Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Those tricky Beatitudes

To be a truly "sola-fides" protestant is to believe that our conduct has nothing to do with our salvation. It is, at best, an afterthought. Someone who is saved will act in a certain manner but the act itself does not show a willingness on our part to accept the salvation offered us, a willingness to lead a "saved" life. It's just like the exhaust from a car.

I've always wondered how these Protestants deal with those passages of scripture that seem to intimate the necessity for an active love in order to live a holy life. I'm sure that there are a myriad of ways of answering that question, especially in a group that has eliminated an interpretive magisterial voice. But, the most creative way that I heard this past Sunday came from a pastor preaching about the Beatitudes. I wish I could find his name or something since we could probably also find the text of what he said online. Nonetheless, according to him, the key word of the Beatitudes was "brothers". He said that the way we treat the Jews (Jesus brothers) will be the way we are judged. For the moment setting aside the fact that we are moving back into the realm of works salvation and that Jesus, in teaching in the Galilee, is likely surrounded by both Jews and Gentiles close to the Decapolis) and that there is no use of the term brothers in either Luke or Matthew and that Jesus explicitly includes "whoever does the will of my heavenly Father" as his brothers, there is a larger agenda going on here that we Catholics need to know.

Some Protestants are trying to force an apocalyptic agenda down the throats of the church that involves "restoring" Israel and the Temple so that Jesus will come again. They are sending huge sums of money to Israel in an effort to force this end-times agenda. Yet, ironically, the Catholic Church is the one turning to our younger rebellious brothers and sisters to remind them that you can't force God to do anything simply by putting together what you believe to be the perfect end-times formula. I think this is why the Catholic Church so often emphasizes phrases like "Do not be afraid" and "Do not be terrified" we we have these end-times formula. We do no know when Christ will come and believing that we can somehow coerce him into coming is not just silly, it's heretical.

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