1. not at all premature: check out internet monk’s articles that flesh all this out; and it’s not all bad news

    america’s flavor of ‘christendom’ is fading….that’s not all bad, this will mean, increasingly, that those who STILL self-identify as christian are doing so swimming upstream…again, not a bad thing.

    the church playing lackey to the conservative right might be coming to a separation, if not divorce.

    works driven churches will continue to major in the minors and make social sins the issues…..and continue to lose ground


  2. PS: I will say that I don’t find Chritopher Hitchens all the “gracious”, so Jon and I will agree to disagree about that.

  3. Germit: you are right. Moralism religion (whether in Catholicism, Prostentatism, Evangelicalism, Fundamentalism, or Mormonism, etc.) is losing ground in America. People all over the place are seriously questioning whether this is all for real.

    And that is a very good thing.

    It all deserves to cave in – a massive superstructure with no regenerated heart for God.

  4. Ev’s in general have a bad habit of “speaking for GOD” (a la Oral Roberts, groveling for money before the 600ft angel…) so I don’t want to overstep here, but…

    I’m of the opinion that GOD is HOT about the gospel becoming the dog and pony show that is currently much of the religious landscape in America. this building needs to be gutted, and I think GOD is up to the job; “self-professed christians” are about to find out what kind of well they have been digging these many years, and we’re about to find out who has built on the Rock, and who took a short cut.

    in this post-christian, post-modern culture, the door is about to slam on moralism as the Good News and I say “Amen” to that.

  5. Let’s not paint with too broad a brush here, okay? Moralism is indeed NOT good news; however, neither is “cheap grace”.

    Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism can be tempted in either direction: “don’t dance, or drink, or smoke, or chew, or run around with girls what do.”

    The Gospel is the corrective to both:


    St. Paul writes: “if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the flesh, you will live”. (Romans 8:13)

    And the Lord himself says, “Be perfect (whole), even as your Father in heaven is perfect”.

    What is moralism? It is the attempt to win God’s favor by good works, to have a legal claim on God (and all “forensic justification” does is transfer the basis of that claim from myself to Christ). What is the good news? That healing, transformation into the image of Christ is possible, even though it cost me my life, as that possiblity for us cost Christ his. “When Christ calls a man, he calls that man to die.”

  6. Fr Greg: one quote from your link

    So we have the East on the one side which, speaking and writing Greek, remained essentially the New Israel with Israelitic thought and sacred tradition, and the West on the other side which having forgotten the Greek language and having been cut off from the Eastern state, inherited pagan Greek thought and its mentality, and formed with it an adulterated Christian teaching.

    this is sounding like the Greek father figure in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”…… I’d like to give you every measure of grace and every possible benefit of (my) doubts…. I doubt that I’m going to read much of “River of Fire”…. maybe I’ll relent …..


  7. PS on cheap grace and moralism….MOST see thru cheap grace rather easily (though it has it’s multitudes, granted)

    moralism is another story….I consider it quite the ultimate gum on the shoe….and unnoticed gum at that. esp. in THIS audience, here at heart issues.


  8. Germit: I do regret that this piece is as polemical as it is, but on the other hand, most of what is said is pretty hard to deny. For example: “Who can love a torturer? Even those who try hard to save themselves from the wrath of God cannot really love Him. They love only themselves, trying to escape God’s vengeance and to achieve eternal bliss by managing to please this fearsome and extremely dangerous Creator.”

    I have not yet seen “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” so I can’t comment on that, but I guess my challenge to you is, well, read it and refute it. I think that the analysis of Augustinianism, Anselmianism, and what follows from these is pretty cogent, if perhaps overly polemical. The piece also certainly shows the roots of paganism within Mormonism, no?

    I think that moralism and cheap grace are two sides of the same coin: both are concerned, as I said above, of establishing a legal, “just” claim upon God. That is the crux of the problem. How can I force God to love me, to save me, to take me to heaven, whatever? Wrong question entirely. The right question is, “What must I do to be saved?” meaning, “How can I be healed, be made whole?”

    What did you think of Fr. Stephen’s post?

