Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Another argument for the infallible church
Jesus, removed from the apostolic tradition and preaching of the church, almost instantly becomes a mirror and projection of whatever our culture happens to be obsessing over right now. So, for Ahmadinejad, he is the Avenger of Islam Against the West. For many on the Right, he is this guy.

For Morton Smith and those of his ilk, he is Gay Jesus.

This is no small reason why one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church is absolutely necessary. A tired meme of our culture is that Jesus was alright, but the Church has horribly distorted his message so that there is almost no hope of cutting through the thick crust of Churchianity to hear the words of Jesus afresh.

I sometimes suspect almost the exact opposite is true. Ephesians (which is, you know, the Word of God) does not have this extremely low view of the Church as the Obscurer of All That Is Truly Christian.

Instead, Paul says that “the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things” is this: “that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:10-11). The Church is the primal sacrament. That’s where you go to encounter Jesus in fullness. Yes, it’s got warts and sinners and all that. But the notion that you can get closer to Jesus by avoiding his Body and listening to whatever cockamamie latest Real Jesus is being proposed by our culture this week is nuts. And that is doubly true for any Real Jesus who gains kneejerk acceptance by your particular circle of friends and influences. The Jesus preached by and present in the Catholic Church is a perpetual smasher of the idols called “Jesus” which are erected by the ideologies, factions and parties of the world to bless whatever insanity they propose or cling to.
Mark Shea

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