All around us, there is cause for alarm because of identifiable deteriorations and degenerations.
Now, the meaning of the verb “degenerate”¹ seems deeper than its noun form, a mere slur that’s inappropriate for a Christian to utter. Rather, “to degenerate” is to slide in a negative direction, or to retrogress.
Not a few aspects of our society seem to me to be retrogressing or degenerating.
And not a few people I’ve known have degenerated in terms of spiritual commitments and moorings.
The first group Within the space of a couple years, I learned that several people I knew were sliding toward Anglicanism. A colleague here, a new friend there. Old friends who used to be somewhat more tied to a more biblically based denomination. Their son, quite independently of them. Someone we were regularly associated with moved toward Anglicanism through marriage. Another person I knew actually stated, “If the Pope would get over the infallibility thing, I’d be Catholic.” In the same conversation, he acknowledged he was basically an Anglican by that point. He had slidden toward Romanism from his more seriously biblically connected past.
Make no mistake: for anyone who has seen a fair amount of biblical light, motion toward Anglicanism or Roman Catholicism is tantamount to a degenerative “slide.”
What causes such slides? I do not esteem equally all of those people described above, but to be sure, I trust that many of their hearts are in the right place. In the best cases, I think some might be driven by mere interest in something different. Or, perhaps, by a desire for more apparent depth and aesthetic beauty. Some do perceive beauty in stained glass and robes and ancient poetry and pageantry.
The second group Then there is the slide of some — quite separate from any interest in any particular denominational affiliation — toward a decidedly lesser Christian commitment in general. (I imagine this type of degeneration to be much more eternally consequential than simply sliding into a denomination with shakier moorings, but I don’t suppose my imagination is worth much.) There’s the Christian leader who somehow justified extramarital sexual intercourse. There’s the pluralistic Lutheran who would rather work in close fellowship with Muslims and Hindus; she didn’t really want to be associated with a Christian institution, after all, so she’s not anymore. There are the two or three highly intelligent young persons I can think of, raised with Christian philosophies and practices, who have convinced themselves they are “gay.” Whether due to questionable genetics or social pressures or a combination of influences, these people ‘s behavior has slidden quite decidedly away from Christianity.
I’ll continue with other “slides” in a couple of days, but for now, simply enjoy a picture of a more enjoyable type of slide (below).
¹ Yes, I was one who snickered at the adulteration of a certain television comedian’s name to “Degenerate.” That wasn’t helpful, but it was funny, in a sad way. Her earlier sitcom was actually pretty funny, too, but when she boldly proclaimed her “orientation,” as they say, her stuff wasn’t as funny anymore. She was then a person on a mission more than a comedienne. Since the country as involved in a slide in her missional direction, I guess it was a fit.