Early Challenges and the Confessions of the Church

Great lecture from the series The Threefold Body of Christ by a joint preaching project of our Priories of St. Vincent Ferrer in New York City and St. Mary in New Haven, CT.

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(a) The Hebrew/Jewish tradition

(b) The Platonic insight and the Hellenic situation

(c) Jesus at the confluence of Judaic and Hellenic thought and Gnosticism

(d) The Alexandrian and Antiochene responses

(e) Arianism, Nestorianism, and Monophysitism; Augustine

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Christian is my name, but Catholic my surname

Saint Pacian (310—391 AD), bishop of Barcelona and Church Father in his Epistle I explains that “Catholic” marks the unity of the people that were uncorrupted:

But under the Apostles, you will say, no one was called Catholic. Be it thus. It shall have been so. Allow even that. When after the Apostles heresies had burst forth, and were striving under various names to tear piecemeal and divide the Dove and the Queen of God, did not the Apostolic people require a name of their own, whereby to mark the unity of the people that were uncorrupted, lest the error of some should rend limb by limb the undefiled virgin of God? Was it not seemly that the chief head should be distinguished by its own peculiar appellation? Suppose, this very day, I entered a populous city. When I had found Marcionites, Apollinarians, Cataphrygians, Novatians, and others of the kind who call themselves Christians, by what name should I recognise the congregation of my own people, unless it were named Catholic? Come tell me, who bestowed so many names on the other peoples? Why have so many cities, so many nations, each their own description? The man who asks the meaning of the Catholic Name, will he be ignorant himself of the cause of his own name if I shall enquire its origin? Whence was it delivered to me? Certainly that which has stood through so many ages was not borrowed from man. This name “Catholic” sounds not of Marcion, nor of Apelles, nor of Montanus, nor does it take heretics as its authors.

st. Pacian

Many things the Holy Spirit hath taught us, Whom God sent from Heaven to the Apostles as their Comforter and Guide. Many things reason teaches us, as Paul saith, and honesty, and, as he says, nature herself. What! Is the authority of Apostolic men, of Primitive Priests, of the most blessed Martyr and Doctor Cyprian, of slight weight with us? Do we wish to teach the teacher? Are we wiser than he was, and are we puffed up by the spirit of the flesh against the man, whom his noble shedding of blood, and a crown of most glorious suffering, have set forth as a witness of the Eternal God? What thinkest thou of so many Priests on this same side, who throughout the whole world were compacted together in one bond of peace with this same Cyprian? What of so many aged Bishops, so many Martyrs, so many Confessors? Come say, if they were not sufficient authorities for the use of this name, are we sufficient for its rejection? And shall the Fathers rather follow our authority, and the antiquity of Saints give way to be emended by us, and times now putrifying through their sins, pluck out the grey hairs of Apostolic age? And yet, my brother, be not troubled; Christian is my name, but Catholic my surname. The former gives me a name, the latter distinguishes me. By the one I am approved; by the other I am but marked.

THE NUPTIALS OF THE LAMB AND HIS BRIDE, Stephen Adam, 1906

And if at last we must give an account of the word Catholic, and draw it out from the Greek by a Latin interpretation, “Catholic” is ‘every where one, or, (as learned men think,) “obedience in all,” i. e. all the commands of God. Whence the Apostle, Whether ye he obedient in all things; and again, For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous. Therefore he who is a Catholic, the same man is obedient . He who is obedient, the same is a Christian, and thus the Catholic is a Christian. Wherefore our people when named Catholic are separated by this appellation from the heretical name. But if also the word Catholic means ‘every where one,’ as those first think, David indicates this very thing, when he saith, The queen did stand in a vesture of gold, wrought about with, divers colours; that is, one amidst all. And in the Song of Songs the Bridegroom speaketh these words, My dove, My undefiled, is but one; she is the only one of her mother; she is the choice one of her that bare her. Again it is written, The virgins shall be brought unto the King after her. And further, Virgins without number. Therefore amidst all she is one, and one over all. If thou askest the reason of the name, it is evident.

