Sunday, May 01, 2005


Wayfaring Strangers, Part 5

(Wayfaring Strangers is a continuing series about our experiences as my wife and I study to convert to Catholicism.)

Off To Church
This won't be a long entry, we're getting ready to go to church, but I wanted to post an update to my last post in this series. Yesterday, we had a little cook-out, and I had the chance to talk to Jamie about some of my misgivings about the theology of Mary. I am far from putting all my concerns to rest (especially with regard to the assumption of Mary, which still seems such a foreign idea to me), but I do have a better understanding of several things. One of my central questions was with regard to Mary's Immaculate Conception. I believed that the Catholic tenet that Mary was born without original sin sort of countered Mary's free will decision to bare the Son of God. This came down to what must have been a misunderstanding on my part of what Original Sin is. Original Sin is not discussed much in protestant faith. I'd believed it to simply be a way of expressing man's predisposition toward sin. According to Jamie, and he emphasized that this is his interpretation and that he's no theologian, Original Sin is simply the mark of sin put on man by Adam and Eve's decision in the garden. It is not a term that represents man's predisposition toward sin. Mary still had that predisposition, but chose not to act on it at every opportunity. This makes the dogma of Mary make more sense to me. Jamie also brought me Scott Hahn's Hail Holy Queen, a Catholic apologist's attempts to explain much of the theology of Mary. I still have a lot of questions, and I hope to move toward answers soon. Maybe Father Ken will even have some time to talk to me today. We'll see.

It comes down to this:

Do you need any of this Catholic doctrine to be saved? Is salvation through faith in Jesus or in your accepting the rules of a body of worshippers? To paraphrase Brooke Shields - nothing should come between you and your Savior.

The thief on the cross was saved purely by his confession of Christ as the Son of God. Jesus didn't say to him "oh well, you're not going to Heaven because you'll die before taking all of the catechism classes, so adios sucker." No, He said that surely the man would be with Him in heaven that very day!

Can you earn your way into Heaven by anything other than having Jesus in your heart and His name on your lips? How many points does it take to get into Heaven? How much do I get for being a good father? How many did you lose because of your divorce? And if you can actually lose points through sin, then does that not deny the Father's forgiveness? Does God rank sins in the Bible? Or are all sins forgiven (except for rejecting the Holy Spirit)?

Does your salvation rely on accepting that Mary remained a virgin her whole life? Does the Gospel turn on what Mary did after she gave birth to the Father's Son? Or could she have gone on to deny Him just as so many others did and do? Would her denying His divinity changed His divinity? Would her having other sons and daughters denied Him His true Sonship?

Does your communing with God rely on a priest, appointed by fallible men and given to fallibility himself, transforming bread and wine into His precious body and blood? Or can you be in communion with your Savior just by acknowledging His Lordship and praying in His name?

Can saying Hail Marys or the Roserary wash you clean, or is it the blood of the Lamb?

Your salvation is between you and God. How you worship is certainly a choice. I go to a church that uses modern music and is very lively and not steeped in any rote traditions. I like the free-wheeling style of unabashed, unfettered worship. You, on the other hand, prefer a more structured service, something with more of a traditional flavor and reverential tone. You find comfort in the sameness of each service. Good on you! Tradition is great! But if that "tradition" begins to add rules that hinder your salvation, that tell you you are not a part of His body unless you get an annulment, believe in the transmogrification of the elements, and hail Mary as something more divine than yourself, then you are being led astray, away from the cross and towards maleable doctrines formed by men over centuries of politics.

Do not deny your salvation. I am certain you can find traditional worship in one of the Christian churches in your area. Perhaps something Evangelical.

In Love,

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