DIY Christianity

What is the greatest threat to the church in America today? You could list a lot of candidates.

My answer is DIY Christianity.

That's the term I use with my students to communicate the notion—which they readily recognize—of the Christian faith as recreated anew in, by, and for each generation, or even perhaps each local body of believers. This is Christianity without history, without tradition, without authority, without saints or martyrs or anything mediate, that is, anything intervening (thus obtruding, thus obstructing) between the individual and Jesus. DIY Christianity is "founding" a local church the way entrepreneurs found a start-up, with Big Ideas and Enough With The Old and Radical Innovation. (DIY Christianity thinks "innovation," like "curiosity," is a virtue rather than a vice.)

DIY Christianity is a mortal enemy to the faith once for all delivered to the saints and handed on, generation after generation, from the apostles to the present day. In all that I do—writing and teaching, at church or in the classroom—my singular goal is, so far as I am able, to excise this malignant tumor from the hearts and minds of anyone who will listen.

In positive terms, what I want is for American Christians today to learn, or relearn, to be catholic: to belong to the one great tradition, the one apostolic faith, the one universal church. To reimagine faith not as something they create or manufacture or curate or judge for themselves, but that to which they submit, in joy, the way one simply receives an unexpected gift, a beloved friend's return, the birth of a child. The faith as a given, and the real matter before us one of how to live that faith today, in the midst of so many challenges.

For catholic faith to reign, and DIY Christianity to die: that is the task before us, and therefore the prayer on my mind and on my lips, every single day.


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