Lutheran Church Extension Fund

Baptismal Health in a Post-Church Era!

Reading time: two minutes. It was a valiant effort, but an abysmal failure.  Joel Primack and Nancy Abrams wrote “The View from the Center of the Universe” to try to fill the void when God died.  Their premise is, “In spite of the fact that modern cosmology and sub-atomic physics have proven that there is no God, it’s okay!  You’re really special and hold an important place in the universe!” Even the reviews (and I’d encourage you to read the reviews before you read the book) say that the authors missed their mark by a mile, or rather, by a light-year.  Comments like, “I found no comfort or hope in their premise,” and “I’m no closer to understanding who I am” were common. This is a great opportunity for proclaimers of the gospel in the new era in which we live. What interested me enough to read the book, twice now in recent years, was their attempt to fill the void.  In our Post-Church society, people without faith in Christ have no reason to believe that life matters, but the authors recognize this yearning.  I expect the book was largely motivated by their own yearnings for meaning.  They represent a modern day gathering in the marketplace of Athens (see Acts 17). I love the “Welcome” at the conclusion of our baptismal liturgy.  We call out to the newly baptized, “You life is significant and important and eternal, not because you are at the center of the universe, but because the Lord God Almighty is, and in His view, you are redeemed, forgiven, His precious treasure.” The Church is always in trouble when we identify a little too closely with the surrounding culture and its values.  As we’re moving into exile, life in a society that is decreasingly cognizant of our Maker and Redeemer, it will be more and more important for us to be firmly grounded in our own identity in baptismal grace. That sense of identity that comes from God’s gracious rescue is both our inoculation against the  hopelessness the authors of “View from the Center” seek to alleviate, and our first witness to the light of Christ in a world of darkness. Reading this book again has sensitized me to the despair that must be lurking just below the surface of nearly everyone I meet who doesn’t know Jesus.  What a joy it is to say with every confidence, “I know with absolute confidence my place in this universe, and I’d love to share it with you!” Thanks for reading.