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Inner Awareness Why Christianity must change or die By Jaime Licauco Philippine Daily Inquirer Read more: http://lifestyle.inquirer.

net/128507/why-christianity-must-change-ordie#ixzz2nKiYsCNv Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook Pope Francis uncharacteristically un-Pope-like statements in a recent interview w ith a Jesuit Journal was welcomed by liberal and progressive Christians around t he world, but condemned by the more conservative ones. In that interview, the Pope said the Catholic Church should be less concerned wit h its obsession with abortion, contraception and homosexuality and focus more on c ompassion and healing those who felt wounded by the Church. Although addressed to the Christian world in general, the statements of the firs t non-European Pope in 1,300 years of the papacy seem to apply more directly to the Catholic Church in the Philippines than to any other country because of the local Church s vehement and obsessive opposition to the reproductive health (RH) l aw, which it has mistakenly equated with abortion. Conservative Catholics need not worry about the Pope s liberating statements becau se, although the Church has long been in need of radical reform, Pope Francis sta tements could hardly qualify as even mildly reformist in tenor and intent. He wa s not talking about a change in doctrine, but a change in attitude. The incoming CBCP head, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, tried to deflect the impac t of the Pope s words by saying they will heed the Pope s statement but we will conti nue to fight the RH law. He does not forbid us to fight against these issues. What the Pope really meant by his candid pronouncements will continue to be deba ted by both the conservatives and the progressives. In the end, as always, the t ruth will suffer in silence and be thrown into oblivion. Literal interpretation The Catholic Church in the Philippines appears to my mind to be the modern incar nation of the Pre-Christian Sadducees who were more concerned with the literal i nterpretation of the Law of Moses rather than with its spirit. The Church has no t kept pace with the changing consciousness and needs of the people it was suppo sed to serve. It has failed to answer their deepest doubts about the role of the Church in their daily lives. As retired Archbishop John Shelby Spong of the Episcopal Church in New Jersey po inted out in his thought-provoking book, Why Christianity Must Change or Die (publ ished by Harper-Collins Publications in 1998): Institutional Christianity seems fearful of inquiry, fearful of freedom, fearful of knowledge indeed, fearful of anything except its own repetitious propaganda, wh ich has its origins in a world that none of us any longer inhabits The words of the Apostles Creed, and its later expansion known as the Nicene Cree d, were fashioned inside a world view that no longer exists. Indeed, it is a long way from the year 325 A.D., when the Creed was formulated, to the current year 2013.

Bishop Spong s provocative book courageously questioned the long-held Church belie fs and doctrines that seem not only outdated but clearly illogical and incredibl e in the light of current technical and scientific knowledge, such as God s omnipo tence, the virgin birth of Jesus by the teenaged Mary, and even Christ s crucifixi on and resurrection. But such radical views have not shaken Archbishop Spong s long belief in Christian ity and in Jesus Christ. He considers himself a believer in exile. Controversial He is the author of no less than 15 books, which have made him not only the most highly controversial Christian church official but also a target for assassinat ion by conservative Christians offended by his radical and, to their mind, clear ly heretical, views. They do not want merely to gag him, they want him killed! He confirmed that he has been a recipient of 16 death threats from Bible-quoting true believers. He has also been attacked by the religious right, all of which on ly succeeded in making him popular and a most sought-after speaker. Actually, he said, I am, grateful to my critics. What they unwittingly did was to i dentify me as a resource for the religious seekers of our world who yearn to bel ieve in God but who are also repelled by the premodern literalizations that so f requently masquerade as Christianity.

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