God remains watching over His Church even in the worst of times—which this time certainly is not. Yes individual bishops and even the bishops of entire regions have gone astray in the past, but those events have not changed the official teaching of the Church. Instead, those bishops have simply exceeded their authority and done wrong. We need to remember that whatever the failings of individuals in the magisterium, that has never led to teaching error by the magisterium.
So when we pray for the Church, let us do so with faith that God looks out for her and will not let her lead us astray. (See HERE for full article)
In my opinion, the Pharisees are important to consider in this day and age in the Church. I don’t say that to use the group as an epithet, nor to use an ad hominem to target bloggers I disagree with. I think we need to consider them because they did have an attitude towards religion that seemed right from a human perspective, but ultimately that attitude fell short in the eyes of God.
Briefly, the view of the Pharisee was (seeking to avoid pejorative terms) that one was faithful to God by keeping His laws. In doing so, they offered their interpretation of how the Law was best followed. People who did not follow that interpretation were considered sinners. In contrast, because they followed the Law in accordance with their interpretation, they believed they were holy. It strikes me as being an “either-or” fallacy. Either one followed their interpretation of the Law and were holy, or they did not follow their interpretation of the Law, and were corrupted. The problem is, the either-or fallacy overlooks the possibility of there being more than two options—in this case, the fact that it was not enough to follow the observance of the Law. Jesus did not fault the Pharisees for keeping the Law. He faulted them for failing to love God and neighbor while keeping the law (Matthew 23:23).
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ who blog about the Catholic faith.
During Lent of this year, I wrote a post about the problems with attitudes in Catholic blogging. It was one I was afraid to post because I did not like the idea of being confrontational. It turned out to be one of the farthest reaching posts I made. However, since I am seeing certain blogs that I once admired slip into a nasty mindset, perhaps it is time to write again on the topic. I do not write this article with the intent of singling out a particular article or blogger. Rather, I write this to alert my fellow Catholic bloggers to an attitude we should watch out for and, if necessary, correct.
I’ve seen the posts shared on Facebook. Some have impressed me enough that I follow the Facebook page, Twitter, or RSS feed. So long as one defends the Catholic faith and show love for the Church established by Our Lord, all is well. Sometimes that defense of the faith involves speaking about misrepresentations of the faith from members of the Church. That is understandable. That is permissible—provided the correction is done in love and with the due respect for the office the person holds and gives obedience to those in persons of authority.
But some of these blogs have gone from showing love and charity for our fellow Catholics to the old and wearisome sport of “Bishop bashing.”
The doctrine of Hell is one that is easily distorted into portraying Christians as gleefully awaiting non-Christians to be sent there, while thinking that we have a free pass where what we do doesn’t matter. While it is true that some Christians have so missed the point about what they are called to be that they do think this way, it is an aberration which perverts what Christianity really believes.
Far from being a cruel belief invented by a vindictive people in a way that contradicts the concept of a loving God, the concept of Hell recognizes that:
- God created us with an immortal soul
- God created us with free will to choose Him or to reject Him
- If we misuse free will in a way which rejects God, our immortal soul has to exist somewhere that is the logical result of that rejection
So, Hell is not an issue of “don’t steal that cookie or you’re going to burn forever!” It’s a reality of, “If you choose to reject God, that decision has eternal consequences if you do not change your ways.”
One of the things people in modern times find hard to reconcile is how God can be love (1 John 4:16) and the existence of Hell. The general assumption is that Hell is an arbitrary, disproportionate punishment tacked on to a crime—something like shooting a person for jaywalking. Because of this, it is assumed that God, being “good” (in an undefined way) would not really send them to Hell for their own actions. Maybe Nazis, but not “good” people. I suspect this is where the whole “God doesn’t care about X!” attitude comes from.
But this is to miss the point about what Hell is about. It is not an arbitrary sentence to a crime like, “If you commit theft, I will punish you with Prison.” It is more like, “If you jump off of a cliff, you will die.” In other words, Hell is the logical consequence for choosing to do what goes against what God has called us to be.
