Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Notre Dame Burned to the Ground

Notre Dame burned to the ground. As far as the building goes, it was just the roof and spire that burned this week. The rest may have to wait until Jesus burns even the elements of heaven and earth in the process of refashioning them for the new creation.

But the whole thing burned all the way to the ground some 200 years after the building was "consecrated," when Trent took Roman Catholicism over the threshold from "decaying church" into "synagogue of Satan" by anathematizing the gospel.

It's far more dreadful for the church, as a living and spiritual organism, to burn than for even the most significant of buildings to be lost. When Solomon's temple was razed, it was a smaller tragedy than the previous 400 years of Judah's spiritual collapse.

"But Notre Dame is a symbol." Stop right there. Christ brought us out of the shadows. Post-ascension, religious symbols beyond the two sacraments are indicative of a church that's burning.

I grieve for France, and Paris, and even beautiful buildings. I wish I grieved more, but my heart is never so soft as it should be. I fall even further short when grieving for churches. I keep hearing that it's holy week. Who says? Men? Certainly not God.

I'm not just hearing this from Roman Catholics. Not just from Evangelicals. Not just from so-called "Continental Reformed" (though we should change the euphemism to "Continental 2/3 Reformed," since the preacta and postacta of the Synod of Dordt would thoroughly shock them).

I hear it from ministers in my own Church. I am subjected to their Facebook ads for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services. I am amazed at their articles that throw the word 'catholic' around as if it has anything to do with the organization headquartered in the Vatican. I am dismayed at their dismay at the possible "loss" of dead images, which we confess together are offensive to the living God.

It's not that I'm ungrateful that the Lord has been turning our Church back around to its former, more biblical, doctrine and practice. Rather, I'm alarmed that there's not still alarm, when the fire is not yet out.

To be sure, the heat is diminished. The soundness of the structure as a whole is no longer in question. But the last of the fire still smolders in fairly obvious ways. It needs to be put out. And then the rebuilding and refurbishing can begin and should proceed in earnest.

To be honest, most of the time, I forget altogether to see this reality. Sometimes it takes an historic event to put the rest of our everyday experience into historical (or even biblical) perspective.

O, for a heart that would grieve as it ought for the spiritual state of the Church! O, for a Church that is so enraptured with the reigning, returning Christ who sits on the Throne, that it would shrug at the weightlessness (and grieve at the offensiveness) of all human embellishments that dare go by the name "Christ"ianity.

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