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THE CHURCH IS A THEOLGICAL ENTERPRISE

28 May 2016 One Comment

THE CHURCH IS A THEOLGICAL ENTERPRISE

Father John Walsh

I would like to begin by expressing an assumption I believe is important.  Religion distances itself from people when faith does not touch their daily lives.  I believe it is also important to remember the corollary that when faith touches the everyday lives of people they can say their faith is expressed in the name of their religion.

History is ripe with confusion about the meaning of religion and the meaning of faith and their relationship to one another.  Religion is the ritual expression of the set of beliefs of a shared community and a rule of conduct called ethics or morality.  Religion evolves and both ritual and ethics change and these changes depend on the development of faith.  Religion and faith are not meant to be static but dynamic and both are meant to evolve together in some sense of synchronicity.  However, religion and faith can evolve separately and distance themselves from one another which we have experienced when religion had difficulty dealing with modernity.  As the Christian/Catholic on the panel I know that the Catholic Church has not dealt very well with modernity.  In fact twice I had to take an anti-modernity oath.  It was only with the Second Vatican Council, 1962-1965, that the Church began to deal with modernity and modernists such as Maurice Blondel were respected when it was agreed upon that God was redemptively active in humanity and in history.

The first paragraph of the document Gaudium et Spes succinctly drive home what I call, even today, the best held secret of Vatican II.

The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the women and men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. For ours is a community composed of women and men, united in Christ, who are led by the Holy Spirit in their journey to the Kingdom or Reign of their Father and they have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every man. That is why this community realizes that it is truly linked with humankind and its history by the deepest of bonds.

The theological shift was from a church-centered sacramental model to obtain the grace of God to a Kingdom or Reign centered model which allows for the in-breaking into history of God’s Reign, a Reign of justice, mercy, love and peace.

It is the central tenet of Christian faith that Jesus was raised form the dead and thus it is the Risen Christ who inaugurated the Reign of God.

Religion and faith were now centered on Jesus, the Jesus of the Gospels, and there was no God behind Jesus, no God over and against Jesus, he is the Son of God. I found an article in the New Yorker by James Carroll that speaks eloquently about who Pope Francis is:  The man on his knees washing the feet of the tired poor is the Son of God.  Francis is pointing more to that figure than to himself, or even to the church, which is why institution-protecting conservatives are right to view him with alarm.  For this pope, the church exists for one reason only — to carry the story of Jesus forward in history, and by doing that to make his presence real.

Our God, the God of Christians, Jews, and Muslims is a hidden God and as a Christian the Risen Jesus is hidden in God and remain with us in the Spirit of God.

Our faith evolves as we think more deeply and we live more intently to realize how little we know and in our ignorance we realize we need each other all the more.
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One Comment »

  • Father John Walsh (author) said:

    Dear reader
    Thank you. We enjoy all comments to initiate a dialogue. The Team.

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