Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Child Like Faith & Christianity as Divinely Revealed

Christianity is a revealed religion. God reveals it to us. This anti-establishment non-sense that pop culture American Christians are so in love with is a man made attempt at knowing God. It is the profound opposite of what they think it is. For they say "religion is man seeking God. Christianity is a relationship in which God seeks man". Divinely revealed religion (Christianity) is precisely the opposite. God seeks man by establishing religion, Law and liturgy so that man might know how to conform to God. Man invents an imaginary relationship apart from divine revelation so that he might conform God to himself.

No man has ever been as strict as God when it comes to regulations of worship. The Catholic Liturgy is revealed just like the Old Testament liturgy was revealed.

Certain individuals have their own versions of "trusting in Jesus" as a replacement for divinely revealed truth but only the simple minded and double hearted can be fooled into such things.

We are called to be simple at heart not in thought. To have the simple child like faith in Christ is to believe and to obey His Church (which can be as simple as our hearts desire or as complex and theological as our brains can handle). Simplicity of faith is not a reversion to individualism and heavenly teddy-bearism.

If we establish a subjective "trust in Jesus" which exists apart from the Church then we have done nothing but deceive ourselves. We wouldn't be any better than the atheists accuse us of then: we WOULD be guilty of believing in a God who is nothing but an imaginary friend.

I know many evangelicals who mean very well and seem to have incredible devotion to Jesus. But it's only to find out upon more interaction that they have only a devotion to an imaginary Jesus. He's the "my Jesus" they always sing about. He's the "wind beneath my wings" Jesus. He bears no more resemblance to the historical Jesus taught in the gospels than does Santa Claus.

These same sentimentalists couldn't articulate some of the most fundamental truths about Jesus of Nazareth - the Jewish Messiah. They naively think that Jesus came to bash the "mean ole' Pharisees" and forgive everyone else and in this child-like conception of the gospel message they are guilty of a subtle antisemitism. In fact the Pharisees were at odds with Jesus not for following the OT Law too closely or for being too strict, but for breaking the Law and for not living according to the true principles of Torah (which transcend mere rubrics).

Yet transcendence is not the same as abolishment and therefore following the "spirit of the law" neither requires nor intends to break the "letter of the law". In fact, all things equal, the spirit always desires to follow the letter (that's why the letter is there to begin with). The letter exists to reveal the spirit.

And that's why we have a divinely revealed religion - because the spirit of the law which originates in our imagination cannot compare to the spirit of the law which was handed to us by the Scriptures and by the holy mother Church. These are God given not man-made. Much less then does our devotion to an imaginary Jesus permit us to turn our noses up at the Letter of the Law which we find in the divine Scriptures, in the divine liturgy and in the infallible voice of the Catholic Church (again, how much less then the spirit of that same law).

God did not leave us in a sea of ambiguity to "follow our hearts" because the hearts of men lead each one of us in a separate direction but to a common destination: hell. We conform our hearts and consciences to the infallible guiding light of the Word of God and only in that way will our compasses point to true north. We have only one hope of eternal life and that is Jesus Christ. But this cannot be a "simple trust" in an imaginary Christ, it must be an objective faith in the true Christ which can only be known by revelation.

Simple, child like trust is great when a child trusts his mother; it is another thing altogether when he trusts a stranger with candy. Yet child-like trust is perfectly involved in both. Child-like faith of itself isn't helpful - only child-like faith in what we objectively know to be the truth is good.

The individual who is caught up in a simple trust of a personal Jesus aside from the Church is like a child who accepts the candy from a stranger and goes along on a ride in a white van.

The man who believes everything the Church says about his heavenly Father is like the child who trusts in his mother.

This post was my comment on JP Manzi's recent post.

6 comments:

Rene'e said...

Thank you.

Tim A. Troutman said...

(Tips cowboy hat) Just doin' my job mam.

George Weis said...

Tim,

I can see your point when dealing with people who are totally making Jesus a sort of self tailored persona. However, Faith in the historical Christ and resting on His work and Merit is what we are called to do.

Christ is indeed the hope for mankind. However, I am not convinced in the Catholic approach in that one must be Catholic too. What of tribes who don't even have bread to eat? They use a sweet potato for their Eucharist... no bread available. Also, there are no Catholic Parishes or Priests where they are. Are they not trusting in Christ with child-like faith?

What of the Church in China meeting in secret? No priests there either, just simple devoted followers of the historical Christ... not the Christ of cultists who is often devoid of the Characteristics of the God-Man.

Just a few thoughts... no heat behind my words my friend!

Much love to you!

-g-

Tim Troutman said...

George, I can see where you're coming from I think but I also think you're reading more into my post than I intended to say.

