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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What Is "The Gospel"?

I see it all the time: "Now that's the gospel!" Or the reverse. It seems like people know what they are talking about, but I noticed earlier in my Christian life that "the gospel" happened to correspond to whatever moral sense of self a person wanted to project.

We should say that the gospel is that which pertains to the revelation of Jesus Christ. That seems reasonable. It however becomes important for us to know the difference between revelation and human opinion, and to know the means by which we receive revelation. So long as Christians--Catholic and non-Catholic alike--disagree on the content of revelation, and on the means of receiving it, it is profitable and urgent to engage in ecumenical dialogue concerning those matters where we differ.

Ecumenism is dialogue for the purpose of reaching agreement in matters of revealed truth, whether faith or morals. It is not merely a celebration of those areas where we already agree, nor is it the act of pretending we already agree. Our confessions and practices plainly say otherwise. Let it be marked by charity, friendship, and genuine affection, but these are not compatible with deception, or willful refusal to acknowledge the truth of our disunity.

Sooner or later, if we care about revealed truth, we will say, "This is the gospel, and this is not." No technology mixed with friendship will allow us to evade the fact of mutually exclusive tenets.

Note to Catholics: If the universal Catechism says one thing, and the Bishop of Rome himself says another, go with the Catechism, especially after all attempts to harmonize it with what we know come up short. And yet, do so with trembling. He's the Vicar of Christ, and we are not. Moreover, we should be unafraid to acknowledge our great affection for him as the shepherd of our souls. One burden this places upon you and me is to pray for him, believing firmly that the Holy Spirit will guide the Church into all truth.

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