Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The immortal radiance of obedience

As St. Paul said, there is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. The invention of other faith-content since then doesn’t render his knowledge invalid. It simply disguises the truth from the casual viewer, a state of things that makes the end-times “great deception” possible.

There’s still only one faith. And being Christian is not defined by the skill of one’s interpretation of the Bible. Rather, it is defined by one’s adherence in belief and conduct to that original “one faith.”

Therefore, Christian unity is not possible through argumentation. It is only possible through obedience. You show an innate knowledge of this fact when you try to coerce people into shutting up or agreeing with you because they’ve said something you regard as untrue.

Obviously you are not appealing to the political right of free speech. Rather, you are appealing to something which we all know innately – unity in the Christian faith is desirable and right, but it is only achievable through obedience.

And since you and many other drifting postmodern Christians cannot obey the faith as it was always held, you must ask people, instead, to obey your feelings of defensiveness.

You demonstrate that your real authority is your own mind. Private interpretations of scripture are the furthest back you can go in your appeal to authority.

Here’s how obedience works in a traditional Christian community. I obey my bishop (usually through the mediation of my priest and other Christians) who obeys his bishop and the bishops who came before him. Through this humble network of obedience, made up of the whole church through time and space, we touch and live the first faith of the Christians. In this way, Christ really rules his church and we experience unity and love to the extent that we are able to grasp it.

Just like Elisha received the physical mantle and spirit of Elijah, and continued his predecessor’s work, so our bishops receive, by laying on of hands, the spirit of Christ’s apostles and that understanding of the truth which was the common property of the Church before the New Testament scriptures were even written. Within this blessed community, the scriptures form the written part of that tradition.

Or to put it another way, we are the body that wrote the scriptures and canonized them. I highly doubt that we have been misunderstanding them this whole time. This is not a simple issue of what’s permissible and what’s not. It’s an issue of immense theological import. What is the mystery of Christ and the Church? What is the created nature of humanity, the portal of grace?

Of this living, original faith I, who am not mature in the Lord, partake only through obedience. With so firm a foundation, how can you hope to move me away through imaginative exegesis and hermeneutics and etymologies, all informed by secular, agenda-driven, history-rewriting gender-studies? I’ve found the peace and assurance of the true Church. Like any other Christian, I must say “no” to my false self in many ways that are extremely painful, not in the sense of doing damage to oneself, but in the sense of undergoing spiritual treatment and taking up spiritual exercise.
And yet the light floods in.

I tell you, the smallest, most comfortable act of obedience will be transformed into a joy whose radiance would kill us if we experienced it in the body. And the most heartbreaking act of obedience will become more joyful than a universe of stars. You do not know what you are doing when you persuade people to commit unseemly acts and abuse their bodies and the mystery. If you only knew, you conspire with Christ’s enemies to deprive his servants of their reward. Do you remember what Christ said in Revelation to those who persuaded Christians to eat meat offered to idols?

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