I didn't say that anyone who isn't Catholic doesn't trust in Christ. Some of the most Christ-like people I know... scratch that... the majority of the Christ-like and Christ trusting people I know are not Catholic.

The sentimentalist on JP Manzi's blog was basically saying that organized religion was man's way of doing things, Jesus came to set up a religion without rules just simple trust..same old same old.

My point is that Jesus is not to be found outside His bride - the Church. I am sure you agree with that, the only question we might disagree on is what does that Church look like? Is it visible etc...

Those outside the visible Catholic Church are not unable to have a relationship or knowledge or trust of Jesus Christ of course. But they cannot and have not fully entered into the banquet table with Christ. (This doesn't mean they're not "saved" in the Protestant sense of the word).

One can be "saved" and not in full communion with the truth, Protestants agree with that as well. Suppose Lutheranism turns out to be the true faith of the apostles, Presbyterians then could certainly be saved and have trust in Jesus but they would have lacked the fullness of the truth and of the Christian faith.

Similarly (albeit not exactly), Catholicism says that yes the Holy Spirit is at work among Protestants (our Catechism says this) yet they are not in perfect communion with the Church.

I only mean to say that one cannot invent Jesus. The extreme version is something similar to what I witnessed at JP Manzi's blog and well to be frank some of my co-workers and other people I know in real life. They don't know the historical Jesus, they only know the "Purpose Driven" Jesus who's gonna leave us Catholics behind at the Rapture.

This is a fabricated Jesus. And that is why it is so important to learn of the Master of the house from her whom He left in charge: His bride: the Church.

It is like a man leaving his wife in charge and going away on a journey. I have used this illustration many times. The children were all infants at the time he left so none of them remember him at all. When they get older, some ask mom to tell stories of him, "tell us what he was like". But others don't like what they hear and come up with their own opinions of how dad was really like. So which of the children will be vindicated when he returns?

This is what it is like for those who believe in a Jesus apart from the Church.

Now, many Protestants do know a great deal about Jesus and they know the real Jesus and they love Him and trust Him. But they will always be at a slight disadvantage because they are not fully in communion with His bride. Even a great scholar like NT Wright is not fully in communion with the bride.

On the issue of the Eucharist, nothing may be substituted for the bread or for the wine. Sweet potatoes are not acceptable. It is rare the location that cannot afford the cheap flour and water needed to bake the bread but in those cases where they don't have it or where there isn't a priest available to consecrate the host, they simply don't have mass. But they may have communion services using the Body which was consecrated previously or they may simply gather like Protestants often do without the Eucharist at all.

This scenario is an incredibly rare thing though. Even in very poor countries like the Philippines they have mass every day multiple times all over the place - and you should see the devotion of the thousands and thousands that flock into those Churches on weekdays in the middle of the day.

But I do not disbelieve whatsoever that those things take place. I have heard there is a diocese in Russia the size of Texas which has 4 priests. Obviously, not everyone there enjoys daily mass. Most of the people I am sure are lucky to get a monthly mass.

George Weis said...

Tim,

Ok, I did read more into what you wrote. I agree with all that stuff :D

Now on the sweet potato... :)

I actually have watched a documentary on a tribe who had never heard the gospel message. Bread was rare if ever known to them, so in order that they might understand, a sweet potato (which is the equivalent of bread to them) was used as the way for them to understand "the bread from heaven" or "sweet potato from heaven" and that is what they use for communion. They are way up in the mountains somewhere.

Sorry for the misunderstanding. A retarded moment on my part!

-g-

Tim A. Troutman said...

No, I don't think so. I can see what you're saying. We're just coming at this from two different angles.

It can certainly be difficult to translate "bread of heaven" to a culture which doesn't have bread as their staple food. Asian cultures might more readily relate to "rice from heaven". Example:

When I was in the philippines I remember stopping at a gas station on a long trip. My wife was deciding what to eat and she said "Im not sure if I want to eat rice now". What I heard was "Im not sure if Im in the mood for rice".. What a westerner! Thats not at all what she meant. Can you guess what she meant?

She meant, she wasnt sure if she wanted a snack or a meal. To a Filipino, it simply isnt a meal if you dont have rice. Its only a snack. Pizza is a snack no matter how many slices. Foot long sandwhiches from subway are snacks. I think it must be something similar for the Jewish people. When they said "Break bread" they just meant having a meal.

Anyway, maybe Im getting off on a tangent I just would insist, from a Catholic point of view, it becomes something different altogether when we speak of the Eucharist. The meal, since it is a sacrament, must be celebrated according to how it was instituted. We do not view the Church as having the authority to alter sacraments (this is the same reason why we say we cannot ordain women).