Church to Change People:
Not to reinterpret
moral Christian standards
in the light of modern convention

As one may reflect from time-to-time on how our nation has evolved over the years since its founding, one cannot help but be amazed at the changes that have taken place. Many of these changes reflect a significant moral erosion of the ideals and institutions that have made our country great.

In the midst of these changing times, the church is both target and enabler.

For example, how relevant is truth? What does an oath to tell the truth really mean? Is it part of a game or is it a moral standard?

How often have we seen people in positions of responsibility, whether in government, corporate business, charitable organizations, even the church, give the impression that they did not have to be held to the same standards as others and approach truth as being irrelevant to their own or their agency or business' success?

Is this attitude a reflection of the changing nature of the Church in today's society? Is the Church bowing to societal pressure and changing the standards expected of a Christian?

Scripture, in defining its nature, charges the Church with changing mankind to conform to the standards set forth by our Lord and perpetuated within the Body of Christ, the Church.

In short, the objective of the Christian Church is to change people, not to be changed by people.

This doesn't mean that the Church is not a dynamic institution. Indeed, as it is the living Body of Christ, it must be responsive, it must be dynamic. It too grows in the knowledge of Jesus Christ as all of human knowledge grows.

Through all of the changes in a progressing, evolving world, the Church itself remains a stabilizing factor through standards established by its very Head, Jesus Christ.

There is no earthly, human wisdom or knowledge superior to that of our Savior; nor is there any aspect of human life that is exempt from the higher judgments of religious faith and ethic.

What is it that has become confused in the evolution of the religious and social aspects of mankind, and even the Church itself?

Basically, the excusing of standards, or as we might otherwise phrase it, the liberalizing of Christian Standards in an effort to tie the Church to societal changes rather than to tie societal changes to the Church.

In the Church itself prior to the Protestant Reformation, there developed among the hierarchy a double standard as if the indelible mark of ordination and consecration to clerical office had also imbued the individual with immunity from many of the standards that were imposed on the laity. That same immunity seemed also to be implied for those in positions of secular leadership such as the royal lines.

The Protestant Reformation, while addressing many of the evils which had crept into the Church over the centuries, failed to be truly reforming in respect to Church Standards, or Christian Standards, that became tied to the impulse of religious leaders and denominational variances.

The charismatic appeal of individual religious leaders more and more overshadowed the teaching of Jesus and the valiant efforts the Apostles had made in building up the Early Church to reflect the ideals and standards set forth by our Lord.

In our own country, we have seen the concept of separation of Church and State evolve beyond the recognition of what many perceive its original intent to have been; that is, to prevent the establishment of a single denomination by the national government or a single, compulsory form of religious worship in the nation.

The diversification and relaxation of Christian Standards has been further reinforced by attacks against religion, Christianity in particular, under the guise of Separation of Church and State.

We have seen various denominations more and more relaxing standards in order to attract people to their congregations. It is as if there is some confusion about "standards," "responsibility," and "compassion;" as if, in this state of confusion, the Church must apologize for the standards set forth by our Lord and for mankind's innate weakness, rather than to offer a place of refuge and strength for the sinner to approach God in communal prayer.

We Anglicans following the traditions of the Early Church, must never lose sight of the Christian Standards our Church Fathers lived and died to instill in each convert and with which the very foundations of the Church were cemented.

We also must never lose sight of the love and compassion our Lord has for each of us and which we must in turn share with others. It is not that Jesus tolerates our failure to live up to His Standards; rather, He understands our weakness and it is through Him alone that we can be perfected.

The Church must have standards and ideals, otherwise it becomes no more than a reflection of earthly things rather than heavenly things.

If the Bible and Early Church teachings reflect the standards and ideals set forth by our Lord Jesus Christ, then it is incumbent upon the Church today to stand by those same standards and ideals. Each Christian denomination to be a part of the Body of Christ must adhere to the same standards and ideals, though ritual or forms of worship may vary.

Christian Standards are not up to the individual interpretation of denominations, religious leaders, or societal convention. Some things do remain constant. And St. Paul was pretty good at defining these constants for the understanding of the Church.

It is too easy to view the Church and Christianity as a cold, codification of how we must live our lives or suffer the consequences. In reality, the Church, the Body of the Living Christ, is our spiritual refuge providing nourishment, strengthening us against the wiles of world, and bringing us into communion with our Heavenly Father.

If, when we attend "church," we find ourselves in a place that is cold and without any joy or fellowship, how can we relate it to the Living Body of Christ?

As structured as our Catholic form of worship is, it is filled with joy and fellowship; it must be; if not, we may be missing the whole point of communal worship. The Feast of Thanksgiving, the Eucharistic Service, extends from the Altar following us as we go forth in peace.

We must set ourselves about being examples -- living examples of Christian standards.

For a truth, we cannot alter the standards set forth by our Lord however we may attempt to reinterpret them in the light of modern convention; nor will any reinterpretation better able us to meet those standards. Indeed, by what authority could we alter what God has set forth through His Son as an earthly reflection of Divine Expectation?

There is a balance in our spiritual lives: Divine Expectation which exceeds our human ability and Divine Compassion which offers us hope for the world to come.