My colleagues in the Roman Catholic Church have elected a new president of their bishop's group.
Breaking tradition, they elected someone basically based upon is more conservative credentials. Perhaps conservative is not the best word although it was used in the article. Perhaps the better word, also used, is orthodox.
For some reason, orthodoxy has gotten a bad rap, at least in some circles of the church. I vividly remember former Episcopal Bishop Shelby Spong write that the church must not place emphasis on orthodoxy, or it will die. Paraphrasing him--if the church doesn't get rid of its outdated beliefs in the Virgin Birth, miracles, or even the bodily resurrection of Jesus, it stands to be laughed out of existence in this age of science and reason.
I wonder what Spong's take is on the fact that the churches that actually are growing are those who tend to be much more orthodox in their beliefs. There are a few exceptions to the rule, mind you, but those churches which tend to have a defined set of beliefs and understandings tend to do better than those who don't. Those churches who know the core convictions of Christianity and put them into practice tend to reach out with God's Word and attract folks who are searching for some sort of meaning for their lives.
I really do applaud the Catholic Bishops in who they elected. While I do not agree with all of the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church, they are not afraid to espouse them, defend them, and hold onto them despite the major criticisms of people all over the place. You never have to wonder what the church believes when you ask about the Roman Catholic Church. They know. Take it or leave it.
And folks continue to "take it". The church continues to see growth in the U.S. when most mainline churches are failing and failing miserably. I'd argue that at least within my own denomination, our failure to adhere to Lutheran Orthodox principles are part and parcel of our problem--that, and an incredible inability to break out of the "God's frozen chosen" label.
Is it so hard to remember your principles and where you came from? Is it so hard to retain orthodox beliefs which lead to outreach and ministry? Apparently so. At least for my denomination. Thank God for the rest of them who aren't afraid of standing fast.