Seeing the Remnant 

In a recent Quodlibet I criticized the churches that depend for their patronage on producing calculated “worship experiences” of various sorts as having nothing to criticize about drug-energized “psychedelic churches” when their own object was to produce religious thrills, whether of high or low church varieties, for the constituencies they wish to attract or cultivate. I further commented that this criticism, from my point of view, applied to “most churches.” A reader was taken aback by this generalization and wrote to say that his own church tries neither to entertain him nor to whip him into an emotional froth. On this I congratulated him, noting that there was always a remnant, like the Church of Philadelphia of Revelation 3:7f., that did not succumb to the promptings of the Spirit of the Age.

Upon further consideration, though, it seems impossible, as things presently stand, to discern a faithful “remnant” apart from “denominational” theology. How, for example, can a Catholic or Protestant discern a faithful pastor or congregation apart from adherence to his own church’s standards of recognition? (I do not speak here of moral standards, for those are the patrimony of everybody.) As a Protestant observer, for example, I am greatly heartened by learning that the majority of younger Catholic priests dissent from the limp-wristed progressivism of the departing generation. But why should I be? Their Catholicism is built upon developments of doctrine the Reformation rejected as fond inventions, without warrant of Scripture, that enslaved the Christian conscience to popery and priestcraft. Similarly, to a good Catholic, no Protestant minister can be a faithful pastor, or Protestant congregation a faithful church. That perception is not formally allowed.

Or why should a Catholic be pleased to hear of an alleged revival of prayer and devotion at a Protestant college, when he is convinced that the Reformation, at its foundation, was nothing but a rebellion from the True Faith, an outbreak of heresy and schism, still to be exhibited as what Catholics who object to the catastrophe of “good Pope Francis” must at all costs avoid, and mentioned with unfailing contempt in the writings of traditionalist Catholics?

A Mounting Flood

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S. M. Hutchens is a senior editor and longtime writer for Touchstone.

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