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Friday, October 13, 2006

Christianity without the Eucharist  

The Asia Times' Spengler commented recently
Jihad is the precise equivalent of the Lord's Supper in Christianity and the Jewish Sabbath, the defining expression of sacrifice that opens the prospect of eternity to the mortal believer. To ask Islam to become moderate, to reform, to become a peaceful religion of personal conscience is the precise equivalent of asking Catholics to abolish Mass.
He may or may not be right about Islam (I have an increasingly sinking feeling that he is), but it is certainly possible to see Protestantism as a series of attempts to have Christianity without the Eucharist. Not that it meant to be that, of course, but things have a way of developing.

Fundamentalists deal with the absence of the sacrament by replacing it with bibliolotry; Pentecostals with the experience of the gifts of the Spirit; Evangelicals with personal piety. And what used to be called the mainline churches have, in the last hundred years, replaced it with social activism.

The question for the first three is whether this is, in the long term, sustainable; the issue for the last is that it appears not to be. Secular folk have discovered that they can be socially aware without all the God business, or the personal accountability, and so the mainline keeps hemmorhaging members.

Markos is a clever guy, but his notion of megachurches for the left is wrong on a number of levels. Just because something doesn't exist doesn't mean there's a niche waiting to be filled; recent history would indicate that these institutions have a way of turning themselves into microchurches all on their own.

posted by Kelly | 3:48 PM link