How to die to see God

Mystical Prayer in the Holy Spirit

St. Bonaventure – Doctor of the Church

This reading on mystical (contemplative) prayer, taken from St. Bonaventure’s Journey of the Mind to God (Cap. 7,1 2.4.6: Opera Omnia, 5, 312-313), is used in the Roman Office of Readings for the Feast (liturgical memorial) of St. Bonaventure on July 15.

Christ is both the way and the door. Christ is the staircase and the vehicle, like the throne of mercy over the Ark of the Covenant, and the mystery hidden from the ages. A man should turn his full attention to this throne of mercy, and should gaze at him hanging on the cross, full of faith, hope and charity, devoted, full of wonder and joy, marked by gratitude, and open to praise and jubilation. Then such a man will make with Christ a pasch, that is, a passing-over. Through the branches of the cross he will pass over the Red Sea, leaving Egypt and entering the desert. There he will taste the hidden manna, and rest with Christ in the sepulchre, as if he were dead to things outside. He will experience, as much as is possible for one who is still living, what was promised to the thief who hung beside Christ: Today you will be with me in paradise.

For this passover to be perfect, we must suspend all the operations of the mind and we must transform the peak of our affections, directing them to God alone. This is a sacred mystical experience. It cannot be comprehended by anyone unless he surrenders himself to it; nor can he surrender himself to it unless he longs for it; nor can he long for it unless the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent into the world, should come and inflame his innermost soul. Hence the Apostle says that this mystical wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit.

If you ask how such things can occur, seek the answer in God’s grace, not in doctrine; in the longing of the will, not in the understanding; in the sighs of prayer, not in research; seek the bridegroom not the teacher; God and not man; darkness not daylight; and look not to the light but rather to the raging fire that carries the soul to God with intense fervour and glowing love. The fir is God, and the furnace is in Jerusalem, fired by Christ in the ardour of his loving passion. Only he understood this who said: My soul chose hanging and my bones death. Anyone who cherishes this kind of death can see God, for it is certainly true that: No man can look upon me and live.

Let us die, then, and enter into the darkness, silencing our anxieties, our passions and all the fantasies of our imagination. Let us pass over with the crucified Christ from this world to the Father, so that, when the Father has shown himself to us, we can say with Philip: It is enough. We may hear with Paul: My grace is sufficient for you; and we can rejoice with David, saying: My flesh and my heart fail me, but God is the strength of my heart and my heritage for ever. Blessed be the Lord for ever, and let all the people say: Amen. Amen!

This is an interesting read, because in our times everything points to the opposite way of believers reaching to God’s presence. Christians are trying to find God mostly by experiencing Him, and the cavalcades of worldly distractions might suggest that the same intensity of emotional engagement with “spiritual” things (think: cool, relevant Christian church) will overpower the former and bring the soothing presence of God (with His blessings = answers to my prayers). Not so, says St. Bonaventure, and many mystics. Cherishing death is the way.

The issue of authority in the Early Christianity

Notes from “The issue of authority in the Early Christianity” Dr Kenneth Howell teaching from Coming Home Network Conference

1. Questions that need to be asked

  • How did the authority of the Apostles expressed itself in their ministries, when the New Testament was not yet completed?
  • What kind of authority did the Apostles have? Was it just a guidence and suggestions without the force of the divine law?
  • Was the authority of apostles shared by others and passed on or did it cease with their death?
  • If the authority of the Apostles was passed, what form did it take?

2. Great Commission was given to the Apostles as the foundation of the church: the ministry of Word and Sacraments, modeled after Jesus’ ministry: preach and heal.

3. John 20 – What kind of authority did Jesus give to the Apostles when He appeared to them? It is the same authority as Christ had himself – the authority of forgiveness of sins was given to the Apostles. If ultimate authority does not derive from the Book, because the Book came from the church, the ultimate authority comes from that body of men that God planted in this world to do his work.

