Monday, November 23, 2009

The Church of Franz Bibfeldt ...

Theologian Franz Bibfeldt, the originator of the Theology of Accomodation that is rampant throughout the modern church is said to have been guided by the adage: "I dance to the tune that is played."

Writer Dennis Jacobsen observed of Theology of Accomodation in action when he wrote:

"whether it is out of neurotic need to please all sides and be liked by everyone, or because of a calculated fear of alienating the key leaders and key givers of congregations, or simply due to timidity and cowardice, the clarity of conscience in clergy often gets blurred by acqeiescence to accomodation."

Jacobsen then goes on to rightly observe of clergy:

"It is easier to worship and adore the middle-class life of comfort and security."

Fortunately, Jacobsen rejects the Theology of Accomodation that keeps the church comfortably isolated in its neat and tidy sanctuary, and rebuffs anyone who might question that exclusivity. Rather than denying the criticism of the the way things are, Jacobsen embraces the necessity to live things the way they should be.

He notes that often the Church lives a life of accomodation and silence, even when they are surrounded by injustice. The Nazi-era churches of Europe are but one example of those who were more concerned with self-preservation then with living values of faith in a public way.

It's a subtle slope this place of accomodation and silence. The first step is silently saying or doing nothing when an injustice is enacted, or supported. Then slowly, as silence deepens, the willingness to speak out lessens, and soon only whispered side conversations acknowledge the need for justice, openness, and the core values of our faith. The Theology of Accomodation is firmly entrenched, and things appear to be fine. But are they?

To those living within, things are great. The doors are firmly shut, and the status quo is invoked and enforced. Yet outside there lingers many, often more in number then those within, who will not be silent, and who do not accept accomodation nor silence.

In this moment The Church becomes nothing more than a pseudo-church that is a corporate business marketing a product. The Living Gospel is lost in the silence. The crucified Jesus is brushed aside and replaced by a warm pink fuzzy cross that makes everyone feel comfortable.

Over and over, the history of The Church Catholic and Universal teaches us that when those within deny the need for justice, the Theology of Accomodation - the theology of niceness, sameness, beigeness and BLANDNESS, has prevailed.

Fortunately, the history of the Church has also showed us over and over that in those moments, the Spirit moves among those who are outside the safe comfortable sanctuaries. And change begins to stir.

The critics lob at me the message - "move on ... ", "let it go ..." or today's "maybe you're bowling alone ..." It always strikes me as funny - those critics never come from someone directly or openly. They are ALWAYS offered anonymously. Yet for everyone of those comments I have five more, from people who are part of the United Church, but who have pulled away, or who have been forced out, and who say OPENLY - "thank you", "You speak a truth", "we're behind you," and "don't let 'them' beat you down."

My question to those who would anonymously contend that 'everything is fine' - is simply this - if everything is 'fine' why are YOU so AFRAID to acknowledge the voices on the margin who have been hurt, rejected, and beaten by the Theology of Accomodation that is producing declining numbers, withering offerings, and a dying church??

If everything is truly fine, why do I get stopped in grocery stores and hear over and over (and seldom by the same people) a litany of complaints about The Church that have never been taken seriously, and have never been heard? And it comes with the affirmation of what I've been about, and regret at the way I've been treated ...

Oh wait ... I know the answer to that question ... in the Theology of Accomodation, there is NO dissent, because we can not acknowledge that there is any problems or any offense, except by those who will not sit down, be quiet and tow the party line that worships the middle class and seeks to offend no one ... or as Jacobsen notes - "stays in the sanctuary where it can remain irrelevant and do little harm."

Such a stance might be good enough for The Reverend Franz Bibfeldt, but it's NOT faithful. As Bonhoeffer said - "The Church is The Church ONLY when it exists for others."

Just tell me one thing - If everything is FINE and I'm bowling alone, why then do I keep hearing more and more and more stories from people who express their support of my ideas and words, and who say openly they want to go home, but can't until there is a REAL CHANGE?

It doesn't sound "fine" to me, unless I stop my ears and close my eyes ...

In the meantime ... I for one reject the Church of Franz Bibfeldt and its manifestation in our midst ... the church is about living with "a clarity of vision and moral force that is desperately needed by the jaded world." Regretably, mainline denominations have by and large swallowed the Theology of Accomodation, and they can't even see it ...

1 comment:

bill said...

*cricket chirp*
or should that be locusts?