Tag: body of Christ

Ecumenism Without Compromise (last part #7)

Spiritual Gravity

God pulled them out of a Catholic Church and put them into a Protestant sect because God is spiritual gravity and God pulls us towards Himself, like a massive sun.  If His rays are blocked in one place, we must go elsewhere to find them, for find them we must!  They draw us, they give us life.  They are a matter of life or death, not a religious shopping mart.  You may think this God-Gravity somewhat speculative, but why should God have less gravity than the sun?  Why should there be less gravity in grace than in nature?  Why should the spiritual universe be less united by gravity than the physical universe?  The parallel works perfectly.

Look at physical gravity carefully.  It’s like love.  It brings together.  Time and space are principles of dispersion, separation that prevent complete union.  Time disperses our being out into past and future.  Space disperses matter out into various places.  Those two dispersions make death possible.  Time and space enable death to insert its destructive sword between one year, when you live and one year, when you die.  And between one material part of you, let’s say your head, and another, your body.

Yet, despite these dispersions, the physical universe is still united by a universal, gravitational attraction which is a real force of love and union.  A non-random, directed, purposive movement or tendency towards all other matter.  All matter is in love with all other matter.  That is, the universe wants to return to the big bang unity, the one divine source of the many.  In the act of creation, the physical universe runs by the love of God.  “The love that moves the sun and all the stars,” in Dante’s words.

For gravity is not just like love, but gravity is love on a material level.  In fact, it has two movements: one is towards union, back to the center, the big bang, the past by gravity.  And the other is to give itself out to all other beings, out into the future, the expanding universe, by energy, and by entropy, which is energy giving itself out to the empty places.  Aquinas says, “The good is diffusive of itself.”  On every level, from the Trinity to subatomic particles.

Thus the light that leaves the star goes everywhere in the universe forever.  A dropped rock on earth goes to the moon and makes the rocks on the moon shudder just a little.  We can calculate how much, it’s a function of the two variables of mass and distance.  Every mass at any distance exerts some gravity.  When I drop a pebble into a pool, I make ripples all the way to the shore.  And when I drop a good deed into another person’s life, those ripples, tiny and imperceptible though they may be, do not stop short of the shore of death.  And even then, they proceed on to the “third and fourth generation of those who hate God and goodness onto thousands of generations of those who love God and keep His commandments.”

God is the source of all spiritual gravity and God touches us only through Christ.  “No one can come to the Father but by me.”  Thus all spiritual gravity, including ecumenical gravity is through Christ.  All return, all homecoming, all reconciliation, all mutual understanding, all healing of wounds in the body of Christ, is through the gravity of grace in the body of Christ.  Now this is a largely unconscious and invisible thing, this gravity of grace.  We don’t see it and we don’t even know what is happening when our spirit is drawn, just as we don’t know when our body falls.  It’s not our conscious knowledge that is the prime mover of spiritual events.

When the human race first learned the law of gravity through Newton, it was a scientific and technological revolution.  When we will learn the law of spiritual gravity, when we learn that it is a person and His name is Jesus, there will be a greater revolution.  He promised that revolution.  “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all men to myself.”  “Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”  Those are divine promises.  Why do we limit them to what we have already seen, or to what we can imagine or comprehend?

All God’s deeds transcend our vision, our imagination, and our comprehension.  Christ is the golden key to all of history and therefore, to future ecumenism.  Let us not dare to cut down the full Christ into understandable and predictable pieces.  That’s exactly what all the heresies tried to do.

I think this ecumenical unity must wait until Christ in Protestants and Christ in Catholics see each other.  That is, until they see the same Christ, until you have what you might call “evangelical intimacy.”  And see more Christ in the other.  The same is true of Eastern Orthodox.  They must see the adoration and the beauty of Christ in us or else reunion will be a watering down.  And with the Jews!  The Jews must see us as more Jewish, more faithful, more martyrs, than the Jews.  The same with the Muslims.  They must see their “islam,” their absolute submission to God in us, and their spiritual warfare, their right jihad.  And the Buddhist must see in us a greater peace, a greater mindfulness.  And even the worldings and sex maniacs.  They must see in us the joy that they’re seeking and not finding.

