Sunday, January 22, 2017

Catholic Leaders

Luke Breuer and I were having an interaction on another blog. Copied it here because I thought I might answer some things more fully. Now I am wondering if I will have time. He has replied again. We will see how it goes. My original commetns will be in green for context.
You... may not like this comment. Suffice it to say that I've long struggled with these issues, and continue struggling with them. I don't claim to have found answers, but I do claim to have found issues in need of rational & spiritual investigation and not authority-based dismissal.
I like comments like this one. No worries. Authority is not about dismissing anything. It is about knowing things. Anytime you assert that you know God's will on some point are you dismissing everyone else? You are offering wisdom. Do you believe in the scriptures? Why would truth arrived at in that way be less dismissive?

This is a huge problem for sure. Yet why has it grown worse recently? What can be done to solve it? I mean rationalization is not new. What has happened in the past us we have been called back to a few core truths by Christian tradition. It has kept us centered. Yet that has been degrading. Why? 
My judgment: reality has sped up, been compacted, and is increasingly about inculcating and satisfying desire rather than pursuit of truth and ever-increasing excellence in love (agape). We've gained incredible amounts of power over reality but we haven't kept up with wisdom. When containment vessels are not strong enough for the pressure within, they crack and shatter. One might even suggest that God is constantly pouring more energy in, hoping that it will lead to growth, but cognizant that grace can appear as wrath if the supporting walls of holiness, righteous, and justice do not increase appropriately. BOOM
I am not sure how a faster pace makes us less interested in truth and love and more interested in satisfying desires. We have gained power. We do need an increase of grace. God has provided that through His church. We have the the Theology of the Body. We have the teachings of Vatican II. Where sin increases grace increases all the more.

 It centres around the Protestant reformation. Really more of a revolution that a reformation. A revolution against God. Without the grace of God that comes through popes and bishops even Christian tradition is going to succumb to these psychological forces. Tradition is still powerful but we can wriggle out of its hold over time. We can even convince ourselves that is a good thing. We are breaking free of something and that feels good. Yet what we are breaking free from is God. Like a man committing adultery is breaking free in a way but he is breaking the most fulfilling relationship in his life. We are breaking our relationship with God.
My objection to this is that I see Jer 31:31–34 and Ezek 36:22–32 as reversals of Deut 5:22–33
There is no reversal. The idea of the Holy Spirit speaking to our conscience is very much a part of Catholicism. Yet we have public revelation so that we can get the essentials right and unite around truth. Reason and scripture alone simply leads to more and more disagreement until unity around any truth becomes impossible. We need both these concepts. A personal relationship with the Holy Spirit and obedience to authority. Again, if scripture can be accepted as a legit authority then why can't the church be accepted. You objections to a meaningful concept of church should also cause you to reject the bible. They both give you God's word. Ephesians 4 is very interesting. It talks in verse 14 about being "tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming." So which teachings should we listen to and which are deceitful scheming? Maybe verse 11 has a clue "So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers." Maybe letting anyone who wants to be a pastor have equal claim to legit teaching is not the way to go. Maybe Jesus really does want to appoint our leaders even today.
One of the key things I think Jesus did on the cross was to show that sometimes, when all of the humans in power line up and declare that one of the humans needs to die, they're wrong. Can the Roman Catholic Church ever be as deeply wrong as was demonstrated by the unjust execution of Jesus by the Romans, provoked by the religious elite?
I would actually say Yes to this. St Joan of Arc is one example of someone executed as a heretic by Catholic officials who turned out to be wrong. The Saint title indicates that. The gift of infallibility is very limited. It keeps us from losing the gospel to corrupt leaders. Yet it is not easy. We still have corrupt leaders as do Protestants. The only difference is God keeps them from doing irreversible damage.
See, I grew up as a social outcast and learned how social power works. Except when kenosis is practiced, it is not clear to me that God gives Christians with power any special advantage over non-Christians with power. (I allude to "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.")
There are special graces with the offices. Some don't cooperate with those graces and can be very bad popes or bishops. On the whole we have had very few of those. Certainly the last couple centuries have been very good. Why can't God's grace work that way?
I suggest some careful thinking about your train of thought. There is a pattern I have observed among those who used to be socially powerful but have lost that power. They tend to think that they had and still have enough of the right answers, and everyone is just sort of irrationally rebelling.
I am a convert. So I have never had any power through Catholicism. I was raised Reformed. I did get a sense growing up that people were rebelling against something. Yet what was it? Generic Christianity but what was that? The churches were moving as well as society. So I didn't think we had right answers. I would never say Catholics don't need to do any introspection. I think they church has many faults but it is a vehicle for grace. Anything negative you say about the church I will likely agree with. Still it is not a reason to leave her because she is the Body of Christ.
Recall who is routinely criticized in the Bible: religious leaders in power. This should be a sobering fact. Sadly, I cannot ever recall being taught that religious leaders in power today could possibly fall into the same patterns. It is as if there is a belief that ever since Jesus died, the religious power elite could not be arbitrarily corrupted.
Catholicism does not say religious leaders are perfect. They are called to do better than the pharisees but do have temptations. Still Jesus does not respond by saying His Church will have no leaders. He responds by saying His leaders will be different. So we will still have leaders. Starting with Peter and the Apostles and continuing to the present day.

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