One Simple Question That Made Me Catholic

I found a great blog last night by Billy Kangas which addresses one of the thoroughly absorbing mysteries of faith I have read and wrestled with over the years. In this post, he explains how he found his way from a confessional Lutheran Protestant to a devoted and practicing Catholic. The question which led him on this journey was one which is often asked in my experience, and one I know I have thought long and hard about.

It is a question which is at the heart of many of the strongest objections to the Christian faith I have encountered, and it is one of the most divisive issues in the inter-Christian dialog today.

For Kanga, it started like this: one day, he came into his church and there was a giant banner hanging over the pulpit that read, “Why did Jesus die?”

Now it is easy to trot out what someone else has taught you about this, but it is in really engaging with the question I think we really start to grow. Essential to the process is a layering of knowledge that helps us consider the premise properly. It begins with an understanding of the hypostatic union as the condition for the perfect communion God has intended to establish with humanity. Once the first man and woman have rejected personal communion with God, the initiative to restore the broken relationship with God and to recreate distorted human nature had to come from God Himself.

Yet since we possess the dignity of free will, the ability and right of self-determination, it was most appropriate—as beginning with Irenaeus, the Fathers have repeatedly emphasised—that, through God's free initiative, a human being should redeem the human race. 

If you read the blog, you will find that it presents a fascinating journey through Protestant Christian theology of which you may be unaware. Ultimately, Kanga answers the question like this:
Becoming Catholic
To summarize my journey, I came to believe that Jesus died because we are a people bound to death, and in his death he makes available to creation the power of resurrection. In Jesus we are invited to live again, to join his body, the Church, and to participate more fully each day in the freedom found in his death and to receive grace as he works to sanctify his Body, the Church, and all of its members.
I am not bound to be a lone sinner, forgiven yet broken. Instead I am invited to join into a holy body united with the healing salvation in Christ and commissioned with the promise that the work of my redemption from all sin will be completed as we live and move as a body with Christ our head. I longed to be as fully a part of that body as I could be, and so I began to discern whether that place was the Catholic Church. It wasn’t an easy journey, but eventually I came to the conviction that in the Catholic Church I could most fully be united to the body of Christ (A story told elsewhere). And so in Easter 2013 I entered into full communion to join more fully into the life, death and resurrection of Christ.
This is wonderful statement in my opinion. It is quite theologically dense, yet can be easily understood at the same time. With an appropriate layering of knowledge, one can see that 'we are a people bound to death' refers to The Fall and Original Sin, the effects of which we can observe all around us. This is the rejection of personal communion with God I alluded to earlier. The wages of sin are death, and it is through this corporate identity we are bound to death. He also alludes to the process which the Fathers termed theosis, that is quite literally Goddening. The action of grace on us through our humble reception of the Sacraments and developing personal holiness. The statement ends with a joyful proclamation of the fullness of life found in full communion with God's Church. It is this joy Pope Francis is clearly alluding to more and more frequently, and which seems to be missing from so many lives today. It is the joy that comes of being fully alive in Christ, and awareness of that metaphysical reality which pervades beyond this often painful, essentially physical reality into the life that is to come in the future, a future we are destined for, a future when "every tear will be wiped away". (Rev 21:4).

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