Mark 9:24

Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Heresy, that wayward righteousness

In Lay Meditations on September 16, 2012 at 6:18 am

At the core of many heresies [1], if not the spark or the first impulse, there is some understandable, and sometimes laudable, wish. Though all heresies distort some truth at the cost of others, some simplify the truth while others exaggerate a truth. What man tired of mystery isn’t tempted to want a simpler truth better understood, and what man enamored with a point of truth is not tempted to ignore other truths for the sake of his beloved?

Righteousness brings conviction, which can be a good, so long as it is applied evenly; no man with in the cancer of self-righteousness convicts oneself.

Today, simplification of divine truth is sometimes called modernism. Laughingly so, it must be hoped — accommodationists, seeking to smooth out the hard teachings of the church with a wink or a shrug, have haunted the Church in every age [2], right back to the Arians [3]. Because these Sadducees let fashion or politeness trump truth for the sake of peace, they forget the truth which sustains them; therefore, this sect dies and is forgotten [4].

More sympathetic by far, and more dangerous, is the love of truth. It is not for the hatred of the Church or Christ or the truth that a really dangerous heresy arises, but by obsession with a truth at the cost of others. Not only this, but often it is the same love of truth and hatred of scandal which causes the most lingering schisms from the Church. Take these three: In the early Church was Donatism, in the Middle Ages were the reformers, and in this age exists some forms of traditionalism [5].

Read the rest of this entry »

Ira pro nobis

In Dramatic Retellings on May 6, 2012 at 4:15 am

There is little on Earth so glorious as a Solemn High Mass, for it is as near we have to Heaven and as close as we’ll get to Calvary. Still, someone thought he could improve it.

As the litanies closing off the 40 Hours Devotion tapered off into the Introibo ad Altare Dei of a Blessed Sacrament votive Mass, a moment of silence opened up. Into this, a man who sounded unbalanced filled it with some extemporaneous blather.

There is something deep, wide, mysterious, solid, and true at Mass.

“Is it all right if I say a prayer?”

He went on for a bit, in forgotten forgettable words, and followed it up with Amen. A burly bass voice, probably that of the heckler’s confrère, replied jovially.

Beyond a solitary shush, everyone near me stayed silent, as if to pity the men for not recognizing a sacred place. Once the choirster pre-emptively kicked off the Kyrie — Lord have mercy, indeed — only infants in their innocence would disrupt Mass. Very small children, you see, are not culpable for stink and noise.

Seeing this kind of prayer so close to a most reverently celebrated High Mass makes parody of presuming parity. Prayers which are so much less than Mass are hardly prayer. In one kind, selfish-seeming men focused on externals and adulation from a crowd utter meaningless noises, conspiring on an occult script so as to elicit an emotional response. The other, and the opposite, is a High Mass.

Read the rest of this entry »

Gravitas, the light of the Son

In Armchair Apologetics, Dramatic Retellings on April 14, 2012 at 9:54 pm

What is our Christian innovation but good, clear authority? We owe no allegiance to any king before God, and after God we each owe allegiance to some other king, endowed by God with a limited right to command us. Curiously alone among the faiths, we unmistakably recognize Him as a benevolent authority commanding clearly.

If you did find God, it's because He led you to Him.

With its kind of authority claim, Christianity stands alone. Polytheists of all stripes vary wildly even within their stripe, as the faith always comes down to individual gurus or individual versions of Mars or Jupiter. New Age crystal gazers and certain pagans posit a vague benevolence, but it is a life-force we command and harness. Chinese ancestor worship doesn’t fit, for dead men tell no tales. Buddhists as such lack a loving King.  Jerusalem the dispersed and Mecca the confused, elder brothers and younger cousins of a sort, do not speak as clearly as Rome.

That God, at the end of a brief sojourn while having his glorified Resurrection body, would as his last act appoint an office manager and a supervisory staff of eleven is remarkably audacious, even novel.  On a moment’s reflection, the practicality of this thing reveals, as in the satisfying click of a lightswitch, a wryness about God. Of course that’s the right way to do it, say the pagans, why didn’t anyone think of it before? 

Read the rest of this entry »

Samaritan, the mountain pass

In Faith and Reason on March 3, 2012 at 10:13 pm

When truth is such an uphill climb, how many men remain in the valleys; how praiseworthy are they who even make the attempt upward.

Among those approaching us at our mountaintop siesta, hopping on the left foot, are the anti-metaphysicians, those materialists who deny even philosophy. Closely behind them, hopping on the right foot, are the apostasists, encumbered by their fathers’ ecclesial fallacies.

