Wednesday, September 23, 2009

He allows it and weeps

In yesterday's women's discipleship group we discussed the deuterocanonical books of the Bible, because of the OT reading at Sunday's mass (from Wisdom). One of my tasks with these lovely women is to help them understand Roman Catholicism and overcome biases which have taken a lifetime to accumulate.

It is joyful work.

One of the dearest of these sisters comes from a Baptist background and had a very hard time with several of my comments. For example, the idea that the church did not come from the Bible, but vice versa.

Something she said still has me thinking.

She asked if I thought that God would allow people, mere people, to remove pieces of what should truly be included in His holy word. She reasonsed that God must have allowed the post-reformation removal of various books because they didn't belong there in the first place. And if they did belong, then He would have made sure they remained.

The answer, of course, is free will. He permits all sorts of things He doesn't desire.

He has permitted His Word to be used to justify all sorts of horrific behavior.

He has permitted His church, His spouse, to reject His mother.

He has permitted consumation of the marital covenant between bridegroom and bride (in the Eucharist) to be stripped away, and has remained faithful within a sexless marriage.

We have a God who allows all these things, all these affronts from His people, His children, His church.

He allows it, and weeps.


Cynthia said...

He allows much...He weeps more often than we would want to know.

I understand the mindset of the Baptist sister, having grown up Pentecostal. Every true denomination holds riches...and none the full measure of all.

Suzanne Marie DeWitt said...

Glasshouse Girl:

One of the blessings of being within a convergence church is the opportunity it provides for hearing perspectives from the 3 streams. The people who join us from Baptist backgrounds bring with them an inspiring depth and conviction of faith. I learn much from them about the Christian walk.

Joe Heschmeyer said...

It seems like her argument could be used for almost anything. Why not counter, "would God allow people, mere people, to add non-canonical books to His Bible?"

If He didn't want them in there, why allow them in there in the first place? After all, they (or most of them) were in almost every Bible ever compiled for 3/4ths of Christian history. And even today, they're held as sacred by 3/4ths of the Christians on Earth (the Catholics, E. Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and various other Apostolic offshoots).

So a quarter of the Christians today (and a much smaller minority even a few centuries ago) dispute the consensus reached by Christendom globally for over a millenium.

Finally, we can't deny that various groups, from the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses to the Muslims, have said the Catholic Bible was 'good, but not good enough,' and made various edits to it. Should we decide that each of those (mutually incompatible) edits were ordained by God as well? Or simply that He permits us wide latitude to sin?

Perhaps a more charitable presentation of that argument might be helpful in getting her to see otherwise. Growing up Protestant in the US, it's easy to take Protestantism as the norm, when in fact, it's both a deviation and a minority (both by present population and temporal standards).