I was listening to NPR this morning, and Neil Conan (Talk of the Nation) was interviewing a few Catholic fellas and taking calls from listeners and so on. One particular caller said that she didn't necessarily agree with the Pope on all matters but still considered herself a real Catholic. Neil Conan came back with, "Well, you're kind of an a la carte Catholic, aren't you?" She replied, "yes."
I was stupified by this in some senses because everyone Catholic is an a la Carte Catholic... in fact, I think that every Christian is an a la carte Christian, whether they know it or not. No person (that I have met) really believes that they should do everything said in the Bible. Like those pro-lifers who hated Kerry sure have no problem with the violence taking place to protect our American interests abroad. And those who go to such great to say that they are literal Biblical Christians? What about the charges to dash children on the rocks? Or what about the command to care for the orphans and the widows? Or those who say they believe the same core things that the church has always believed, are they referring to the time that the church believed that the earth was flat and killed those who objected? Or are they referring to the time when Martin Luther said to burn Jewish temples? Or the time that Scripture was used to enforce slavery? Or the crusades? Or oppressive forms of capitalism?
All I am saying is that is wish every person in the Christian church could see that they are an a la carte Christian. In fact, I don't see that we could be any other way. First, the movement of Christianity (as with any movement) is broken... because people are broken... yes, even those who wrote the Bible you hold onto... and yes, even those who chose what books would be in your Bible... Second, this movement (and even the Scriptures themselves) show an evolution over time. The way man understood God in Genesis is very different from the later prophets, and even more different in the New Testament. So to embrace all things as "Thus saith the Lord" is to embrace a plurality of viewpoints. And how does that hold for those "absolutists"? Not well.
Certainly many Christians will have a defense for this, but I just thought, "There it is. Every person personalizes their religion to their own life." And can't God be in that?