Credo in…quid? Who is an orthodox Christian?

Pope Francis’s visit to American shores unleashed a storm of breathless reporting and commentary that transfixed the press in the United States for a full week. (I would link, but it’s hard to know where to begin.) Yet amidst the musings on issues both profound and mundane that his journey spawned, one thing was again very clear in the coverage of the pontifical progress: the media are generally flummoxed when they attempt to comprehend and articulate the nature of the factions and fractures within Christianity, particularly when it comes to understanding what an orthodox Christian might actually be.

Exhibit A was this New York Times piece, which begins by airing the views of a representative from the traditionalist wing of the Catholic Church [bold emphasis mine]:

[Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller], a conservative German in black clerical clothing, said neither the pontiff, nor his church, cared whether “Obama says the pope is a very good man” or whether a “fallible” Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. And if papal proclamations of Catholic doctrine on core issues of family have eroded Francis’ global standing, so be it.

But Cardinal Müller is no objective papal observer. He is a leading voice in the orthodox wing of the Catholic Church that worries that outsize attention on Francis’ welcoming, pastoral style could distract from the church’s core beliefs.
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Gay Marriage: An Urgent Matter?

About the Author
David Wagschal

Now that the USA has finally legalized gay marriage, we’re seeing a new round of consternation and unsease among churches that object to full civil and religious equality for gay Christians. Reactions vary, of course, but a growing sense of urgency in conservative Christian circles is quite palpable – and along with it an understandable sense of anger and fear.

My own reaction has mostly been one of sadness – mixed with a certain anxiety.

On a civil level, of course, I’m quite happy that the US is now where it is, even if I’m a little bemused that it’s taken so long.

But on a church level, I can’t help but feel a sense of sorrow, and even trepidation, as I contemplate the long-term loss of credibility that the churches – and the Gospel itself – have suffered in the course of this debate. As I have argued at length over the last half a year or so, the traditional anti-homosexual position is not well founded theologically, biblically, ecclesiologically, or even spiritually. So it’s a hard pill for me to swallow to see “Christian” and “anti-gay” pretty much equated in the media coverage of the US decision. Truthfully, I feel a real sense of shame and embarrassment in Christianity’s association with the anti-gay position. And I worry: how long will this association linger?

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