Communion and Liberation: Father Giussani

When you contrast him to the current crop of neo-evangelical Pastors  who seem most interested in pushing new models of church...it is like comparing a professional to a series of rank amateurs.

I have had the good fortune of coming across this movement in recent weeks.  It’s founder, Father Luigi Giussani, is a deep fountain of theological and practical wisdom.  I am now reading his book – “At the Origin of the Christian Claim” and just a few chapters in I am paying rapt attention to every sentence.  It’s almost deeply sad when a book has so much wisdom you feel inadequate to read another word as a certain fear emerges that you will forget the last great sentence and insight.

I am still an amateur in terms of my understanding of the CL Movement (in Italy) and its spiritual genesis, but as a new student of this community within the broader Catholic Church, I am very thankful for the writings of Giussani.
As a Protestant Evangelical for 40 years now I have ask why the Protestant church seems to been so bereft of deep and wise spiritual writings in the last decades while the Catholic Church has produced men like Henri de Lubac and Father Giussani.  Perhaps my Protestant friends would point me to great Protestant theologians (I can name a few indeed…) and they are indeed gifted men.  And yet.  There is something deeper emerging, on average, from the Catholic side of the isle within orthodox Christianity and increasingly it is calling to my heart and soul.

A “pop” summary of why, with an embarrassing lack of intellectual vigour,  would go something like this (and perhaps Noll would agree?) – Protestant evangelicals applaud simplicity and a false humility in theology as well as hating hierarchy/leadership (flat model – “we are all just following Jesus and know one can claim to be any better at it or know more”).    This modality may make it hard for deep and serious philosophy and theology to still be done in most seminaries and written about in most journals (CT or Faith Today, etc).  Additionally, humans only have so much bandwidth to run programs and chase dreams and ideas.  Within the Protestant world much of that time/funding/focus/press/etc goes to other things like the latest hit Christian book or para-Christian movie (usually shallow and repeating a mix of Christianity and modern tripe – yet selling millions) or raising funds to feed the various church and para-church bodies all increasingly looking like they are getting desperate to differentiate and maintain shrinking funding bases as demographics plays out.  In any event – as crude as this “pop” observation may be, I sense that the Catholic Church maintains a more serious and welcoming approach to doing good theology and chasing fewer rabbits.  Perhaps Catholics are the adults in the room while Protestant Evangelicals (a certain strain I am referring to – not all of us, but too many) are the children/teenagers of the faith  refusing to hold fast to sound doctrine.

In any event, today as a Protestant (by practice and habit, but less so my inclination in recent years) I can say “Thank God” for Father Giussani.  When you contrast him to the current crop of neo-evangelical Pastors  who seem most interested in pushing new models of church (and posing as “anti-religious” and “anti-church” to sweep into the fold a few recycled evangelicals who have grown tired of traditional evangelical churches) it is like comparing a professional to a series of rank amateurs.

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