Home > All Is Well (TM), Appetizers, Intercessory Prayer, Theology > Friday Poll: What’s up with this guy ??

Friday Poll: What’s up with this guy ??

29 January 2010

The following is a conversation between a Christian parent struggling with the unbelief if their children, and a pastor / shepherd.  Please read this, think about the advice offered, and then take the poll. 

The parent writes,

My grown children are atheists and I blame myself. The only encouragement anyone ever gives me is that life is long and they might change. I severely doubt this and it is of no comfort. I think that the only way I can be sane is to give up a life long belief in the necessity of belief. I have always believed firmly that salvation is a free gift, but I never anticipated people I love turning it down, and I am having trouble existing in this reality. I feel like a bad stereotype, wanting someone to convince me that my beliefs were wrong, wanting to “water down” the Bible and my faith because now it is touching me so closely/ personally. If there truly is such a thing as being with God after death, what will become of my children. And if the way I raised them caused this, how can I go on and how can I maintain any level of belief of my own anymore.

And the shepherd responds,

In one of our forms of the prayers of the People we pray “for all who have died in faith, and for those whose faith is known to God alone.” God searches the heart, and responds in abundant love to all who, for even an instant, cry out to God, even when they are not sure God exists. Don’t worry about your children. God loves many a professed atheist. Commend them to God in prayer. They have their own journey to go, and God will bring them home.

And here is the poll:

By the way – you can find out who this guy is, here

If the parent who wrote in is reading this, I commend the story of Monica and her son, St. Augustine to them. 

– Elder

  1. Fr. Theoden
    29 January 2010 at 7:53 PM

    One can only shake one’s head, feel pity for the distressed Mother, and yearn for the unparalleled pastoral authority of John Henry Newman.

    While apologizing for the length of this quote, it struck me as precisely antithetical to the “believe-nothing-because-belief-itself-is irrelevant” response this psuedo-“shepherd” proffered to his faithful.

    I feel her pain. The souls of her children are at stake, and her shepherd blithely asserts that this is somehow normal. I hope she can find hope to reach out to her children in a spirit of love, humility, and truthfulness.

    Perhaps the rightfully anguished mother would find solace in Newman’s timeless theology, which continues to reasonate today to those with “ears to hear and eyes to see.”

    (Here is his pastoral theology, which he wrote as a personal credo, that is, propositionally. He follows and contrasts this with his critique of what he calls “liberalism.”)

    “There is a truth, then; there is one truth. Religious error is in itself of an immoral nature; its maintainers, unless involuntarily such, are guilty in maintaining it. It is to be dreaded. The search for truth is not the gratification of curiosity….the mind is below truth, not above it, and is bound, not to descant upon it, but to venerate it…truth and falsehood are set before us for the trial of our hearts.”

    (The principle of doctrinal “liberalism,” by contrast, is thin gruel indeed). It’s creed—

    “That truth and falsehood in religion are but matter of opinion; that one doctrine is as good as another; that the Creator of the world does not intend that we should gain the truth; that no one is answerable for his opinion; that it is enough if we sincerely hold what we profess; that our merit lies in seeking, not in possessing; that it is a duty to follow what seems to us true, without a fear lest it should be not true; that belief belongs to the mere intellect, not to the heart also; that we may safely trust to ourselves in matters of Faith, and need no other guide…”

    —John Henry Newman,
    Essays on the Development of Doctrine, p. 357-358

  2. Elder Oyster
    30 January 2010 at 2:12 PM

    This is to the commenter from the ‘blog-articles’ website:

    It is my policy to check out incoming links to see if everything is okay. Unfortunately, I was not able to access your website. Caught between declaring your comment as spam, and deleting your comment without prejudice, I choose the latter.

    Thank you for the compliment. Please re-visit often. You are welcome to comment too, provided the comments are on-topic and conform to this site’s commenting policies.

    – Elder

  3. KarenR
    2 February 2010 at 5:21 PM

    When a friend from the church I just withdrew my membership from last week told me recently that his daughter was moving in with her boyfriend, I took the opportunity to ask a question about which I’d been curious for some time. I started at this church when his 2 kids were in college, but unlike most college students raised in our church, they never visited church during school breaks. I asked him if his kids were religious. He said no, not at all. I asked if this didn’t make him sad. He replied that it did, but they had to choose their own paths. I asked if he wasn’t concerned about their eternal life. He said no, that they were good people and a loving God didn’t send good people to hell if there even was a hell, which there probably wasn’t.

    That a bishop could offer such advice is horrible.

  4. Fr. Theoden
    3 February 2010 at 11:14 PM

    Elder and Karen R—

    Perspicacious of you, Elder, and Karen, bravely said.

    But for Elder’s spotlight, the shepherd of our souls could have pulled the wool over our eyes. Here he has unilaterally revised the wisdom of two millennia of Christian spirituality. Heretofore, in the teaching of the Apostles, parents are blessed and challenged with personal responsibility for passing on the Christian faith to their children.

    Now comes this to our once orthodox diocese the Ersatz Theology of Parenting: “Don’t worry about your children. God loves many a professed atheist…. They have their own journey to go, and God will bring them home.”

    As Elder says elsewhere in this blog, something seems “off” here… I wonder….

    Has Breidenthal bothered to correlate his private opinion with the Scriptures? How about official Liturgy of the Church he has sworn to uphold and defend?

    Hmmm…Let’s see…. here it is! In the book of Joshua:

    “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24.15.)

    Hmm, families themselves embrace the moral decision to serve the Lord there….

    Oh, and, almost forgot that the Church in her wisdom digested that any myriad other scriptures into the the very first question of the Baptismal Covenant! I seem to remember Breidenthal saying something about that somewhere….

    Q: Will you be responsible for seeing that the child you present is brought up in the Christian faith and life?

    A: (parents) I will, with God’s help. (BCP, p. 302)

    Umm, that’s a singular pronoun, Bishop.

    Parents, not the “community,” distant and apart from parents, have the primary responsibility to gift their children with faith in Jesus Christ.

    Except in the Diocese of Southern Ohio in 2010!

  5. Elder Oyster
    4 February 2010 at 10:12 AM

    Thanks, guys.

    What’s particularly distressing about this advice is that it presupposes the absence of warrant to hope, if the danger is real. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, on both counts.

    By the way, Karen wrote an excellent set of articles for this blog, published on Oct 5th and 6th of last year. Also very good reading for parents in this situation, besides Monica’s story.

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