Monday, October 22, 2007

Speaking the Truth in Love, Part One

"Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love." - Saint Paul's Letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 4, Verses 15-16, Revised Standard Version

Many of the divisions in the Church today are created by people who impose false dichotomies in place of the transcendent unity that is inherent in God's revelation to man. Some contend there is a division between orthopraxy (right action) and orthodoxy (right belief). Those concerned with matters of orthodoxy are portrayed as fundamentalists or Pharisees (sadly, sometimes a true accusation), and people are encouraged to do what is right. But without a grounding in what is right (a foundation in orthodoxy), these social activities carry people away from orthopraxy as they are co-opted by people with a similar recognition of social injustice and a lack of a Christian anthropology. True orthodoxy insists on orthopraxy, and orthopraxy is only possible if orthodoxy precedes it.

Indeed any work of true liberation of persons is dependent on the transmission of knowledge. Jesus said (John 8:32), "you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." Likewise Saint Paul reiterates it in Romans 10:14-17:

But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher?
And how can men preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!"
But they have not all obeyed the gospel; for Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?"
So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ.

There is no opportunity to obey the Gospel, to follow Christ who identified Himself as Truth (John 14:6), without the work of evangelization.

John Paul II called for a new evangelization of society, where the expectation of influencing society was not left to priests and religious, but was shared in by all Christians. Saint Paul had his same vision in the quote from Ephesians above. Each part of the Body of Christ grows up into Jesus as we speak the truth in love.

Here we reach another false dichotomy imposed on the Gospel, the division between Truth and Love. We are taught from a young age that "God is love" (I John 4:8), yet somehow skim over the fact that Jesus (God in the flesh), is Truth, and every little truth in all the world is a truth that exists in Him. The first chapter of Saint John's Gospel identifies Jesus as the Eternal Word of God, and that Greek word which means word is logos. Logos is the word from which we get the word logic, implying that there is an order and a sense of reason in God. God is Truth, and God is Love, and there is no division in God.

Yet in our relativist culture, Christians have caved to demands that claims of truth not be made. This live and let live attitude fostered by the false god of tolerance cannot satisfy the altruistic nature of any person who sees their neighbors dying. If the wages of sin really are death, personal destruction and loss, societal discord, and a slavery that keeps the person from being who they were created to be, then isn't it obligatory to rescue your neighbors from that bondage? And is there a way for liberation other than the one the Savior prescribed in knowing the truth?

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