4. The Acts of the Apostles describes the ministry which surrounded mostly two Apostles – Peter (ch.1-12) and Paul (ch. 13-28)

5. Two important decades of the church of the first century:

  • First Ecumenical Council (Acts 15) in Jerusalem concerning the main question: Is circumcision necessary for salvation? (Do the Gentiles have to live as Jews to be saved? ) The Pharisees in Antioch were insisting on circumcising Gentiles, so Paul and Barnabas brough this question to the  Apostles and presbyters in Jerusalem. Apostles and presbyters together with the whole church made their decision, and sent the letter with their decision to inform the church of Antioch, which was looking to Jerusalem church as to the mother church. The leaders of the church recognized historical connection that must be maintained with what has proceeded them. How much connection do we need with history that proceeded us? Do we live in continuity or are we free to establish a sort of different faith based on what we read in the New Testament? The church had the sense of “catholicity” already there. They communicated the decision in the form of the letter and four messengers. The church in Antioch did now want to make the decision by themselves, but asked the church in Jerusalem for a council. This happened around 50-60 AD.
  • If Peter and Paul were in Rome in the early 60ties than what Peter says at the end of his second letter is important 2Pet 3:15 Peter is affirming the authority of divine inspiration of writings of another Apostle.
  • In the last letters of Paul to Timothy and Titus he tells them that they should be very careful to protect the sound teaching (sound words, helpful teaching) which they have received. Paul mentions that those who oppose the Gospel do not hold to those sound words of Jesus. And he tells Titus that he should ordain presbyters who are able to exhort in the sound teaching and to rebuke those who contradict them. The content of faith (deposit of faith) has to be guarded and transferred to their successors. 2 Tim 2:2: This is the pattern of the passing on of the content of faith to the next generation.
  • Paul leaves instructions how to establish permanent offices of bishops, presbyters (elders=priests), deacons. Content of the faith and the offices guarding the content.

6. From 60 AD to 120 AD all of the witnesses suggest that the notion of the Apostolic succession and the authority of a bishop is a norm and the rule within the church. Clement of Rome, third bishop of Rome after Peter, wrote a letter in the 90ties to Corinthians who wanted to overthrow their bishop. The letter explains the order of authority given: God- Jesus-Apostles and the order of continuity of authority within the church in the office of bishops, as well as the primacy of the Roman bishop.

7. The authority of a bishop and pope (bishop of Rome) is the authority of a servant. Authority does not derive from bishops themselves, but authority derives by being faithful witnesses in the offices that were established by the Apostles.

8. I live in a church where the leaders lived in a stream of continuity from the times of Jesus and Apostles. This continuity with the early church gives us the confidence that what we believe was not invented yesterday, that what we believe comes fro the very root of the church with a divine authority of Christ Himself. The church that we are part of has been established by a living Son of God, and He decided that He would commit that authority to fallible men.

You give and take away

This morning we have learned that our friend Derek Loux has passed from this life to a better one. His life has not ended, it is lived now in the presence of God who is Eternal Love.  Death has carried him to the One he longed for. He sees reality as it is. He dwells in the presence of our life giving  Creator, The Greatest Intercessor – Incarnate Word, and in the shadow of the Comforter. He was ready, we must wait.

About two years ago, during one of the worship briefings Derek was sharing with us that he really does not want to be remembered as a “worship leader”, but as a father to the orphans. During these last two years especially he put all of his love, time, energy and care to fulfill this primary calling in his life.

We are left with a huge gap, unanswered questions, shattered expectations. His passion and love speeded up the fulfillment of his destiny. The Almighty has decided, it is time. From a human perspective, it looks like he has just started…and he has not finished….and we want to scream out loud: What was the point?

From the heavenly perspective, he was done here. Trusting this is hard.  And there are no words to express the anguish. This is earth, not heaven. We will suffer, we will die, we will live again.

For the next decades we will remember him. His awesome wife Renee and their ten kids (eight of them adopted) will have many Christmases and Easters without their daddy. And as he talked about widows and orphans, he changed his life so many times in order to help them…now we have  a chance to practice how we listened to him reading and singing and crying over Isaiah 58.

Father, You give and You take away, blessed be Your name.

He has the best worship team now and the greatest multitudes of those who loved to the end. What do you see, Derek?

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Why Not Now?

