Several years ago the Brazilian soccer team was in the World Cup. Now I’m sure you’re aware that soccer is very big down in Brazil, just like college football is big here in the South and professional football is big in other parts of the country (but for those of you who weren’t–you are now). And I’m sure you’re also aware that Brazil is a heavily Catholic country (again, if you weren’t–you are now). Well, a key World Cup match for Brazil just happened to fall on Good Friday that year. The Catholic bishops in Brazil knew how big soccer is there, and they were afraid that church attendance would be low because of the soccer match, so they got on the radio and issued bulletins throughout the country that anyone who missed Mass on Good Friday would be committing a very serious sin. (The Catholic bishops were not making this up. It is an actual part of Catholic belief that church attendance on Sunday and certain other days of the year is compulsory.)
At any rate, my first reaction upon hearing this was, “Thank God I’m not Catholic. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that.” Now I get that there is a lot of rigor and structure in the Catholic system of things–that they are strict about such things as when you must attend church, the conditions under which you may receive Communion, and when you must sit/stand/kneel during the course of the service. And I respect that. But I find it hard to believe that in the final analysis Jesus cares about such things. That is a significant part of the reason why I am now Protestant.
And then I find the same thing happening here, right smack in the heart of evangelical Protestant-dom. One of the discernment watchblogs castigated a church in Arizona and a church in South Carolina for canceling Sunday evening services on the weekend of the Super Bowl, saying that “the gods of the NFL take precedence over the God of the Bible” and “man-centered churches worship man!” Other discernment watchblogs are saying similar things; here is an example. As I scroll down through the comments on this one, I see that these churches “don’t follow the true Jesus anyway (as much as they think they do)”, that they are “treating His Word, His Son, and His House with…contempt”, “servants of the Word [who] are submitting to their own will to fill a fleshly desire.” You should read these for yourself; there is plenty of juicy material here. Continue reading “Rethinking Galatians: Perhaps Those Judaizers Were Onto Something?”