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

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Debating the Armor

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).

It astounds me when Christians – especially teachers – speak fluently about God’s mysteries, but then turn around and theorize the supernatural into something comprehensible.

No surprise, then, that they speculate (many assert) such things as Isaiah or Daniel didn’t write the books ascribed to them. Moses didn’t write the Torah. The Exodus didn’t happen as described. And Jesus didn’t say what the Gospel writers record Him as saying.

And I wonder, at what point do they ever stop rationalizing the supernatural and accept that God’s ways are above ours? When do they take to themselves the words of people like St. John Chrysostom who said, God is “the incomprehensible, the invisible, the ungraspable”? Or St. Augustine’s: “If it can be understood, it is not God”? Or St. Thomas Aquinas, who taught, “Concerning God, we cannot grasp what he is, but only what he is not. Whatever can be understood . . . is less than God”?

Several years ago I imagined myself on a beach, facing the shore. I held a glass of water in my hands and I still remember thinking, “I have here all I need to know about Jesus.”

And then I felt water circling my feet, and I heard the sound of gentle waves breaking toward me. When I turned I saw the Pacific ocean, as deep as it was wide, stretched before me to the horizon.

I looked back at the glass of water and realized how utterly silly I had been.

St. Paul, arguably the greatest intellect in Church history, wrote, “And when I came to you brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. But I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:1-2). Centuries earlier, the psalmist wrote, "My heart in not proud, nor my mind lofty, nor do I involve myself in great matters or in things too difficult for me . . ." (Psalm 131). And the Lord Jesus said, "Unless you become as children you shall not enter at all into the kingdom of God" (Matthew 18:3).

Sometimes I wonder if those who debate the supernatural nature of Scripture are looking at the shore and holding a similar glass of water.

During my many years walking with Christ I have met teachers in the Church who, in an honest attempt to answer questions about the Scriptures, analyzed, dissected and refined away the supernatural authorship, writing and transmission of God’s word until it lost its power to change and to save lives.

I have a seminary degree and have studied the Biblical texts in their original languages. I know Biblical research is a critically important adjunct to our Christian faith. St. Luke appealed to research when he wrote his two letters to Theopholus (see Luke 1 and Acts 1). And St. Peter admonished his readers to closely attend to the letters written by St. Paul (2 Peter 3:15-16). But at what point does scrutiny and analysis rob us of things only faith can provide?

When His disciples tried to prevent parents from bringing their children to Jesus, the Lord rebuked His disciples and said: “Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it" (Luke 18:16-17).

Children have faith in the supernatural because their minds are not cluttered by what their eyes and ears tell them. But then they grow into adults, and many lose their childlike trust because faith cannot appeal to the senses. Faith is a supernatural gift from God. As someone once said, “For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible.”

The blessed men and women of Catholic history are role models for the 21st century Church because of their uniquely intimate relationships with God. I doubt they gained such intimacy because they tossed aside the supernatural in favor of the natural. Their relationships matured from adults into the faith of children because they sought to know nothing else but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

I will let the Ph.Ds, the Th.Ds, and LL.Ds hypothesize away the supernatural as they wish. And I will ignore them. The night is almost upon us. We don’t have time to debate the supernatural armor of our warfare (see Ephesians 6:10-17). The fields are white to harvest.

Someone has to get out there and rescue the perishing.


Anonymous said...

Hello. I found your past a very interesting one. I, too, was in the "Evangelical" movement for decades. It truly became unbearable for me and I wandered for many years not knowing what to think or believe any more. It was through speaking with a friend of mine (a Catholic priest) that I was finally able to come back to God. For me, the Evangelical movement was no longer an option (in any way, shape, or form). I found it interesting that you, too, have turned toward Catholicism after many years in the Evangelical world.

Richard Maffeo said...

It never ceases to amaze me how God works with us according to our individual personalities. Continue to grow in your faith and intimacy with our God.