If you read the works of the saints, or their biographies, you can see that they were aware of a truth that America has forgotten—sin is real and it alienates us from God. Instead, America (or, rather the whole of Western civilization) has a bad habit of presuming that God “doesn’t care” about the action we do that falls under the category of sin. As a result, we have an understanding about sin that is both self-contradictory and has nothing to do with the reality:
- When others do something we dislike, we have no qualms about acknowledging it as a sin.
- When we do something that is a sin, we refuse to acknowledge it as a sin and call it an arbitrary decision made by human beings that doesn’t matter to God.
In other words, while people are perfectly willing to denounce others, the fact is that, instead of thinking rationally about the good or evil of our actions we contemplate doing, we rationalize the things we already do to avoid thinking about whether they are good or evil or rationalize a reason not to do what we ought to do.
This mindset actually convicts the person before God—because we call the actions of others “sin” or “wrongdoing,” we acknowledge that there is a good which must be lived and an evil which must be avoided. But because we refuse to apply this knowledge to ourselves, we show ourselves to be hypocrites and evildoers.
Being a Christian today—at least one who takes a position contrary to what is currently favored culturally—is becoming an unpopular and potentially dangerous stand to take. While society is stressing the importance of being nice, and not saying anything negative about someone we disagree with (except when directed against said Christians), we are unpopular because we say “This is wrong, and cannot be done.” To which, the world says “Stop judging, you bigot!” (completely unaware of the self-contradiction). The impression one gets is that society would be perfectly willing to welcome us back into the fold if we would stop being so obstinate and go along with what they hold.
If the society was the source of determining what was right and wrong, then it would be foolish of us to be countercultural. Under such a view, whoever rejected the mores of society would be a hateful person. But this is where the problem lies. Christianity cannot accept society as the source of determining right and wrong. Indeed, we know that societies have a bad habit of going very wrong. In America, our mistreatment of American Indians and African-Americans give us examples of behavior that cannot be considered good even though society once favored it. The totalitarian dictatorships of history give us examples of behavior we cannot condone. So there has to be a source for determining right and wrong which is outside of society. Otherwise, when a new group is in power, people will find themselves without grounds to protest actions they find offensive. And society, in the name of freedom, is rapidly undercutting the pillars that support freedom. They do this by saying, “Stop trying to push your values on us!” while pushing their values on others.
The Supreme Court has ruled today legalizing “same sex marriage” in a very poorly reasoned decision. This is something a Christian cannot support in good faith. Of course we believe that we are called to treat each individual with all the love and respect that is due a human person. But that love we are called to does not mean that we are required to recognize a morally bad act as if it were good. Therefore we deny that our actions are motivated by hatred when we say that homosexual acts are wrong. However, people will accuse us of hatred anyway.
Because those political and cultural elites have decided that the only moral wrong is “hatred,” and because they decide that any action or belief they dislike is “hatred,” it stands to reason that we will become social pariahs in society. I fully expect that families will be divided as Our Lord warned in Matthew:
34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. 35 For I have come to set
a man ‘against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
36 and one’s enemies will be those of his household.’ (Matthew 10:34-36)
Let’s consider a Bible passage from Matthew 9:9-13…
9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. 10 While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. 11 The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. 13 Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
From what we know about what Jesus taught, there is one thing we can never forget:
- Major Premise: Jesus came to call the sinners, not the righteous.
- Minor Premise: Jesus came to call us.
- Conclusion: Therefore, We are sinners.
If we forget this fact, then we run the risk of becoming like the Pharisees, looking upon others as sinners, but giving no thought to our own sins.
The love of truth requires a person to find out what is true about a thing in its very nature, responding to that truth in approaching life. But many people are not actually willing to do this. They want to stop searching at the level where they are content—especially if continuing to follow the truth means an uncomfortable change of how one lives. This approach to life is known as Sophistry—which is the use of fallacious arguments, especially with the intention of justifying a position contrary to an unpopular truth.
The difference between the two outlooks are polar opposites. One seeks to find out what is. The other seeks to justify himself or herself in the eyes of others. When shown that his or her position is wrong, the Sophist tends to become hostile—seeing the demonstration as a personal attack on their comfortable little world, and even an attack on the person. It is important to remember, however, that sophistry is not something exclusive to one ideology—where one side is always seeking the truth and the other side seeks to deceive. Anyone of us can become a sophist if we stop searching for truth when it makes uncomfortable or even try to justify ourselves against truth.