The idea of the "Kingdom of God" is absolutely central to the Christian Gospel. The first words out of the mouth of Jesus in St. Mark's Gospel are “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). St. Matthew says that Jesus "went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people" (Mt. 4:23). And we pray for the coming of this Kingdom every time that we pray the Lord's Prayer. So what do we mean by the "Kingdom of God," and how should it impact our approach to the Church, to civil society, and to our own responsibilities?
Chances are, if you've done any reading about the Catholic Church's vision of "the Church," you've probably come across the claim that everything changed at Vatican II. Prior to Vatican II, as the story goes, the Catholic Church thought that only she was "the Church;" after Vatican II, she recognized that the Orthodox and Protestants (and perhaps even non-Christians!) also form part of the Church. But is it true?
Protestants often assume that the monarchical structure of the Catholic Church is due to Catholics relying too much on structure of the Roman Empire and not enough on the structure established in the Bible. Perhaps it would be better to say that it's Protestants who are overly indebted to the structure of the United States and Western liberal societies, to the extent that they've ignored that God established a Kingdom, and not a Democracy. Consider how the People of God were governed throughout all of history.
The Catholic Church requires all aspiring priests and deacons to request ordination, and then to be called by their bishop. Why does she do that? Because it's the Biblical model. And this explains where the women's ordination movement, and the Protestant Reformation, have gone wrong.
Contemporary Christianity is fond of pushing Jesus without the Church. Like its secular counterpart (in which people claim to be "spiritual, but not religious"), it's an attempt to have the relationship without the rules. If I'm lonely or going through a tragedy, I can pray, but I don't have to worry about fasting when I don't want to, or being associated with a bunch of fellow believers that I look down upon. But Jesus-without-the-Church is a rejection of Jesus.
It's frequently objected that the Catholic Church doesn't look like the early Church. Good. It's not supposed to.
Some Protestants view John 10 as rendering the Church unnecessary (for example, for setting the canon of Scripture), since Jesus says that "My sheep hear My voice." In fact, this passage is actually a ringing endorsement of the necessity of the Church.
Today, we arrive at the last of St. Edmund Campion’s Ten Reasons to reject the Reformation, and it’s a doozy. It turns out, he spent many of the prior nine reasons crescendoing towards this last one, and the result is epic: a sort of cosmic vision of the Catholic Church and the Reformation, with (in […]
Pope St. Victor I In October, I wrote about a fascinating conflict in the first-century church of Corinth. When a dispute broke out within their church, they wrote to Rome. Pope Clement wrote back, issued some orders, and resolved the dispute. Under any circumstances, this would be interesting, because it shows the way that papal […]
Catedral de Santa María de Burgos, Burgos, Spain One of the biggest issues separating Catholics and Protestants is on the nature of the Church: did Christ establish a visible Church, containing both the saved and some number of the damned? Or did He establish an invisible Church that’s just the collection of all the saved? That’s […]