Saturday, February 21, 2009

Why I'm Not Finished My Journey - Constant Conversion

WARNING!!!!! - Personal/spiritual post rather than Polemical/religious post - Ye who enter here abandon all hope

The Humility of a Hero

"Christ’s death redeemed man from sin, but I can make nothing of the theories as to how!"-C.S. Lewis

As I gave my thoughts on the Substitutionary Atonement and how I had to more or less 'give it up' for Catholicism, I realized that one of my favorite Anglicans had also given it up. Borrowing from another blog: "In The Allegory of Love Lewis referred to a poem whose "theology turns on a crudely substitutional view of the Atonement." In Mere Christianity Lewis indicated that he did not accept the substitutionary view of atonement." (

But I love Lewis' humility. He was clearly an Anglican/Protestant Arminian and accepted Sola Fide/Faith Alone but he tried to find a middle ground for which all Christians could come together on.

For me, I just need to accept that there is much that I haven't decided on and that this indecision is OK.

What I 'know'

When it comes to Theology Proper (Trinity, Who God is, etc) I think all Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox agree. And regarding Ecclesiology and the Sacraments my position is staunchly Roman Catholic, which of course will never allow me to leave the Church, but will also give me a plaguing of constant fear and guilt until I get to have my first confession, communion, and confirmation.

What I don't 'know':

But even if I am settled in my mind on the Catholic view of Conversion and the work of the Holy Ghost, I still can't actually invision it practically. I never know anyone who actually changes. Just sinner saints as Luther would say. I would completely doubt the truth of regeneration if it weren't for the few months of it I experienced in Bible School 3 years ago, and a few of my friends who are doing much better than I. But all of them aren't Roman Catholic, and many aren't even baptized. So how does that fit with my theology? it doesn't seem to. Again I just don't know.

And just ask me about Creation, Theistic Evolution, Young Earth, Old Earth, etc. I have absolutely no idea. I don't think I fit into any category because I think they all have problems. I could write an entire blog on this issue (maybe I'll do that next), but currently I find the Christian narrative and the Scientific narrative at odds, and I don't like picking sides because I -like Galileo- think science will vindicate God if it is true, and I believe all truth is God's truth. So I'm waiting around right now, and utterly confused on the matter.

So it's ironic that I started this blog saying "I'm a Christian looking for a Church" and now I say "I found a Church, but I'm looking for a Christian".... hmm. I wonder what I'll be saying in 2 years from now. I started off a "saved and justified bible-believing Christian" at the beginning, and now I appraise myself a "repentant Roman Catholic candidate in a state of damnation (mortal sin)".

I'm still in the purgatory between Protestant and Catholic and working out all these glitches as it were and confused ideas. But I knew I was in a Catholic mindset when people asked me 'so are you going to trust Jesus or the Church' and I immediately thought "false dicotemy" and primarily, the Church.


There are some things that bring me comfort however.

1. Mere Christianity. That I at least gotten over the worst of the family strife over my conversion - C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity" is now our household religion. My dad and I when we discuss the faith still speak only with regards to this shared grounds. I also make comments about how there are a great many 'unsaved' people in the Catholic Church and him and I agree on it. (though we use slightly different criteria). And I must say that I've never departed the teaching I received as a child that the Lord looks at the heart first, and so we view in my family now, "true Christianity" not as sola fide or sola ecclesia but as a living trust in Jesus. Pope Benedict XVI calls this the "constant call to conversion" that each Christian has. And while I might not be 'sacramentally' in a state of grace, God knows - I am sure - that my heart is in the right place. And I think that's more important than anything.

2. Kyrie Eliesen. That God is merciful - two of my favourite verses in the bible are: "The sacrifice acceptable to God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (Ps 51.17) - a verse I emphasize when I talk to Muslims and Jews about salvation. And Jesus' promise "anyone who comes to me I will never drive away" (Jn 6:37). I also have taken comfort in the words of St. Gregory Nazianzen "God's joy in giving is greater than our joy in receiving".

3. Hope. While I cynically doubt I will ever be regenerate and suffer from constant feelings of guilt and inadequacy, I still take comfort in hope, which St. Paul says "will not disappoint" (Rom 5:5). President Obama -who ever Christian seems to hate- wrote a book called "The Audacity of Hope". I read some of it, and regardless of political views here, I just wanted to use the title for something. As Christians we do have the Audacity to hope. It is audacious because all signs point to despair. Hope is probably my favourite thing in the world, it's one of those words that for me has special meaning. It reminds me of Tolkien and his writing for Hope against despair. It's like the word repentance (which for many people is bad) which for me is a beautiful word. And so I try to pray each day for the Gift of the Holy Ghost which Jesus says the Father will give to us if we only ask, and maybe I'm already receiving it without knowing, but right now I have the audacity to hope for the zoe the supernatural and indwelling life of Christ, which I long for above all else.


I'm still on the Journey, I'm not finished, and I need to spend some time enjoying the mystery of God, and I find it appropriate to quote the words of C.S. Lewis again:

"Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done..."

Thus begins another day.

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