Monday, June 08, 2009

Some food for thought...

From Mike Liccione who updates his blog far too infrequently...
As as another Tiber-swimmer, Fr. Al Kimel, once wrote: "A church which does not claim to be the Church, outside of which there is no salvation, is not the Church founded by Jesus Christ." The Anglican Communion has, historically, understood itself to be at most a "branch" of the Church; but for Fr. Jeffrey and many others, the recent history of that communion calls even that claim into question. A church which recognizes no doctrinal authority other than a "consensus" identifiable by scholarship and subject to reversal by allegedly new things done by the Spirit cannot reliably transmit the "faith once given" to the saints—nor, indeed, eternal life. It cannot present divine revelation as anything more than a set of data about which various opinions can be entertained and should be tolerated. Such a church is not an authoritative vessel and teacher of truth, the Mystical Body of Christ which shares in his authority as her Head.
Read the whole thing here. Mike and I would disagree on where The Church lies. But here are words which express a very Orthodox understanding of the word "catholic" and what it implies. There are no multiple Churches and multiple Truths. There are no "branches." There is The Church, and there is that which lies outside it. Of course not all sects are created equal. There are varying degrees of error. But the Ark of Salvation and the true and grace filled Mysteries can only be found within the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church affirmed in the Symbol of Faith.

This is something which I think we have become a bit timid about pointing out to those outside of it. In all honesty I am guilty of this myself. No one wants to offend others and I seriously doubt many converts have been won by insulting people. But there is a fine line between being sensitive to causing unnecessary hurt or offense and fudging the truth because it might make people uncomfortable. Sometimes I think we shy away from saying things like this not because we are afraid we might hurt someone's feeling but more because we are afraid what others will think of us.

4 comments:

Anastasia said...

I'm far less offending by the claim that a given church is the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church than I am with the concurrent assumption that because I am not a member of that church I therefore know nothing about Christ or Christianity. There's a certain humility that's necessary to making a distinction between communicating a truth--there is a Church and this is it--and presuming the total ignorance of one's conversation partner about all things Christian.

nothinghypothetical said...

I think Anastasia heads in the direction I would. The problem isn't speaking openly the claim of the Church, the problem is when that claim turns to pride instead of humility.

When we become the older brother to their prodigal son, or when we fail to realize that much has been given to us and much is expected. If the Body of Christ, the Church, doesn't imitate Christ through self-emptying, becoming the servant of all, then it's claims are a curse.

evagrius said...

I agree with the above. Besides, there's another question- do creedal statements really define the Church, especially if they're difficult to understand?

The young fogey said...

Yes! The point I've been repeating for the past year and a half about an infallible church. Thank you. Good points as well about pride and humility.