I’ve heard so many people say over the years, “Doctrine is not what’s important.” And what’s that classic bumper sticker? “My karma ran over your dogma.” Isn’t that cute? But of course, both of those statements are dogmas. The first statement is making a truth claim about the value of truth claims. It is no less doctrinaire than saying, “Doctrine is the only thing that’s important.” The bumper sticker’s statement is just a thinly disguised claim that Hinduism is better than Christianity. I can’t think of anything more dogmatic than that.
Following the US Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage this June, American Christians have been giving more attention to the idea of suffering as a consequence of being a Christian. This is certainly not a new subject in Christianity. Jesus himself assured us it would happen, it has been a consistent narrative in the life of the Church ever since, and our brothers and sisters outside of America today have been experiencing this suffering in a more blatant way than most Americans to date. For comments on how we need to attend to their voices on the subject, revisit my post from earlier in this series: Pastoral Letter Extended 2.
The purpose of this post is not to speculate about what sorts of changes American Christians ought to anticipate or what new pressure churches will experience. While I discuss some of that, the main attention here is instead on the more important question of how we will respond to whatever may come. If American Christians’ worst fears were to be realized, what then? Continue reading Pastoral Letter Extended 6: The sunset of our idols