What did the Apostle Paul mean about being 'all things to all people'?

What did the Apostle Paul mean about being 'all things to all people'?


(Paraphrased) Sadly, many American churches cling to buildings, music, and tradition at the expense of reaching others with the Gospel. Was this the issue in the church of Corinth that the Apostle Paul rebukes in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23?


Before looking at St. Paul’s 1st Century strategy for planting churches in cities like Corinth, The Religion Guy should say something about the 21st Century. John’s viewpoint is quite surprising. It’s possible that no prior generation has seen so many churches undertake such sweeping efforts to make Christianity appealing to the surrounding secular culture.

Since the Second Vatican Council, many venerable Catholic practices have eroded or disappeared, most notably the use of common languages rather than Latin in worship. In developing nations, churches often supplant a long-sacrosanct European heritage with indigenous practices, not just in worship styles but governance, sometimes allowing polygamy. In the West, some Protestant bodies have downplayed or formally dropped age-old doctrinal and moral tenets.

With U.S. Protestantism, especially for evangelicals, younger congregations will often shun anything that signifies “church” or “tradition” in hopes of luring seekers. Theater seats or sofas replace pews at worship. Gone are robes and collars for clergy or understood dress codes for attendees. Instead of liturgies, choirs, and pipe organs, rock bands perform under spotlights or strobe lights with eardrum-piercing amplifiers. Onscreen words replace hymnals and toted Bibles. Preachers behind Plexiglas pulpits or using roving microphones will void Bible lingo or include skids and videos. Some churches don’t pass offering plates because younger worshippers are so stingy. A few cancel worship services when Christmas falls on Sunday.

Add your own examples.

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Looking ahead to Justice Scalia's funeral, with a flashback to wisdom from his son, the priest

Looking ahead to Justice Scalia's funeral, with a flashback to wisdom from his son, the priest

So what mattered the most in the end, the contents of Justice Antonin Scalia's heart or his head?

Where did the work of the Catholic believer (some journalists called him a "fundamentalist") end and the fierce advocate of Constitutional "originalism" begin?

At mid-week, when host Todd Wilken and I recorded or next "Crossroads" podcast -- click here to tune that in -- I was still wrestling with the following quote from Notre Dame University law professor Richard Garnett, which was featured in a Time magazine think piece about Scalia's impact on American law and culture.

“A big part of his legacy will be how navigated the relationship between one’s deeply held faith commitments and one’s role as a judge,” Garnett, of Notre Dame, says. “For him, the way to navigate that relationship, it was not to compromise one’s religious faith or water it down, it was to distinguish between the legal questions the judge has the power to answer and the religious commitments that a judge has the right to hold, just like all of us do.”

In other words, something like this? "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." That is never an easy task.

While the news media remains focused on the political fallout after Scalia's death, I think it will be interesting to note the fine details of what is sure to be a grand funeral service in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. We know that President Barack Obama will be missing, but how many bishops, archbishops and cardinals will find their way into the "choir"? To what degree will the service -- as the justice desired -- focus on basic Christian beliefs about eternity, as opposed to hints about legal wars in the here and now?

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Latin Mass: Why did NYTimes avoid rite's liberal enemies?

Latin Mass: Why did NYTimes avoid rite's liberal enemies?

There is this old, old, old saying that you will often hear quoted in discussions of worship trends in the modern and postmodern Catholic church. It goes like this.

Question: What is the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist?

Answer: You can negotiate with a terrorist.

Now, you either get that joke or you don't. If you get that joke, then you probably are the kind of person who cares a whole lot about discussions of why Catholics can't sing anymore, why so few men go to Mass and why it matters whether people are allowed to kneel when receiving Holy Communion. On that latter subject, I once wrote:

While it is hard to explain to outsiders, one of the most fascinating battles in the American Catholic church today is the one that pits the kneelers vs. the non-kneelers. I refer, of course, to the issue of whether bishops should -- bowing to the modernization of ancient rites -- attempt to prevent the faithful from kneeling before the altar as they receive Holy Communion during the Mass.

Let me explain: If people are allowed to kneel, that would mean that the Latin Mass is coming back and the next thing you know the pope will be seeking draconian student-life codes on Catholic campuses that prevent student funds from being used for activities that directly attack Catholic doctrine. It would be like the reforms of the Second Vatican Council never happened (or the spirit of the council has been quenched or something like that). Horrors.

Yes, note the reference to the Latin Mass.

You see, there are millions of Catholics who really, really, really hate the modern, post-Vatican II rite that is used in the vast majority of Catholic parishes. I am serious about the word "hate."

At the same time, there are plenty of Catholics wearing Roman collars -- some of them professional liturgists in dioceses across America and around the world -- who really hate (I think "distrust" is too mild a word) the many Catholics who love very traditional forms of liturgy and, especially, the traditional Tridentine Mass. It also annoys these Catholic professionals that so many of the Latin lovers are older Catholics with checkbooks and a fierce dedication to sacramental life. Period.

With all that in mind, please consider the recent New York Times report -- OK, it has been in my guilt file for some time -- that ran under this double-decker headline:

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