That They May Be One

Alongside the thorny question of Sacred Tradition v. Holy Scripture, those doctrines concerning the Blessed Virgin Mary have proven to be some of the more contentious barriers for many non-Catholics to reconcile with their understanding of Christianity. On this last day of October, the month of the most Holy Rosary, I thought it appropriate to post some of the Church Father’s thoughts regarding Scripture and Tradition, Mary’s perpetual virginity, the Catholic Church, and even infant baptism. Because without some agreement on these key doctrines Christian unity will never be achieved.

Religious diversity has been a cornerstone of our Western culture for so long now that it has become a given, even among Christians whose competing sects number in the thousands. Nonetheless, the essential question for any serious Christian today, yet rarely asked anymore, remains: is there only One Church founded by Christ or many? Did our Lord intend for there to be countless churches claiming his name or did he mean for there to be a single united body of believers, for as He himself prayed, “Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one… I do not pray for these only but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they may also be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me.” (Jn 17: 11; 20-21)

Christian unity is thereby identified by Jesus Christ as one of the visible hallmarks that will attract the world to belief in the Gospel. If today’s world is sinking back into the abyss of neo-paganism then undoubtedly part of the cause must be the scandal of disunity among Christians which translates into a kind of religious adventurism allowing each person to follow his or her own take on the Gospel. Like a marketplace, modern Christians feel free to pick and choose from among those items which may appeal to their fancy (while ignoring more challenging demands): Tradition or Scripture (alone); preaching or sacraments; grace or good works; ordained hierarchy or lay governance, priests or ministers of the Word; sacrificial worship or a memorial communion feast. While all these things are important elements of the Church founded by Christ, they are not stand alone tenets but rather ingredients able to congeal together and form a tightly integrated whole which, bound together, forms and expresses a rational and unified deposit of faith.

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