Thursday, March 19, 2015

Whose Gospel? Which Mercy?

Ross Douthat identifies the three groups of Roman Catholic conservatives who are critical of Pope Francis: 1) traditionalists, 2) Catholics who are economic conservatives or libertarians, and 3) doctrinal conservatives.

Then, out of the blue, comes this carrier pigeon with a printed email from Guy Noir containing the following message: "On Ross Dothan's article, here is this bitchy Protestant insight":
One way of interpreting this is to say that conservative Roman Catholics are concerned about the language of the liturgy, the economy, or the family. Where, Protestants may wonder, among these criticisms of the pope is a concern about mortal sin and protecting the church as a means of grace for freeing believers from guilt and condemnation? To be fair, Douthat himself as one of the doctrinal conservatives has raised the issue of mortal sin and whether the church could conceivably turn a blind eye to it if it tolerates people on second marriages, or gay couples to take communion.

But it is striking to this observer how little concern there seems to be for defending and maintaining the gospel as set forth by the Council of Trent or even John Paul II’s catechism. It could be that these are settled matters that need no more attention. But if you have ever studied the history of Protestantism, such silence about the most important teachings of the church are likely an indication not of confidence but of indifference. [emphasis mine - PP]
OoooOOOOOooooo! Bitchy indeed. But an insight too. How should we pertinacious papists answer, do you think?

Here's what Noir says: "And I'd agree. My biggest anxiety right now is people seem to be advocating different gospels and different 'mercies.' From the Church, that's dizzying. Forgiveness is an offer, not a fact. But the media message from the papal reporting is 'Love has won. Don't sweat it.' Or as Amy Grant sings, "Don't try so hard." Which makes building Chartres Cathedral seem a bit of a farce, no?"


Sed Contra said...

While the hierarchy is in the process of making a separate peace with the sexual revolution, it is far from giving up on mortal sin.

Did not our Lord and Savior say in Matthew 25:41-49a:

41* Then [the King] will say to those at his left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' 44 Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?' 45 Then he will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.' 46* And they will go away into eternal punishment ..."?

From which it follows 1) our salvation is not assured, 2) all must have access to the Church’s “medicine”, and 3) all our works must be devoted to serving the poor and the immigrant.

That is the whole Gospel, the rest is just commentary.

Pertinacious Papist said...

Sed Contra,

This passage from the Gospel of Matthew is a very important one, but I would disagree with you if you reduced the whole Catholic doctrine of salvation to the import of this passage. To do that would be in ignore many other important texts without which we do not understand the whole Gospel -- for example, Jesus' statement that those who love Him are those who keep His commandments, or St. Paul's warnings about those who shall not inherit eternal life, among whom he includes unrepentant drunkards, fornicators, idolaters, murderers, homosexuals, thieves, slanderers, etc.

If we take Matthew 25 out of the larger Biblical and Magisterial context, it becomes a pretext for what was called, in the heyday of liberal Protestantism, "The Social Gospel," i.e., what we find now among the so-called "Peace and Justice" crowd -- those who eschew all the supernatural "metaphysical baggage" of Christianity and reduce the condition for salvation to "social services." I'm not saying that this is your view; rather, that what you wrote could be understood in that way. Kind regards, - PP