Church + “religious crap” = Church
This post is in response to @garykhale’s post about their new Bayshore Community Church.
After seeing your advertisement on my Facebook feed, it struck something in me which led me to find your blog post. I think it’s a noble thing for a group of friends who want to make a difference by spreading the Good News of God’s love and His salvation in His son Jesus to all. I think that is one thing that we both can agree with that needs to be made known to all.
However, what irked me a bit was your misinterpretation of Mark 7 in which you say:
Jesus didn’t come to make us more religious or, seemingly, spiritual. He came to set us free from the manmade rituals & traditions where we try to contain God (https://medium.com/@garykhale/church-minus-religious-crap-d8bf57e96e96)
I interpreted Mark 7 in a completely different manner. When the pharisees had criticized the disciples for not following the tradition of eating with cleansed hands, Jesus was quick to point out that they should not be pointing fingers at the disciples, but looking at themselves. Jesus said,
He summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” (Mark 7: 14–15, USCCB)
It was not their tradition that Jesus criticized, but the state and posture of their hearts. He says furthermore:
From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile. (Mark 7:21–23, USCCB)
Jesus was condemning the pharisees for practicing a tradition that means nothing when they have offended God in other ways. When we practice tradition without having conversion in our own hearts, that disconnect leads to any practice of tradition losing its significance to the individual practicing it. It becomes contradictory when we say something outwardly, but mean something completely different inwardly. Sometimes, this is due to traditions of faith going unexplained that they completely dismiss it in their hearts and minds. It almost becomes part of muscle memory without letting these actions be expressed with our heart and soul.
It’s sad that thousands of years of tradition goes unexplained for most people that they discard it as a distraction or hindrance from understanding the love that God has for them. The Roman Catholic church is probably best known for having these traditions that seem to go over people’s heads. And often times, the Catholic church is criticized for this and people are turned off by it. However, no tradition is without it’s meaning, purpose and glorification of God.
This living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it. Through Tradition, “the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes.” “The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 78)
It is tradition that permeates through time and space to allow us to be in communion with one another and with the same Christ who, thousands of years ago, taught us how to practice our faith.
Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you. (Luke 22:19–20, USCCB)
Mr. Gary Kyle, I hope that you understand that the statement of calling tradition of faith “crap”, it may be a means of minimizing the space between your church and those that have lost their way, but at the same time, you increase the distance between yourselves and the billions of Christians that are heavily invested in that tradition of faith. In addition, the statement downplays the role of the Holy Spirit in converting so many to a God that is not just for some, but for all. Our goal should be for all of us to come together as God’s children, and not do anything that would separate us apart.
We may not yet see eye to eye on how faith should be practiced, but I hope that you can understand why your advertisement is offensive to many. Please reconsider your advertisement, and let’s pray together that we may all be in communion with one another and with our loving God.