My attention has been drawn to an article which sets out the history of the recent schism in our church (here). The article is well researched and well written and interviews some of our key religious, academic commentators. Not sure about the headline the sub-editor has given it!
Now, this post is NOT about the schism and I may or may not publish your comment if you are going to comment about the schism.
In the course of the article it quotes Peter Lineham, arguably the most well informed observer of our Kiwi religious landscape.
"That’s led to uncertainty about organised religion’s future. “The whole idea that religion can be held together through institutional structures could just be wrong,” mulled Lineham. “A lot of religiosity today is not neatly confined within traditional frameworks, as [it] used to be. And issues like [homosexuality or transgender rights], which institutions make such heavy weather of, most individuals navigate around much more easily.”"
Now, again, for clarity and for deterrance of possible comments, this post is not about issues like homosexuality or transgender rights, nor about whether institutions are making heavy weather of them compared to individuals.
The question here, the point Peter Lineham makes, which seems worth pondering (albeit at risk of making me positionally redundant) is that of whether institutions [churches in the case of Christianity] are needed to "hold religion together"?
Of course, as a simple statement of fact it is true, "A lot of religiosity today is not neatly confined within traditional frameworks, as it used to be."
It is also true that there is a way of reading the story of Jesus of Nazareth and then of his apostle, Paul of Tarsus, as the story of the breaking down of the "institution" of Judaism (as then experienced) and as the story of a religiosity - the dynamics of the Christian experience in the First Century - which could not be confined in frameworks as traditioned in the consciousness of those who became the first Christians.
What do you think?
For myself, I can see that the church is often an institution (and, on many matters, not only those most controversial, makes heavy weather of things).
But the church reads the gospel. It always has a shot at being what it is meant to be!