Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Living Apostolic Church

Continuing my thoughts on conversion - I wondered what to do about this simultaneously terrifying and romantic idea that the apostolic Church still exists. I've written about this before, but I think it was mostly on other blogs.

Before becoming Catholic, I was often jealous of those old Hebrews who waited for blooms on rods to know for sure what God really wanted. I was even jealous of the apostles because they could roll dice to eliminate uncertainty and there was a special privilege the young nation of Israel had when God sent prophets to her. All the faithful Jews knew this prophet was of God and anything he said (even if I didn't like it) must be obeyed.

Now there is safety in that and something to be envied, but there's also danger. The danger is that we don't know what that prophet is going to say, or which rod will bloom or what number will turn up on that die. It could end up as my second choice - or conceivably, it could end up something I utterly hate. I'm not so afraid of hearing God's voice as I am of hearing and finding something that my sin nature refuses to heed. That's scary.

Still I think, on some level, that this is precisely the type of world I'd want to live in. So once I was confronted with the idea that this apostolic Church is not dead but very much alive, I was excited. It was a shock to begin with - and certainly frightening. After all, I don't know what this successor of Peter is going to start promulgating as Christian dogma or what the bishops may end up professing. There is some real danger in that.

Well, I don't think God ever meant us to be completely safe in the world or in the Church. Christianity is a supremely dangerous thing - it threatens to dominate the one thing that is apparently yours - your life. There is no version of Christianity more dangerous than Catholicism. If the Baptists are right - eh... ok or if the Anglicans are right - that's all fine, just love Jesus and everything will be alright. But if Catholics are right - then "loving Jesus" entails obeying His Church (especially the bishop of Rome) and we don't know what His Church will say! That's scary but it's also liberating. There's nothing scary about any other ecclesial community and it's partly for this reason I think Catholicism is true.

It's one thing to trust God's Word in the Bible, it's another thing altogether to trust God's Word when you believe that it might keep talking! It's even another thing when you expect it to keep doing so.

1 comment:

Andrew Preslar said...

This reminds me of something we talked about once: what would we do if Jesus of Nazareth showed up at our local coffee shop and started to proclaim the kingdom of God? Now that is scary.