If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

De Jure, De Facto

They claim to know God, but by their deeds they deny him . . . (Titus 1:16).

I recently relearned a couple of Latin phrases: de jure and de facto.

De jure refers to what a rule or law actually states, while de facto refers to how that rule or law is actually practiced. For example, there is a highway in the middle of nowhere in Montana where the speed limit is – de jure – 70 mph. But sit by the side of the road a while and you'd realize the speed limit is – de facto – 85.

I think Baptism is a good example of theological de jure and de facto in the Church. Catholics know Baptism brings a person into the salvation of Christ. We become God’s child. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit to live holy lives.

That’s the de jure position of Scripture and the Church.

For some Catholics, the de facto practice of their baptismal faith is, however, quite different. To hear and to watch them, one might conclude they believe because they are baptized and sealed by the Holy Spirit, they are eternally secure. They are forever God’s child – and so can do as they wish, believe as they wish, even if so doing and believing contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture and the Church.

In other words, they believe de jure they are Christians by their baptism, but they live de facto in sin as atheists.

But is that why God sent His Son to a torturous death, so we could live as we wish? Is that what God meant when He commanded, “Be holy even as I am holy”?

If our world ever needed Christians to unite their de facto to God’s de jure, it is now.

And we would all do well to heed the warning of Scripture, If we sin deliberately after receiving knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains sacrifice for sins but a fearful prospect of judgment and a flaming fire that is going to consume the adversaries. . . It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:26-31).

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