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

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Can We No Longer Use the G and W Words?

I published this to my blog in July 2009. Nearly five years ago. Five years. Nothing has changed.  Well, that is not true. Things have changed. Some would say for the worse.  I will invite you to also read the comments that were made to this essay when it was first posted, for they add substance to my original post.

When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life. (Ezekiel 33:8-9)

Many years ago, St. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, "For when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:1-2).

In discussing politically sensitive subjects like abortion and same-sex marriage, I hear Christians appeal less and less to eternal standards -- like, God says it is Wrong (the "G" and "W" words), and instead they appeal to more nebulous "touchy-feely" arguments like, it's not good for the family, or, it's not good for the children, or, it's not good for society, or it's not good for (fill in the blank).

St. Paul told young Timothy to preach Christ. (2 Timothy 4:1-4)


Why? Because the time would come when people would willfully turn their ears away from truth and seek people to tell them what they want to hear. (see 2 Timothy 4)

If there ever was such a time, it is 2009.

Lord Jesus help us! When will we recognize we need to leave off the arguments from sociology, philosophy and post-modern theology and stick to eternal truth? The current culture will scoff at the idea of eternal truth, but in proclaiming it, Christians will have done what the eternal God has called us to do.


nathan said...

Because in order to have a debate, two parites must first find common ground on which they both agree on. If they do not, there is no debate only disagreement. If two people start a debate with the understanding that the scripture is the sole authority on truth, then falling back on the argument "God says it is wrong" is completly valid.

However, if the two do not agree that scripture is the ultimate cannon, then they have three options:

1) Try to convince eachother that the bible is/is not the ultimate authority
2) Discuss nothing at all
3) Discuss the issue based on a different, shared common ground.

Not suprisingly, many people find more success in winning others to their cause by utilizing method three than the first two.

Richard Maffeo said...

Thanks for the comment. And your point is well made. But it also seques back into the comment I made in this post.

I believe our culture has reached a place where one can debate ad nauseum about these critical issues and not come to agreement that satisfies the fundamental truths of God. So, my position remains this: "If God says it's wrong, then it is wrong."

I recognize many people will think me out of touch and on the fringe. But, with all the seeking of common ground going on -- what has the Church accomplished in the last 60 years but to water down its message until it is nearly unrecognizable? God said of His word through Jeremiah, "Is not my word like a fire . . . and like a hammer which shatters a rock?" (23:29).

If those who claim Christ as Lord do not do what Watchmen are supposed to do (see Ezekiel 33), then not only will our hands be filled with blood, but we will be held responsible for the blood of others.

That should be a very sobering thought.

Anonymous said...

Amen!!!!! I have continually maintained that "If God says it is wrong, then it is wrong! Most of the young people that I work with see nothing wrong in living together and/or having relations prior to marriage. They maintain that I am a prude. My comment to them is that "If God says it is wrong, than it is wrong". Than I am asked to explain exactly why it is wrong and I end up educating them about the Theology of the Body. I don't know that I am changing anyone's mind but they listen and ask questions.

Richard Maffeo said...

Yes, our job is not to change people's minds. That's what the Holy Spirit does. But it IS our job to speak the truth.

nathan said...

"yes, our job is not to change people's minds". um.. it's one of them. pauls epistles are riddled with passages where he argues against ideas, "beseeching" his brothers to his (and by canonical extension, God's) point of view. Paul, Christ and many other figures refer to both scriptural (torah), culturual ("does not nature itself teach you..", and factual ("flowers do not toil or weave") to back up their points. Jesus didn't even answer satan with "because I said so", he backed his stuff up. Of course, he could use scripture there, because he and satan had a common point of reference, since satan belives the bible. heh.

Anyway, my point is that one should be prepared to back up their statements with both God's law and natural law, looking to God's law for clarification when there is a conflict.

I belive if one cannot express, defend and extole a belife outside one line of attack, then the belief is as fragile as army without a flank.

Richard Maffeo said...

Perhaps you are correct. But I also think it illustrative that in each example you cited, the speaker always brought the conversation back to eternal truth. Paul's meeting in Athens is another case in point. He's walking around the city and, when he meets the philosophers at the Aeropagus, he says something like, "I see you are all very religious. But what you worship in ignorance, I declare to you what is truth" -- and then goes on to preach about Jesus and eternal truths.

Okay, I will concede that debate about some issues might be better served when appeal is also made to other disciplines such as the "hard" sciences and history. But when we talk of things related to morals, discussion with a person without a belief in or acceptance of what God calls moral and immoral (e.g. abortion or homosexual activity), such discussion will usually go nowhere, because the immoral will always be able to justify immorality on the basis of appeal to any number of disciplines, especially the soft "sciences" such as sociology, philosophy and modern theology.

Why is that true? Because mankind, fallen into sin as we are, is naturally corrupted. We are unable and often unwilling to comprehend moral truth. Jesus said as much in John 3:19-21. And Paul reiterated the thought in Romans 1:20-28.

Both statements, by the way, are not new to the NT. Solomon also recognized it when he penned Proverbs 1:20-33. And Jeremiah followed up with his comment in Jeremiah 17:9.

I don't mean to throw a lot of Scripture around, but the texts make the point that humanity is unable or unwilling to accept moral truth, and so appeal is often made to sociology and other soft sciences because one can argue all day and night and never come to an agreement because, each debater might easily say, "My understanding of the "facts" is better than yours."

And that is why I prefer in these cases of morality to appeal to the one standard that can -- and has -- stood the test of time: God's word which, in issues of morality, could not be clearer to those who truly seek Him.

Anyway, after 37 years talking with others about such issues, that is what I have learned to be the best approach.

As for my comment about changing people's minds, I stand by that, for this reason: Surely the NT writers made great cases for their position, but while "one plants, and one waters," it is only and always the Holy Spirit who brings about conversion. Jesus said as much in John 16:7-13.