[Pope Benedict XIV believes] the church is not a product of human creativity. She does not become whatever the leaders and members wish to make of her. The church is prior to all human initiative. Ours is not to innovate, but to preserve and apply the church teachings.-Avery Cardinal Dulles
I’m glad that Pope Benedict, at least according to Cardinal Dulles, and I agree on something. However, Pope Benedict has also made it quite clear that he believes that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true reflection of the Christian faith. Obviously, I don’t believe that.
That being said, however, the advantage of the older traditions, is an ability to look further back in time, and with a longer perspective (although the Episcopal and Lutheran [ELCA] have firmly decided it appears to move forward irrespective of the past). While there can be some arrogance in the older traditions, there is also much humility, and this is where Cardinal Dulles’ commenting on Pope Benedict’s views comes in.
For we Christians, the entire Bible is about God the Father, God the Son (in the person of Jesus Christ), and God the Spirit (called the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost). The Bible is God’s story. It is not just the story of the 12 Tribes of Israel, nor is it just the story of Jesus, nor is it just the story of the Church that followed Christ’s crucification. It is all the same story.
The Church, the bride of God in the imperfect form of humanity, existed before man was aware of it. Regardless of what believing denomination, in the end, I doubt it will matter all that much (though who can tell). For any denomination is merely an imperfect reflection (one can never mirror perfection, for a reflection, by not being the original, is already imperfect) of the Church Universal. No matter what humans do to the human institution of the church, the Universal Church is unchanging, and incorruptible by human failings, mercifully, by the grace of God.
There is a wonderful symmetry in all of this. The Church Universal existed before mankind corrupted it, and the Church Universal will reign in perfection as Christ’s bride after the end times. The Church Earthly must always reaching into the past, while simultaneously reaching into the future to imitate our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who is the Alpha and the Omega.
The Church Earthly needs to maintain a balance between past and future, while bridging them in the present.
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