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Friday, April 22, 2016

The Way, The Truth, And The Life

If you think about "church people," you can think of several kinds you don't like. Nobody wants to be that kind of Christian: the judgy one, the flaky one, whatever. We also have cottage industries of people trying to be the "cool" Christian, or the "relevant" church. Guess what, kids? You're just somebody else's version of church people.

He enters in. "I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me."

We've got to reckon with this. You have no reason to go to church unless you believe this, unless you realize that this fact impacts the way you live, or the way you will live.

Who is Jesus Christ? This is the most important question you will ever ask. If you want to explore that question, then you have a reason to be a church person. It doesn't matter where on the journey you are. If you're exploring, just starting out, or you've been exploring the mystery your whole life, come with us!

Someone said to me the other day, "Thanks, but I should clean myself up before I come to God." You can't. We come to God, and He cleans us up. You might say that meeting God in Jesus Christ means that we ought to live differently, and that is true. But here's what we need to understand: The love of God, the grace of God, gives us the power to leave behind all the ways of our old self. It may be a long road, but we'll make it, if we don't give up on ourselves, and each other.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

I Guess I Just Miss Him

This is worth a read. Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer I ever saw. What's it worth, really? And that is true. I would rather have my wife and my children. This sunset could have gone better. It hurts me to think of it.

I can remember seeing things that will never be seen again on a golf course. It's not a debatable point; this was Nicklaus reincarnated. The best you can do is use this amazing ability to do some real good for others who aren't so lucky. But a game can't fix the holes in ourselves. Money, power, fame, physical ability, all powerless against the demons of a purposeless life.

I thought of it today, that forgiveness is the currency of Heaven, for those of us here. Every problem in the world is either forgiveness needed, or forgiveness denied, and often both. People aren't that complicated, really, but they are dangerous.

Lord, have mercy!

Would I Be OK With The RNC Delegates Handing The Nomination To Someone Else?

Yes. Absolutely. Jeb Bush is a statesman next to Trump or Cruz. Marco? Same. I would have no qualms about legitimacy, myself. But then, I don't believe in democracy. The wisdom of giving a voice to "the people" is predicated on the people being wise, moral, et cetera. That's all breaking down. Pick someone else.

Do it soon. I won't rally to the buffoon. So you decide how much you love Hillary Clinton, because I will never vote for Donald Trump.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The New Evangelization

It's a buzzword, at this point. But really, what does it mean? The Greek word means, "good news." The human context that forms the biblical use of this word is that of a herald, announcing the reign and arrival of a triumphant king. If you weren't on board when the herald came, you'd better leave the realm with haste.

So, in the Christian context, an "evangelizer" announces the good news of the reign of King Jesus, and warns of his imminent return. The Church says we need a new evangelization. Why?

I think it's fair to say that many members of the Church are not ready and waiting for Jesus to return. Here in America, how many people do you meet who start off the story of their faith journey with, "I was raised Catholic, but..."?

"I know the Church would say I shouldn't do this or that, but..."

"I'm a bad Catholic, but..."

I have a feeling that a great number of people wouldn't be as casual if they had to look into the eyes of Jesus--those eyes of pure love--and explain themselves. Church teaching for them is just so many rules, with no meaning or connection to anything they understand.

The New Evangelization is an effort to help every person realize that "The Church teaches..." and "Jesus says..." are functionally the same thing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

I'm Not Afraid To Die (As Far As I Know)

Granted, there is nothing really wrong with me. I would not expect to die today. Or tomorrow. Or the day following. But who does? Unless you are one of those people who knows what is going to kill you, because it's a diagnosis you can't escape, most of us will be surprised.

I've decided I don't care that much.

Don't get me wrong. I'm enjoying myself, generally speaking. I'm not planning a trip to Sheol this week. But my life has a pattern. It has a purpose. The animating purpose of my life is Christ, and him crucified. If everything that means is true, death has already lost. Seriously. Have you stopped to think about this?

