March 19, 2015

Thought for the Day: Historical Jesus

While it is possible to express truth through fictional means -- the parables may be a good example -- I don't think one can separate history from a minimal factual basis. That's not to say that historians don't differ both in their interpretations and in the facts they present, but there needs to be some basis to the historical narrative or it isn't historical.

If it could be shown that Jesus never existed, I don't think there would be much point in the Christian faith as Christian. There are some wonderful notions enshrined in it, some excellent teachings, but most of them can be found out through reason and humanistic ethical thought, or in any number of other religious traditions. As someone once said, Christianity is not just assent to a set of propositions, but Yes to a person -- and if that person never existed, as Paul observed, we Christians are of all people the most to be pitied.

I take great comfort in the knowledge that proving a negative is nigh on to impossible, and will accept the scant documentary evidence that those feet, in ancient times, walked the Middle East, even if they never made it to England's pleasant hills.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

March 18, 2015

Thought for the Day: Truly Catholic

Any church that seeks to claim truly catholic standing, truly universal scope, but which bases its self-understanding in anything other than union with and unity in Jesus Christ through the sacrament of Baptism, celebrated and made present in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, has embraced a paradoxical and ultimately false concept of catholicism and universality.

Whether the limiting factor is a set of doctrines to which one must ascribe belief, or a hierarchy one is bound to obey, this limit shifts the understanding of the entity away from the Body of Christ incarnate, to that set of doctrines or assembly of hierarchs.

Some might suggest the thought I'm expressing moves us away from a truly incarnational understanding; but my suggestion is that this confuses incarnation with institution. There are, of course, institutional realities in any church body, but my thought is that the truly universal and catholic church must be more than an institution, and must by its very nature include all those who have become members of that transcendent Body, regardless of their doctrinal or obedientiary particularities. That Body is wounded and impaired by the divisions and arguments that take place between its members, but there is also a real functionality to those members that may serve the larger purposes of the Body in ways we cannot yet fathom. Yet One Body it is, and we are all in this together.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG