Today (and maybe yesterday) I ran into multiple links to “Pope Francis wants Catholics to doubt the Church. He’s right.” by Kyle Cupp. I would posit it is two articles in one.
The first theme is what led to the title of this post (“A House of Cards”) and has to do with infallible belief systems:
According to Catholicism, the core doctrines of the church express absolute truth and therefore cannot be altered, but paradoxically this premise doesn’t preclude changes to its teaching. In the parlance of the church, it only means that a previously proposed understanding wasn’t really unchangeable doctrine. Still, a big deal. By merely entertaining doctrinal development, the church entices believers to question its authority and the exact content of its faith.
Catholicism isn’t the only church that claims inerrancy (at least in aspects)…think of even more recent pseudo-Christian denominations like the Church of Latter Day Saints and Jehovah Witnesses. When a group that has claimed to have a corner on truth changes truth…well, it’s a house of cards. Pull one out (the first wrong “truth” as proven by changing it) and the whole thing crashes down.
Not that folks will not find mental ways to avoid that fact.
The second main point I gleaned out of Cupp’s piece is that, when it comes to God, there really is no way to completely “know” Him:
In a 2013 interview published in America Magazine, the pontiff said that the space where one finds and meets God must include an area of uncertainty. For him, to say that you have met God with total certainty or that you have the answers to all questions is a sign that God is not with you. Be uncertain, he counsels. Let go of exaggerated doctrinal “security.” A devout faith must be an uncertain faith:
The risk in seeking and finding God in all things, then, is the willingness to explain too much, to say with human certainty and arrogance: “God is here.” We will find only a god that fits our measure. The correct attitude is that of St. Augustine: seek God to find him, and find God to keep searching for God forever.
Now, I do not normally advise anyone to listen to the Pope, but he is showing some wisdom here…as is Cupp in most of his article. (It is linked above…please read the whole thing…I cannot fair-use quote as much as I would like.) I would personally suggest that if you are 100% sure of everything you doctrinally believe then you are delusional. One part of a systematic theology is anthropology…the study of man…and if you understand it you realize just how limited and corrupt our faculties are.
Throw something infinite into the mix and the most you can hope is to have views that, in great measure, go the right direction (not beliefs that are 100% correct or 100% complete).
Now, having said all this, I am not suggesting we all throw up our hands and assume it isn’t even worth trying. Clearly our Lord wants us to understand Him. We have 66 books that prove that and, furthermore:
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world (Hebrews 1:1, English Standard Version).
As imperfect as human knowledge can be, we can know enough about God just by looking into Jesus’ face.