Monday, October 18, 2010

Why Are Christians Separated from Each Other?


Some time ago, I wrote about the Catholic perspective on sola scriptura here.  As I was praying this morning, and contemplating on the divisions among Christians, a couple of concepts formed in my mind, two visual images, as it were.

The first thought I had was of algebraic equations.  My head did not explode, so I assure you that what I had in mind was very simple, not like the equations that I saw on my father in law's desk many years ago, that were the work of an aerospace engineer who was one of many who were involved in getting a man to the moon - and back.  Those equations would make my head explode.  I did not understand any part of them.

No, I am thinking of the simplest of algrebaic equations x=y.  In algebraic equations the left side must equal the right side of an equation; hence the use of the "=" - equals sign.  In the Church that Jesus Christ founded on his follower Peter, and the apostles, He provided for such an equation, which the Catholic Church adheres to, and that equation is Scripture = Tradition.  It seems a simple equation, but it has meat and a purpose.  If interpretation of scripture is not supported by tradition, then the interpretation of scripture is wrong.  If in the evolution of traditions, those traditions are not supported by scripture, then the tradition is wrong.

Our protesting brothers and sisters claim that many of our Catholic teachings are not biblical.  However, they are in error about that.  You must search the official teachings of the Magisterium of the Church, the keepers of the keys, as it were, to find that in fact all authentic Church teaching is biblically based, and also incorporates the tradition of the times.

However, I find it easier to accept that our separated brethren are diligently searching scripture in an attempt to discern the truth.  On the other hand, so many of our own Catholic men, women and children are relying solely on a loose understanding of tradition for their faith life.

A life of Catholic faith requires prayer as its foundation, the sacraments for the grace to live out our Baptismal promises, and must go back to the roots of our faith in order to understand and live out joyfully a prayer life.

The equation must be balanced.  Scripture = Tradition.  We Catholics must learn a love of the bible, such as our separated brethren have.  They, in turn must learn a love of the traditions of Holy Mother the Church to find the fullness of faith.

Otherwise, we have an unbalanced equation, and we are both wrong.  And we remain separated, which is not what Christ called us to.

Also, this morning I was looking at something that was a distance away from me.  As I did not have my glasses on, it was blurry.  When I tried to look at it with my left eye, I could see most of it (blurry still), but about 30 degrees of the right side was missing.  When I closed my left eye, and looked only with my right eye, I was missing 30 degrees of it on the left side.

I concluded that we must use both eyes to see the whole of something, and must also use lenses (since we are all nearsighted) to focus that view.  The two lenses are the lens of the Bible, and the lens of Tradition.  If we only use one eye, even with a lens to help us see, we miss 30 degrees, or about 1/6th.  Same if we only use the other.

This speaks metaphorically to the overlap of the Bible and Tradition, but also to what is missed if you leave one eye closed.

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