… When I think about the larger context of all this, I am always reminded of something Lewis says in a preface to Mere Christianity: that he got the strongest support and commendation for his project from Christians of all types who loved and were faithful to their own tradition. The deeper the Methodist got into Methodism, and the deeper the Catholic got into Catholicism, and the deeper the Orthodox got into Orthodoxy, the closer they got to one another. It was the people who stood at or near the periphery of their own tradition who were most suspicious about historic, orthodox, “mere” Christianity.
So I don’t think any particular tradition, whether Protestant or Catholic or Orthodox, will survive the coming attacks unless it goes deep into its own resources; and I think if it does go deep into its own resources, it will thrive, in character and substance if not in sheer numbers. But this will not happen at the level of any tradition as a whole; it will happen at the level of the parish, the local community. Right now, I don’t see such “going deep” to be any more likely in one tradition than another. And I don’t think it will ever be the norm.
The Christian communities that thrive will
- be radically Christ-centered always;
- refuse to be therapeutic, but rather emphasize the worship we owe to the God who made and redeemed us;
- connect imaginatively and substantively with Christians throughout the past and around the world;
- be open to all, but reserve leadership to those who are willing to commit to radical obedience;
- turn the other cheek and go cheerfully on when attacked by the world; and
- recognize these practices in other communities, even those outside their tradition.