Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Good Outside the Church?

It's usually not long into some conversation or other, after I've been humorously direct about something theological or otherwise, that someone asks the question, "Do you like anything non-Catholic?" To which I can only reply with equal befuddlement, "Um, do you read my blog?" Most posts here link something which is of interest to my almost entirely Christian audience, most of whom, I daresay, are non-Catholic Christians. If I link it and don't critique it, that means I like it. It means I think you can read this with great profit, regardless.

If I have occasion to say that a certain theologian-commentator makes me want to scream and steal toys from small children, (for example) it either means he is in no wise speaking truth, (rare) or he is in Catholic denial. That means if we were face-to-face, and we had become friends, I would say, "You know that God is calling you into the Catholic Church, and you need to do it. Right now." I wouldn't just say that to anyone. That's my hope for the lot of you, but do you hear a difference? Many of us Christians enter into dialogue with different terms for things, and different ways of speaking, acting and living. But if it is good, true, and beautiful, it comes from Christ. Our task is to try to understand the different terms we are using, to inquire as to whether we mean the same thing,(not assume that we do, mind you) and to do everything possible to surmount our divisions, while respecting the consciences of all.

In other words, for me to say that to someone is the rough equivalent of me saying to a dear friend, "You know God does not approve of your watching that pornography, and you need to stop it. Right now." It's not an argument; it's a direct appeal to a conscience. To do otherwise after hearing it would be a grave sin.

And frankly, I have no compunction about saying it, even if the man writes for a large and well-respected magazine, and is loved by the Reformed. At least some of them. And if I struggle to read his dispatches because I firmly believe this, you'll have to forgive me. The Church teaching is clear: If you know the Catholic Church is necessary for salvation, and refuse to enter or remain in it, you're endangering your soul.  "Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved." (LG, 14)*

*Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, from the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (Vatican II). Numbers refer to paragraphs.

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