Friday, May 1, 2009

And the Point Is...

The comment on my previous post deserves a full response.

First, a distinction needs to be made between people outside the Faith being able to attain heaven, and people who have rejected the Faith being able to attain heaven.

First of all, I don't know, nobody knows, exactly what God has in store for us. What we do know is what Jesus taught us.

It bothers me terribly that the words of Jesus have been cherry-picked; that Jesus himself has been co-opted; and that even his own representatives on earth (his priests) don't pass on what he taught faithfully.

The fact is, Jesus 1)said he had come to fulfill the Old Law (as in, put it away); 2) he said he was establishing a Church; 3) he said the only way to the Father was through him (not through Mohammad, not through Buddha, not through secular humanism); 4) he said that many would be called but few would be chosen (not everybody was gonig to make the grade). He also said some other revealing things, such as, you had to feel strongly about him - if you were "lukewarm" he would spit you out of his mouth. He said we should be prepared to sell all our possessions (give up the things of this world) and follow him. (Not follow a "good enough" path.)

I think if Jesus meant to tell us that it didn't matter which path we followed as long as we were good people, he would have said that. He said a lot of pointed and controversial things - controversial enough that his own people figured they'd better get rid of him because he was threatening all that they knew.

Jesus said a) he was God; b) he was the Messiah.

Ok. So, for my money, you either believe him, or you don't. If you believe him, then you've at the very least got to be Christian; ideally, you will be Catholic (if you believe that the Faith was passed down through the popes, bishops, and priests). The God of Mohammed is not the God of Christianity. The God of Christianity sent his SON to be our Redeemer. The God of Mohammed sent a prophet in the person of Jesus. Jesus brought a new and deeper understanding of God, in which the punitive Father was enhanced by the loving Son and the wise spirit. This has not happened in Islam, for example. And I don't even need to go into the other world religions to make it clear that their understanding of "God" it quite different from that of Christianity.

Now, I'm not saying that even the Catholic Church doesn't teach that someone who truly does not know about, or does not accept what the Church teaches can't get to heaven. I don't understand what the equation is there - what kind of behavior such a person has to exhibit, or what kind of "heaven" awaits him. (The Church is fully accepting of the idea of "mystery," after all.) I was never taught that someone who had never heard of Christ was doomed to hell. What I was taught that someone who believed and who chose to reject Jesus because the path was too hard, or the lure of the world too great, was putting himself in a danger of losing his soul.

So for me, the real issue is: do you believe what Jesus told us? As C. S Lewis has pointed out: either Jesus was crazy, a con man, or he really was the son of God. Take your pick.

But don't try to reinvent what he said, or what he asked us to do, because what he said, and what he asked, aren't to your liking. What's the point??