Christianity in Europe is dying out, says Russian Orthodox leader | Interface Institute

Metropolitan Hilarion has called Christians to unite in fighting the imminent death of Christianity in Europe. He also stated that Christians in the region “must keep on defending their values and heed the cries of the persecuted and suffering believers” throughout the world.

Source: Christianity in Europe is dying out, says Russian Orthodox leader | Interface Institute

Metropolitan Hilarion called for unity between and among Christians:

“Christians in Europe must strive to defend their values ​​on which the continent has been built for centuries, and listen to the lamentations and sufferings of Christians from all over the globe,” he continued.

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George Washington’s wisdom

Just created this a little bit ago. It seemed apt, in light of the Las Vegas massacre, among many other things…

George Washington - Believe me now?

The words are from then-President George Washington’s “Farewell Address” (1796). By “religion and morality” is meant Christian religion and morality, or at any rate the Judeo-Christian religious and moral tradition which has formed one of the major underpinnings of Western civilization for the last 1500+ years.

We have, as a culture (if one can use the term, currently…) and society, been abandoning this “great pillar of human happiness” – along with other pillars of our civilization, such as the Greco-Roman political and philosophical tradition, and the courage, passion, and physical prowess of our Celtic and Germanic forebears – at an alarming rate over the last 50 to 75 years, and I think it is not coincidental that we have also seen our civilization in steep and accelerating decline over the same period.

A tree cut off from its roots does not grow, blossom, and bear fruit: it withers. The same is also true of a culture.

Church of England Resurrects Tradition to Attract Millennials • ChurchLeaders.com

 

In the past we’ve touched on the delicate balance that churches must maintain while appealing to millennials without pandering or changing theology. But what if we’re focusing our efforts in the wrong places?

What if the loud music and fog machines are actually clouding the Holy Spirit and preventing people from connecting with God? What if, instead of adapting to a modernized culture with our church services, we kicked it old school?

Source: Church of England Resurrects Tradition to Attract Millennials • ChurchLeaders.com

“Well, that’s exactly what the Church of England is doing. Despite growing secularism in the country, the church has seen attendance grow over the past several years with the help of a centuries-old liturgical tradition: Evensong. Choral Evensong is an evening prayer service that is delivered mostly through song, offering a restful, reflective time to worship God and pause from the busy-ness of life. The choir performs live and is often highly skilled and well-trained…

“Neil McCleery, assistant chaplain at one of Oxford’s oldest chapels, recently said it is rare to see attendance below 150 at a weekend evensong, contradicting the idea that church is facing inevitable decline. Many clergy like McCleery see this as an opportunity to draw more people into a relationship with the church.

“‘We get a lot of people who perhaps come to faith or return to faith by being drawn into that worship experience,’ he said. ‘I do wonder if it might be related to the trend for mindfulness in this era where we are constantly bombarded from the Internet, from media, from mobile, which are hard to get away from.

“The varied musical forms and passages of spoken liturgy mixed with moments of contemplative silence lends balance and completeness to the form of the service, according to ChoralEvensong.org. The high percentage of music is what distinguishes it from other church services for most people and appeals to locals and tourists alike.”

Well, who’d-a thunk it…?

“So what can we learn from this unforeseen surge in attendance in the otherwise post-Christian culture of the U.K.? With millennials leaving the church and a severe decline in denominational membership in America, perhaps returning to a disciplined, reverent worship service would have newcomers lining up to get inside the doors of our churches rather than exiting through them en masse.”

I have said on a number of occasions and in a number of ways – both on and off this forum – that a culture, or a Church, is like a tree: separated from its roots, it is more likely to wither than to experience life and growth. Restoring that connection – grafting it back onto the living “stump” with its extensive root system – may well restore that life and growth.

And while our goal, as Christians, should always be to worship God, first and foremost, and then seek to edify the faithful – not necessarily to “attract” any particular demographic group – I am living proof that faithfully-rendered Anglican liturgy can be a powerful tool of evangelism, including and perhaps even especially to young people seeking a firm place to stand.

I myself can trace my entry into the Anglican tradition (from Methodism, which granted is not so far afield as some) to the experience of the liturgy – in my case, the Daily Office of Morning Prayer – back in 1989, at the age of 24.

So I do not find this the least bit surprising!

Russian Orthodox Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev – Aleteia

Participating in a London conference on the topic of “The Christian Future of Europe,” Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, head of the External Relations Departments of the Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate, spoke on September 22 at the Russian Embassy to Great Britain, and his talk was something of a warning to the Churches of the West.

Source: Russian Orthodox Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev – Aleteia

Excerpts from Metropolitan Hilarion’s speech:

“I would like to remind you all that in Russia before 1917 nobody ever proposed that the collapse of a centuries-old Christian empire would happen and that it would be replaced by an atheistic totalitarian regime. And even when that did happen, few believed that it was serious and for long.

“The modern-day decline of Christianity in the western world may be compared to the situation in the Russian Empire before 1917.

“The revolution and the dramatic events which followed it have deep spiritual, as well as social and political, reasons. Over many years the aristocracy and intelligentsia had abandoned the faith, and were then followed by common people.”

He also added,

“And when half a century after the creation of the European Union its constitution was being written, it would have been natural for the Christian Churches to expect that the role of Christianity as one of the European values to have been included in this document, without encroaching upon the secular nature of the authorities in a unified Europe.

“But, as we know, this did not happen.

“The European Union, when writing its constitution, declined to mention its Christian heritage even in the preamble of the document.

“I firmly believe that a Europe which has renounced Christ will not be able to preserve its cultural and spiritual identity.”

I fear he is correct.

Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, 1626 | For All the Saints

A devoted scholar, hard-working and accurate, and a master of fifteen languages, Lancelot Andrewes was renowned for his learning and for his preaching, and was a seminal influence on the development of a distinctive reformed Catholic theology in the Church of England.

Source: Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, 1626 | For All the Saints

A man whose memory I hold in the highest esteem!
 
“Andrewes was one of the principal influences in the formation of a distinctly Reformed Catholic Anglican theology, which in reaction to the rigidity of the Puritanism of his time, he insisted should be moderate in tone and catholic in content and perspective. Convinced that true theology must be built on sound learning, he cultivated the friendship of such divines as Richard Hooker and George Herbert, as well as of scholars from abroad…
 
“Andrewes held a high doctrine of the Eucharist, emphasizing that in the sacrament we receive the true Body and Blood of Christ, and he consistently used sacrificial language of the rite. He desired the Church of England to express its liturgy in ordered ceremonial and in his own chapel used the mixed chalice (wine and water), incense, and altar-lights (candles).”
 
He is also the man responsible for perhaps the clearest and most concise description of the doctrinal standards held by classical Anglicanism:
 
“One canon [of Scripture] reduced to writing by God himself, two testaments, three creeds, four general councils, five centuries, and the series of Fathers in that period – the centuries that is, before Constantine, and two after, determine the boundary of our faith.”

 

Cardinal Burke: Christians and Muslims Do Not Worship The Same God

Source: Cardinal Burke: Christians and Muslims Do Not Worship The Same God

While unfortunately the current Pope, Francis, may be off the deep end in some respects, some of his Cardinals are pretty based! Here is Cardinal Burke:

“I don’t believe it’s true that we’re all worshipping the same God, because the God of Islam is a governor,” he said.  “In other words, fundamentally Islam is, Sharia is their law, and that law, which comes from Allah, must dominate every man eventually.”

Now it is true that, in the Old Testament, God is sometimes referred to as “our Governor”: for example, “O LORD our Governor, how excellent is thy Name in all the world…” (Psalm 8, verses 1a and 9).

But that is not His primary or key identity, even in the OT – and even in Psalm 8, where God is celebrated primarily as Creator, and it is “man” (e.g., humankind), not a particular religion, which God has given “dominion of the works of thy hands” – and it is certainly not in the New Testament:

“And it’s not a law that’s founded on love,” said Burke.  “To say that we all believe in love is simply not correct.” 

“And while our experience with individual Muslims may be one of people who are gentle and kind and so forth, we have to understand that in the end what they believe most deeply, that to which they ascribe in their hearts, demands that they govern the world,” he said.  

“Whereas, in the Christian faith we’re taught that by the development of right reason, by sound metaphysics, and then that which leads to faith and to the light and strength that’s given by faith, we make our contribution to society also in terms of its governance,” he said.

This is a fundamental contrast: when St. Peter wrote “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king” (1 Peter 2:17), as is the tagline of this blog, or earlier in the same chapter, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well” ( the “King” (Emperor) was a pagan Roman.

Likewise St. Paul, who wrote, in Romans 13:1-7:

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good.

But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.”

Was writing of the secular powers – which again, in his day, meant the pagan Roman Empire. He is echoing, in that last verse, the words of Our Lord Himself, who said, “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21, Mark 12:17, Luke 20:25). He also stated, quite emphatically, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Thus it could be said that some essential degree of separation of Church and State is built into the very structure of Christianity. But there is no “render unto Caesar” in Islam; the Caliph is the Caesar! There is no “separation of mosque and state” in the ideology of Mohammed.

To return the words of Cardinal Burke,

“the Church makes no pretense that it’s to govern the world, [he stated]. But rather that [its role is] to inspire and assist those who govern the world to act justly and rightly toward the citizens.”

In other words, Christianity is to provide “leaven in the loaf,” offering moral guidance but not governing: Christianity is not to be a theocracy, not until the Final Coming of Our Lord. And at that point, it will not be the Church which governs, but God Himself!

While this is not the only distinction between Christianity and Islam – the latter also has no doctrine of “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:39 et alii), still less “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you” (Matthew 5:44), a point to which Cardinal Burke also alludes in his comments (“it’s not a law that’s founded on love… to say that we all believe in love is simply not correct”)  – it is nonetheless a vital distinction, and important to point out.

With such dramatic differences in understanding, both of God and of our proper relationships with God and one another – including human authorities – it is indeed difficult to reach any other conclusion than that the god Moslems worship is not the same God as the One – in Trinity of Persons and Unity of Substance, the Creator of Creation, and the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ – worshiped by Christians.

Or if they are attempting to worship the same God – for the Christian God is not one god among many, but the God! – then they are doing it wrongly. Dangerously wrongly, for the sake of their own souls, and the well-being of this world of ours!

Pope Benedict XVI

“The liturgy is not a festivity; it is not a meeting for the purpose of having a good time. The liturgy is what makes the Thrice-holy God present amongst us; it is the Burning Bush; it is the alliance of God with man in Jesus Christ, Who has died and risen again. The grandeur of the liturgy does not rest upon the fact that it offers an interesting entertainment, but in rendering tangible the totally Other, Whom we are not capable of summoning. The essential in the liturgy is the Mystery, which is realized in the common ritual of the Church; all the rest diminishes it. Men experiment with it in lively fashion, and find themselves deceived, when the Mystery is transformed into distraction, when the chief actor in the liturgy is not the living God, but the priest or the liturgical director.”
~ Pope Benedict XVI

I am Anglican, not Roman. Yet the truth of this statement transcends ecclesiastical boundaries, in my opinion!