Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Some Final Thoughts on Being a Hard-Liner

My purpose in this series of posts is not to get into a discussion of the Catholic Church’s problems, or the debates going on in Protestant denominations. My purpose is to give you some insight into the debates that are raging both inside and outside the Church in a general sense. When people clamor for changes in the Church’s position regarding clear biblical teachings, we can’t cave in to their demands, no matter how appealing those demands and arguments may sound. Although devout Christians perceive some biblical teachings to be unfair, intolerant, or old-fashioned and in need of revision, we have to accept clear biblical teachings as God’s message to us. If you believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, you don’t have much choice but to follow its teachings. Christianity isn’t a pick-and-choose religion, but one that is based on a personal relationship with God, followed by commitment to God’s truth as revealed in the Bible.

Let me end with a quote from the homily by Cardinal Ratzinger, given at a mass just before the conclave convened back in 2005 that elected him pope. This quote from his homily summarizes some of what I have been saying about absolute truth and standing up for your convictions:

“How many winds of doctrine we have known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking... The small boat of thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves – thrown from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism, and so forth.

Every day new sects are created, and what Saint Paul says about human trickery comes true, with cunning, which tries to draw those into error (see Eph 4:14). Having a clear faith, based on the Creed of the Church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism. Whereas, relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and “swept along by every wind of teaching”, looks like the only attitude (acceptable) to today’s standards. We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain, and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.”
(from Cardinal Ratzinger’s sermon on April 18, 2005)

Relativism, by the way, is the idea that criteria for judgment depend on varying circumstances, not any absolute truth. Situational ethics is rooted in relativism. Syncretism is the mixing of various religions and philosophies into a sort of do-it-yourself religion.

Let me leave you with a question: how can we become conformed to Jesus Christ, as we are called to do, if we don’t know, believe, and follow his teachings? So what is truth? It’s as close as your Bible. Read it every day so that you can know, love and serve God better.

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