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Is the most popular song at the Vatican these days "If I Had a Hammer?'

I don't know whether I'd go so far as to describe Pope Francis as "liberal." After all, he's held the line doctrinally on gay "marriage," abortion, women's ordination, and the other issues on which the world is trying to get the Church to kowtow to its values. This pontiff strikes me, if the truth be told, as 1) personally holy; 2) spiritually sound; 3) politically naïve; and 4) an utter disaster at public relations.

But-not surprisingly- a great many in the Vatican and in the Roman church as a whole are upset by the impression the pope is giving of a willingness to sell out when it comes to matters on which the values of Christianity and those of the secular world collide.

While I'm a Lutheran rather than a Roman Catholic, this matter lies close to the heart of "culture war" in which all believers (as well as ethical people who are not believers) are vitally involved. If the teachings of Christianity (and, for that matter, the customs and institutions and received wisdom of millennia of Western civilization and culture) are merely arbitrary human constructs, which can be changed as society changes, then the Church might as well go out of business. It has nothing to say worth listening to, nothing to contribute, and no reason to exist.

The premise which justifies the very existence of the Church is the notion that it speaks an unchanging Word from God to an essentially unchanging human condition. Christian ethics- and the ethics of the ages- have to do with things hard-wired into human nature. Mores have changed a great deal in the past two thousand years; human nature has not. Human beings remain sinners, turned inward on themselves and at odds with each other and with their Creator. The remedy remains repentance and forgiveness through faith in the atoning life and death of Jesus Christ, mediated through the Word and the Sacraments.

That which violated God's intention for humanity in St. Paul's day continues to violate it today. The world- and particularly the secular Left- needs to get over the idea that divine revelation changes. The values of society do indeed change. But God does not- and neither does His truth.

When I was in the parish I couldn't help but notice that the attitude of not only my congregations but of the Church at large seemed to be that somehow the world had things- attendance at worship, popularity, money- that we somehow needed, and that our position needed to be that of salesmen or supplicants. Such an attitude is death to the Church and to any possibility of its relevance to the human race.

The entire premise of the Church's existence is that we have something that the world needs- and that its need for what we have is a matter of life and death.

Until we become convinced of that, we are as useless to the world as we are to God. And only when we become convinced of that again will be act like we actually believe this stuff we talk about in church on Sunday mornings.

HT: Drudge


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