Well, if God can do this, if God can effect an ecumenical reunion, why not now?  Why does he delay?  God never delays.  Well then if the teachings of the Church are true, why doesn’t God convince Protestants of those truths?  I think the reason is spiritual and personal, more than theological.

Why should God let Protestants become Catholics when many Protestants, perhaps most, already know Christ more intimately and personally than many Catholics, perhaps most!  How can God lead Protestants home to the fullness of faith in the Catholic Church until the Catholic Church becomes that fullness that they knew as Protestants plus more, not any less!  When Catholics know Christ better than Protestants do, when Catholics are better Protestants than Protestants, then Protestants will become Catholics in order to become better Protestants!

When Catholics are evangelized, Protestants will be sacramentalized.  But not before!  Evangelizing comes first.

So I think we Catholics have to change first.  But that change involves not the slightest compromising with anything Catholic: no dumbing down of the faith and no addition from without, no paganization nor secularization nor negation not weakening.  Only a rediscovery of our own essence from within.  Frankly, it is the Protestants who are going to have to add to the doctrines they rejected by seeing them differently.  What we have to add, or rather, rediscover is something even more important then doctrines: namely the relationship that we have neglected.  A truer relationship with a person is even more important than a truer concept about him.  So that point will probably make many Protestants cheer.

But any good Protestant who is hearing this ought to protest one thing I said a few moments ago: namely that Protestantism is essentially a protest movement, essentially negative.  Protestants defend Protestantism as essentially positive.  Why?  Not because it doesn’t have a pope or Transubstantiation or purgatory or rosary, that is negative.  But because it knows Christ, because its essence is the absolute all-sufficiency of Christ.

But that means that good Protestants are Protestants for exactly the same good reason that good Catholics are Catholic: out of fidelity to Christ.  So if the Protestant and the Catholic are both totally sincere about this Christocentrism, If both sections of Christ’s orchestra want only to follow the baton of Christ the one conductor, and if they never yield on this holy fanaticism of love and loyalty to Christ, then they will play in harmony.  For we know that Christ’s will is harmony, and unity.  Look at that most intimate glimpse of the inner life of the Trinity that we have in Scripture: Christ’s high priestly prayer to His Father just before His death in John 17.  Unity is central to it.  Departure from Christ was the fundamental cause of the Church’s tragic divisions in the first place.  Another word for departure from Christ is “sin.”  Therefore, return to Christ will be the cause of the Church’s return to unity.  That is simple logic.  I could put that into a syllogism.  It is also simple sanity and sanctity.  Another word for “return to Christ” is “sanctity.”

When bishops and theologians become saints, then Catholics will become Evangelicals and Evangelicals will become Catholics.  When both Protestants and Catholics become saints they will become one.  For a saint means only an “alter Christos,” another Christ, a little Christ, and Christ is not divided.  Christ’s body is not divided.  When Christ comes at the end of the world to marry His Church, He will not be a polygamist.  The Church will not be His harem.

Taken from Ecumenism without compromise by Peter Kreeft

Dlaczego nie teraz?

Jeżeli więc Bóg może to uczynić, jeżeli Bóg może wpłynąć na zjednoczenie ekumeniczne, dlczeo nie miałby uczynić tego teraz? Dlaczego zwleka? Bóg nigdy nie zwleka. Jeżeli więc nauczanie kościoła jest prawdziwe, dlaczego Bóg nie przekona protestantów do tych prawd? Sądzę, że przyczyna tkwi bardziej w sprawach duchowychi osobistych, niż w teologicznych.

Dlaczego Bóg miałby pozwolić protestantom stać się katolikami, kiedy to protestanci, a prawdopodobnie przynajmniej większość z nich, zna Chrystusa bliżej i bardziej osobiście niż wielu katolików, a prawdopodobnie niż większość z nich! Jak Bóg miałby prowadzić prostestantów do domu, do pełni wiary w kościele katolickim, jeżeli kościół katolicki nie jest pełnią przez nich poznaną wcześniej plus czymś więcej, a nie mniej! Kiedy katolicy znają Chrystusa bliżej niż protestanci, kiedy katolicy bądą lepszymi protestantami niż sami protestanci, wtedy protestanci staną się katolikami, aby zostać jeszcze lepszymi protestantami!

Kiedy katolicy będą ewangelizowani, protestanci będą “sakramentalizowani”, lecz nie wcześniej!  Ewangelizacja musi być pierwsza.

Myślę więc, że to my, katolicy musimy się zmienić jako pierwsi. Zmiana ta nie zawiera jakiegokolwiek kompromisu ze strony katolicyzmu: żadnego ogłupiania wiary, żadnych dodatków, żadnego pogaństwa ani sekularyzacji ani też negacji lub osłabiania. Tylko ponowne odkrywanie naszej istoty od wewnątrz. Mówiąc szczerze, to protestanci będą musieli dodać parę wcześniej odrzuconych doktryn, które rozumieli inaczej. Co my musimy dodać, lub raczej, odkryć na nowo jest ważniejsze niż doktryny: relację, którą zaniedbaliśmy. Prawdziwsza relacja z osobą jest ważniejsza, niż prawdziwsza idea na temat tej osoby. Ten punkt na pewno zadowoli wielu protestantów.

Lecz każdy porządny słyszący to protestant powinien zaprotestować przeciwko jednej rzeczy, o której wspomniałem: a mianowicie przeciwko temu, że protestantyzm jest zasadniczo ruchem protestującym, zasadniczo więc negatywnym. Protestanci bronią protestantyzmu jako zasadniczo pozytywnego. Dlaczego? Nie dlatego, że nie posiadają papieża, transubstancjacji, czyśćca czy różańca, gdyż są to elementy negatywne. Ale dlatego, że znają Chrystusa, gdyż istotą protestantyzmu jest samowystarczalność Chrystusa.

Oznacza to więc jednak, że dobrzy protestanci są protestantami z tego samego powodu, z którego katolicy są katolikami: z powodu wierności Chrystusowi. Jeżeli więc zarówno protestant jak i katolik są szczerze chrystocentryczni, jeżeli obie sekcje orkiestry Chrystusa pragną podążać za batutą Chrystusa, jedynego dyrygenta, i jeżeli nigdy nie mają zamiaru poddać się w tym świętym fanatyźmie miłości i lojalności względem Chrystusa, zagrają harmonijnie. Wiemy przecież, że wolą Chrystusa jest harmonia i jedność. Popatrzmy na najbardziej intymny moment życia wewnętrznego Trójcy opisanego w Piśmie św.: modlitwa Chrystusa, najwyższego kapłana, skierowana ku Ojcu, tuż przed śmiercią w Ewangelii Jana 17. Jedność jest tutaj w centrum. Odejście od Chrystusa było główną przyczyną tragicznych podziałów kościoła. Innym słowem na odejście jest “grzech”. Dlatego też, powrót do Chrystusa będzie przyczyną ponownego zjednoczenia. Taka prosta logika. Mógłbym to ująć syllogizmem. Jest to również prosta trzeźwość i świętość. Innym słowem na “powrót do Chrystusa” jest “świętość”.

Kiedy biskupi i teologowie stają się świętymi, wtedy katolicy staną się ewangelikalistami a ewangelikaliści staną się katolikami. Kiedy protestanci i katolicy zostaną świętymi, wtedy będą jednym. Gdyż święty to nic innego jak “alter Christos”, kolejny Chrystus, mały Chrystus, a Chrystus nie jest podzielony. Ciało Chrystusa nie jest podzielone. Kiedy Chrystus przyjdzie przy końcu czasów aby poślubić Swój kościół, nie będzie poligamistą. Kościół nie będzie Jego haremem.

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A Surprising Clue

But reunion without compromise between Catholics and Protestants still seems impossible.  Yet, here’s a surprising clue that it may be possible after all: the main point of what I said in the last few minutes “Jesus only,” “the all sufficiency of Christ,” that’s the essential Protestant point and it was just made by me, a Catholic.

That point seems to be an essential dividing point for Catholicism seems to Protestants to violate that point.  Catholicism seems to Protestants to be “Christ plus paganism,” “the Ark plus the barnacles,” or “Christ plus many human traditions and historical accretions,” “Christ plus the pope,” “Christ plus Mary,” whatever.  The most serious Protestant objection to Catholicism as a religion, not just as a theology, is that it violates the scriptural teaching of the all sufficiency of Christ, the teaching that there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.

To Protestants, Catholicism seems to add other mediaries, other intermediaries between man and Christ: Mary, the saints, the Church, Sacraments, priests, human traditions.

But I suggest that if Protestants make just one single adjustment in their vision, they will see the possibility of reunion.  Not just theologically, but more deeply religiously and spiritually, without any compromise at all.  And that one adjustment is not to see Christ in any different way at all, but to see the Church in a different way.  Not as an obstacle between us and Christ, not even as an intermediary between us and Christ, but as the very body of Christ Himself.

And why would they make that adjustment?  Well, which of these two concepts of the Church is the scriptural way of seeing it?  Come on, answer honestly.  You read the Bible and isn’t the Bible the supreme authority for any Protestant?  Once Protestants see the Church’s identity, they can love her instead of fearing her because the body of Christ is Christ as your body is you.  It’s not an alien, it’s not an obstacle.  How can your own body be an obstacle?  How Gnostic!  The body is not your prison house, or your coffin, or your punishment.  It’s not even your tool, or your clothing, or your house.  It’s not This Old House.  It’s you.  Although it’s not the whole you.  It’s not your head, or your soul.  The same is true of Christ’s body which is what the New Testament calls the Church.  It is Christ.  Though it’s not the whole Christ.  He is her head.  And the Holy Spirit is her soul.

Protestants will not and should not stop protesting against the Catholic Church until they see the totally Christocentric character of her and all her teachings.  Sometimes, the understanding of the Church’s Christocentrism can be the key to understanding the Christocentric nature of each of the Church’s teachings.  And sometimes, it works the other way around.  Doctrine by doctrine, yielding its Christocentric treasure at the heart as it is more deeply explored and understood.  As Christ the teacher appears at the heart of each of the Church’s teachings.  I know a number of Protestants who have read the Church’s new Catechism and had been amazed at how consistently Christocentric everything in it is.  And unless Protestants see this, how could they think of reunion with Catholics?  And how can they see this, unless Catholics show it to them?  And how can Catholics show it to them, unless they see it themselves?  And how can they see it, unless they have a teacher, a preacher?  As it is written, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them that preach the good news.”

In this light, it seems to me, clearly Providential that God has raised up for our time, the time of the end of the second millennium, the millennium of Christian disunity, and the beginning of the third millennium, hopefully the millennium of Christian re-unity, has raised up John Paul the Great.  The most Christocentric pope of modern times, probably of all times.  The most ecumenical pope of all times, and yet one who is totally and traditionally and enthusiastically Catholic.  Is the pope Catholic?  There have been times in the Church’s dark history when that joke was not funny.  Today it’s funny.

Taken from Ecumenism without compromise by Peter Kreeft

Zaskakująca wskazówka

Bezkompromisowe zjednoczenie protestantów i katolików nadal wydaje się jednak niemożliwe. Lecz tutaj właśnie znajdujemy zaskakującą wskazówkę, która jest w stanie umożliwić ponowne połączenie: główny punkt, o którym mówiłem w ostatnich minutach, “tylko Jezus”,  “samowystarczalność Jezusa”, jako istotny punkt protestancki, a ja – katolik właśnie go poruszam.

Kwestia ta wydaje się być zasadniczym punktem dzielącym, gdyż katolicyzm wg protestantów zaburza ten stan. Katolicyzm wydaje się dla protestantów być “Chrystusem z dodatkiem pogaństwa”, “arką z dolepionymi skorupiakami”, czy “Chrystusem z ludzkimi tradycjami i historycznymi nawarstwieniami”, “Chrystusem z papieżem”, “Chrystusem z Maryją” itp. Głównym zarzutem protestanckim co do religii katolickiej, nie tylko jako teologii, jest naruszenie biblijnego nauczania na temat samowystarczalności Chrystusa i wyłączności pośrednictwa Jezusa Chrystusa pomiędzy Bogiem a czlowiekiem.

