Sunday, July 19, 2009

Flesh and Bones

The Church is the body of Christ.

Occasionally the people of the Church cause her wounds, but her bones are strong, and Christ will always heal her flesh. Let us, for the moment, envision this body as representing two things: Her flesh is her love and compassion, her softness. Her skeleton is the Truth, composed of her infallible teachings, the deposit of the faith, the Scriptures and Tradition.

Now, what happens when a church breaks off from The Catholic Church? It becomes more prone to decay. When it is injured, it is more likely to get an infection, and Christ is less able to heal it, since it is not as fully connected to him.

Thus, Protestant churches, as time passes will often get infections or tumors, and the only response is to excise the damaged tissue. This provides a kind of restoration, but at the same time it leaves scars and sometimes disfigurement.

Let us now look at some of the extreme examples of this disfigurement:

There is a minister named Fred Phelps whose congregation is often seen carrying signs that read, "God hates Gays." This is what happens when an injured body strips the flesh from its bones. We are left with a broken and gruesome skeleton. It keeps fragments of truth (not that God hates gays, but that god disapproves of sin), but it can no longer reach out and touch with healing hands. It only has vicious bony claws.

At the other extreme we find those in the liberal Episcopalian hierarchy. They have abandoned their bones, seeing them as too hard (or intolerant). They have become like a jellyfish stranded on the seashore, a blob of flesh that knows only how to be soft and has lost its real purpose. It takes bones to walk, and bones to reach out your hand to make a difference.

As another illustration, I would like you to imagine a police officer. He is a strong and confident man, trained to enforce the law. He has his uniform, his badge, his gun, and all his other equipment. This is the way a police officer is supposed to be.

Now, a Pastor in one of the conservative Protestant denominations is like this police officer, but without his uniform and his badge, and missing much of his equipment. He is still willing and able to fight crime, but he is seriously hindered.

The liberal Protestant ministers, like the aforementioned Episcopalians, are in a different position. Such a minister may have the uniform and carry much of the equipment, thus appearing from a distance to be a fully equipped officer. But, when you get closer, you see that it is not a police officer in the uniform, it is a great dane.


Nathan said...

I want to clarify that even other conservative Baptists recognize Fred Phelps as being off the deep end. And when I write later about conservative pastors, I mean the more ordinary kind, not the loony Fred Phelps kind.

Nathan said...

Also, to clarify further, I do not mean "scars and sometimes disfigurement," as an insult to those who are "scarred." I recognize that many Protestants are quite a bit more loving and sincere than many Catholics, and I fully recognize that they view the Catholic Church as one of the "scarred and disfigured" churches.

Now, realize that a person can be scarred or disfigured, but still accomplish much good. Still, it is wise to avoid such handicaps if possible. If we are foolishly causing increasing damage to ourselves, we must cease. If we stop, Christ can heal us, but if we continue, we will end up on the extremes, being unable to live in service of God at all.