Sunday, June 05, 2005

reason, experience, obedience

As to where I take the proper place of reason and experience to be: I take them to be properly used in obedience to Holy Mother Church (which means, in part, in obedience to the moral injunctions of scripture -- as the Universal Church has received them).

I honestly believe that if I weren't a Christian, I would be a raving and intemperate social Libertarian. Human reason is fallen and must be baptized. As we die into God, I think we come truly to see the unuterrable wisdom of God's foolishness. I think that's why Bp. Spong [he really has become the conservative whipping boy, hasn't he?] rejects the sacrifice of Christ crucified -- that is, because its foolishness to the Greeks, to those who are perishing. It really doesn't make any sense without grace, and not just without the doctrine of grace, but without the opperation of grace in the lives, in the minds, of those being sanctified. I mean why would I lay down anything -- my money, my position, my intellect, my power, my sexuality -- apart from my aching need to die into Jesus' death? But I NEED him, because I am rotten to the core. I am sick and insane without him.

The Christian life can therefore only be about obedience. The old life ends with pure obedience, just as the Old Covenant came to an end with the pure obedience of the Blessed Virgin. With her, God has the best that finite man has to offer. With her blessed words "Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum," God has a finite human totally receptive to his initiative, because she carries nothing of herself, and she becomes pure power in the hands of God. With our blessed Lady's act of obedience and self-abegnation in response to the summons of divinity, the Old Covenant passes away, and mankind offers to God the best of itself, the spotless and immaculate Virgin, a womb that will become the dwelling place of God.

Mary didn't stop to excise the offensive bits from the angel's message. She didn't remove those bits of it that were repellent to her reason and experience. And what in the message could not have been repellent to her reason and experience? Virgins don't conceive and bear sons! That's about as offensive to reason as one can get. And she didn't insist on forcing the message into the mould of her cultural surround. She didn't say "Okay, Gabriel, I will carry Emmanuel, but only after I'm married." She said "Be it done to me according to your word," with all the offense to reason and experience, and all the rejection that that entailed.

Christians, I believe, are in the position of our Lady at the Annunciation. But God has ordained the medium of the scriptures -- of which the Church Universal, the Bride of Christ, is the custodian -- to speak to us, to call us to himself and to his purpose. And we have two options. We can say, with our blessed Lady, "Be it done to me according to your word," or we can say with the fallen angels, "I will not serve." With the former comes all the blessedness of Emmanuel, God with us. With the latter comes all the judgment and wrath of God apart from us.

There is no via media.


The Ranter said...

You're right on target. I hope you get ordained to the priesthood.... we need the likes of you in ECUSA...

Anonymous said...

Well said and almost entirely on-target. But did the old covenant end with (1) Mary's submission to His will in that Word, (2)Jesus' submission to His will on the Cross...or (3) does the old covenant still stand only overshadowed and rendered "obsolete" by the new covenant "in His flesh?" He is the One who "keepeth covenant and showeth mercy."