Cafeteria Christianity: Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD
So, I take my place in the cafeteria line and calmly look over the selections. It all looks good, but after so many years of bouncing around from place to place, I’ve gotten a bit picky about my choices. I turn my attention to the man behind the counter…
“Yes, I’d like two spoonfuls of Lutheran justification by faith”.
“Absolutely” he says.
“How about a side of Congregational governance… but I’d like it topped off with a bishop, they always adds a bit of color.”
“No problem” he replied.
“Is the Calvary Chapel Bible Study still good? I saw it on the menu a few days ago. Alright, give me two teaspoons and put it with the Presbyterian sermon series.”
Staring at the tray, I consider some of the other possible selections.
“I’m feeling hungry today, can you do a specialty omelette?” He nods his head. “Great, how about the trans-Atlantic special. You know, Anglican liturgy with Celtic spirituality and a garnish of Orthodox icons.” After selecting the particular brand of Anglicanism (high, low, broad, continuing, etc.) the Celtic variety (Irish, monastic, etc.) and the style of icons (Greek, Russian, Coptic, etc.) the omelette was duly produced.
Thinking that I’m leaning into the specialty items a bit too much, I’m beginning to think that I might need something more substantial to go with the omelette. “Can I exchange regular attendance at church for Biblical inerrancy? I can? That’s great! I’ll take inerrancy, but I’d like it plain without the Chicago Statement sauce.”
I consider the selection of Methodist hymnody for a moment, but decide I want to save room for desert.
Sensing my indecision, the man behind the counter speaks up. “We have a special today on Roman Catholicism and it comes with a choice of dressings – liberal, traditional or tribal.” I consider for a moment and then shake my head. I can always come back later for seconds.
It’s time to select my deserts.
Now, I need to tell you, of all the things that are on offer, these deserts really look the best. I realize that they are full of empty calories and provide little nourishment, but they look fantastic. They are like nothing I could ever fix at home.
The man behind the counter is waiting patiently as I consider my choices. So many possibilities to choose from and all beautifully presented.
“Right, I’ll take the Hillsong United worship choruses with two of the Joel Osteen motivational books”.
Seeing the others in line behind me making similar choices, the server asks, “Would you like anything to drink with that?”
“Yes”, I answer. Looking past the brand specific drinks, I settle on a bottle of non-specific dominical sacraments with a plain label. I’m not sure what it contains, but it seems to be what everyone else is getting.
Making my way to the cash register, I pull out my wallet to pay. The man behind the counter holds up his hand and says, “The bill has already been settled.” Surprised, I asked the man who had settled the bill?
With some bit of sadness, he informed me that American Christianity had already paid the price.