Sunday, September 27, 2009

Kumbaya Blasphemy

Stop me if you've heard this one.

Jesus went to a football game between the Protestant Punchers and the Catholic Crusaders. The Catholics scored. Jesus cheered wildly. Then the Protestants scored. Jesus cheered wildly. This confused a man sitting behind Jesus, so he nudged Jesus on the shoulder and asked, “Which team are you rooting for?” “Me?” said Jesus. “I’m not rooting for either team. I’m just enjoying the game.” The questioner turned to his neighbour and sneered, “Bah! An atheist!”

Or something like that.

I despise this joke with every fiber of my being. Mostly because I can't figure out how it isn't blasphemous, especially in the context of which it's always (ALWAYS) told.

The point the ersatz comedian is trying to make is that it doesn't matter if one is Catholic or Protestant. Jesus likes both equally and is glad that they are both there to compete with one another. Of course, when we consider this in a practical sense, this means that Jesus is glad that there are rivals to His Mystical Body and proud of the fact that there are those who reject His Truth.

In fact, when we consider that Christ is THE TRUTH, this rejection must be regarded as a rejection of Himself. After all, He was quite clear to those original shepherds that He chose:

He that heareth you heareth me: and he that despiseth you despiseth me: and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.

Luke 10:16

Oh, but what about today's Gospel? Doesn't that mean that all these separated groups are really ok and just as "true" as Catholicism?

Let's take a look at that.

John answered him, saying: Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, who followeth not us: and we forbade him. But Jesus said: Do not forbid him. For there is no man that doth a miracle in my name and can soon speak ill of me. For he that is not against you is for you. For whosoever shall give you to drink a cup of water in my name, because you belong to Christ: amen I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.

Mark 9:37-40

A lot of people with ecumenical hang-ups love to throw this verse around as showing that Christ endorsed indifferentism. Ok, let's slow-play this and see what actually happens.

John, who we know may be somewhat hot-headed given he has a thing for calling down fire from heaven (Luke 9:54), tells Jesus there is a guy casting out demons in His name. John tells the guy to stop. Jesus tells John to back off because the guy is doing the right thing and in the right manner (in His name) and that folks who do such, regardless of their status AS AN APOSTLE, is ok. It doesn't even have to be a miracle, just charity is enough.

The analogous event in the first reading is demonstrative of this. It's not like Eldad was a Gentile or something. He just wasn't with the main group who received God's Spirit.

Sure, you might say, but most Protestant groups aren't really "against" the Church. So they must be "for Jesus," right? Not according to Jesus:

He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.

Matthew 12:30

Puts a different spin on the guy casting out demons, huh? The problem is that so many are willing to junk the Truth in exchange for hand-holding Kumbayaisms that they just assume the exorcist John reprimanded was of an unlike mind with the Apostles. Is he scattering? What evidence is there of this in the text? Do we have anything to demonstrate that this man was a pagan or Pharisee or scribe who rejected Christ's teachings on something?

Of course not. It makes for a jolly good ecumenical delusion, though.

Heretics are a different story. They are defined by scattering and their rejection of Christ's teachings. Did Jesus call the folks back who left in John 6 to say, "Hey, you can go ahead and leave. As long as you aren't against me, it will be alright"?


Consider Jesus's own words about a group of miracle-workers-to-be-named-later:

Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.

Matthew 7:21-23

Working miracles is nice, but doing the will of the Father is more important. You would think this means no scattering and no rejection of those whom God has appointed to lead His Church.

Keep all this in mind the next time you hear the above joke.

It's a supreme irony that so much can be said about Catholics and non-Catholics joining together to fight evil in the world, without bothering to evangelize those separated from the Church. Their separation is one of the gravest evils in the world, if not the gravest. Or to hear comments that Jesus is the unifying factor amongst all Christians, when such statements are completely bankrupt of reason when taken in light of the Eucharist, which is Jesus and which divides Protestants from Catholics and from each other.

Nutshelling all this, I can only say that it is difficult conceive of loving one whom you do not know. Love proceeds from Truth, from knowing the beloved and committing one's will to them. You don't start off with a commitment of the will towards someone that is amorphous, unknown, or fuzzy. This is the plot for a Lifetime movie, not the foundation of a relationship with the Almighty.

There is one Lord, ONE FAITH, and one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). Not many faiths. Just one. There is one Bride (Cant. 6:8). There is one Church (Matthew 16:18; 1 Timothy 3:15). Pretending that this isn't the case helps in nothing, especially preaching the Gospel. Somebody is right. Somebody is wrong. Patting ourselves on the back about all the stuff we might agree on doesn't do a hell of a lot in getting folks to hear, accept, and believe the Truth.

Pius XII, with his typical awesomeness, presents the end game for those looking to shelve evangelical conversion for co-existence or promote Kumbaya over orthodoxy:

But some through enthusiasm for an imprudent "eirenism" seem to consider as an obstacle to the restoration of fraternal union, things founded on the laws and principles given by Christ and likewise on institutions founded by Him, or which are the defense and support of the integrity of the faith, and the removal of which would bring about the union of all, but only to their destruction.

Humani Generis


Karl said...

The ancient Christians sure thought that it mattered exactly what you believed. I like to read Hebrews to figure out what they meant by the word "faith". We tend to reduce it to fides qua, the virtue by which we believe, while not connecting it to any particular beliefs.

I consider that God may overlook our mistakes in belief, but probably not our indifference to whether we are correct. God is truth, and therefore we better try real hard to believe the truth.

Roisin said...

Well said, Karl

Throwback said...

Exactly. How much ink (and blood) was spilled over homoousios vs. homoiousios. Who cares, as long as we have fake charity for one another and fight against some vaguely defined "evil" in the world?

I'm not saying that God is some sort of theological taskmaster. You don't need to know a whole bunch of complicated stuff about Him to go to heaven. You should be pretty concerned with whether the stuff you do know is right and whether the stuff you tell others about Him is right, too.

How awful a thing to spread falsehood about God, regardless of how sincere you might be. And even worse to know that someone else is doing it and decide that you don't care.