Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sound Bites

From Catholic Memes
I was asked by a Protestant friend what I would say to sum up all of Christianity in one message. What would you say?

I chose John 3:16:
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

Clearly this s bare-bones, but to me the message of Christianity is that God loves you, to the extent of giving up His Son, so that He can be with you.

My friend chose Romans 10:9 as the summation of Christianity:
if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
He considers the most important thing about Christianity to be that all you have to do is believe that Jesus rose from the dead, and you are saved, regardless of anything else.

It seems that he, and in fact all of the Protestants that I've met, when discussing the faith, concentrate only on the parts that differentiate them from the Catholic faith. Perhaps this comes from 500 years of tradition of assuming everyone is Christian, and they just need to be taught the errors of their ways if they are Catholic. Perhaps it is a way to keep themselves and their friends from slipping into Catholic ways of thought. But it does make it hard for me to agree with them on any statement of faith, even when quoting the Bible, because the quotes are always cherry picked, out of context, to emphasize something that a Catholic can't affirm.

What do I need to do to be saved? My friend quotes Romans 10:9 and says "that is all." What about Baptism (1 Peter 3:21 "Baptism now saves you") - nobody uses that sound bite, and yet it is equally true. What about Luke 18:22 "go and sell all that you have and give the money to the poor"? I haven't heard anyone quote that as the only thing you need for salvation. Or John 14:21 "Keep the commandments..." Or 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 "evildoers will not enter the kingdom."

The thing is, you can't define something like salvation in a sound bite - even one taken from the Bible. Even though our little modern minds are satisfied with sound bites and memes, reality and God are much more complicated than any one liner. And Amen! How sad would life be if the entire meaning of our existence could be summed up in a sound bite!


Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.~ Jesus words, Mark 16:16

Reasons to Believe in Jesus

Reasons to believe Jesus is alive in a new life with God can be found in quotes from two prominent atheists and a biology textbook.

Thus the passion of man is the reverse of that of Christ, for man loses himself as man in order that God may be born. But the idea of God is contradictory and we lose ourselves in vain. Man is a useless passion. (Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, New York: Washington Square Press, p. 784)

Among the traditional candidates for comprehensive understanding of the relation of mind to the physical world, I believe the weight of evidence favors some from of neutral monism over the traditional alternatives of materialism, idealism, and dualism. (Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, location 69 of 1831)

And certain properties of the human brain distinguish our species from all other animals. The human brain is, after all, the only known collection of matter that tries to understand itself. To most biologists, the brain and the mind are one and the same; understand how the brain is organized and how it works, and we’ll understand such mindful functions as abstract thought and feelings. Some philosophers are less comfortable with this mechanistic view of mind, finding Descartes’ concept of a mind-body duality more attractive. (Neil Campbell, Biology, 4th edition, p. 776 )

Sartre speaks of the "passion of man," not the passion of Christians. He is acknowledging that all religions east and west believe there is a transcendental reality and that perfect fulfillment comes from being united with this reality after we die. He then defines this passion with a reference to Christian doctrine which means he is acknowledging the historical reasons for believing in Jesus. He does not deny God exists. He is only saying the concept of God is contradictory. He then admits that since life ends in the grave, it has no meaning.

From the title of the book, you can see that Nagel understands that humans are embodied sprits and that the humans soul is spiritual. He says, however, that dualism and idealism are "traditional" alternatives to materialism. Dualism and idealism are just bright ideas from Descartes and Berkeley. The traditional alternative to materialism is monism. According to Thomas Aquinas unity is the transcendental property of being. Campbell does not even grasp the concept of monism. The only theories he grasps are dualism and materialism.

If all atheists were like Sartre, it would be an obstacle to faith. An important reason to believe in Jesus is that practically all atheists are like Nagel and Campbell, not like Sartre.

by David Roemer


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