Posts Tagged ‘Beatitudes’

Catholic Christian Answers to an Atheist

Sunday, May 17th, 2015

Why Do We Follow Jesus as Catholic Christians?

Jesus taught that the greatest love is to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13), and to love one another as he loved us (John 13:34). By His willing acceptance of human suffering and death, Jesus transformed and transcended the meaning of suffering and death.

Jesus’ “New Commandment” to love as he loved could not simply have evolved to radical altruism through a biological process, where altruism arises to a point, but could only have been revealed–introduced as something completely new–as a Divine Gift by Jesus.

This love-teaching of Jesus is an historic fact in human culture.

We Catholic Christians remember Jesus’ New Commandment of Love both in the way we live and in our celebration of the Eucharist. By consuming the Body and Blood of Christ in the appearance of consecrated bread and wine as a living, present, continuing act of Love, we declare our unity with this Love, Who is God. In so doing, we proclaim the Resurrection of Christ.

The Catholic Church is first of all the sacrament–both a sign and an instrument–of the unity of the human race in union with God (Lumen Gentium, Vatican II Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 1). We believe that we are not the slaves of God, but his friends (John 15:15). This friendship and freedom are God’s gift to us.

In believing in Jesus and in sharing in his Church as Catholic Christians, we listen to the truth which makes us free (John 8:32). To reveal this truth and freedom Jesus suffered death and rose from the dead for our sake, and gave us the gift of His Church.

Hope requires trust in that which greater than ourselves–not in the state, which in the end can enslave–but in God, Who frees.

Without this Christ and His Church, there would be no transcendence of suffering and death, no hope of human unity, no hope of eternal life, no hope that the poor in spirit will be blessed, or that the meek will inherit the earth, or that the merciful will obtain mercy, or that those who hunger and thirst for justice will be satisfied (Matthew 5:5). Those who reject belief in God and His Church risk rejecting these good things. In the end, the atheist to be consistent must reject also the Beatitudes.

A world without the living Love of Jesus Christ is a world without hope of overcoming slavery, strife, despair, and violence.

Science is necessary to offer healing to a point, but cannot offer lasting hope, nor a sure path to human unity without another failed and destructive attempt at totalitarian government–since to enforce universal atheism will once again require totalitarianism.

Belief should not reject science. Far from it. Neither does science contradict belief. But science has yet to demonstrate that it can in and of itself overcome pseudo-science. The (1) persistence of quackery in medicine (witness daytime TV and late-night infomercials, and intellectual thralldom to the unproved theories of Freud for the better part of a century), the (2) politicization of the social sciences which have weakened science as a positive force, and (3) continuing breaches of scientific ethics at universities all speak to the reality of science as an imperfect work in progress, not as a finished product.

Today both Christian belief and science are weakened forces, but both still seek truth. It is possible, and desirable, to embrace Christian belief while respecting and practicing science.

Once one recognizes that there is an aspect of Love that is transcendent, beyond what science can explain, one has entered into the truth of belief in God.

© Copyright 2015, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved

The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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How to Let Jesus Speak and Be Heard in the Debate on God

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

In my early 20s I participated in a running debate with a young, convinced Marxist who always tried to lay down two ground rules for our discussion:

1) I couldn’t use the argument that Marxist Communism was a religion (which for many it clearly was), and

2) I couldn’t quote Scripture (which would have let Jesus Christ speak directly to my adversary).

There should be no such ground rules in the Debate on God.

Polite Christian debaters thus make an essential mistake by accepting such ground rules that do not let the living person Jesus speak directly, especially by not introducing the Beatitudes into the discussion.

I always at some point ask the other person if they have calculated the cost and consequences of erasing the following words from human culture and history, and I ask them to consider each Beatitude one at a time:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the land.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for

righteousness,

for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the clean of heart,

for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of

righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you

and utter every kind of evil against you

[falsely] because of me.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in

heaven.

Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before

you.

(Matthew 5: 3-12)

Hidden in the above words are revolutionary ideas of justice, of mercy, of property, of truth, of peace, of the human heart, of the meaning of suffering, of the necessity of sacrifice, of the true nature of joy, of eternity, of the mystery of the Kingdom, and of much, much more.

No atheist has ever spoken such powerful words with such a telling impact across millennia of human action. These words have permanently shaped human history and culture. These words can never be erased from human hearts and minds once heard.

And that’s the point: we must continue to speak these very words of God in the debate on God, for they speak directly to the human heart and mind as God does speak. And when God speaks, they may clap their ears and shout, because they will be hearing God.

The practiced debater is armored to hear only Oneself. With the Beatitudes, God breaks through. There is no answer once one stands before the face of God.

By rejecting these words of Beatitude, a person rejects justice, and mercy, and truth, and sacrifice, and joy, and all the rest, for without the meaning of these words of the Beatitudes, there is no basis for justice and joy and all the rest. I ask the atheist, Can you reject each Beatitude, and all that they convey, one by one?

Many people, whether believers or unbelievers, have never really heard these words, the words of Good News. Therefore, we must never forget these words ourselves, and never cease to speak them and to live them.

Years ago, I developed a meditation practice of saying each Beatitude, followed by an Our Father. I highly recommend this practice for deepening faith and understanding of the Beatitudes.

We must bring the atheist, and the atheist within ourselves, not to debate about God, but to debate directly with God, which is one very big–and sometimes very scary–step closer to God. The Beatitudes bring the Transcendent into the discussion.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved

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