religion does not want Christianity

For it falsifies the Christian message to present and to preach Christianity as essentially life-affirming–without referring this affirmation to the death of Christ and therefore to the very fact of death; to pass over in silence the fact that for Christianity death is not only the end, but indeed the very reality of this world. But to “comfort” people and reconcile them with death by making this world a meaningless scene of an individual preparation for death is also to falsify it. For Christianity claims that Christ died for the life of the world, and not for an “eternal rest” from it. This “falsification” makes the very success of Christianity (according to official data church building and per capita contributions to churches have reached an all time high!) into a profound tragedy. The worldly man wants the minister to be an optimistic fellow, sanctioning faith in an optimistic and progressive world. And the religious man sees him as an utterly serious, sadly solemn and dignified denouncer of the world’s vanity and futility. The world does not want religion and religion does not want Christianity. The one rejects death, the other, life. Hence the immense frustration either with the secularist tendencies of the life-affirming world or with the morbid religiosity of those who oppose it.

This frustration will last as long as long as Christians continue to understand Christianity as a religion whose purpose is to help, as long as they continue to keep the “utilitarian” self-consciousness” typical of the old religion.

From chapter six in For the Life of the World by Alexander Schmemann (96-97).

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