Since Christ Is Our Foundation, Fundamentalism Is Love

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by Dr. Alan Keyes  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  March 19, 2019   

Comment early in Francis papacy took aim at Catholic 'fundamentalism'

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Dr. Alan Keyes

For lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart. If the Foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11)

Why do you call me "Lord, Lord," and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep, and laid the foundation upon rock; and when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house, and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But he who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation; against which the stream broke, and immediately feel, and the ruin of that house was great. (Luke 6:46–49)

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying. "This man began to build and was not able to finish." ... So, therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:28–30, 33)

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is in Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay straw — each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with first, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer a loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:11–15)

One of the signs that Pope Francis' tenure as the vicar of Christ would be seriously problematic came early on when he reportedly described fundamentalism as "a sickness that is in all religions," and then went on to observe, "We Catholics have some — and not some, many — who believe they possess the absolute truth and go ahead dirtying the other with calumny, with disinformation, and doing evil. They do evil. I say this because it is my Church."


Christ plainly described himself as "the way, and the truth, and the life." Therefore, it makes sense that people who profess to be transformed by the indwelling presence of Christ should "believe they possess the absolute truth." Of course, if they "go ahead dirtying the other with calumny," they abandon Christ's truth for a lie. Why ever would someone supposed to speak as the vicar of Christ criticize this as "fundamentalism" when it involves abandoning the only true foundation?

Perhaps the bishop of Rome was not speaking for Christ when he voiced that criticism but as a fallible human being. Why, in speaking of himself in our day, would Christ contradict the perfect communion with His Father, God, which he emphatically affirmed to His Apostles?

Trusting in the truth of his words, Christians down through the ages have trusted in the fact that when in good faith, they take the true presence of Christ within themselves, they acknowledge the presence of God, His Father. In communion with Christ, they commune with God, receiving thereby the saving grace of God's Holy Spirit. By His grace, Christ redeems all who are willing to receive and faithfully pursue it, out of the way of sin and death, and into the way that leads to victory for life, with God and His Eternal Word, forever.

In truth, therefore, fundamentalism is about living in Christ, as he lived in our world — by the will and for the purpose of God.

For those transformed to be true temples of God, firmly erected in truth, upon the foundation of Christ Jesus, He becomes the answer to the Psalmist's question, quoted above: "What will the righteous do?" They will take their stand upon the forgiving yet indestructible foundation, which is Christ the Lord. According to Christ's measure, they will count the cost of following his way to God and Heaven. And whatever toll it takes, the price will suit them down to the ground.

And though, like a raging fire, the toll consumes all that they have, and all they thought themselves to be, they will pass through it, faithfully trusting in the one who has already died and lived to bear the cost for all who are willing be faith to the end that God, the Father of all, has pre-ordained. For, as Paul the Apostle tells the Church in Corinth, the foundation of the faith is in Jesus Christ — there is no other. Only those who take root in Christ live up to the hope and purpose of God.

In truth, therefore, fundamentalism is about living in Christ, as he lived in our world — by the will and for the purpose of God. Thus understood, fundamentalism is not about "rigidly" observing the rules. It is about following Christ, who said:

If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words, and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me. (John 14:23–24)

These days, it's trendy to speak as if this is all about following one's conscience rather than "rigidly" adhering to the words of God and Christ, they have have been passed along to us in the reported words of Scripture, and by the words that proven followers of Christ — striving in good faith to live by them —  have used to construe and share the knowledge they derived from doing so.

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But, as the word implies, the word "conscience" alludes to knowledge. And, if our trust in Christ is justified, we have no knowledge, in truth, but what comes of our experience with God.

I know that these days the material success of human empirical studies tempts us to deny this truth. But if "we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28) in God, it is inescapable. What we know of the world, including every aspect of our own existence, we know, as it were, from wrestling with God and humanity (like Jacob, Genesis 32:22–32, Hosea 12:2–6).

Our science has lately broken the surface of God's knowledge of material things, glimpsing here and there, a little of its depth. But of His love and justice (cp. Hosea 12:6) we have learned mostly by inference from the woeful consequences of our own evil acts.

We stumble along, therefore, often mistaking a dialectic of evils for the contest "twixt good and evil arising" (as St. Paul observes, Romans 2:15) in our nature. But St. Paul writes from the perspective of God's authority. Therefore, he assumes that our very existence, being a reflection of God's goodwill, includes the programming (as we would call it now) that encodes, here and there, within the stuff that we are made on, God's positive intention for being such as we are.

As Christ said of the Sabbath, so we may say of God's rules — they were made for us, not we for them. But why ever would the observance of those rules be stigmatized as 'rigid'?

In respect of humankind, God's laws are therefore essential to our well-being. As Christ said of the Sabbath, so we may say of God's rules — they were made for us, not we for them. But why ever would the observance of those rules be stigmatized as "rigid"? Rigidity implies a lack of forgiveness, but God's provision for the world in which we exist precisely consists of giving and withholding all things exactly in proportion to the requirements of our presence here.

Once we understand this, we see that God's rule is the natural consequence of His love. And His laws are carefully made provisions — like those of an expectant parent — laid in expectation of our needs, but also of our enjoyment and satisfaction; of our potential, but also of the bounds and limits without which we would never be capable of existing in distinction.

Once we truly understand God's fore-giving love, we do not obey His rule as is under constraint. Our obedience is the free gift of our love, whereby we return the provision God has made for us by respecting its terms and accepting the wholesome gift of life those terms make possible. Christ understood this when he directed his disciples to "love one another; even as I have loved you."

In this, He spoke for God, His Father, in the spirit of love that prevails between them. This is the spirit of the word of creation itself, preserving the wholesome unity of God even as, in creation, God enacts the goodwill that conceives and sustains us and all creation. Thus, there is no more "rigidity" involved in obeying the rule of God's creation than there is in following His rule for procreation. No wonder Christ insists that, in respect of His authority with God, obedience is love.

Dr. Alan Keyes served as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations under President Ronald Reagan and ran for president in 1996, 2000 and 2008. He holds a Ph.D. in government from Harvard and writes at his website Loyal to Liberty.

 

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