We must stand men we cannot stand, for they cannot stand at all.

Where materialists and amaterialists hop, wobble, fall, convicted in belief, Catholics must be the Good Samaritan. Why would we worry? Our faith is the true footing.

Anti-metaphysicians have both faith and reason, lauding the latter to distraction. Denying the metaphysical as much as possible, they prefer a bare minimum faith in one’s senses; not just irrefutable things but inevitable things are their dogmas. True things must be obvious, say they, and so they bind themselves to nothing but that which is already bound. In practice, these materialists test the binding by breaking out of it, at which point it becomes rebellion and willfulness.

Apostasists represent manhandling little truths, unreasonably forcing facts to fit faith. As with all rationalization, all true things bound their way are distorted, a shield against things bound against them. In this way, convenient truths and inconvenient truths are likewise bound to their will. Apostasism is the reverse of the anti-metaphysicians, and it is the same — it becomes rebellion and willfulness. 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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Where points the mountain

In Lay Meditations on February 5, 2012 at 12:06 am

It takes no originality to describe the ascent to truth as climbing a mountain. Christians should take pains to add an emphasis: We do this by only by the grace of God.

Whoever we credit, rightly or wrongly, one feature of an ascent to truth is that as we near the peak it becomes clear we are not headed exactly where we thought we would be. Our chosen path turns too rocky; this land is too real.

Central to mystery is knowledge before us, but still even more some great knowledge beyond.

Discerned as it is by mortal reason, it must occur to us that this summit of small, striking truths can hardly be the Summit of All Truth; this even though the view is nothing we would have thought of; this even though it is eerily as our clearest, sharpest dreams.

From higher yet come the subtle hints of the great tapestry which is Creation, and in the thick air up here we see that we are caught on its messy side. From this height there is just the hint, just glimpse enough, of a greater pattern than we can ever know here. We can almost see something just beyond the cusp of the horizon, and only in the corner of our eye does the sun show his face.

Leaning forward, outward, past the bay below us, we sometimes see as in a sharp focus that all things, and not only all things we see, point in no uncertain direction. To what? — but at that point the horizon impedes us.

Read the rest of this entry »

With trembling hands, bear the sacred

In Lay Meditations on January 2, 2012 at 9:11 am

Fascinating exchanges have taken up the bulk of my writing lately, and I think it’s well worth at least my time to debrief. This first point involves the question of the two sorts of theist-atheist arguments — first, there’s the popular one which posits shiny Evangelical treacle of mammon against slick Freedom from Religion Foundation trickle of mammon, where the War on Christmas rages on and the causalities are always far fewer than reported.

It is no boastfulness to talk of men as swine, for we must always approach our fellow men as fellow sinners.

Darrow vs. Bryan, reads yesterday’s banner; Dawkins vs. Craig, reads tomorrow’s; and boy, in my twisted imagination do the atheists always get the top billing, because man, they do not always win.

I am utterly uninterested in this hysteria. Clearer arguments come from surprising corners, which is to say between that endangered creature, the real atheist who yet is polite, and we the backwards relics of the Dark Ages, we lockstep sheep and papist throwbacks. We are not utterly opposed: We both, for example, submit to actual science on the question of evolution. Leah of Unequally Yoked, admirably, takes the tack of our latter route, but, dissenting, here writes an atheist with the earnest name of Heartfout, a reader over at a much better blog than mine. Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Look at the Body of Christ

In Lay Meditations on July 16, 2011 at 5:38 am

Pauline language which indicates believers are the Body of Christ only reaches its full meaning not when we represent it in abstractions and platitudes, but when we consider what the body of Christ looks like. Not on the boat or on the Mount or even before Pilate — but on the cross. Remember also: Even after the resurrection, Christ retains his wounds. And who put the wounds there? We did, by each of our sins.

Contrast this with a Google Image search for "Body of Christ."

If God allows our sins so that a greater good may come, it is only because that by the wounds of Christ doubting Thomas believes. And so we see even here the final evangelical mission of Christianity. We see even here the essential core of the truth that we are to proclaim truth not only among the pagans but especially those even worse off: the faithless, the disenfranchised, and all else who have repudiated their birthright in their brief, dark Sabbath.

We cannot merely kick the dust from our feet, or pass by on the other side, when the faith of our brother is stripped from him, when he falls among the adversary and so is beaten. We must first realize that just as the disciples felt between the apparent triumph of the adversary on Golgotha and moment they saw the real triumph of Christ, just so are unbelievers stuck in a brief, dark Sabbath in which they nonetheless see no end in sight. We must minister to him.

Read the rest of this entry »