roman Catholic Church that, in shunning these two dedicated and devout religious, showed itself to be "DisOrdered."
Perhaps the Protestant churches that have been rejected this summer by the Pope as "not true churches" are feeling inherently unworthy as have the slaves, women and homosexuals denigrated by both RC and conservative Protestant churches in the recent past.
Many conservative churches have attempted to ban the Harry Potter series, ostensibly because children might learn to worship witches. I think that the real motivation is that J. K. Rowling effectively and movingly presents good triumphing through love. Millions of people who are "too busy" to attend church have the time to read these exhilarating books that, like the Narnia fantasies of C. S. Lewis published almost a century ago, celebrate love, loyalty and forgiveness.
Despite recent setbacks such as General Synod's decision against same-genre blessings and the Pope's dismissal of ecumenical overtures, Jesus' commandments remain. Those Christians who seek to move the Church from its current state of disorder to a focus on the love of Christ have to persist in articulating their ideas. Only when we collectively move beyond fear and reach a critical mass of lay and clerical consensus can we persuade the bishops that it is time to move away from the disorder of antiquated worship to the new order known in Jesus, the God of Love Incarnate.
The early Anglican leaders did succeed in modernizing their faith. Bishop Latimer's eloquent exhortation during his martyrdom in Oxford is encouraging here: "B e of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."
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