Friday, November 14, 2014

"Love Like Jesus": A Subtle, Pernicious Form Of Dogmatic Relativism

Usually when people say, "I just want to love Jesus, and love like He loves" they do not mean they could do more works of mercy. We need to understand that, and see it for what it is: it's a cry for help. Sola Scriptura has done its nasty work, and the inability to know and come to agree on what Jesus has in fact said has reached its full flower. This person quite literally does not know what he or she is to believe. They've done the best they can to relativize whatever they could not fix, and here they are. Here's the thing, though: If you're going to even attempt to do or be anything like Jesus, you're already pretty far into the narrative of God's People. You've already accepted the authorities that gave us that story.

The Church was meant to be as visible as Israel was, and more so.

The New Covenant is the incorporation of the Gentiles into the People of God, which Christ--the Messiah, the Son of God and son of David, has willed to call His own Body, of which He is the Head. The story has not changed; it's only gotten more glorious and gracious. In light of this, the case for the Church, the Catholic Church, to be that which Christ founded, gets easier to make. Even in those most fractious times of the Old Testament, God was still speaking to His people. People have always gone their own way, even in very high places. Yet if you wanted to know what God said, you could always know. That's still true today. Some say that we have granted an invisible Church while denying it in practice. I remind them not to equate a real but imperfect communion with full communion. Also, it would be a mistake to equate the invisible workings of grace with an evidence for the fundamental nature of the Church.

It is a better place to be, by far, to be some sort of "confessional" non-Catholic with a whole raft of theological objections and other points to make. But even still, the biblical narrative as one of faithfulness to His people challenges the necessary counter-narrative he must hold, which is one where God hides and even deceives, until the "right" people come along.

To put it cleverly, what benefit in following Jesus would there be, if Jesus is not Jesus? There is no "basic Christian message." The things we must believe are necessarily connected to who Jesus is. To whom has Jesus entrusted the keys of the Kingdom?

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