Beginning of the End of the Reformation?

There is a great article in the Wall Street Journal featuring our very own Fr. Eric Bergman. In it, he speaks about how the Pope of Christian Unity, Benedict the XVI’s great gifts of widening the use of the ‘Latin Mass’ and now the Anglican Use communities are setting the foundation for the end of the Reformation in mainline Protestant denominations.  Definitely food for thought, whether you think Fr. Eric is overstating his case or not.

But I also highly reccomend visiting the comments on the article.  There is a very clear and brief discussion between an atheist and an Eastern Orthodox concerning the path of Christianity in the modern West.  A snippet:

Similarly, if modern science shrinks the possibility of miracles, it is merely holding true to its own tautological foundations in doing so: if science is indeed the study of nature using the scientific method, miracles are not excluded from existing, they are excluded from being analyzable. That shouldn’t bother a sensible theist a whole lot. If science is being used to develop a new wonder-drug, I quite expect that the development plan should not include something along the lines of ‘step 5 — at this time hope for a miracle’.

The ‘gaps’ in our knowledge, therefore, are not something that has to, or necessarily can be, filled by empirical experience or analysis. They are where meaning quietly enters, where the ‘human weakness’ you concede resides. Two sayings that help define the weakness are “The beginning of knowledge is ‘I do not know'” and “The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord” — i.e. accepting our own lack of full understanding and our vulnerability before the Unknowable. From the vantage point of a believer living out his faith (as best I can), I can assure you God is not some kind of opiate-like divine spackle for filling in those gaps of ignorance or fear in our lives. Those gaps, when turned to our advantage, are windows into something beyond, where meaning does reside. Human weakness is the starting point of growth, not the final verdict on life and its purpose.

Finally, as for Christianity dying — well, it is certainly not dying in terms of numbers of believers, and in the First World it is unquestionably undergoing a vigorous intellectual revival that is starting to spread into the Church as a whole. Rapprochement with Judaism, between Catholic and Orthodox, sparks of reunification in the Protestant world, the return of theology as a living touchstone on best seller lists are some outer signs. That revival is taking place in the context of a different kind of society than in the past — secular, aging, under demographic and ideological pressure from the Islamic world — and in the wake of some awful scandals. But reports of Christianity’s death are as premature as rumors of the Second Coming, which we are always assured will be just a tad bit too early.

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