Church has now ceased to be a place of culture and education. So what happens to us in the next century?
Well, it’s laughable that anyone can have a strict idea of what is going to happen in the next century of the Church life. Science fiction writers, who are a daft lazy bunch for the most part, weave great stories that completely leave out the roll of religion. We could take that to mean that belief in general will dry up, or it’s just hard to incorporate belief and religious practice into stories.
So, I want to go somewhere more tangible to look at a possibility for what happened and oddly that comes through the events in the 16th and 17th century in England.
The trick with this is that there’s an immense bit of back story that I cannot really avoid to explain my point.
The bullet point is this: parts of the Eastern orthodox church during the reformation were just going through the motions of the liturgy with very little concept of what it meant. All the institutes for education were gone, and clergy were for the most part uneducated or educated in Roman or Calvinist schools on the continent. They often did not know who had written the liturgies they used despite having libraries with this information in them.
Some pastors were even illiterate.
So, I speculate, that this could be an eventuality for the Western Church, or perhaps this is the terrifying reality of the Church right now. Given the number of churches out there with uneducated or trained clergy… This could be a very real possibility.
I’ve met many Clergy who refuse to take the time to read or study beyond their weekly use of scripture – Methodists and many others. Universities are defunding ethics and religion programs, and the job market for Ph.Ds in religion is shrinking.
That’s not a rosy picture to paint. But now the Eastern Orthodox Church – or Churches, there are a lot of little branches – are creating some good publishing houses and educational institutions. Churches across Latin America, Africa, and Asia are thriving, and I believe they will either fund existing schools or create new ones.
That means the knowledge and theology and discernment wont be lost! It will still be out there where we can dive into five hundred years of rich scholarship and two thousand years of church tradition.
The non-sound bite version will probably take two days, and why this matters to us might take another two days.