I was waiting for Entrepreneur Bob after Mass yesterday. Actually, me and another guy. He was taking a long time. Not just a moment or two. We sat there maybe 15 minutes. I said to the other guy without thinking, "Maybe he died in the church."

"Don't say that!"

"Why not? To die right after Holy Communion? You could do worse."

Sure, it was a little glib. I hate death. I've seen too much of it in my life. But the point of being a Christian is this: you may die, but you won't stay dead. Eternal life is not a joke. (Nor is eternal damnation, of course.)

I'll say it again: To die is not the worst thing. The worst thing is not to live. Life without living is merely existing. And existing consists in merely breathing without truly loving God, or anyone else. John Piper is absolutely right about one thing: Don't waste your life. Christ's flesh and blood he gave on the cross. It wasn't wasted; he gave it away. Give your life away. When it is taken from you, the only thing that will matter is whether you gave your life away.

Contested Convention

One of the glorious aspects of a contested convention is that we don't actually have to answer the question, "Does voting for Ted Cruz constitute necessary self-loathing, or an indefensible self-hatred we should not entertain?" He really is terrible, though I would still reluctantly vote for him, if I had to.

I'm pleased that the delegates can choose whomever they like, once indeed no one has a majority. They should use it. I would be enthusiastic about Rubio, of course, but also Kasich. I don't believe that Kasich's comments on religious liberty indicate that he's an enemy. He may not want to fight the culture war, but he's not on the other side. That's all I need to know.

Cruz absolutely cannot win. He says things no potential president should ever say, but he gets a pass from his fellow evangelicals. The swing voters will crucify him, though if he's half as pious as he pretends, he'll welcome it.

I still hope that he is pandering, and he isn't as naive as he seems. But that dishonesty is exactly why he isn't the presumptive nominee.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Ted Said A Bunch Of Stuff. My Answer: Dogma

The Catholic Church is offensive. Jesus was, too, as I'm sure you know. Ted was saying that it's inappropriate for one Christian (Catholic) to tell another Christian (Reformed) that he hasn't fully accepted the gospel. Well, you don't accept Mary's perpetual virginity, do you? You've denied the gospel. That scares people, because granted, I don't think the finer points of Marian dogma would make it into my 2 minute elevator speech about "the gospel." But it doesn't mean those things don't matter. I think the greatest damage the Protestant revolt did--because Sola Scriptura wreaks its havoc within Protestantism, also--was that it made people talk more about their feelings about truths of divine faith, more than the truths themselves.

It's a function of Western evangelicalism, but also of indifferentism produced by necessity from the individualizing principle of Sola Scriptura. Sola Scriptura strips away the power from the ecclesial communities that operate under it. Consider this: once you lose the power to tell people credibly that they must repent (of doctrines or of conduct) or face the fires of Hell, you actually lose the battle to defend dogma itself. Once the Reformation-era communities realized that they could not agree dogmatically, they adopted the concept of an invisible Church, and indifferentism was born. In truth, Sola Scriptura itself did it. If you say that there is no special protection for the Catholic Church in the definition and promulgation of revealed truth, that same principle will eventually undermine any other ecclesiastical authority that takes its place. Pomp and godly fear may make it happen slower in the PCA or the SBC, but it will happen. Call it the Leithart Anomaly: You will never convince a man who believes his interpretations are "biblical" that he is even possibly damnably wrong. The best you can do is convince him to trade his interpretations for yours. How good are yours?

By all means, appeal to an ecumenical Council, and its creed, or "symbol," in the patristic language. Yet realize that a creed cannot usefully function secondarily at all. Protestantism makes all creeds secondary, in the sense that they are appealed to insofar as they agree with "Scripture." Scripture according to whom?

One cannot be both the arbiter of divine revelation, and a humble receiver of it at the same time. Or, you cannot deny holy mother Church, and utterly rely on her authority (coherently) at the same time. It really is Catholic or bust, in the end.