Question and Answer
Will the Church ever be 'One'?
Jesus prayed that all believers would be 'one' - enjoying the complete unity He has with God the Father (John 17:11; 20-23).
Has this happened? Will this happen? Any ideas on how or when it might?
Is it for us an 'invisible' unity or a visible, corporate, organisational unity?
Whatever else may be said about JC and his pretensions, I suspect we all agree that the vision coming out of Christianity in application has a distinct flavor of hyperselectivity in relating to reality. Christians by "careful" definition do not approve of so much that it seems almost absurd to present the point. We even get to such issues as sexual preference and pretend overriding competence to judge the workings of nature in our distinctly parochial context. Why on earth should the church be one? Are we all scambling to fit into the same dixie cup? What for?
Haven't the slightest idea what you mean David. There is more meaningless jargon in your comment than I have seen in the works of many German Protestant theologians. Please be more blunt / specific / clear in what you are saying.
Dear Fr. Gregory,
As you know, Germaniform expositors are not notably patient with requests to recouch their positions. I can remember attempting this approach in tackling Kant and having my ears pinned to the wall. The issue involved is that you must understand it in its own context in that it cannot be brought into yours or you would already understand it. I'm not that arrogant so let me see if I can expand the précis and open up the elements that constitute its definition of density. You requested that I be blunt: here is bluntness.
First, the Mother Church is and always has been a disaster. As an institution it has frequently provided a context for the expression of the lust for power and practical impunity of those who have used it to develop and express their own beings through a tyrannical imposition on the social order around them and the control and evident manipulation of the experience of the members of their flock by disallowing them their own feelings. It has provided yet another marvelous hierarchy wherein, as is so often the case in such, the "scum" has all too frequently risen to the top, i.e., those without practical scruples or values who are willing to stand in association with positions that are convenient in their context have a distinct advantage in such a context in seeking positional advancement.
Second, as this evidently implies, Christ's teaching are at open variance with and in active violation of Natural Law in advocating the abrogation of personal experience as a guide for relating to reality.
Third, the criminal acts and practices of the Church over the years as expressed in its in-group delimited and hierarchically defined orientation are too readily swept under the rug by those taken with the tasty bait of advocated irresponsibility (an eternal free lunch) proffered in Christ's original teachings.
Fourth, as far as I have found, there is no passage in the Bible that justifies or advocates either: 1) terrorizing, subjugating, torturing or burning members of your community who for some reason or other do not accede to Church authority or stand out as excludable for one reason or another; or 2) going forth and converting unbelievers at sword point (which went on for centuries) and spitting on them if they do not adhere to your particular version of the "Faith". The Inquisition, the Papal Line of Demarcation, the Conquistadors, the Bandeirantes, the heretic and witch torturing and burning, the incredibly brutal wars between differing Christian factions or sects, decrees of "excommunication", "interdiction", etc. and the general tyrannical character of Christianity's contentious history are the business of the Church and its efforts to maintain itself aloft in unquestionable and unaccountable authority. However, the theory presented in the New Testament is inextricably woven into this praxis.
Fifth, I must admit that I find Christ's teachings a profoundly confusing source of guidance as well. First we have the attribution of a God of love who literally gives carte blanche authority to forgive anything through the agency of a believer:
If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven. (John 20:23)
even stranger in light of Christ's outstandingly
"peace and love" message (especially as most
people are inclined to see it nowadays) are the
passages where he sounds like Adolf Hitler on a
bad day such as:
"You have heard that it is said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I
tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully
has already committed adultery in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It
is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell." (Mathew 5: 27-30)
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces." (Mathew 7: 1-6)
As a result, it is certainly to be admitted that there is plenty of room for confusion, but the basic issues are clear. It would seem that the Church has all too frequently taken its role as the "Shepherd" of its "Flock" too literally and acquired an unholy taste for mutton as a result.