Dla protestantów katolicyzm wydaje się dorzucać innych pośredników pomiędzy czlowiekiem a Chrystusem: Maryję, świętych, kościół, sakramenty, księży, tradycje ludzkie.

Lecz pozwolę sobie zasugerować protestantom jedną korektę do ich sposobu postrzegania, dzięki której ujrzą możliwość zjednoczenia. Nie tylko w sensie teologicznym, lecz w głębszym religijnym i duchowym, bez wymaganych żadnych kompromisów. Zmiana ta nie dotyczy postrzegania Chrystusa w innym świetle, lecz postrzegania kościoła na nowy sposób. Mianowicie nie jako przeszkody stojącej pomiędzy nami a Chrystusem, nie jako pośrednika pomiędzy nami  a Chrystusem, lecz jako prawdziwego ciała samego Chrystusa.

Dlaczego mieliby oni przystać na taką zmianę? Zauważmy, która z tych dwóch koncepcji kościoła jest obrazem biblijnym? Bądźmy przy tym szczerzy. Czytasz Biblię i czyż nie jest ona najwyższym autorytetem dla każdego protestanta? Kiedy protestanci ujrzą charakter kościoła, zaczną go kochać zamiast się go bać, gdyż ciało Chrystusa jest Chrystusem, tak jak twoje ciało jest tobą. Nie jest kimś obcym, ani nie jest przeszkodą. Jak twoje własne ciało mogłoby być przeszkodą? Byłaby to gnoza! Twoje ciało nie jest więzieniem, trumną czy też karą. Nie jest nawet twoim narzędziem, odzieniem, czy mieszkaniem. Jest tobą. Jakkolwiek nie pełnią ciebie. Nie jest twoją głową lub duszą. Taka sama prawda może być powiedziana o ciele Chrystusa, które w Nowym Testamencie jest nazwane kościołem. Kościół to Chrystus. Jakkolwiek to nie pełnia Chrystusa. On jest jego głową, a Duch święty jest jego duszą.

Prostestanci nie przestaną i nie powinni protestować przeciwko kościołowi katolickiemu dopóki nie ujrzą całkowicie chrystocentrycznego charakteru i całego nauczania kościoła. Niekiedy zrozumienie chrystocentryzmu kościoła może być kluczem do zrozumienia chrystocentrycznej natury całego nauczania w kościele katolickim. Niekiedy również działa to w drugą stronę. Rozważając w sercu dogmat po dogmacie, poddając go chrystocentrycznej zasadzie, dochodzi się do głębszego zrozumienia. Chrystus nauczyciel staje się widoczny w sercu każdego nauczania kościoła. Znam wielu protestantów, którzy po przeczytaniu katechizmu kościoła katolickiego ze zdziwieniem ujrzeli chrystocentryczną konsekwencję wszystkiego, co tam zawarte.  A jakże protestanci mieliby myśleć o zjednoczeniu z katolikami, jeżeli tego nie ujrzą? A jakże katolicy mieliby na to wskazać, skoro sami tego nie widzą? A jakże mieliby to ujrzeć, skoro nie mają nauczyciela, kaznodzieji? Jak jest napisane: “Jak piękne stopy tych, którzy zwiastują dobrą nowinę!

Ujmując to zagadnienie w tym świetle, wydaje mi się, że w sposób opatrznościowy sam Bóg spowodował, że w naszych czasach końca drugiego milenium, które charakteryzowało się podziałem, i na początku trzeciego milenium, z nadzieją na milenium zjednoczenia chrześcijańskiego, Bóg powołał Jana Pawła Wielkiego. Najbardziej chrystocentrycznego papieża czasów współczesnych, a prawdopodobnie w całej historii. Najbardziej otwartego na ekumenię, a jednocześnie całkowicie tradycyjnego i entuzjastycznie katolickiego.  Czy papież jest katolikiem? W ciemnych fragmentach historii kościoła bywało, że taki żart nie był wcale śmieszny. Dzisiaj jest.

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