Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Invisible Velvet Curtain (it actually exists)

The Rev. Father Donald Cupitt, Anglican priest and Christian author, calls it a painted veil….I have often called it an Invisible Velvet Curtain that hangs between the pulpit and the pews of most all Christian churches.

An Invisible Velvet Curtain that separates ‘Popular Christianity’…. (the domain of the people-in-the-pews), from ‘Academic Christianity’…. (which is the domain of the church hierarchy from the pulpit to the Pope)

For the past six years, the Delphi Study Group (a.k.a. the Sojourners class) has been studying this Academic understanding of Christianity. We have been studying what students are taught in seminaries and religion classes in colleges and universities around the world.

Our studies have brought us in contact with many of today’s church leaders, historians, pastors, bishops, professors, biblical scholars and theologians. We have studied their writings, …listened to their lectures both in person and on the computer. …. We even took a semester of classes on the Old Testament from Yale University, via the internet.

We have come to appreciate many of the differences between these two understandings of Christianity. Some of these differences are somewhat shocking, some even traumatic…. But all of them are interesting.

We have discovered that these two belief systems (Popular vs. Professional or Academic) are so different in their respective views of Christian doctrine that if stripped of their Christian identity, and viewed separately,… most people would not recognize them as elements of the same religion.

Yet we have also discovered that while there are many differences between Popular and Academic Christianity, one point remains the same…. The teachings of Jesus of Nazareth….. to love one another, to care for the disadvantaged, to seek justice for all people.

The Church as a whole is moving toward a fuller understanding of Academic Christianity…More and more Christians are beginning to see over, under and around the Invisible Velvet Curtain…its a long slow process… but as it happens, the teachings of Jesus…. (as opposed to the teachings about Jesus)…. will become more and more the center of our faith journey.

barry e

1 comment:

jackfate said...

Excellent post. Thanks. And it is a long slow journey indeed! Although "Academic Christianity" is much more inspiring and rewarding it is also much more challenging to follow and to learn... almost like starting over. I am beginning to have somewhat pessimistic outlook for it catching on because most people are comfortable with Popular Christianity and their belief system and, lets face it, a bit lazy and unwilling to take the time to learn something new.