"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history." -Cardinal Francis George

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bryan Cross Cuts Deep

Bryan Cross from the Called to Communion blog has a way of cutting down to the red marrow of the Protestant bone. He is a machine. I wish I could be half as smart, clear and respectful in my conversations. The Pope needs to give this man a medal. (Something with a cross of course... Maltese cross perhaps)Here is an example: Bryan Cross to Jeff on Green Babbins blog: October 17, 2010 at 11:14 pm
Jeff, (re: #334)
In your argument, if the church sins, then Jesus must have sinned.
The Church cannot sin, for Christ is the Head of the Body, and Christ cannot sin. The Church is holy. This is one of the four marks of the Church specified in the Creed. But members of the Church can (and do) sin; when they do this, they separate themselves from the Church’s holiness. They are restored to holiness by the Church. But the Church could not give holiness if the Church were not holy, since nothing can give what it does not have.
This has naught to do with the Church as the visible or invisible body of Christ.
It has everything to do with invisible-church ecclesiology, just as the Docetic view of the Eucharist was based on their Docetic Christology. One’s ecclesiology follows from one’s Christology. Because Christ truly took on human nature, His Body, the Church, is a visible human society. To deny that His Body is visible, is to deny that He truly became flesh and blood.
But in reality, the Church as Body of Christ can sin — and does sin, and has sinned
You’ve just denied part of the Nicene Creed, the part that says that the Church is holy. The Church could make no one holy, if the Church itself were not holy, because no one can give what he does not have.
She is his body as a bride is one with her husband — it is a union, not an ontological oneness.
It is an ontological union; this is why Jesus said to Saul, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4) Is your body not ontologically united to your head? Jesus is the Head of the Body, the Church, and we are the hands and feet and other members of His Body. (1 Cor 12) “As you did to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” (Matt 25:40)
Yes, you are correct that a premise in my argument is that it is highly unlikely that Christ established an office of visible steward such that the visible steward is always right and everyone else is always wrong. Nothing confirms such a possibility, and the whole rest of the church stands against it.
The Church has never claimed that St. Peter and his successors are “always right and that everyone else is always wrong.” That’s quite an obvious straw man. St. Peter and his successors are not impeccable. And, as you well know, according to Catholic dogma, the Magisterium of the Church is protected from error only under certain specified conditions.
It is heat towards an idea: the idea that we might interpose human authority who commands the obedience due only to Christ.
Every Catholic I know would oppose that notion too. No mere human authority has the authority speak for God or to govern His Church. No mere human has the authority to impose human authority that commands the obedience due only to Christ. Amen! But, if the God-man gives divine authority to men, and instructs them to pass this authority on to successors, teaching them to do the same to their successors, then it is to those humans that we ought to submit, as the Israelites were to follow Moses (who was a divinely authorized human) rather than self-appointed ‘authorities’ like Korah. You are presenting a false dilemma: either we submit to Christ alone, or we are submitting to merely human authority. Luke 10:16 shows that that is a false dilemma: “He who listens to you listens to Me, and he who rejects you, rejects Me.”
When the angel appeared to John, he refused to be worshiped; but the doctrine of the papacy unabashedly places him in the place of Christ.
An angel is a mere creature, and should not be worshipped. But, if an angel brings you a divine message, and you disbelieve it, you may rightly be punished, because the angel is God’s messenger, and so to disbelieve God’s angel is to disbelieve God, all other things being equal. (See Luke 1:19-20) Likewise, to disbelieve the Apostles, is to disbelieve Christ. “He who listens to you listens to Me, and he who rejects you, rejects Me.” (Luke 10:16) So the dilemma you are presenting is a false dilemma: it is not true that either we can dismiss divine messengers or we must worship divine messengers. There is a middle position. A human can be given divine authority to which we are obliged to submit for the sake of God, without that human being God.
Our interactions on this issue have left me more determined than ever that this constant insertion of the visible church as a sacramental filter between the believer and Jesus, as an interpretive filter between the believer and the Scripture, as a supplicatory filter between the believer’s prayers and the Father, is not what the Lord intended, taught, or commanded.
You may then find yourself to be fighting against God, trying to destroy the visible Catholic Church that men much greater than yourself have been unable to destroy for 2,000 years. You might just as well treat Jesus’ human nature as a “filter” that annoyingly gets between you and God. That’s gnosticism all over again. Instead of seeing these physical things as a filter, the saints see Christ’s body and the sacraments He instituted as the glorious bridge, Jacob’s ladder, by which and through which the graces He merited for us are brought to us, and we are raised to glory with Him. In the peace of Christ, - Bryan


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