instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Monday, October 24, 2005

The mountains are just mountains

The Christian faith is not very sophisticated.

There's one God, Who made everything. He has one Son, Who became the man Jesus Christ to save us by His death. Jesus set up one Church, which is guided by His one Holy Spirit. Jesus will come again to divide everyone into the living, who will live in with God forever, and the dead, who will live without God forever.

A child of seven can understand this. Not as well, perhaps, as an adult of seventy, but I have a strong suspicion that little of the advantage of the adult over the child is due to sophisticated thinking.

Not that there isn't plenty of sophisticated thinking done by Christians. Some very clever, very elaborate, and even very profitable thinking has gone into Christian theology since the death of the last Apostle. But the Faith is faith in a Person, not in the thinking of even the best thinkers.

Many people who like to do sophisticated thinking, who relate to the world around them particularly through deliberate reasoning, have a hard time relating in a simple way to the Christian faith. The child-like faith Jesus commands is a real challenge for them. They want a mature faith that is qualitatively different from that of the child of seven.

There seem to be two ways of doing this. One is to preserve the simplicity of the Faith while building up the ancillary aspects of Christianity: the theology, the liturgy, the cult and culture.

The other way, which seems to have become common in the last couple of centuries (if it wasn't always common), is to deny that the Faith is really so simple. Jesus is God, Jesus is man: that's a simple belief with some very sophisticated (and, for the most part, provisional) explanations. But some thinkers want to import the sophistication into the belief, which happens to have the effect of destroying the belief. They want to say that Jesus isn't really God, or wasn't particularly God, or didn't actualize the deontology of Divinity until after the Resurrection Event, or whatever.

I say, that's what they want to do; that's the direction their habitual thought patterns lead them. Not all sophisticated thinkers actually do this, but some who do seem to be up front about what they're doing. The Christian Faith, as received from their forefathers, is too simple, too superstitious, too unenlightened, too backward, to be true.

Since God wants none to be lost but all to be saved, it follows that God wants the sophisticated thinkers to be saved, in addition to the plain thinkers and poor thinkers for whom the Faith is made simple. I'm toying with the idea that, to the sophisticated thinker who wants to destroy the Faith in order to save it from being too simple, Christ has given His mother, as a way to cut through all that sophisticated thought. Once past adolescence, all your fancy talk doesn't really cut it with your mother, and there comes a point when you shut up and listen to her, and of course what the Blessed Mother is saying to you is, "Do whatever He tells you."

I know more than one sophisticated thinker who appears to be grounded in the Apostolic Faith in large part, if not entirely, by being grounded in devotion to Mary.