  9. OK Fr.Greg, you’re off the hook 🙂 Fr. Stephen’s post is flat out excellent; and he is spot on about the assumptions many make about ritual and the use of it. Ev’s are waking up to this , as you are probably aware, and making awkward attempts at a RETURN to ritual for the very reasons that Fr.Stephen mentions. I’ll check back to his post, this was very good.

    the problem with the River of Fire guy is that everything not Gr. orthodox ends up in some manner of trash bin, some stinkier than others……what approach does THIS remind me of……hmmmmm I’ve grown to love and appreciate many different christian voices and appoaches. Internet Monk has helped a lot, and one of the regular contributors (Fr. Ernesto) is Orthodox. The “glue” that holds that spirit together is not “Orthodox” is the deal, not M. Spencers “southern Baptist is the deal” but “JESUS the RISEN LORD and Savior is the deal” I know we all make choices and not all are equal, but at my age, I have little time for a specious “one true church” that has INSTITUTION written on it.

    thanks for hearing me out, and again, the inner life post is well woth re-reading…..I have two Roman Catholic sibs coming in for Easter, I’ll point them to that post.

    Peace and all that salvation means to you and yours

  10. PS: M. Spencer, married to a Roman Catholic, is VERY clear that “southern Baptist, per se, is NOT the deal……” didn’t want to leave that impression

  11. Peace and salvation to you and yours, Germit.

    “We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church”…

    Definitely an institution, but not necessarily a bureaucracy. While encountering the Risen Lord is certainly THE deal, the question here is, “Where has the Risen Lord arranged to make that encounter in all His fullness?” Under what circumstances? Under what conditions? He does, certainly, go out to meet the one lost sheep, but He then reunites the lost lamb with the rest of the flock, inside the safety of the fold, the ark. Get that, Todd? 😉

    Ironically, this piece comes out of a traditionalist, Old-calendar branch of Byzantine Orthodoxy, so it’s author cannot be accused of mindless, mainstream institutionalism. (And compare THESE polemics with those of RC traditionalism or Protestant fundamentalism).

    A most blessed Pascha to all.

  12. Thanks padre-G: not to beat it to death, but I don’t much care for ANY brand of istitutionalism, be it Byzantine or Bible-belt protestant…. your comments beg the question:

    and what IS “the flock”….I think that’s where we differ (somewhat)

    (I’m a little early with that….but waiting is not my thing 🙂 )

  13. Todd: LOL. Yeah, well, the LDS church makes Rome look downright congregational…

    Germit: Answering that question sounds like fodder for a blog post of my own…after Pascha. Here and now, I’ll just say that the Reformation could not have taken place without some concept of a “Great Apostacy” and given that….well, you do the math.

    Okay, maybe I’m being overly obscure. My point is that if one of the pre-Reformation communions, or all of them together, is not the Church of the New Testament, if a great apostacy indeed occurred, this opens the field for all kinds of possibilities (only one of which is Mormonism) that neither you nor I would wish to contemplate.

  14. Fr.Greg: I would read your post when you write it with interest. My “gut response” is that the way you frame the issue hits me as “zero-sum”. I don’t see why a Reformation necessarily means that what existed was categorically NOT something. I haven’t read (yet) many of the better historians, but I’m doubtful if the Reformers themselves approached the existing communions as NOT the body of CHRIST. As much as I like history, though, I’m not likely to make a church decision solely on that angle.

    I am of course VERY skeptical of AnY kind of total apostasy scenario; I don’t see the Kingdom of GOD grinding to a halt at any time past or future.


  15. I listened with interest last night on FOX nat’l news as Laura Ingram (sp?) laughed off this whole Newsweek article…..absolutely nothing to it, she assures us. She mixed the ideas of CHRISTIANITY, CHRISTIANS, and CHRISTIAN INFLUENCE together……. we all have off nights…

    this is not just “liberal news making”, folks wake up and smell the java, even if you’re not allowed to drink it

    Al Mohler (conservative Baptist leader) , by the way, thought the article was well written, careful, and disturbing.

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