What's one to think? These dissident rags, like Commonweal and the National Catholic 'Distorter', are regularly dismissed by conservative Catholics as faux representatives of the Catholic Church. True enough in terms of Church Tradition. But if we took a cross section of the formal membership of the Church today, would they not represent a sizable share -- particularly given the sentiments of many of the leading princes of the Church at the recent October Synod? The confusion sewn throughout the faithful by these conflicting messages is undermining the Church's mission.
Consider the frustration of Mr. Noir himself, who writes:
One reads ALL THE TIME about the importance of clarity of mission.One thing difficult for us former Protestants, who used to belong to communions in which members could be counted on to believe more-or-less the same things, is belonging to a body so large and disparate as "Here comes everybody"! What's maddening is to run into Catholics who are church-attending New Age wackos, for instance. Now, when we're talking about something like a billion people, some of that is to be expected, I suppose. But when the message from the major Catholic media outlets, theologians and bishops of the Church is a gallimaufry of mixed signals and unnuendo, it can be quite unsettling. I suppose our duty remains to live the Catholic Faith as we know it to be. Still, it's disturbing in the extreme when that Catholic Faith isn't supported by a unified voice from the shepherds of the sheeple.
One also CONSISTENTLY hears the Balthasarian refrain of "hoping" for universal salvation.
[The Commonweal article above] is the latest reminder. Nick Healy should be happy.
So what IS the Church's missions, much less doctrine? "Rescue the perishing?" Haha! Please, what hyperbole! St. Francis Xavier was a well-intentioned fool. Kidding. But really, we are much closer as Catholics to being a spiritual UN now, building a civilization of love. We are UNICEF. with Jesus knocking on the UN tower.
The unkillable quasi-Universalism is not a little deal but a big deal. It explains our current paralysis. One the one hand, these quasi-universalists insist they don't know. On the other hand, they keep insisting we listen. So which is it? If Hans Kung is setting our doctrine weathervane, I for one am outta here. I think Carl Trueman's point holds: "Christian orthodoxy contain[s] a certain level of ineradicable complexity such that, if this [is] lost, the institutional maintenance of orthodoxy [is] nigh...impossible. The doctrine of, say, the Lord’s Supper, stands in positive connection to a network of other doctrines. To change one often requires modifications of others." Belief in Hell is not foundational in one sense, even if creeds DO mention it. On the other hand, Heaven and Hell frame our discussion of salvation. If the bookends themselves are fuzzed to the point of unrecognizability, I am not sure what to say of the library they contain. I for one have trouble even focusing on it. How can a path be clear if the destinations are essentially impossible to reach?
Let's be frank: God as Judge, Sin as Evil, Consequences as real and Wrath as a bonafide attribute of Deity... all these evaporate when Barthian/Balthjasarian/Kungian theology is honored. There's a reason The Attributes of God, that so inspired earlier generations, are no longer part of standard Catholic apologetics or theology: we have determined that God's key attribute is his role as Creator of Man. We are his mirror image. In which case, who even needs the Original? Or scripture? God is not Other... He's us!
These words are typed as a quick protest. The proponents of HvB's proposal, from Fessio at Ignatius and Barron at Word on Fire to John Paul II in the Vatican... they are all seriously and significantly dead wrong. My growing conviction is that it's not a small deal but a very big deal, as big if not bigger than screwing with the Liturgy. Erasing Hell is not just a bad idea, but a deadly one. The polite conversation is close. to b.s.
To get my point across, let's try this line" "The Bible isn't REALLY word-for-word true, attending Mass is not REALLY big deal, and Hell may be empty. Love and let live." How is that for Franciscan gospel? I think Oprah might approve. And if the Church's clarity can be questioned on something clear for centuries, let's just stop all the fuss an ordain lesbians now.