Good Friday is a an example of the paradoxes we find throughout Christianity. In what way could the death of God be good? After his last breath, darkness fills the land. In his final hours, he tells us not to weep for him, but for women and children. Reading the descriptions of his crucifixion could never be seen as good. Crown of thorns, mockery, flogging, crowned head beaten with a reed, beatings, and finally nailed to a tree. How could any of this be good?
Solanus Casey is right on the money. Down through the years it has come to my attention that American Christianity is a religion of prosperity and we don't much care for the hard things of the sufferings of Jesus or the early church or Christians down through the centuries. We prefer our peace and prosperity, Francis Schaeffer, than taking up our cross. And, of course, any individual of that day who saw someone carrying a cross it was because that individual was headed to be crucified. We don't know what it means to cry out in the dark and have the heavens as brass, Pastor Vic, and God clearly refusing to say anything or offer any assistance. A critical weakness of the modern American church is far too many leaders and pastors who don't know what it is to scream into the night and have God say, no, that's not how we're doing this. We love to read about Jeremiah but fail to connect with his broken heart and we don't have a record of anyone who really believed him and turned to the God of Israel because of his witness. Interesting what we prefer from Scripture. OK - got to stop. Getting carried away. Randy
Excellent article, Daniel. Gethsemane is a very instructive case of prayer; Lewis makes much use of it in Letters to Malcolm. In the earlier part of your essay, I couldn’t help but think of the ghosts in The Great Divorce: most of them were just sulking. A lot of atheism is just a bad case of the sulks. For Jesus, winning a kingdom required a courageous and submissive faith; thy will be done. It takes no less for his disciples, his subjects: “He that overcomes....” “They take it by force.” “Be strong, quit you like men, let all you do be done in love (not a sulky, “I’m not feeling loved”). Staying faithful to his God was not easy for Job, either. Or David. Or the apostles. So, like, duh (how’s that for a scholarly conclusion?). I encourage your readers to consult Oswald Chambers; his was a manly faith - the kind that overcomes and wins the kingdom. Lord, have mercy on us all and gives us the strength and grace and courage we need to stay faithful in this darkening day.
I think many people are walking away from Christianity because they see how supposed Religious Leaders are no longer leading people with unchangeable ideas they can believe in. Instead, Churches are chasing after the new fads and beliefs that seem to be popular at the moment.
Christians are supposed to be accepting of all people/sinners. That doesn't mean they should cater to the sinners to seduce them into becoming Members. You can be accepting of Gay Marriage without performing the marriage service in your Church. The Catholic Church can accept pro-abortion believers to attend Church, but should not be giving people like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi, who don't just tolerate abortion, but actively promote and pass laws making abortion legal, Communion.
Being a Christian takes commitment to pray, to attend Church Service, give to charity, tithe to the Church, etc. Why should people commit their time, energy, and money when all Churches seem to care about is bending their teachings and rules to the whims of Society so they can gain a bigger Membership and more money?
The COVID-19 LOCKDOWNS was the worst betrayal ever. Churches gave in to the authority of the State for fear of being persecuted. They abandoned people when they needed them most. People were afraid. They needed help fighting their addictions, with their mental health, with Family problems, etc. Churches weren't there.