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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Clarity Time: You Have No "Church"

I know I shouldn't get frustrated. Evangelicals don't know the mess they're actually in. They can't. The imperatives of Sola Scriptura do what they do. You have to account and explain for the reality of visible Christian division, and conceiving of the church universal as invisible seems to solve the most pressing problem, which is how Christians could be united when their visible communities so obviously aren't. More than the apparent obvious division, which any snarky papist could use simply as a talking point, is the dogmatic uncertainty this push for a false unity tries to hide.

The reality is this: Christians under the paradigm of Sola Scriptura do not agree on major points of dogma and Christian practice.

Just exactly how will you have a coherent Christian answer to any question?

Some people within smaller "conservative" communities are doing yeoman work, rediscovering natural law, ancient creeds, and all manner of things, and for that, I'm grateful. I'll save you time in this argument: all those things you're rediscovering are Catholic things. For all the rhetorical flourishes about the Reformers not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, the Church of Rome is the baby.

At this point, an objection is raised: "You're divided, too!" And that's true. But we also have a notion of free will, that in fact, the Church has solemnly defined its teaching, and Catholics are choosing to dissent. It's not intrinsic to the paradigm itself. The "Church" as you define it can't define anything, because it doesn't actually exist. When someone says, "The church should do better on..." or even, "We the church as the Body of Christ should..." only the speaker knows what the referent "church" is supposed to be. Even if two or three people agree notionally that it is "all those who name Christ as Lord and Savior," exactly how is that to be accomplished? As a side issue, isn't it exhausting, having to answer for every person who claims to be a Christian? No wonder all these people are frustrated with the "Church"! What else could you be?

I'll say it again: Pretty much every single person who returns "home" to the Catholic Church started by asking, "What is the Church?"

It's not a mystery why the shortest flight back as it were, is through sexual ethics. There are plenty of people who have decided that Jesus doesn't care about that stuff. Still others, of course, naturally ask, "Why would God change His mind about this?" (He wouldn't.) You gonna tell Nadia Bolz-Weber she's betrayed Christ on sexual ethics? "Who died and made you Pope?"

That's why my other inquiring question was, "How do I know what I know, with respect to Christ, and the gospel?" Or, "Where does dogma come from?"

I get it, brethren. Submitting to the pope is not going to be easy. We know; we lived through all of them. But how much more can you lose, before you can't recognize Christianity anymore?

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