From a recent column by Lexington [Ky.] Herald-Leader religion-writer and minister, Paul Prather: “In a nicely worded analogy, [Pope] Francis told La Civilta Cattolica, ‘I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars. You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else’.”
The column had to do with the Pope’s recent, well-publicized remarks about not being judgmental toward homosexuals and dogmatic about things such as abortion and same-sex marriage. He walked himself back from the latter two and made no statements changing any of the church’s dogma, including homosexual behavior, though he has the power to do that.
The Pope’s analogy vis-à-vis the hospital being the church is exactly backwards. He likened an “injured” person to one with an upset/trauma brought about by circumstances accruing to negligence, bad luck or of his own making. His solution was to deal with the “injury” rather than ward it off in advance by providing preventive measures, sort of like having to fix a broken hip because the old codger’s bed-rail was not in place when he decided to take a walk.
The “injury” the Pope probably had in mind was the disadvantage of many people accruing to poverty or oppression. Feeding/aiding them before or after the “injury” is impossible if the church is weak, so the Pope’s point is well taken. However, the church is weak mainly because its members are spiritually deprived, translated, doctrinally ignorant. Strength and compassion are structured through attainment of spiritual purity gained by activating doctrine, the teachings of the Bible.
Prather’s column was about loving and serving everyone because God loves us. Prather said: “We've been offered unconditional grace. Anyone can get a ticket stamped for heaven just by asking.” When the rich ruler asked what he should do to be worthy, Jesus told him to give what he had to the poor and follow him—a condition. The blind man was healed only when, as directed by Jesus, he washed from his eyes the mud Jesus placed on them—a condition. Even biblically, there’s no free lunch.
Prather’s prescription is called “cheap grace.” During the Catholic Inquisition, indulgences (passports to heaven) were sold by the church hierarchy to ignorant peasants—cheap grace. Pay up, live like hell, and truck on up to the pearly gates.
Prather wrote: “By forgiving us unconditionally, he [God] frees us from eternal condemnation and self-condemnation alike.” Whoa! Is Prather saying a “loving” God would mandate “eternal condemnation” for anyone? His “un-condition” noted above was that the individual must “ask” for a “ticket stamped for heaven.” Most people, historically and worldwide, have never “asked”…indeed, have never heard of Jesus or heaven. Are they hell-bound?
Prather: “Still, it appears he [Pope Francis] wants to help shift the church's focus — away from rules and judgment, toward mercy and love.” This is the politically correct approach to religion, the “You’re okay, I’m okay” theology because rule-mongering is obsolete, with great religious theater operative now…hugs and warm-fuzzies all around and EVERYTHING in a shade of gray, translated, spiritual stupidity.
Problem: The Holy Bible is a massive document of “shalls” and “shall nots,” with little left for gray shades—unmistakably clear about worshiping God with the entire pure-as-possible self, categorically forbidding murder, lying, stealing, adultery, covetousness (greed) and homosexual acts, among other things.
Jesus portrayed a bit of “tough love” when he used Sodom as an example concerning his “loving” condemnation of certain cities for their willfulness and when he made a whip and lashed the defilers (greedy merchants) and drove them off the temple grounds. He also said that believers must care for the disadvantaged and made it plain that marriage was confined to a man and woman.
Prather: “No, to hear them [too many Christians] tell it, the Christian message is foremost about opposing abortion, gay marriage, contraception—pretty much anything having to do with (shhhhh!) s-e-x.” This is Prather’s elitist tour de force, not realizing he’s the one who just brought up the subject of “(shhhhh!) s-e-x,” an obsession (especially perverted sex) with today’s sophisticated modernists and religious highbrows.
Pope Francis sees the church in decline and along with his religionist counterparts in this country is attempting to hold the fort by accommodating it to secularism/hedonism, marks of the prevailing culture. It won’t work because sin and church are mutually exclusive. Prather is in accommodation-mode, while Francis heads a church so steeped in moral depravity in much of the priesthood that onlookers just snicker.
And so it goes.