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Saturday, June 16, 2012

It has been said by an endless parade of wise people that all they ever learned that was important was given them by someone else. I am certainly no exception, even if what I was given was a lesson in what not to do. In any case, the question of this blog in general is, "Who is Jesus Christ, and why does it matter?" Of course, you may have noticed that I've written many other things not concerned with that question, at least not directly. And that reason is that people are fascinating. God was so "fascinated" by us and in love with us that He became one of us, to rescue us from ourselves, from sin, and Satan. Life without the God who made us is utterly pointless, and quite literally impossible.
Some of you begin to think I've become some sort of crazy person, becoming Catholic, and daring to insist that to be Christian is to be Catholic, eventually. It isn't my idea, and it isn't the product of me being a convert, or any faults of mine, real or imagined.
Now, a few of you are mildly annoyed that I don't join the diplomatic corps of lies that is today's ecumenical movement. My bad. I figure you can drink wine and tell lies without me. You don't get any extra points for being well-read, or following dead Swiss theologians of dubious quality and authority. You are personally at liberty to believe whatever you wish, and to act accordingly. Some of you claim to be ministers of Christ and his gospel. Well, what is it? How do you know? And are you certain you were sent by Christ to proclaim it? It might be bluntly stated, but it's a good set of questions.
At the very heart of everything written here on this subject is the question of truth, in light of the reality of the life and work of Jesus Christ. All we know to be true--especially here--we received from those we believe to be trustworthy. If it is true, then it corresponds to reality as it is. That which is handed on as truth--tradition--we owe to those before us, to those after us, and to ourselves. We don't have the option--especially in the realm of God--to be cavalier about what we hand on to our posterity. Have we become unwilling to fight for what we know, or to fight to know it if it is beyond our grasp? Have the niceties of politeness dulled our senses for the Truth, which is Christ?
To ask "the Catholic question" is to ask, as an heir to the Reformation, if the ground on which we have stood is solid. It is to ask if the men who handed Christian truth to us in fact possessed it in full measure. To become a son of that Church which is called Catholic is to realize that they did not.
We know this because there is a yawning gulf between the theology of the patristic lights, and that of the supposed "Reformers." That patristic faith and the means of identifying it cannot be both false, and the source of legitimacy for the dissenters from that faith. Moreover, if the result of that dissent is uncertainty and disunity, how can it be from God? It stands to reason also that if Christians had a means to discern orthodoxy from error, and a person or persons charged with declaring it and preserving it, that would remain so, even if persons in their walks with Christ fail to uphold what they declare. So as an example, we cannot say, "Well, if the Catholic Church hadn't been so corrupt, we wouldn't be in this position." Rome either has authority or they don't. If they don't, they never did. If they do, they always have. In other words, the truth of the Council of Trent is a separate question from the faithfulness of those who composed it. If the Church of Rome's authority is pretended, then someone else has it. Also, anything defined by means of that authority is suspect.
But the problem with suspicion of this kind is that we can't identify any semblance of orthodoxy apart from Rome's authority. We need a principled, consistent reason to agree or dissent. We face the unavoidable accusation of being ad hoc on either side, as dissenters. From dissenters who dissent even more severely, and from those who do not dissent. And they have both been right, in different ways.
In all this, by what authority do you believe what you do? Who handed the faith on to you? Why should we listen to them, as opposed to another?

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