Why Protestant Funerals Expose Some of their Worst Theological Errors & What to Expect if You Come To Mine
In an unexpected and bizarre twist of tragedy, a co-worker of mine had her son murdered by a drive-by recently and today was the funeral which I attended. I have another friend who's an elder in an OPC ecclesial community and he often remarks to me that funerals are where you'll consistently hear the most horrific mutilations of the gospel this side of Hades. (I want to reply 'thats cause you're always going to Protestant funerals')
It was a sad day for all involved but we needn't add insult to injury by spewing painfully bad doctrine from the pulpit. If it happened once, his soul was pronounced in Heaven more than a dozen times. I'm not for a second going to comment on this young man's character (I didn't know him) but even if I did, I'd assume nothing but the best and I assume he was an upright Christian on good terms with God and man. But what is sad is that through this terrible doctrinal error, this man's soul is the beneficiary not of humble and contrite prayers for mercy but of haughty and over-confident thanks to God for His will [God's] being bound by our simplistic interpretations of Scripture apart from sacred tradition and for placing him [the deceased] in heaven right beside all the saints and martyrs. Dung hill theology. Blessed assurance.
And need I remind you that Jesus told of a Pharisee who went before God thanking him that he was not like the sinners and the tax collector went to the same God pleading for mercy because he was one of the sinners? I know of no clearer imagery here than this: The Protestant ecclesial community is boasting that their passed is not like the lost sinners while the Catholic Church around the world continually pleads in humility for the souls of the departed - even when the Pope himself dies the Church prays on behalf of his soul. At any given minute, some Catholic Church somewhere is pleading for the departed souls. And this is the unfortunate result of turning our noses up at Scripture, Christian tradition (and even Jewish Tradition) of praying for the dead. So to my Catholic and Orthodox brothers - please pray for this young man's soul because no one else is - you can call him Red.
If that weren't bad enough, we were subject to the typical Protestant funeral 1-2 combo of dunghill theology + soul trapped in a body theology. They hinted at the doctrine at first but it soon resulted in a clear and direct (while pointing to Red) "This is not Red. He is in heaven now"... They erroneously view the body as a shell we are trapped in. They only repeat the errors of their fathers the Gnostics. This is not akin to Gnosticism it IS Gnosticism. And this doctrine isn't representative of "the emergent church" this IS "the emergent church". Folks don't be deceived, it culminated with the preacher's explicit denial of the Incarnation: "Christ was clothed in a human body".
These errors are serious, and however many Protestants you can point to who may have the theological sense to rise above them and however many Catholics you can point to that don't know whether Job or Judges comes first in the OT (much less know the Church teaching on the Incarnation) - the fact remains that Protestantism fosters and encourages these kinds of errors and Catholicism explicitly refutes them which is why I'm bringing it up.
Now let me make a few things clear and if any of you happen to be present at my funeral please take note and make my wishes known. If anyone comes to my funeral wearing jeans and a t-shirt, I want them turned away at the door. In fact, if you slip through, I'm gonna haunt you! Seriously, if you don't think any more of me on this most solemn of occasions to at least put on a pair of freakin' khaki pants and a polo - if you can't get out of your super casual American ass for 30 minutes to go to my funeral - then don't bother showing up. Don't come wearing flip flops and expecting Contemporary Christian music.
It's telling of our culture when we're too important to be bothered by solemnity at Church (and not necessarily the "gloomy" kind of solemnity) but it's even more telling when we can't even be bothered by pretending a funeral is something solemn and important. We can't even get over ourselves to pay our respects there. We think it is out of humility that we refuse solemnity, liturgy and pomp - on the contrary, it is out of pride! Who refuses this? The pious few? Isn't it the mainstream?! If it were the pious few we could see that it might be humility, but if not then our argument breaks down. One who is truly humble is not afraid to lose himself to the rite. For just thirty minutes of our day, let it not be about us but about someone else or even something else like liturgy or a rite.
The preacher kept remarking about how he felt too formal and wished it was more relaxed. No doofus! This is special, we are being formal because it's important! Being relaxed means its something normal, mundane and expected. This is anything but! This is a violent and terrible invasion of the natural order. This wasn't supposed to happen. We're here to mourn and to plead for God's mercy and to show our respects to the departed and to comfort the family. We're not here to put on flip flops and sing cumbaya with Jesus!!!!
Our culture is embarrassing. Humanity is put to shame by the pride of "the emergent church" and by the haughty Westernism that swears it's too good to be solemn, too special and unique to take part in a rite, too spontaneous to be confined to liturgy, too young to be moved by good taste, too versatile to be governed and too righteous to worry about praying for the dead.
I've only been to one Catholic funeral. That was actually my first mass. Even the dumbed-down liturgy I experienced that day gave me a glimpse of the heavenly reality the Catholic mass was intended to be. I saw something divine that day. Today I saw something very worldly. May God have mercy on Red's soul and on mine when He decides to take me and on all the holy souls in purgatory. Glory to Jesus Christ, glory forever.