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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

By The Way, We're Not Feeneyites Here

Well, unless you mean that you're a huge Boy Meets World/Knight Rider/St. Elsewhere fan, and/or a fan of Grey's Anatomy, who knows that "Christina Yang" would be entirely unlikable without the esteemed William Daniels as "Dr. Thomas" as a friend and mentor for 5 episodes. Seriously, has William Daniels acted in anything that wasn't awesome? I digress.

Take your time. I'll wait. This blog is always (God willing) a celebration of His grace. Life with God's leading is never all-or-nothing; to paraphrase George W. Bush, Heaven is going to be a gathering of the "haves" and the "have-mores". (Yes, it was hilarious in context; look up "Al Smith Dinner, 2000"; you're welcome.)

So, why insist that the Catholic Church is the Church Christ founded? Well, because it is. It was like following breadcrumbs. [I'll take "Bad Eucharist Allusions" for $1000, Alex.--ed.] I can pretty much say that every Christian place outside the Catholic Church was a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. The Catholic Church is where truth converges, where Christ himself dwells on Earth, where goodness reigns supreme. [Which Catholic Church has this guy visited? (snicker)--ed.] In order to see it, we have to be able to separate the reality of our profound experiences with God from the definition of terms, and not allow emotion to cloud our vision, if we have been called to move. And that movement begins to happen when we go from asking, "What is the Church?" to, "Where is the Church?" Once that shift happens, you're almost Catholic, even if you detour with the Orthodox for 77.2 years.

Well, to be rather frank about it, you only start to question your definition of the "Church" when you realize that it's your definition; that is, you've been doing the defining. If you're in the right frame, you immediately recognize how incompatible that is with your basic Christian attitude, "Everything I have, I have received." This is not terribly monumental until, recognizing that, in all likelihood, you have been receiving God's truth mediated by a human being, you ask the obvious follow-up question: "How do I know that this person or persons is the one God himself has sent?" And just because we've been arguing about that since the start as humans does not mean the question is not relevant, or that it cannot be found. Tons of people make that mistake, that because people are not unanimous on some point or other, that unanimity is a lie, or that "the truth" doesn't exist. Doesn't matter what area of life; that one irritates me. It betrays an intellectual laziness of the worst kind. I digress.

I realized in a profound way that there are only two basic options in this deal: Atheism, and the Catholic Church. I'm not the first person to say that, but it's really true. Elsewhere, I have spoken of an Abyss of Relativism, but that isn't exactly right, in one sense. Rather, it was the consideration--oh, what a horrifying thought to consider for a Christian!--that every possible theological conclusion, every event of Christian history, was man-made. And to be honest, this is where the theological indifferentism inherent in an invisible church concept consistently applied leads. If I can make the charge at any point that this or that visible body of alleged Christians (let's be blunt) was in error, anyone can. It's pretty easy to do. Multiply that a billion times in a billion directions, and the person inclined to believe that God has spoken in Christ will be at best confused, and then he will look for principled reasons to say, "No, the truth is here." The reason, beloved Christian, that I do not believe you are definitely doomed to Hell if you are not Catholic, contra Feeneyism, is that we all do agree on something. And that something came from some place. If God is doing it, God started it, is sustaining it, and will finish it. Amen? And even if death breaks the visible bonds between us, that is we are connected spiritually and supernaturally, we have always been a people, the People of God. Where, when, and how do you know? Visible Church. Inevitable. Ever since God decided that he would communicate his love through a man. So, if you're committed to the idea that none of them is right, pack up the whole denomination, Brother Fred, because it doesn't matter. It'd only be a guess. Man may well be so broken by his errors that he doesn't know his tookus from a hole in the ground. I can theoretically accept that. But God never says, "I don't know." We need infallibility like we need air; it's an inextricable aspect of God Himself. Therefore, with due respect, save your "I don't need absolute certainty to follow God" speech; if you don't, ultimately, someone you follow does. Otherwise, it's not God you're following. The sons of Korah called; they said they are absolutely sure Moses was God's instrument; that is, he was the visible head of God's People on this side. I wonder who else?

I need to back up and say that I will tag this post "Conversion," so it is placed along with a small series of posts I did about my own. I feel good enough to say that I can't "show my work" much better, at least so briefly and simply. If you read all these posts, and the resources therein, you will understand why I am Catholic. You may not agree, but that's not the point. I am a tad bit extroverted, and more than a tad vain or something, so I write to explain myself. Even if you have thought, "Man, this guy is intense," my greatest desire truly is not to convince, but to be understood. I guess I'm something of an evangelist, but I only want to be understood. I firmly believe that if you understand me, by the mercy of God, if I have spoken truly, you will convince yourself. That is, God will.

If you have a part with Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, I enthusiastically rejoice with you. And buckle up. That's only the beginning.

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