Mark 9:24

Posts Tagged ‘Church’

Meta for a metaphor

In Armchair Apologetics on October 31, 2012 at 2:32 am

Consider that Paul, the inspired author of most of the epistles, having seen the glorified Body of Christ, knowing what end Christ’s body finally meets, and presumably knowing about what language Christ uses about his body throughout the Gospels, uses this specific metaphor: the Church is the Body of Christ.

When Paul was made blind, what truth did he see? What truth did he say, unknowing but inspired?

What could such a metaphor really mean? If it is true, and if it is scriptural, and if it is inspired — full of the Spirit — surely it has at least a divine meaning and purpose. It must speak to some deeper principle. Catholics may point out that Christ will not die, now that the Resurrection shows He triumphs over death. Similarly, the Body of Christ will, in some visible way on this earth, live right up until the end times.

Catholics also may explain this as affirming the four marks of the Church. Like Christ’s body, Catholicism is one, a matter disputed principally by log-eyed men. She is holy, for the Church Triumphant is in heaven and the Church Suffering is headed there, however the visible Church Militant fails us. She is Catholic, which is a word that means simply universal. That the Church is apostolic is simply a way of saying her authority goes back to the apostles, which is important not because of the apostles but because of Christ. There is a real historical claim backing each of these up, putting aside doctrine and scripture, claims which have no analogue among apostasists.

I am curious what apostasists make of this passage on their own, not just what other verses they go to to defend against this interpretation. All I can think of is what apostasists cannot say.

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Marriage at the nut

In Lay Meditations on June 23, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Because advocating same-sex marriage — hereafter, SSM — is undeniably a change to the immediate, local standard*, one common tactic asks: If marriage has changed before, why not again?

Modernity, wanting only one thing, will whisper sweet lies, hoping we’ll open up a little. We know better; we do not want to.**

To this end, they may undermine monogamy by historical precedent, specifically by invoking polygamy and polyandry; varying social imprimaturs on divorce may be mentioned; Marriage, A History goes so far as to claim spirit marriages, typically between a dead man and a living woman, are also marriages. See how much these things have changed!

And yet there is the haunting echo that polygamy is between a man and several women; polyandry would be between one woman and several men; spirit marriage, so-called, is nonetheless between a man and a woman. Even divorce has never enabled you to marry whomever you please, civilly or otherwise. What tyrant, what barbarian, even claimed to have married someone of the same sex? And what was the reaction? Athens, frequently invoked as sexually enlightened, may have given attraction between men special status and honor higher than marriage, but this only proves that the philosophers made a distinction.

Marriage, even when not understood as a union of one living man and one living woman so long as they both shall live, always united two halves of an altsexual, warring species. Marriage always united Man and Woman. Read the rest of this entry »

Lost at sea

In Lay Meditations on April 7, 2012 at 1:45 am

Near the shore of a storm-rocked sea, breaking foam crashing against a cliff, a lighthouse may guide the way. It is a kind of pun, and a kind of parable, to say the Church is such a lighthouse: Christ, who is the light, built His house so that we may know the Way toward Him.

I have a difficult time believing that the one, narrow Way would make so many local ways, springing up and falling down through the centuries as they do.

“If some small mistake were made in doctrine, huge blunders might be made in human happiness.” — G. K. Chesterton

If there is one peril — Christians, you know there is ultimately one peril, which is Hell — there must be only one lighthouse. There cannot be a cloud of lighthouses. There must also be a clear idea about what that lighthouse means, where the rocks are in relation. This not just a matter of life and death but a matter of eternal life and eternal death, to borrow a turn of phrase. If there is no clear relation, we are be better off with a lifetime’s intuition, “as infants, tossed about by the waves.” But if Protestantism is true, there are two reasonable possibilities:

  • First, there is not now, and will never again be until the Second Coming, a single lighthouse. This is intolerable, if indeed this is a matter of eternal life and eternal death. Moreover, if Truth so poorly sustains we are less subject to God than to some terrible Demiurge. Hardly Christian; safely discarded.
  • Second, the true light, the Holy Spirit, we must pursue, and in the fire of pursuit are made saints. But this is also hardly Christian. Assuming your copy of Miracles lacks Chapter 11, I’m happy to explain.

If men pursue God, who therefore changes, this stands not just opposite to the sense of Jewish revelation but contrary to it.

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Admire men, those men unmired

In Armchair Apologetics on March 29, 2012 at 1:04 am

St. Thomas More’s career does not reveal a nice man, or so YouTube Atheists have revealed many times. Were this true, I could not be more surprised if they said St. Augustine had been licentious. (Arguments focusing on the bad behavior of Christians typically miss the point on several levels.)

I don't think this hangs in the papal apartment.

Putting aside ad hominem, for that is thankfully not quite universal among the anti-Christian and sadly not exclusive to them, I find two major objections:

  1. Bad behavior is not forgotten evidence, but the first evidence, datum numero uno, Exhibit A.
  2. Behavior at-large ignores the question of admiration, i.e.: Which Christians admire which Christians and why?

Our first objection is somewhat rote, however solidly true, so let’s focus on the second: Just as admiration for St. Thomas More is not from More’s jerkishness but his martyrdom and the events which led to it, St. Thomas Aquinas is not admired for his grand size but for his grander synthesis, and G.K. Chesterton is not admired for his pre-Hitler opinions on the Jews but for the joy and common sense which infused everything else he wrote, including his post-Hitler opinions on the Jews.

