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May 03, 2005

Comments

Jeff

Though we hope that many of our kids will choose to be confirmed, we don't make it mandatory. Indeed, we urge our youth to choose not to be confirmed if they don't genuinely believe in what it is that they are confirming!

That's good to hear, especially in light of some of the recent sex education commentary. Though I still worry that for some people it *is* mandatory - just that family, not church, makes it so.

Keri

Yeah, I echo Jeff's concern and can say from personal experience that it can definitely be a problem. A few years ago, I was one of those kids faced with the unfortunate choice between professing my undying belief in a religion I'd begun to have serious doubts about or betraying, disappointing and angering my family. I remember being incredibly uncomfortable during confirmation classes when the teacher would tell us point-blank that we shouldn't be going through the confirmation process if we weren't 100% devoted to becoming a full member of the church, and even that it was dishonest and disrespectful to do so without that complete devotion; it made me feel helpless and trapped, as if I had no choice and no matter what I did it would be wrong.

I suppose one could argue that I did have a choice, that I could have stood my ground and refused to go through with it, but I can't help but think that's a bit much to ask of a teenager who's facing pressure from all sides and just wants to escape the situation with a minimum of damage. At the time, it was easier just to go along with it in order to keep the peace within my family (ironically, it wasn't my parents who were adamant about my getting confirmed, but my grandmother; my parents were just unwilling to take a stand against her and deal with the years of passive-aggressive lamenting that would result, so they let her pressure them into making me do it). And I'm not going to say I was eternally traumatized or anything-- it really hasn't made all that much difference in my adult life. My parents agreed that after confirmation, it would be up to me whether or not I wanted to continue as a member of the church, and I chose not to. I know that some families can be so strict about their beliefs that a rejection of those beliefs by any member will lead to deep rifts and estrangement, so I realize that I was lucky to be able to make that choice and still maintain a good relationship with my family. Still, I regret that I was unable to control my religious future (or lack thereof) from an earlier age.

I wonder how a truly sensitive confirmation instructor (something you seem to be making an effort to be) would deal with a situation like that among your kids. It's important to let them know that the choice is in their hands and it should be something that is chosen freely, but unfortunately that message can also cause so much guilt and turmoil in someone who isn't making the choice freely because they don't feel that they can make any other choice without terrible consequences. At the risk of putting you on the spot, how would you deal with this sort of thing if you became aware of it?

Karla

Bishop Bruno confirmed my kids a few years ago and asked similar questions,as far as I know, all the kids answered yes.__ Did you know that he used to be a police officer?

Karla

Bishop Bruno confirmed my kids a few years ago and asked similar questions,as far as I know, all the kids answered yes.__ Did you know that he used to be a police officer?

Hugo

Oh yes, Karla; I've known Jon Bruno for about seven years and am fortunate enough to call him a personal friend.

Chip

"Similarly, 'evil' is simply defined as failing to recognize Christ in others; evil for our kids is the absence of love. I'd say we're on solid ground here, both in terms of church tradition and Scripture!"

Sorry, Hugo, I can't go with you here (not that you'd expect anything else :)). You're absolutely right about the progressive definition of "evil"; I saw it and was mightily disturbed by it at General Convention 2000 during the Sunday Eucharist, when it was the only sin mentioned during the confession. This view constitutes a very reductionist view of sin. We do a whole lot more than "fail to recognize Christ in others" every day; we sin against a holy God without necessarily sinning against other people. We "miss the mark" in many ways, "known and unknown, things done and left undone." To summarize sin as "failing to recognize the image of God in others" (I think that was the language used in the liturgy) is absurd and dangerous, even if it fits in well with progressive politics and theology.

This view is deadly because it comes close to universalism in its implications. It implicitly states that we're all good and leaves out our need for a savior. It goes hand-in-hand with the horribly erroneous idea that we're "co-creators" with God that's popular in progressive circles. (We're at best sub-creators, to reference J.R.R. Tolkien.) It's also a view of sin that fits very well with a denial of Christ's atonement for our sins, which you've noted before is pervasive in progressive circles.

In progressive theology, we're no longer sinners alienated from God who need to cease our rebellion and lay down our arms (to paraphrase Lewis), but people who don't need to repent but just accept the love that God would give them.


Sure, teens can be zealous ("evangelical" if you like) for progressivism -- but is this faithfulness to Christ? No matter how right or just our zeal for social justice is, if as Christians we're not convicted of our sins and committing ourselves to the one who died to take away our sins, is it really Christianity?

As you know, Hugo, I'm not criticizing you for being at All Saints, questioning your beliefs, or forgetting that you try to sow some evangelical theology in there for the kids. I'm just pointing out the dangers of such a belief, even if it is a summary. I really don't think that you're on great biblical or traditional grounds for this belief.

Peace of Christ,
Chip

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