Thursday, October 18, 2007

Religion: Thanks For Sharing

I realize that I haven’t posted anything new for going on a week now. This is in great part because my cyber-energies were being drained off by an on-going discussion following the Wednesday, October 10th post at Disputations, entitled “Neither Pretense Nor Trump” which is now at 230+ comments and counting. It has been pretty much Protestant me against the Catholic field. But that’s par for the course. I’m not whining. That’s why I read that blog.

The original post, in which Tom, the Lord and Master at Disputations, discusses the urge of some Catholics and non-Catholics toward Christian unification and intercommunication, and the problems inherent therein, contains this statement of a Msgr. Wells:

“To pretend a unity that does not exist may feel good at the moment; but it allows us to avoid the painful truth that we are still far from the oneness in faith and action intended by the Lord.”

This was followed immediately by Tom’s statement:

“True enough, but if I may, I don't think Catholics and non-Catholics who desire intercommunion are pretending a unity that does not exist. At the very least, they surely don't think they are.”

I have argued before for an open communion as a necessary condition to allow for even the hope of a future Christian unity, and I took this opportunity to argue for it once again. Those interested in the topic might want to read through the comments following Tom’s post, as they are interesting from a number of different angles. I will not try to recapitulate all the points here. But I do want to mention an argument that occurred to me rather late in the discussion, which was that the episode in the Gospel of John concerning “Doubting Thomas” was a good analogy for a Protestant wanting to receive the Catholic communion.

The decisive argument against a Protestant receiving the Catholic communion, as forcefully articulated by Zippy, and others, is that the Protestant would be done great harm by receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, while not believing in the Real Presence. I argued that Thomas was allowed to touch the resurrected body of Christ, while not believing it to be the Real Body of Christ, and Thomas was in no way harmed; in fact his faith was confirmed and he received an immeasurably great gift:

John 20:24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, wasn’t with them when Jesus came. 20:25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

20:26 After eight days again his disciples were inside, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, the doors being locked, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace be to you.” 20:27 Then he said to Thomas, “Reach here your finger, and see my hands. Reach here your hand, and put it into my side. Don’t be unbelieving, but believing.”

20:28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

20:29 Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen me,* you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen, and have believed.”

Here is but one of my comments in this long, long thread:

No, you're missing my point. The analogy obviously assumes that the Eucharist IS the Real Presence, as it was in the case of Thomas. The point is that Jesus did not send Thomas away because of his unbelief. Rather, Jesus allowed Thomas contact with His body, and thereby Thomas came to believe that it was Real.
We recall that first Thomas refused to believe the reports that Jesus has risen. Next Jesus appears in a room *with a locked door*. In other words, as in the Eucharist, the REAL body is present; but it is present *supernaturally*. The analogy is really very close.
Unbelievers should not be denied contact with the Eucharist because of their unbelief, but rather should be allowed the opportunity to come to belief *through their contact with it*. This, even though it would be better if they just believed without having it proved to them.
It is, in fact, difficult to see what the point of the inclusion of this episode in the Gospel is, if not to make this point and teach this lesson.
Rodak | Homepage | 10.14.07 - 7:15 pm | #

I was not able to convince a single Catholic that my analogy was any good, although I did receive some moral support from a loving soul named Anna, for which I was grateful. I have extensive notes for a post on the subject of the banality of atheism, that I will get to this weekend. Meanwhile, I would welcome any comments that would continue the conversation here.