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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Christian Voodoo

OK, I just got finished watching a report on TV about a newspaper columnist in Los Angeles taking a cheap shot at the Catholic Church in an editorial that really had nothing to do with religion. Many on the left are, frankly, Romo-phobic. That's the only explanation. Anti-Catholicism /Catholic-bashing is perhaps the one form of bigotry still openly permitted in the American public square.

That being said, there are some things about the Roman Catholic Church that I simply don't like (while I truly do love my many RC friends). The things that "the world" hates most about the RC Church are typically NOT what I oppose, however. In fact, the points where the secularists scorn Catholics the most are often the points where I feel the most solidarity with them. Abortion and euthanasia are excellent examples.

And then I see something like the story on ABC's Primetime Live that aired this evening about a church here in Pittsburgh. It seems that a local woman was suffering from a difficult pregnancy and a family member went to a well-known Roman Catholic Church to pray. This particular church is reported to have the largest collection of relics anywhere outside the Vatican. 2500 to be exact.

To make a short story out of it, the broadcast reported that a relic - a bone that may or may not have been part of a particular Christian, long dead - was used to heal this poor woman in the hospital.

Now since relics played a bit of a role in the genesis of the Lutheran Reformation, I am kind of sensitive on this subject. But in the report we heard about how a woman prayed to dead people, rubbed a bone on her belly, saw an apparition and ... experienced a miraculous healing. That's nothing short of voodoo with a Christian gloss. I believe in miracles, but I believe that GOD does them, not Saint Whatshisname or Blessed Whosoever.

I heard not one word about our Lord Jesus Christ. Not one word about God's mercy or His power to heal. Nothing, nada, nihil. Now I can't blame the Church of Rome for the way ABC reported this story. But insofar as Roman Catholics are still encouraged to pray to anyone other than God and insofar as miracles are sought not from God but dead Christians, there is still superstitious mumbo-jumbo alive in the RC Church. And this makes us all look like morons. There are enough issues where the Christian Church must clash with the world already. The cross is a stumbling block. But it irritates me when well-meaning believers do things like this and give outsiders a wholly unnecessary reason to write us off, and in so doing, write God off.

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Preachrboy said...

I agree. Superstitious is another apt descriptor here (but VooDoo does sound cooler, eh?).

I whammied prayer to saints and Mary in my sermon this week. Do they NOT READ JOHN 14:6? (I am the way) Or 1 Timothy 2:5 (no mediator but Christ!)

That said, I do think there are some VooDoo Lutherans sometimes - even in our LCMS. Back to church and ministry - I find a lot of this stuff surrounding the whole "what to do when you get a divine call". I like the advice given here: Redeemer Lutheran Church as opposed to what I have seen/heard elsewhere.

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Pr. Dave Petersen's comments are quite good. I agree with him fundamentally. Why is it that LCMS pastors all turn into pentecostals when it comes to deciding on a call, looking for direct revelation?

My added thoughts:
- a pastor should usually not take more than 3 or 4 weeks to make his decision. If he can't decide in that amount of time, then he should just stay where he is.
- a pastor should only leave his current call if he has a clear and compelling reason to do so. Never just "I'm bored" or "Maybe this will be better."
- Use common sense. Make a decision. Then trust God to bless it.

Funky Dung said...

I found your blog via Blog Explosion and was intrigued for a few reasons.

1. I'm a convert from Lutheranism to Catholicism.
2. I'm a Pittsburgher.
3. "Romo-phobic"

I just wanted you to know that I absolutely love that word and will be putting it to use whenever someone goes all Jack Chick on me. ;)

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Hi funk,
Glad you found me. Feel free to use "Romo-phobic." I don't think I coined it, but not sure where I may have heard it first.

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