The New American Religion:I believe in Whatever

This is so sad. On so many levels.

“SPRING LAKE — A prominent Spring Lake church removed its cross Tuesday and has changed its name as part of a series of moves intended to make it more inclusive

C3Exchange, 225 E. Exchange, Spring Lake, was formerly known as Christ Community Church. The Rev. Ian Lawton, the church’s pastor, said the name change and removing the cross were designed to reflect the church’s diverse members.”

So many are turning from the hard truths of the Christian faith in the name of false inclusiveness. Instead of striving to be holy, striving to conform to Christ, many strive to be open minded.

It is so pervasive that a new term has emerged,

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism:

“The casual “whatever” that marks so much of the American moral and theological landscapes–adolescent and otherwise–is a substitute for serious and responsible thinking. More importantly, it is a verbal cover for an embrace of relativism. Accordingly, “most religious teenager’s opinions and views–one can hardly call them worldviews–are vague, limited, and often quite at variance with the actual teachings of their own religion.”

We are becoming a post Christian culture.  And we wonder why so many people, especially young people, are lost, confused, broken. Without a strong faith, a strong sense of right and wrong and a desire to find and embrace truth, we cannot answer the ancient questions of every human heart. What does it mean to be human? Does my life have meaning? How can I be truly happy?

All those questions can be answered by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  And Him Crucified. And risen.

A dose of St. Paul is in order:

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the learning of the learned I will set aside.”

Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish?

For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith.

For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles… (1 Corinthians 1:18-23)

About Susan Kehoe

I am the wife of a Catholic deacon living in Des Moines Iowa. My husband Larry was ordained in 2006. We have two children and five grandchildren.. Our daughter and her family live in Ireland, and our son and his family live in Franklin Massachusetts.
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15 Responses to The New American Religion:I believe in Whatever

  1. Jim CastroLang says:

    Oh my God….I met Ian Lawton at a Conference earlier this year. He was on a panel discussion. I think I knew this was coming. However, I don’t see this as a sign of increased relativism and degrading of Christianity. There is nothing new with churches exploring many different — diverse and inclusive paths to God that are spiritual but not doctrinal. So, don’t worry…this is no trend. Today we have many who call themselves Spiritual but not Religious — if they go to a church it is likely one like Ian’s — they are on an authentic search. So will find their way to Christianity and some to other places. It is no threat to the Christian Church. Thank God they are searching for a deeper understanding of their humanity. For you and me, it will not satisfy. For them, our Christian faith will not satisfy. So what!


  2. Susan Kehoe says:

    I will never get the spiritual but not religious Oprah Winfrey “religion”. I do not understand how a Christian Church, such as the one in the article, can turn their back on the Gospel. The entire New Testament is a call to proclaim the Gospel, to follow Christ, to change and transform our lives. It is the mission of all of the baptized to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So What? Heh don’t you mean whatever? So what because as a Christian, I am concerned about my brothers and sisters. My mission is to continue to invite people into the body of Christ. Of course, I have to let people walk away. Jesus did. But he also left the 99 sheep to go after the one that was lost.


    • Jim CastroLang says:

      “Spiritual but not Religious” is a description of a wide group of people who self identify this way because they are seeking God…they want to be more connected spiritual YET for a variety of reasons institutional organized religion seems not help them on their spiritual search. Often they see organized religion as more interested in their structures, rules, doctrines, cultural habits, and insider way of doing things that they show little understanding or interest in their authentic search for God.

      Sometimes people don’t know what they want but know what they don’t want. Sometimes they are lost or confused. Sometimes they have been hurt or rejected by certain churches. You quote a great scripture passage. I wonder what Jesus would do with these Spiritual but not Religious who are quite numerous in our country. Would he judge them as wrong, confused, or relativistic in a cafeteria style of picking and choosing a spiritual path OR would he see and love their authentic spiritual search. Would he touch their hurt on the journey? Would he journey with them as they sought to go deeper spiritually.

      In the United Church of Christ (UCC) we say, “No matter who you are or where you are on your faith journey, you are welcome here.” Come to the table, let us journey together. I wish we actually lived it as clearly as we say it.


  3. Susan Kehoe says:

    I am not feeling very well, and I am about to go to the doctor. But I will try and answer.

    First, I agree that those of is in ministry have to meet people where they are. But we are called by virtue of our Baptism to invite them into the life of God. This means, as Christians, that we must proclaim Christ. The Catholic Church does welcome everyone in. While we are all in a different place in our faith lives, we are all invited to find the same end. Jesus Christ and union with the holy trinity. It is a journey with a definite goal and a definite end.

    Second, Jesus let people walk away (John 6 the bread of life discourse). While he had great love for the rich young man, he let him leave when the young man refused to sell all that he had and follow Christ.
    He also said hard things like let those who have ears hear. Jesus when forgiving the sinner urged them to go and sin no more. He had no time for the pharisees who would not listen to him. Jesus warned about hell. A lot.

    Third, the whole point of teachings and doctrines is to learn How to love. What does it mean to love God and neighbor.

    The CCC, quoting the Roman Catechism (from council of Trent), says:
    “The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love.” (CCC #25).


