Church In Frenzy: The Crisis of Christianity Today
by William V. Rauscher
Although this book appeared in 1980, published by St. Martin's Press it appears now, from those who have read it that it was a projection of not only events then, but a prophetic glimpse of more unsettled times yet to come in the contemporary church. Chapters entitled, 'To Hell with Authority', Worship the Lord' and 'Future Church' speak in the tone of what has now become commonplace. When the author was asked, "If you did this book over and brought it up to date what would you call it?" He humorously said, "Church Gone Nuts."
Beer-and pretzel communion services?
Pastors in clown costumes?
What does the Christian church in America look like today? What are those people who call themselves Christians doing to themselves? And why are so many strange things happening in and out of the mainstream of the organized church in our time?
Out of a lifetime of experiences as a parish Priest of the Episcopal Church, Canon Rauscher draws a sharp picture, not only of his own church, but also of the other major denominations in this country. And, in the course of examining the organized churches, he looks at some of the beliefs and practices of the cults, the sects, and the neo-Oriental religions that together form our frenzied church.
Rauscher's book ranges over the whole life of American Christianity, and projects a vision of the future. The chaos in the church is not entirely due to the agony over such questions as the ordination of women, the Charismatics, the new rituals for worship, the breakdown of moral and ecclesiastical authority, and the application of high technology to religious training. Rauscher believes that the present frenzy is partly a sorry distortion of ancient Christian tradition, and partly our inability (or unwillingness) to put our trust in a Creator and Sustainer God - a God who is leading us, with breathtaking speed, into a future in which reality itself is almost beyond our comprehension.
Devastating, tragic, sometimes funny, sometimes unbelievable, Church in Frenzy is certain to be a useful took in the hands of both clergy and lay people trying to understand the meaning of Christian faith, and any reader who is concerned with what is happening to the fabric of American society will be grateful to Canon Rauscher for what is a sobering yet cautiously hopeful view.
Review comments include:
"Rauscher speaks with the wisdom of a conservator of a heritage that is eroding."
"Surveys conducted by the Gallup Organization indicate that Canon Rauscher is right on target when he calls for a greater emphasis on an intellectual approach to religion and on spiritual discipline."
"I want this book read aloud at our clergy retreat."
"What you say is all too true and drives me to my knees. May God help us."
"This is straight talk by a cleric unafraid to face unpleasant facts."
"highly recommended to anyone interested in what's going on in religion today."
"If anybody can read this book without giving a good hard look at 'the frenzy' as it is, he's quite hopeless. Well would it have been for that man had he never learned to read."
" an Episcopal rector in New Jersey has now written what could become one of the most influential books of our time. I am not alone in concluding that there is considerable significance in this book."
"I feel it is imperative that every sincere Christian read this book."
"It made me think of the words of the Communion prayer, 'Let us pray for the whole state of Christ's Church.' I hope the book is very widely read."