Just a reminder for regular guests: please don’t use the posts on funerals, weddings, or reconciliation to pull things to a favorite topic. I have no problem peeling off a good question, or even a problematic (to me) comment to a separate thread. At least three-fourths of the traffic on this site come for wedding or funeral advice; I’d prefer they email me with a short essay or question. I will try to remember to put up a weekly open thread.
Anyway, Dick asked me about Jesus:
Todd; Why do you think Jesus is called the Door or the Gate or the Way? Some try to enter a different Way. Such as Keeping the 10 commandments or thinking the church sacraments will get them in. may be by the own self righteousness.
I had a discussion about this at an ecumenical conference many years ago. This is the tack many evangelical Christians take. I confess I’ve never heard the Ten Commandments sidelined like this. Most of my relations on my mother’s side are Baptists. I know that even though they number the Ten somewhat differently, they take them seriously as God’s Law.
As for the sacramental life, my friend Dick is barking up the wrong tree. There are some things in Catholicism where Jesus isn’t readily apparent. But the sacraments are definitely not included. Every Christian sacrament invokes Christ explicitly.
And yes, pelagianism, the notion that one can, by one’s own righteous actions, be saved. That’s settled theology for pretty much every Christian division today: not!
The Bible say’s that the 10 commandments are for unsaved people to show them they can’t keep the Law and from that you become a lost sinner. Sinners need a Savior because they can’t appease God. Only Jesus’s sacrifice appeases God . That’s why He is called the Door, Gate, Way. He is the only way in. The bible say’s that when you tell Him you accept His Payment for your Sins , it’s for past, present, and future Sin , then God applies God’s Righteousness to your account. Not everyone get this revelation and they walk the Wide road to destruction. Don’t jump off the cliff because everyone else is jumping. All of what I have shared with you is in the Catholic Bible. Love in Christ, Merry Christmas, Dick
And a blessed Advent and Christmas season to you, too, Dick. I think to have a fruitful discussion with Christians with whom one disagrees, it is absolutely essential to listen, and to get to know them.
As with many of my conversations with Atheist Max, I sometimes get the idea I’m on the end of an argument with some boogeyman that has emerged from some kid’s closet or who hides under the bed. I don’t recognize these caricatures as accurate or meaningful of either Catholics or of me personally.
Jesus didn’t preach explicitly about companionship as much as he gave startling examples of his willingness to listen to people. Jesus is the Door, the Gate, and the Way. But is also an open listener. If he were not so open, we sinners would have no hope.
I think out task on Earth as Christians is to go beyond citing his words. Even the pharisees and the devil did that. What they did not do, that Jesus did, was listen.
A strong disciple of Jesus will listen. She or he will listen when the time is inconvenient (Luke 11:5ff or John 3:2) and show great patience (more of John 3:2ff) and compassion (Luke 18:41) even when it is unpopular among her or his friends (John 4:27) or those in authority (John 9:24). A strong disciple may be able to quote the New Testament at will, but as the apostle suggested to the Corinthians (1, 13.1ff) without love, it doesn’t amount to much. Even martyrdom.
I don’t think what Dick writes in the comment boxes on this blog is terribly wrong. But the method pretty much reduces the sharing of Christian faith to an exchange of junk mail. Which is too bad, really. Because I think Christians have a lot of good things to chat about.
Image credit: my fellow blogger John Donaghy, a church in Honduras.