I wanted to take the time to share a video I found very moving. It is worth watching in full before making any judgments. I will say that if you care to have arguments over theology, this is not the place to have them. That goes against the very spirit of this video, and it goes against the spirit of people overcoming differences to become one people bowed down in worship of the Lord.
Unfortunately, this video has become the source of controversy for many who are hopelessly bent on division and declaring themselves righteous. It has sparked the commentary of many who feel the need to condemn that which they do not understand—that which they misunderstand without an attempt to grow in knowledge of the truth and mutual understanding. What was meant to inspire love and communion has compelled false prophets to launch diatribes against the Bride of Christ, the Church, which He established, as something loathsome and now despised by the Lord. I feel comfortable calling them false prophets, because, the one who does the will of God leads always in love, while the fruits so clearly seen in some of the video responses are hate, divisions like the ones both Jesus and Paul preached against, the propagation of incorrect stereotypes, and utterances of damnation that the Bible says belong only to the Lord. I struggled to even find the full video posted by someone not seeking to continue this very work of the dismemberment of the Body of Christ.
Nevertheless, I think it’s important for each of us to check our biases at the door and open our hearts up to hearing a message we’d maybe rather not: that God loves each of us and that a world of pettiness where we run around and pretend like we have Him figured out perfectly is not at all His will for us. With that, I just pray for you as you watch this, I pray for our communities as we seek to build bridges that will unite us in His service and love until that day when all things will be revealed, and ask that you would do the same.
Here it is:
My only point of contention with the video is that Tony Palmer makes the implication that salvation by works and faith was not always the teaching of the Catholic Church. This has never been the case. The official stance of the Church has always been that we can never merit our salvation. This is where faith comes in. It is the necessary precursor. That being said, we have always believed that we can lose our salvation. By failing to repent and to strive earnestly to live a life transformed, we make ourselves bad stewards of God’s free gift of salvation. By choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, we make ourselves once more answerable to a God who is Justice just as much as He is Love. All of that is in accordance with Scripture, and it has always been at the bedrock of the Church’s understanding and teaching of salvation.
However, while the Church is made divine through the Holy Spirit that dwells within it and inspires its work, its individual parts are undoubtedly human and given to mistakes. Additionally, since it is such a large body, it is sometimes hard to orchestrate unity. Thus, it is not a fellowship unopened to abuses and misunderstandings respectively. At various points in our Church’s history, different sects and theological quandaries have arisen. It is at such intersections that the Church has come together to reemphasize what we believe and put the questions to rest, much like Paul did through letters to his communities that experienced the same types of problems. This is the work the Church undertook in the Council of Trent, as leaders began to address some of the criticisms Martin Luther had rightly made. (This is why it would have been unsurprising had Luther been named a “doctor of the Church” if he were to have stayed with the Church and joined in the work of returning certain factions back to the foundational teachings.) The joint declaration made in 1999 was, then, not a change of doctrine, but another one of these clarifications, as Catholic and Lutheran leaders came together in recognition of the fact that the two groups they represented have actually believed the same thing. The continuation of the divide was due in large part to misconceptions and misunderstanding.
More on this can be found both in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and in the links I’ve posted here:
This issue aside, we are unfortunately living in an age where Christianity has become endlessly fractious, as we decide we know what is right for ourselves and refuse to accept any and all calls to submission to a Spirit greater than ourselves. This destructive attitude lives even in Catholics who purport to know better than the Church. This spirit of pride—the desire for divide—lives in the Catholics who join in rhetoric meant to destroy the bonds that unite us with our non-Catholic brothers and sisters. The point is: it’s something we’re all guilty of.
Today, please join me in praying for a love that overcomes theological divides and builds bridges between human hearts as we all seek the same thing: to know our Creator and to live with hearts more like His. Take a look around. This world is more in need of relationship with the Lord every day. We all need a sustainer. We all need authentic love. This is something we cannot share if we are too busy hating each other.
Pray for me, and I’ll pray for you. Together, let us set our sights on a Love beyond all comprehension and look to the day when we will finally have the peace, the joy, and the clarity that this world can never offer us. I ask all this in Jesus’ name, amen.