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Commonplaces

Piquant excerpts lifted from Touchstone editors' own reading & listening.



With respect to the Church as a whole, all her aspects are centered on the presence of the Lord in her midst. This presence of God is the Church's core and center, the protected concentration of her being. This living center is made up of the Divine Mysteries: the confessed and unaltered Faith once given to the saints, the integrity of her sacraments, the canon of her Scriptures, the inviolable purity of the Tradition by which she is defined. The Church lives from that precious nucleus, which is to be safeguarded at all costs.

If that living and life-giving center does not "hold," we are no longer the people of God. It may appear, for a while, that we are more "successful" in some respects. If we abandon, for instance, certain components of our inherited worship in order to make the worship more accessible to our contemporaries, it is possible that our membership will initially grow, because we make better contact with the religious aspirations of the world around us.

This experience of success, however, is deceptive, and even dangerous. In due course we will learn that we have betrayed our identity in the Lord by permitting the world to change the Church, whereas it is the vocation of the Church to transform the world. It is impossible for the people of God to transform the world by giving up its own form. . . .

Some have remarked that apologetics is the most dangerous part of Christian thought, and the reason for this is simple. Apologetics is the discipline of making the Gospel accessible to the world's understanding. This discipline is a necessary and important aspect of evangelism. There remains the ongoing danger however, that our efforts to make the Gospel more accessible to unbelievers may, if only by inadvertence, alter some important and essential dimension of the Gospel. . . .

Virtually every major heresy condemned by the early Church took its rise in the effort to render the Gospel accessible to unbelievers. To return to the image of our metaphor, this activity directed to the world outside the Church runs the constant danger of putting the core of the Divine Mysteries in peril.

Patrick Henry Reardon
excursus on Numbers 3, from Out of Step with God (2019)


Christianity Commonplaces #60 Sept/Oct 2020

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