  4. Jim CastroLang says:

    Get better and we will continue this great conversation. Is anyone listening? I will make one statement that I think we both can agree on. There is a difference between a church that welcomes all on their spiritual journey — no matter where they are — giving them gracious space to be on the journey AND a church that tries to have such an inclusive approach that it has no focus, no direction, no core beliefs, no choice for those who are seeking. I think that is the mistake of Ian Lawton’s church. I suppose you can say that we can hold on to the truth too tightly or too lightly. Love you….get better soon!


    • Susan Kehoe says:

      Ok. I agree with some reservations. Anyway just got back from the doctor, tests etc. Big scare. I refused to go to the ER so they kept me hostage. But it turns out to be acute gastritis.

      Getting old: Not for the weak.


  5. LeAnn says:

    I am listening! Several read the blog. The debate is healthy. Many people who do not attend church service claim that the Catholic church is too rigid, focuses too much on rules. They need to hear Monsignor Bognanno and attend mass at Christ the King. The lessons are not about rejecting those who don’t adhere to rules. The lessons are about love and forgiveness. About how to bring the lost sheep back into the flock. About mentoring and helping the lost come home. I encourage you to go to our church website and download the podcast from Sunday’s homily. This is not a church that excludes people. My church welcomes anyone at anytime. Heck I know a parishioner who knocked on the priests door in the middle of the night and he got comfort and counseling. Please don’t use blanket statements about my church.


  6. Susan Kehoe says:

    Thank you for weighing in on the debate LeAnn. What a powerful testimony. I hope that my brother comments again. He is probably working right now, and he is two hours behind us.


  7. Pingback: Let the Debating Begin | A Deacon's Wife

  8. Mary South says:

    LeAnn I agree with you 1000%, Susan hope you feel better soon… I love reading your debate with you bro… I agree with you and I herd somthing that relates in a way they were saying insted of letting Oprah be your moral compus how about letting Jesus be your moral guide…


  9. Jim CastroLang says:

    I do enjoy these important discussions. It is always helpful to exercise our own thinking and see how it does.

    LeAnn – there can be a trap with lost sheep image. If we consider ourselves the “ones not lost” and then we identify those “who are lost” — there is a lot of judgment involved that comes through our own sinfulness, prejudices, and small world views. Are Catholics “not lost” and all others are lost. Whether we are right or wrong — these judgments coming from human beings and not God can hurt our ability to love and be loved. If I am better off and you worse off — it is hard to enter into a mutual loving relationship. I think a big dose of humility is need to live faithfully and with grace.


  10. Jim CastroLang says:

    Mary — the moral compass will never be found in black and white. Every human source that we look to for that compass is flawed and sinful — therefore it will be wrong at times. We are on a journey of human progress toward God. We seek to live more fully responding to the presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst. All that is created by God and ever-present God is the ultimate reality. But like I Corinthians 13 says, “now we see like in a mirror, then we will see face to face”. There are spiritual moments when we see directly – not the reflection in the mirror. Some of the great spiritual mystics — Hildegaard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich, John of the Cross, etc — have helped us understand the potential of this direct “seeing”. But, most of the time our view of God’s reality is not only through a mirror but gets fogged up with our own limitations and sinfulness.

    St. Paul calls us to live in prayerful, discerning community and to become the Body of Christ. It is in the community of faith — not the American individual of faith that allows us the opportunity to let the fog clear, to put away the mirror and to experience the full unconditional loving reality of God. Then, of course, with can live in accordance with that reality — providing the moral compass and more.

    A little of my perspective on this day. God Bless.


  11. Susan Kehoe says:

    Jim, We are all unfinished Christians who within the Body of Christ, the Church, are striving to become holy. We are sinful. We fall down in the dust. We turn away from God. But we can always, with the grace of the Sacraments, be reconciled to God.

    We are not lost because we know that Christ is the head of the Church.
    But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep.
    My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (Jn. 10:27)

    As Catholics we know that we, as the body of Christ, are part of the communion of saints. For Catholics while we are called to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, or faith is never individual or private. That is the very nature of Sacraments. But even when we pray alone, we are never alone. When one sins the entire Body of Christ is wounded.

    I agree we can not discern by ourselves. That is what the Church clearly teaches. It is my will be done and not my will be done. Jesus gave all authority to Peter and the apostles. (Yes I know you disagree).

    Also It is not “human progress towards God”. We only become Holy when we realize that we can do nothing without God. “Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    The most we can do is cooperate with God. We cannot earn heaven; we can only choose to reject it.


  12. LeAnn Larsen says:

    Jim–Thank you for your thoughts. These discussions are very important because if we do not talk and share our beliefs we cannot learn anything about the person.

    I’m taking cold medication right now and it effects my ability to think so I’m not going to comment anymore today except to say that I do not exclude persons from my social activities or discussions or even from attending church based on a personal judgment of the person’s faith. I invite and welcome all and pray that the person is touched by the Holy Spirit.

    Susan has a quote above her desk that says something like Do not judge anyone because everyone has a cross to bear. Everyone is faced with challenges.


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