To hear about it on social media, Christianity is many things. It is a horror and abomination to some, the basis for a theological autocracy for others, and a seemingly endless source of disagreement for those who profess to practice it. Thankfully, for at least a few online, it is a source of strength, guidance, and hope for this life and the next.
It is sadly easy not simply to get distracted by minutiae, misrepresentation, and theological dead-ends, but caught up in them. I’m more than ever reminded that the greatest triumph of the Evil One is convincing people that he doesn’t really exist. I’m convinced that some of what I see presented on social media and in corporate media in regards Christianity is, in fact, the work of the Evil One.
Even with the holes in my memories, I think I can give a concise take on Christianity and lay out some areas for future expansion and explanation. I also want to bring out some aspects that I fear are, deliberately and otherwise, getting lost in the shouting as it were.
At its core, Christianity is the belief that God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to be born of the Virgin Mary so that he could live, suffer, and die for our sins. That through him, and him alone, we can obtain eternal life with God the Father. That we are saved by Grace through faith, not works. That the Bible is the word of God, infallible, and is the guide for our lives. That the reward of faith and of living the best we can the guides laid out for us in the Bible, is eternal life in Heaven (or a perfected Earth, topic for later); and, failure to accept Christ and live as we are commanded will result in our being sent to Hell.
Of course, there is more to it — much more to it — than that. Some of the points have been being argued since the Catholic Church (note, not the Roman Catholic Church) first started. Actually, some quick research shows the term Catholic truly got going in the second century of the Church, and it derives from the Greek word katholikos which is translated as “universal.” I may get more into that in a later post, as it is interesting linguistically and theologically. Even more interesting are the churches (flavors?) of Christianity that follow the Nicene Creed “…one holy catholic and apostolic Church.” More on that once we get into a discussion of the flavors.
In addition, some points I hope to get to in the future (hopefully near future) include salvation, baptism, confession and the forgiveness of sins, that Jesus is NOT our friend as we currently use the term, and the problems of theology via throwing out portions of scripture and theology we don’t like.
For today, however, I want to touch a bit on Grace and remind myself and others of one of the key tenets that is being deliberately ignored by both those who follow the pseudo-religion of wokeness/socialism (note, communism and socialism are two sides of the same coin), and those who profess faith but seem to fail to grasp what I consider some basics.
The common core (pun intended) is that both parties reject or ignore Grace. They both reject or ignore that God is Love, and that there is no sin that God can’t forgive via confession and penance.
It is well worth noting that in the secular pseudo-religion of wokeness that there is no Grace. There may be a temporary rehabilitation for political purposes, but that is only temporary and as soon as the need is passed one is once again cast forth. There is no true and real forgiveness for “sins” real or imagined in that secular monstrosity. Not even death brings absolution.
As for those who profess faith and appear to reject Grace, there are two points that come to mind. One is the start of the prologue to the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church:
God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Saviour. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life.
Again, God is love and he so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son to live, suffer, and die for our sins. A very good argument can be made that by rejecting this, by rejecting Grace, for those they consider to be in sin, that they are rejecting the sacrifice of Christ, and therefore Christ himself.
The other point I see is that they are in some ways a modern-day version of Donatism. Just as the Donatics felt the Church had fallen into sin and only they were the true Christians (and I seem to recall that they weren’t real sure about each other even), the modern version is quick to condemn others and paint individuals and even whole denominations with an unforgiving broad brush.
My own readings, study, and journey have convinced me that God doesn’t demand perfection as much as that we try for perfection within the limitations of mortal flesh. Continuously, exhaustively, and with repentance when we don’t make it. To paraphrase a line from a science fiction show (Babylon 5), ‘Sin is what makes us fall; but, the larger sin lies in not getting back up again.’ It lies in failing to try, to confess our failings and to ask for help, and then get back up and try again. Keep trying: you are NOT a failure, only human.
At some point, I want to address the concept of complex problems, such as medical issues, and why a single failure is not truly a failure. For all that I’ve heard ‘Oh, X must not have truly repented/believed/etc. or else they wouldn’t still have this problem’ (and yes, I’ve heard it more in the Roman Catholic Church than elsewhere, but it exists in all denominations), it’s an assumption based on error. Sometimes, God wants us to work through things the long way for a reason. Again, a discussion for another day.
I will note that my thoughts and beliefs are subject to change. For one thing, I think the day we truly die is the day we quit learning and growing. Life, and Faith, are not static and should not be static. We should continually be open to God, to learning more in and about Faith, and even the history of our Faith. As we do so, we gain a greater understanding not only of God and Faith, but of ourselves and what we can and should do. For a final thing, given that there are holes in my memories, something I used to know may come back or learned anew, which again will result in growth and change.
The core belief of Christianity does not change. What does change is our understanding of ourselves, our responsibilities in Faith and life, and the magnitude of God’s love and Grace for us all. For those that need to hear it, hang in there, have Faith, and know God does love you.
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