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Tale of Two Churches

Here is my latest article–published this weekend in the National Catholic Register. It points out that there are two churches within the modern Christian Church: one that is interested in happiness here and the other in happiness hereafter.

One tries to make the world a better place and make people feel better. The other is concerned with the problem of sin, forgiveness and redemption. What you believe about these two matters determines everything else you do in church.

Read it and see what you think…

About Fr. Dwight Longenecker
  • blarg

    How about the church of personal interpretation? I had a Baptist tell me the veil was torn down the middle of the temple, so we can approach the Throne of Grace boldly. “Therefore there no longer is any need for clergy,” he said. It was as if the letters of Timothy and Titus never existed to him. Or Paul’s efforts to run the race in 1 Corth. 9:27.Then he mentioned something odd about consubstantiation, as if what I believed changed the reality of God. If I thought I could lose my salvation, I could lose it. But he believed he could not lose it, so he would not lose it. Don’t get carried away by all kinds of strange teaching, I said to myself.

  • Benfan

    Very good piece Father certainly I recognise what you point to here very clearly. The other thing I notice is a snidy attitude to piety and the “plaster saints” of the past. A false tension is presented between piety and good works. The fact of the matter is that I have never read of any great Saint whose good works were left wanting.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15310965192661014230 Londiniensis

    Spot on, Father. Thank you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17120108669030817877 my15minutes

    I guess I’m just not big on dichotomies. I don’t see it as clearly delineated as one versus the other, the here as opposed to the hereafter. I see eternity as eternity, and here is part of it. It’s the part I can see, no more or less real than “hereafter”.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01562944653624224107 Adrienne

    Both my husband and I thought the article was excellent. We were having the same discussion the night before reading it and raised many of the same points.I took the liberty of placing an advert for the article on my blog. How that’s ok. (See what a classy pair of glasses will get you.)http://adriennescatholiccorner.blogspot.com/

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01562944653624224107 Adrienne

    errrr- hope that’s ok, not how.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16141414361291882691 Augustine

    Fr., you hit the nail on the head. This is perhaps one of the clearest analysis on what perhaps we all have seen around us for the last 40 years.I’d only add that when one turns one’s heart to God’s mercy, life here-and-now improves a lot, even to becoming a happier life.It’s not unlike the Psalms, where we find not only psalms of repentance but also of jubilant praise for God’s work in our souls.May St. David pray for us.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15000747762174079070 PraiseDivineMercy

    Very astute observation Father.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17962225409443023414 Irene

    “The two opposing views can be called ‘Happy Here’ and ‘Happy Hereafter.’”Sorry, those two are NOT opposed. Catholic teaching is that we are to bring about the Kingdom of God beginning here and now, by being Jesus (the Body of Christ).”my15minutes” has a point — avoid dichotomies.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01562944653624224107 Adrienne

    “Sorry, those two are NOT opposed. Catholic teaching is that we are to bring about the Kingdom of God beginning here and now, by being Jesus (the Body of Christ).”Irene – you are correct. I just think Father was trying to say that we have no guarantee of happiness in this life nor should we expect one.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09744212862956880795 the Mom

    Our priest broke it down into the churches of “Do it MY way” and “Do it THY way”. Great article Father, I really enjoyed it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06085979986006926002 Diane K

    I can relate to what you have written in another way: I have experienced those two churches in my own life. I am glad to say that after having found a parish where the “hereafter” is the focus, I have never been so “happy here”. The “happy here” was only superficial, whereas the “happy here because I’m focused on the happy hereafter” is deep and authentic. When I first got to Assumption Grotto, the sermons shocked me in a pleasant way. They deal with the fullness of the faith, including talk about things like sin (with nothing spared),justice humility, sacrifice, mortification, life – all balanced with love, peace and joy. Before I found this parish, every parish I had been in avoided those first things. Of course, those things would upset some people, to make them think about sin and justice, and to make them ponder God’s justice along with his mercy.I stayed because of those sermons and the reverent liturgies. More young people come all the time and they are dismissing the hippy-era “freedoms” that have kept us in spiritual bondage. Good article. You nailed it.

  • Neal

    Excellent article, Father. Except I’ve noticed that ever since I started trying to live for the happy hereafter, I’ve been happier than ever. I don’t consider this a serious setback, however.


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