Monday, August 6, 2018

Our Focus

Christianity is big. It is under attack on so many fronts right now. It makes one wonder what is the most crucial. Of all the things we could work on what would have the most effect? I have been focusing a lot on logic. Making arguments for the Catholic faith and pointing out logical problems with Atheism and Protestantism. That has some value. I am wondering if it has the most value. There are actually not that many people who are logical. Everyone would describe themselves that way but very few actually change their life philosophy because someone made a good argument. They are more likely to get angry or question your motives if you prove to them their belief system is irrational. I know this. I was very hesitant to move from being protestant to being Catholic despite overwhelming arguments. I consider myself more of a thinker than the vast majority of people so if I was so slow to act on good arguments then how slow will others be?

So then what is it? If we should not spend out time repeating sound arguments then what should we do? i am not positive. I think these 2 verses might shed some light.
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17:20-21

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35
Both these passages are quotes from Jesus where He tells us what we must do to spread the gospel. The first is unity. Christians have very little right now. They disagree about virtually every question of governance, doctrine and liturgy. It is a major source of doubt driving people away from Christianity rather than a sign of God's presence in this world. 

Catholicism provides some real answers to the unity question but it has its own troubles with widespread dissent and disinterest. There is a faithful core but it can be hard to find. Sometimes even the faithful ones are timid and almost impossible to hear among all the other folks talking more loudly about their own brand of Christianity. 

Then there is the second verse. This has often been held up as the alternative to doctrinal unity. They will know we are Christians by out love so it does not matter if we get the theology wrong. The trouble is that it does matter. You do convince the public of something but that something often does not mention God at all. Our love for the poor and disadvantaged has taken hold in society but it has not led to a love for Jesus. It has led to the notion that all we need is a few moral principles and we can jettison the rest of Christianity. 

The trouble is we have been taking these as an either/or. Either we focus on love or we focus on doctrine. When the church has been most effective it has done both. Looking at the early church and the way it converted the Roman Empire they were united not only in doctrine and liturgy but also in virtue. They lived together and died together and did so with joy because they loved God above all. 

So what would that look like? If we try and be faithful to the teachings of the church and try to love everyone, how would this be different? I think it involved finding those who are also serious about living the one true faith and trying to build a community of love with them. There is talk of the Benedict option that involves doing this by withdrawing out of society and just living with fellow believers. I don't think that is required. Yet being intentional about loving those that embrace the faith. Yes we love everyone but that community of love believers are supposed to share needs to take it to another level.