To wit, which Christians admire the Westboro Baptists? I suppose Westboro Baptists do, but who else? Can we really say that they, if admired by any other Christians, are admired from Christian principles?  Read the rest of this entry »

Ways of the wayward

In Armchair Apologetics on March 10, 2012 at 6:00 am

Consider the sedevacantists. After the Second Vatican Council, when the old liturgy was abandoned and the new liturgy abused, certain Catholics in a fit of disgust decided that the Church headed by the Pope no longer existed, that they were the last remnant of the real faithful.

This sort of split is, sadly, not unusual. It may even be archetypical.

Where Rome's universality became stale, the Catholic's universality is yet fruitful. Which lives?

After every council, or so the story goes, a small, local number of Catholics will leave. They may persist and they may persist for centuries, but they are always minor and small. Their split is as the inedible outer skin of an onion, peeling off with the brush of a thumb and soon discarded.

While their size in and of itself does not discredit them, for truth is true no matter how few adherents believe it, that these schismatics become theologically wayward does. In abandoning the structure of the Church the sedevacantists found their way to abandon theology older than they, as with the Union of Utrecht before them; as the Union dismisses in the modern way a historical interpretation of pelvic issues, just so the sedevacantists abandon right interpretation of certain pronouncements of the First Vatican Council. Just so it is with Protestantism, but worse — Protestantism is in ruins, and Evangelicalism its shantytown.

If there is a life in Protestantism it is in the death of all structure; if there is another it is in the revival and worship of discarded relics from those selfsame structures. Pieces of doctrine, defined centuries before, yet live their unlife as rubble recycled. This is the problem: Protestants solve with solvent. When they detect corruption, the only solution is to dissolve and reconstruct. That reset button hasn’t worked yet, they must say, but that doesn’t mean it won’t! Read the rest of this entry »

Crosseyed

In Armchair Apologetics on February 25, 2012 at 8:52 pm

If we accept apostasy, we must accept that it weighs us down. In evangelizing, we must prove to honest men of reason that this terrible burden is a reasonable one.

It is a terrible burden because it means God’s Own True Church, founded to redeem men from sin, could not withstand sin. If you are to stay Christian, I don’t see any honest way around this.

If we see here that even Truth can fall, we are mistaken. We forget that He allows it, perhaps to show that even under persecution He rises.

You may deny reason, but you deny a gift of God. You may deny honesty, but then you do not worship Truth. You may deny evangelism, but you deny loving your neighbor.

Because such crosses deserve names, if you do accept the apostasy hypothesis I give you the name apostasist. Your religion foundationally includes this specific article of faith: the True Church, despite being founded by God Himself, was lost when doctrines were changed, altered or lost, either immediately or over the centuries. Your company includes non-Catholic Christians, various sub-Christian and non-Christian sects and certainly a few cults.

Why such wide company?  Apostasism necessarily does create not clarities or mysteries but novelties. From here, it is easy to see how apostasism harms evangelization.  Read the rest of this entry »

Doctors of the Church

In Armchair Apologetics on February 21, 2012 at 1:28 am

Place yourself in the shoes of a pagan who knows little about Christianity, but who has taken the first step of accepting that Christ has authority and Christ is God. Our convert also knows about sin, and has the sense he is missing something. To wit, he’s sick and he knows it.

Some particular man may find walking around his fellows while sick helps. Perhaps the fresh air, or the camaraderie, rejuvenates him.

As if living a virtuous life were not already difficult enough we have to discern it, too.

But this takes too low a view of his illness, which is always terminal. It undermines the clear objection that some sick man be dissuaded of his diagnosis by meeting our wanderer, and vice versa; we also forget the effort may kill him. This also ignores our others, so ill that a brisk walk would always kill them. Hospitals, with doctors and nurses and somewhat controlled conditions, make natural sense.

I write this because Christianity presents, broadly, two choices:

  1. Merchant square, or
  2. Hospital for sinners.

If you make the case that God wants the merchant square model, you have a unique argument to hawk.

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Good without God?

In Armchair Apologetics on July 16, 2011 at 7:29 am

Men who say, “It is possible to be a good person without being a Christian,” speak the truth, but the error is in the thrust of this spearpoint and not in its hardiness. By this point, the speaker means to continue with the implication, unspoken, that it is pointless to be a Christian, a deposit of unnecessary effort, because to try to be a good person is all that is needed to enter any final reward the Christian posits. Let us separate the wheat from chaff in this fuzzy thinking. In short, the statement is true as far as it goes; the problem is that it doesn’t go far enough. We must know, if we know anything, that only being a good person is not the goal of Christianity.

Sloth

Mere goodness is not the goal.

Goodness as it is meant is not “living sinlessly” but instead “living without sinning too much.” This is inadequate, if not in works then certainly in temperament. To be a great person — holy, God-fearing and devout — is the goal, the requirement to enter the Kingdom of God. If we are not, it will be “like passing through fire.” Furthermore, we will not enter Heaven by aiming for Purgatory. We will only enter even Purgatory — the shower room for the eternal pool party with God — by aiming for Heaven. By Christian doctrine, we know that this kind of greatness happens as a gift of grace, that which comes only by Christ, the one mediator between God and man.

If it is possible for anyone outside the Church to nonetheless receive the grace of God — which it surely is if God freely gives and men freely accept such a gift, and Christians are not in the habit of limiting God in His omnipotence — it is not the ordinary means of receiving grace. It is, in an illustrative word, extraordinary.

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