Tuesday, 24 February 2009

On Being a Heretic

Photo: Old Catholic Church on the Island of Barbados

Copyright © 2003–2009 Deron E. Meranda

The heart is a heretic because it seeks unity of spirit, not uniformity of thinking.

Heretics are people who deviate from the norm. The word heretic comes from the Greek word 'haireses', meaning “to chose.” Heretics choose a path that differs from the norm. Jesus was a Jewish heretic, and Christianity began as a Jewish heresy.

Religious orthodoxy is the inevitable result of thinking exclusively from the head. Distinctions of “us-versus-them” dissolve when we see each other through the heart

From: Robert V. Thompson, ‘A Voluptuous God”

I truly think that I am guilty of being a heretic at times - at odds with the church on several sensitive issues, albeit with due respect and uncensored humility. Please note the following words in italics are my own,

ON THE Founding of the Catholic Church

Catechism of the Catholic Church, #763 (1994): Christ accomplished God the Father’s plan of salvation, which was the reason he was sent into the world. By preaching the good news of the reign of God, which had been promised in the Scriptures, Jesus inaugurated the Church.

Good News: Jesus came to inaugurate God’s Kingdom beginning here on earth for all people, not to establish an hierarchical institution complete with all its trappings. The keys of the Kingdom are the keys to living out a life in the Spirit based on Christ's teachings and example.

ON Original Sin

St. Augustine (CE 354-430): the guilt of Adam’s sin is passed on through “lust” involved in procreation.

Catechism of the Catholic Church # 390 (1994):The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.

Good News: "Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind* in our image, according to our likeness . . . God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good". (Gen. 126-31, NRSV)

We are God’s holy daughters and sons, created with his original blessing which is to share rather than to receive for the self (ego) alone; and the source of all our pain and suffering.

ON Apostolic Succession

Dogmatic Constitution of the Catholic Church, n. 20 (1965): “by divine institution bishops have succeeded to the place of the apostles”.

Good News: We are all ‘God’s people’, equal in status, (as promised by the Church through baptism) united by embracing diversity through the Spirit to share the ‘good news’ with all those God places in our path.

ON Salvation outside the Church

Catechism of the Catholic Church , # 846: (1994) ‘Outside the Church there is no Salvation” How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body.

Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 171,(2006): This means that all salvation comes from Christ, the Head, through the Church which is his body. Hence they cannot be saved who, knowing the Church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, would refuse to enter her or remain in her. At the same time, thanks to Christ and to his Church, those who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ and his Church but sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, try to do his will as it is known through the dictates of conscience can attain eternal salvation.

Good News: “those who sincerely seek God and open themselves to God’s grace can be saved even if they have no explicit knowledge of Christ”. (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 1965)

ON Universalism

St. Augustine(CE 354 - 330) : God does not actually will everyone to be saved; for if God did, no one would be lost.

Council of Constantinople (AD 553) : The concept known as Universalism holds that all persons and creatures are related to God or the Divine and will be reconciled to God. The Fifth General Council of the church in Constantinople officially condemned Universalism. Promoting it could result in punishment, even death, for heresy.

Good News: “God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Tim 2:3-4

If everyone understood their holy nature above their sinful or ‘false self’ believing that God desires to reconcile all in heaven, we could stop judging those we banish to hell and get on with the ‘here and now’! (see also my blog on ‘Heaven and Hell’')

ON Sexuality - Homosexuality

Catechism of the Catholic Church , # 2359, (1994): Homosexual persons are called to chastity . . they should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

‘Dominus Jesus’ (2002) Catholic Doctrinal Statement: Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered to an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder,”

Good News: The New Catholic Catechism (1969) “It is not the fault of the individual if he or she is not attracted to the other sex. The causes of homosexuality are unknown”

"I find it strange that, if I were to tell a cardinal in the Vatican that I was struggling with doubts about the existence of God, I would receive sympathy and support. But if I were to tell the same cardinal that I had doubts about papal teaching on contraception and the ordination of women, I would receive a stern lecture on loyalty to the pope". Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, 'Confronting Power & Sex in the Catholic Church'.

The aim of this pilgrim heretic, is not to take issue with organized religion, but rather to awaken that restless and questioning Spirit that rests within all hearts. A Spirit that will not rest until it rests in God.

more to come . . . .

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