This would appear to be grounded in humanity's often perverse character and delight in power and authority. Whatever else may be said, whether in good faith or in bad faith, Christ's teachings became the rallying cry for the foundation of a living monster: the great and glorious and infallible and intransigent and (Lord knows) wealthy Mother Church. Quite a business it is!
Gregory, I would like to refer to some earlier
questions from Kevin Love that would appear
relevant to the issues involved.
Let's look at it in context a bit more deeply.
Before Christ, gods were viewed as sufficiently terrifying in their wrath and purposes as not to require much concern about a Devil. Yahweh was a relatively reasonable personage but was deemed awful in the extreme. Other gods were more openly demonic and self-interested, witness Zeus and company and their delight in war and revenge and destruction. A clearer and more proper association with the implacable character of natural justice was, evidently, expressed by the Erinyes or Furies. But gods frequently had rather small purposes, i.e., their own prominence and power and worked in association with a limited group. This self-interested purpose united them with the mortals that were struggling and fighting and promoting themselves here, there and everywhere and anyone who accumulated enough power promptly declared himself a god (e.g., the Pharaohs, Alexander the Great, the Caesars, etc.)
Then suddenly Christ started handing out free lunches on his divinity's account, guaranteeing forgiveness for sins and eternal salvation not only through Christ himself but also through his agents in the persons of what developed into the clergy. In addition, God went from being a semi-demonic statement of wrath and natural justice to being a wimp, a namby-pamby divinity -- whom worshippers were well defined (according to JC) to order to: "forgive us our sins as we also forgive everyone who sins against us" (not even the common courtesy of a "please") -- expressing a kind of perverted sense of "love" in that love was traditionally viewed as something you had to earn, but in Christianity it was suddenly something that could be passed out like lollipops at the dentist's office.
Demonic being is defined as the use of others to serve the purposes of a few. On the other hand, Divine being is defined in a very unclear fashion in Christianity and it is often argued (at great length) that God is on high in his heaven manipulating all to his unimpeachable ends through predestination and even double predestination. In many senses the demonic and the divine as presented in these definitions are not notably different. Confusing, I'll admit.
Is the Holy
Spirit not also present in history?
In proper use, a holy spirit is one that is present in everything in that legitimate divine being must necessarily be concerned with all of existence, not merely the promotion of the purposes of a few.
Do only 'scum rise to the top?'
No. But history certainly does show that those who do rise to the top, in coming out of the human offal now below them, have a distinct tendency to betray whatever grand or proper purposes they used to promote their elevation in order to establish themselves on high in one way or another ("Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely"). In addition, one suspects that "Whom the gods would destroy, they first make proud" might be telling us something.
Does God never help us?
Clearly in terms of proper divine being standing open to and thus concerned with all of our problems, God is indeed mechanically constrained to an interest in helping us when there is something there to help, i.e., when we are not expressing purely selfish interests ourselves.
Does God never guide our leaders?
Sometimes, it would appear. But it is clearly very difficult to guide those who are primarily interested only in their own prominence. It is rather like a game of chess where the major pieces have purposes of their own while most view themselves as the be all and end all of existence. In these terms, God is just one more piece, one more participant, one more mind, in this struggle, handicapped greatly by serving a universal purpose. History and the Bible certainly testify to this, with even the New Testament giving a scathing view of Mankind.
There is no-one righteous, not even one;
there is no-one who understands,
no-one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no-one who does good,
not even one.
Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practise deceit.
The poison of vipers is on their lips.
Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.
Their feet are swift to shed blood;
ruin and misery mark their ways (Romans 3: 10-16)
One wonders how any responsible or openly defined being could be imagined to forgive such iniquity and thus incur the close association of such a self-interested, treacherous lot. Only the Christian God is deemed to be thus inclined, evidently in conflict with Yahweh and traditional Jewish thought.
In this light, one suspects that we do well to view ourselves as much of the problem of existence itself, but that certainly our becoming a part of its solution can only come when we cease to "turn away" and serve our own ends at the expense of all the rest.
David Gordon Howe