That’s necessary, that’s not an option, not an ideal, it’s necessary because of gravity.  There’s not choice, it’s the nature of things.  Like physical gravity.  It can be impeded, just as gravity can be impeded by a hand catching a falling apple, but only temporarily.  Art can’t change the nature of things, nature always take over eventually.  Grass grows through abandoned buildings, and Christ is more like grass than like buildings.  So let’s not limit His growth.

Those are some bold and speculative thoughts, and I would appreciate your reactions to them in questions.

“Ecumenism Without Compromise” by Peter Kreeft

Ecumenism Without Compromise (part 4)

A Surprising Clue

But reunion without compromise between Catholics and Protestants still seems impossible.  Yet, here’s a surprising clue that it may be possible after all: the main point of what I said in the last few minutes “Jesus only,” “the all sufficiency of Christ,” that’s the essential Protestant point and it was just made by me, a Catholic.

That point seems to be an essential dividing point for Catholicism seems to Protestants to violate that point.  Catholicism seems to Protestants to be “Christ plus paganism,” “the Ark plus the barnacles,” or “Christ plus many human traditions and historical accretions,” “Christ plus the pope,” “Christ plus Mary,” whatever.  The most serious Protestant objection to Catholicism as a religion, not just as a theology, is that it violates the scriptural teaching of the all sufficiency of Christ, the teaching that there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.

To Protestants, Catholicism seems to add other mediaries, other intermediaries between man and Christ: Mary, the saints, the Church, Sacraments, priests, human traditions.

But I suggest that if Protestants make just one single adjustment in their vision, they will see the possibility of reunion.  Not just theologically, but more deeply religiously and spiritually, without any compromise at all.  And that one adjustment is not to see Christ in any different way at all, but to see the Church in a different way.  Not as an obstacle between us and Christ, not even as an intermediary between us and Christ, but as the very body of Christ Himself.

And why would they make that adjustment?  Well, which of these two concepts of the Church is the scriptural way of seeing it?  Come on, answer honestly.  You read the Bible and isn’t the Bible the supreme authority for any Protestant?  Once Protestants see the Church’s identity, they can love her instead of fearing her because the body of Christ is Christ as your body is you.  It’s not an alien, it’s not an obstacle.  How can your own body be an obstacle?  How Gnostic!  The body is not your prison house, or your coffin, or your punishment.  It’s not even your tool, or your clothing, or your house.  It’s not This Old House.  It’s you.  Although it’s not the whole you.  It’s not your head, or your soul.  The same is true of Christ’s body which is what the New Testament calls the Church.

It is Christ.  Though it’s not the whole Christ.  He is her head.  And the Holy Spirit is her soul.

Protestants will not and should not stop protesting against the Catholic Church until they see the totally Christocentric character of her and all her teachings.  Sometimes, the understanding of the Church’s Christocentrism can be the key to understanding the Christocentric nature of each of the Church’s teachings.  And sometimes, it works the other way around.  Doctrine by doctrine, yielding its Christocentric treasure at the heart as it is more deeply explored and understood.  As Christ the teacher appears at the heart of each of the Church’s teachings.  I know a number of Protestants who have read the Church’s new Catechism and had been amazed at how consistently Christocentric everything in it is.  And unless Protestants see this, how could they think of reunion with Catholics?  And how can they see this, unless Catholics show it to them?  And how can Catholics show it to them, unless they see it themselves?  And how can they see it, unless they have a teacher, a preacher?  As it is written, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them that preach the good news.”

In this light, it seems to me, clearly Providential that God has raised up for our time, the time of the end of the second millennium, the millennium of Christian disunity, and the beginning of the third millennium, hopefully the millennium of Christian re-unity, has raised up John Paul the Great.  The most Christocentric pope of modern times, probably of all times.  The most ecumenical pope of all times, and yet one who is totally and traditionally and enthusiastically Catholic.  Is the pope Catholic?  There have been times in the Church’s dark history when that joke was not funny.  Today it’s funny.

Ecumenism without Compromise – Peter Kreeft